(Especially your bandwidth. There's a lot of pictures today... and you can click them to view them at 1280x1024!)
Hello! I've never played a Call of Duty game before! I figured it started off way back in the nineties on the PlayStation, but I must have got it mixed up with Medal of Honor because I'm told this one was released in 2003. Shows what I know about first person shooters.
Dropped behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied France, Martin's job as a pathfinder is to set up a beacon to guide the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne in. He seems pretty calm from the sound of his narration.
Chucked out a plane in the middle of the night and blown off course, he's now by himself and he has absolutely no idea where he is. (Let's assume he can't read the captions.)
According to the objective marker, I'm supposed to be heading to the right around these houses. I'm going to keep my head down and move very, very slowly. It's very quiet. There could be teeny, tiny Nazis hiding around any one of these walls or in any one of these windows.
If he's on my side, shooting the only ally I have for miles would be an extraordinarily stupid idea. If he's not on my side, he's going to shortly notice that I'm a GI instead of a rifle-wielding rock.
Wait a minute! He's not showing on my radar! In the tutorial, my allies were shown as green triangles on the radar! Line it up, and in one shot he's dead.
I hope nobody heard that.
As I approach the door at the back of the house, the game gives me a very clear message that I never have to open a door that isn't already open. This means no pressing Use on all the walls trying to find the one that opens and no allies getting stuck inside moving doors!
Lucky for me that I found him, because he's the one who had the beacon I'm supposed to be planting. Not so lucky for him that I couldn't get here sooner to help.
I very sneakily pop my head around the side of a bunker (lean buttons!) and quickly shoot the two men inside. They must have been having some kind of party in here. They're surrounded by crates of champagne and... medical kits?
Martin has just turned the war on.
There's a dozen jackhammers blasting at me from every direction and there's soldiers falling over everywhere. Going anywhere seems like a terrible idea right now.
I'm having a hard time telling my guys apart from their guys. I think my guys are a sort of greeny-grey and their guys are a sort of grey-grey. Martin also has Shinigami eyes (external link) which let him see the names of friendly soldiers if he looks at them directly. They're not as helpful as they sound because my reflexes make me click on them before I have time to acknowledge any text appearing. I need to pay more attention to the radar.
My men have a habit of storming buildings as a group right across my line of fire while I'm trying to pick off enemies through the back window through a door, through the front window of the house. It's a miracle I haven't accidentally killed anyone on my side (to my knowledge, at least).
(I have a small hypothetical moment where I direct Martin to execute one of his own squad in cold blood. He doesn't fire. Thank the heavens.)
No time to rest. We've got to capture the village of Ste. Mère Eglise!
The enemy aren't half bad either. It's 50/50 whether they miss with their first shot, but I'm dead if I don't take cover or take them out before they fire a second time.
I was surprised that the enemies weren't infinite and I didn't have to rush into the open space myself and cross an invisible finish line to advance the plot. I shot the bad guys, the team told me when to go.
I head inside the house myself and try to snipe the machinegun position from there. No dice. I within two feet of the window and there's bullets noisily ricocheting off all the walls. I keep forgetting I have grenades!
Maybe it's because in modern games the grenades are the only thing that can kill enemies quickly, whereas in Call of Duty, everything can kill enemies quickly.
There's nasty men hiding behind fences ahead. I can take them from here. In fact, I think I can take them from here without even aiming down the sights!
Fine, you all shoot to the left and I'll take care of all the guys in the church!
Whatever it is we're doing, I really feel like we're making progress. I shoot some guys, the other guys shoot some guys and we all run off to another alley.
We might be going round in circles for all I know, though.
The fellow to my right has decided to let me do the shooting so he doesn't do the dying. Still, he's not too happy about it.
If you tried this with any of the guns from... well... ANYTHING, you'd hit nothing but air*. That is if the game was kind enough not to invalidate your bullet entirely once it reached its maximum existence range.
(*Except Red Faction!!)
Damn. That's cold, Martin.
Blimey, how often do you say THAT in a game?
I hang my head in shame and brace for the inevitable Game Over as the grenade blows my men up.
But it doesn't. There's a bang, but no Game Over. When I go inside, my men appear to be all fine, taking cover and shooting out of the back windows. Either the squad are made of stronger stuff, my grenade bounced right out of the church, or they had the good sense to run out of the way of the German grenade that just flew in the window. I couldn't see from where I was standing, but it would have been nice if the squad was smart enough to notice the incoming grenade and avoid it themselves.
The local firearms expert tells me that this is an FG-42, a late-war German paratrooper rifle (Wikipedia link).
We're going left here to see what's through that gap in the wall. The squad stack up against the wall, either waiting for me to join them to clear the way. But I have a better idea.
So that's... three large fries, two burgers, one box of chicken bits and three large sodas. Hang on, hang on, I'll write it down.
The poor Private looks half asleep.
Strong Bad uses for Teen Girl Squad.
Hey, this is the only part of the game so far that's had music!
I get killed.
This exact moment happens to be a checkpoint. Go game!
Is this the same church from before? It sure looks similar.
It's possible that the game designers intended this to be more desperate than it was, but they didn't consider the fact that I'm RoboCop.
A short driving scene later...
He's probably just realised that hard work is its own reward.
Well, no use whining about it. The M1 is just as good, really. I wonder how well I can do if I never aim down the sights. I stick to the tactics that have served me well so far.
There's a lot more of them than there are of us.
(I wonder if helping the Medic actually has any effect other than it being what you're supposed to do. Probably not. This isn't a squad-centric game.)
And for some reason I have to blow up the rest of the guns. That must be because the new demolitions guy didn't keep his bloody head down!
Okay, first of all, I'm not moving an inch until I'm absolutely sure the path is safe.
The Germans are desperate to man the mounted machinegun next to the artillery. Every time I kill one of them, another one runs in to take his place. Another dozen men later, and they get finally get the hint.
I should have asked him to bring me back some more FG-42 ammo while he was out there. I'm down to my Thompson now.
YES! YES! YES!
Please excuse my over-enthusiasm, but I'm so relieved that this Thompson is nothing like the one from Bioshock. It's not a creaking, broken, inaccurate, useless piece of crap. It's a serious killing machine.
The next mission has me rescue somebody called 'Captain Price' who is apparently 'pretty important'. No idea. Let's leave it here for now, because I think I've wasted enough of your bandwidth.
I'm sorry that this post is so long and that I don't talk about the gameplay much. I can't think of anything to say!
Give me a minute, I'll think of something. Right, here goes:
You can carry tons of ammo and there's lots of ammo lying around. The enemies drop a lot of ammo. The guns are loud, they all sound different and there seem to be plenty of different types of them. You keep your guns from level to level most of the time. The aiming is easy, practical and fun. Enemies die when you hit them, and you can hit them from great distances if you're not dancing like a fool. At all times, the game felt as if it were presenting situations to me that I could deal with however I chose, rather than requiring my actions to fill in the blank in the exact way that the level designers envisaged. You can run into the streets and spray automatic fire all over the walls like a madman, stick to the machinegun nests and rain inaccurate hell on the enemies as they run at you, hide behind a box and let your squad do the work or sneak around corners and shoot people one at a time like I did. There's no regenerating health, but there is plentiful medkits if you look in the places where they're likely to be. There's no cover system that applies arbitrary bonuses or penalties depending on what buttons you're holding down, and you don't have to hold down a button to stay in cover. The enemies aren't infinite and my squad wasn't useless. I didn't have to defend my squad from themselves to avoid a Game Over. The squad didn't yell my name every five seconds or push me into enemy fire. The interface didn't appear and disappear randomly in a distracting manner. No vignetting. No screenful of pulsing red shapes when you get hit. No auto-aim.
I didn't ever want to chuck it across the room or eat the disc. Perhaps the best first person shooter in the universe ever.
And I don't even LIKE first person shooters.