Call of Duty 3
Genre: First Person Shooter
|FIMP: Call of Duty 3 [Wii]|
Surprise. Critics have already said the Playstation 3 looks worse than the 360 version, where the frame rate is concerned. Is the wiimote control revolutionary, and more importantly, does it work?
I tried the Call of Duty 3 demo briefly, for about 10 minutes. After being airdropped into territory occupied by Germany, I was knocked out for a brief second for the fall. As a German soldier lurched towards me to end my avatar's life with a bullet, I was saved by a sharpshooting Frenchman. I was led to a cadre of soldiers preparing for battle, who I promptly followed into a firefight.
Obviously, the big sell of this game is the freehand control system. Everybody has envisioned first-person shooters as the one genre out of those currently existing to benefit the most out of the freehand aiming. The remote controls both the aiming reticule on-screen and where you're looking differently than Red Steel reportedly does. When the reticule lies anywhere within a small central bounding area on the screen, your character stays looking straight in the direction he was currently looking at. As you move the reticule around, your character will begin to turn in the direction that it's moved from the center. The farther away it is from the center of the screen, the faster your character will turn.
In theory, this sounds like it could work well. You get a combination of simulated point-at-the-screen accuracy and control over how fast you turn without constantly jamming your reticule into the edge of the screen. In practice, I was a little annoyed at how aiming slightly off-center would result in my guy veering to the left or right as he walked.
The bigger issue, however, doesn't have to do with the way that Treyarch has setup the aiming mechanism but perhaps with the sensor bar. I tried to practice aiming a little before going into battle, checking the left-to-right sensitivity of my looking ability - which was only alright, significantly better than an analog stick but nowhere near the control of a mouse. It was when I checked the vertical look sensitivity, however, that I mentally vomited. Pushing the reticule to the top of the screen - the farthest it can go, and theoretically, the fastest you can look - yielded perhaps the slowest upwards look speed I've ever seen. (Imagine your analog stick was slightly miscalibrated, so your view was constantly creeping up.) To try to overcompensate, I pointed the remote even higher to get my guy to look up faster and - whoops - I think the remote exceeded the vertical range of the sensor bar. What happened next? Well, the reticule started going haywire. It jumped from the top of the screen to off the screen, to the left edge, then right edge - not good. Recentering to regain your focus is easy, but it's annoying to deal with such a slow look-speed without a way to over-compensate.
Here, then, we see one problem compounding the other. If we could look up and down faster, the sensor bar wouldn't be a problem. If the sensor bar had a larger vertical range, we could compensate for our slow vertical-look speed by pushing the remote up higher or down lower.
Cover!? That's a machine gun, dude. That fence won't cut it.
Another slight problem: those with jittery hands might want to turn the sensitivity down, or play sitting down. This is easily explained, however. My vantage point - standing up, three feet from the screen - was probably not the ideal way to play this game. Most likely, you'll want to be playing this sitting down, arm resting on your thigh or your couch's arm rest. Oh - and more than three feet away from the sensor bar, of course. That should calm the jitters.
Given all of these hiccups - and, those are quite a few - managing your way around a firefight where the enemies are in your vision cone is sweet. The precision of simply pointing at an enemy is incredibly enjoyable, and although I wasn't very proficient at it for my little session, it's something that I am itching to learn and master. To be honest, mastering the mouse so many years back took a huge learning curve after fiddling around with Page Up and Page Down to look in Duke Nukem 3D.
The problem, however, is still looking left, right, up and down. With the learning curve and hand jitters, swiveling around to combat an enemy behind me was even worse the slow-but-steady rate of an analog stick. In an ideal situation it seems like it would only be a little better than the analog stick configuration I so despise. As long as you keep enemies in front of you as best you can, firefights become engaging and hitting enemies becomes second nature.
That's the house I used to live in as a young 'un. Now, decimate it.
What we trade for our "revolutionary" (but difficult to pick up) control scheme is the graphical fidelity of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions. Make no mistake about it: if we do a side to side comparison, "relatively" speaking this game looks ugly on Wii. Yet, this is a relative measure - similar to saying that current-gen is "ugly" by the next-gen's standards. In truth, the game is still presented quite well. Facial animation and construction is surprisingly detailed. The smoke effects look absolutely fantastic, given the understated power of the system. There is no lack of detail and mayhem on-screen at any one time. No it doesn't run at 720p, and yes, polygon counts are lower and texture resolutions are naturally low. However, the game was moving (most of the time) at a solid, steady 30 frames per second; muzzle flash and other lighting effects were impressive; and the color depth was quite satisfactory. All in all, Call of Duty 3's visuals are at the upper end of current-gen Xbox games (minus a few bump-mapped details). Personally, I could tell where they were ugly by today's standards - and I really didn't care.
Call of Duty 3 won't be simple to pick up, and if looking and turning in this game is indicative of all future First Person Shooter endeavors on Wii, then I'll have to continue playing shooters on PCs. However, I'm hoping that future developers get the turning right because freehand pointing as an aiming mechanism is incredibly satisfying - moreso than a mouse.
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