All terrorists make the same sound when they die.
Quick — name the Three Tenors, right now. Let me guess what went through your head: Luciano Pavarotti (everyone gets that one), Placido Domingo (slightly less famous but still well known), and... um... that other guy. You know, the short one? He's balding, right? Right? Well, his name is José Carreras, and yes, he is short and balding, but he's still got a mean set of pipes. [We apologize to anyone who still has no idea what a tenor is and why there are three. ~Ed. ] Now you might ask why I'm bringing this up, other than to shamelessly rehash an old Seinfeld plot. The fact of the matter is, I can think of no better analogy to describe Call of Duty on the DS (although that might be because I’m very sleep-deprived and slightly drunk).
[image1]Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized is not an extraordinary game by any means, but the problems stem mostly from technical limitations and not from a lack of effort. Of course, in my opinion the biggest problem is simply the release date. Someone at Activision should get tarred and feathered for thinking it would be a good idea to release Mobilized on the same day as the exponentially bigger Modern Warfare 2. I mean, if you want to sell tickets to a magic show, you sure as hell better not debut on the same day that David Copperfield comes to town. Catch my drift?
So if you do happen to accidentally take this game home instead of the one that you intended to buy, will you like it? Well, that all boils down to the controls. The control scheme is exactly like previous DS CoD games and the even earlier Metroid Prime: Hunters. You use the stylus to aim, the arrow keys to move, and the L button to shoot (or ABXY to move and R to shoot if you’re a lefty). Some people love these controls; others think it’s more akin to driving a dump truck while intoxicated and trying to pick off pigeons with a BB gun.
Graphically, the high points are the guns and the environments. All the weapons are highly detailed, even reflecting light with a lovely sheen, and the cities and other battlegrounds appear expansive despite keeping you to a linear path. As always with the DS, though, textures up close look alarmingly similar to the contents of a hard day's night of Indian food.
[image2]But the sound — oh, the sound is wonderful. Every shot and explosion is crisp and accurate, while the intense score only heightens the drama of the action. There’s a hefty amount of voice acting, and it’s all done very well. Special mention goes to the British commander, whose Cockney accent is reminiscent of the Geico gecko. Sometimes I’d stop and think he’s going to try to sell me car insurance during a firefight.
The only issue with the sound (and it’s inexcusable) is that there’s only one death cry that every single enemy shares, and it’s not even a good one. Uaugh! I wouldn’t blame you for smashing your DS into the wall after the 500th time you hear that. Uaugh! And there’s so much variety in the enemy chatter — for instance, the English-speaking terrorists will yell “Grenade!” while the Russians yell “Grenada!” and the Arabs yell what I can only assume is “Grenade!” in Arabic. Uaugh! Are you telling me, n-Space, that you couldn’t find space on the DS cart for just one or two other death cries to spice things up? Uaugh! I’d gladly give up a redundant battle shout so I wouldn’t have to hear “Uaugh!” a billion freakin times. Uaugh!
Another downside is that there’s a lot less replay value in this game than in its console big brothers. The multiplayer is pretty damn fun for what it is, with all of the standard modes like deathmatch, CTF, and hunter/prey. But it’s nowhere near as entertaining as the Modern Warfare 2 experience and the Wi-Fi is pretty bare-bones, so I can’t see sinking hours at a time into it.
[image3]Likewise, the single player is only good for about 5-10 hours, not to mention the laughably generic story. Here, let me construct my own Mobilized level for you:
“Random terrorists are moving the nuke to a new location! Find it!”
BLAM! BLAM! “Uaugh!” “Uaugh!”
“We’ve met resistance! Kill them all!”
BLAM! BLAM! “Uaugh!” “Uaugh!”
“Damn, we’re too late! They just moved it!”
There, that’s nearly every single level in this game in a nutshell. Mobilized is an impressive package from a technical standpoint, even though it won’t keep you entertained for that long. But it’s definitely a fun experience while it lasts, assuming you’re a fan of DS first-person shooters. I’d steer clear otherwise — unless, you know, you like drunkenly shooting at pigeons.