One World War too many.
Watch this, it’s the Rambo scene from Weird Al’s UHF, and it perfectly captures the feel of Activision’s new Call of Duty 3. But before you go out and buy UHF, or this game, you should know that there are three important differences: You don’t play as Weird Al, it’s all in first-person, and you don’t save Michael Richards (no one can save Michael Richards). But is it bad? Let’s just say it dares to be stupid.
It’s World War II again, and you play an American, a Brit, a Pole, and a Canadian in separate but equally confusing chapters. Each one begins with an explanatory cut scene that is a) boring b) unavoidable c) long d) repeated every time you turn on the game and e) all of the above. Then you find yourself getting yammered at by comrades with ridiculous accents about the “French resistance” (rayzeestahnsse!), not to mention “Oxymorons.” After a couple rusty punch lines, the Nazis show up to save the day, and your attention span.
[image1]In previous Call of Duty
games, you got a feel for one of war’s most terrifying truths: the reality that, when people are shooting at you, you’re supposed to move towards them
, not run screaming in the opposite direction. You had to carefully scurry from cover to cover, peeking out and popping Nazis as they tried to kill your oncoming comrades, because they had fast reflexes, sharp aim, and first rate bullets from efficient German factories.
Instead of following the successful battle plan of its forebears, Call of Duty 3 seems to pose the question: “What if, instead of killing the lunatics and retards, Hitler sent them to invade France?” The game (I think rightly) assumes that France would have fallen anyway, and that three brave, non-French soldiers, plus one Canadian (adding insult to injury), would have been all it took to liberate the country.
So no, Call of Duty 3 does not have particularly sophisticated A.I. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find yourself standing right next to a squad of entrenched Nazis who, oblivious to your presence, are still looking for you over their burned-out car, turned over table, or privet hedge. They may be poor sport, but shooting them is fun anyway. Think about it, did Weird Al look bored when he brazenly stomped up to the television executive with his bow and arrow? No, he looked macho, determined, and a little silly, which is just how you’ll feel playing Call of Duty 3.
[image2]In fact, if you scream like Weird Al imitating Sylvester Stallone (it’s kind of a constipated “EEYUHHHHH!”) while playing, it’s twice as fun. At one point, I entered a room, looked around, and started to leave before hearing a shot and seeing my screen flash red (both with pain and anger). I turned around slowly, sneering, and saw a Nazi hiding behind a couch with a pistol, looking terrified. I could practically hear myself chewing the bullet (the Doritos helped) as I slowly walked up to him, stuck my bottom lip out, and spit his bullets back at him. EEEEEYAAAAARGH!
If that sounds familiar, remember the part where Weird Al shoots wildly, causing cars, buildings and people explode? It’s all here. Every battlefield is full of flammable liquids, and on top of that, you’re covered in grenades. What could go wrong?
Not much, since you’re harder to kill than Jason Voorhees
. You can easily absorb a full clip of bullets, and hand grenades are only lethal if you’re eating them when they explode. As you take damage, the screen turns red and pulsates, letting you know you’ve taken one or two hundred bullets too many (even your eyeballs are bleeding) but if you can avoid fire by ducking behind a flower pot for roughly five seconds, you’ll completely mend. Even so, you’ll sometimes die only to respawn at one of the game’s many conveniently located checkpoints. There’s literally no stopping you.
You’re so bad, the normally rigid laws of physics bend under your impressive weight, especially when driving. The controls are simple and easy to explain (gas button, break button, steering), but the shenanigans that ensue as soon as you take the wheel are almost impossible to put into words. I think at one point you drive along a roof top, through a brick wall, and over a yawning chasm as an entire battalion of Nazi troops hopelessly fires on you and your pretty Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
[image3]The whole game looks ridiculous, but not because of the graphics, which are ironically too realistic. Where Weird Al could blow entire enemies to tiny bits just by spitting at them, you can’t even blow a finger off a frighteningly real looking soldier with a tank round, as bodies stay perfectly intact and ready for an open coffin, regardless of the punishment they endure. Style points aside, the game looks good, with nice explosions and death throes, and sounds fine too, with lots of dignified war music, and undignified screaming.
Call of Duty 3 would be short even if you couldn’t run through every level shouting like a pro wrestler and shooting everything in sight. But since you can, it’s double short. There’s no cooperative play, meaning you and a friend can’t run amok through France like you did right after your freshman year. Instead, you get lackluster online versus play for up to twenty four players.
Call of Duty 3
feels too much like a collection of outtakes from the other two Call of Duty
games. It’s silly, fast and hilariously fun, but it’s also sixty bucks. So if you’re looking for a game that makes you feel like Weird Al in a muscle suit, or Charlie Sheen in Hot Shots
, give this unintentional comedy a rental. Otherwise, leave it on the field to die of laughter.