For gamers, playing another first-person shooter title based around World War 2 was above and beyond the call of duty. World War 2 themed gaming has been an overcrowded emporium for the past five years – we've seen some great games in there, but we've also had to sit through some hackneyed dross.
The sell-by date on the concept of Call of Duty is a few years out, so we didn't exactly approach the idea of getting our nails dirty again with much gusto. However, what Infinity Ward has obviously realised is it's not the setting that takes primary importance when developing a title – it's the concrete deliberation to produce an outstanding game. And what a game Call of Duty 2 is.
The fact that it's not much of a departure from the previous title shouldn't put you off. If you have the PC to handle it, you'll be rewarded with some of the most cinematically intense gun battles ever put to gameplay. If you can't afford a better PC to run it, perhaps order an Xbox 360 because Call of Duty 2 is the launch title that makes it worthwhile.
In the Call of Duty 2 single-player mode, you'll once again follow through the Russian, British and American campaigns from 1941 to 1945. As the game is so easy to pick up and play, your training is integrated in to the first campaign with the Soviets through a beautifully rendered snowy Moscow to Stalingrad. The British campaign takes you from Northern Egypt to Libya and Tunisia and finally to Normandy in 1944 at the start of the American deployment on D-Day.
Call of Duty captures the chaos of war better than any other title. It's not that wave after wave of enemy comes at you like brainless Serious Sam lunatics – though the stunning engine is capable of rendering up to 100 grunts on screen at any one time. What Call of Duty manages to capture so well is that every inch of ground is fought over tooth and nail. Infinity Ward achieves the atmosphere of chaos with intelligent scripting and good use of team mates.
The story is a little on rails and the game is linear, although very well hidden to give the gamer the sense of freedom – and it's also necessary to create the cinematic intensity.
Your teammates are better than mere canon fodder. They hold their position and wait for you to get ahead until they make their move. If they die, others regenerate, but it's so neatly integrated that you don't really notice.
While the graphics are top notch, it's the immersive audio that really caught our imagination. We haven't played a title that creates such an incredible atmosphere while using all manner of tricks, even if you have a high-end sound card. When you're hiding in a hole with bullets ricocheting off everything around, you'll notice that you can hear the crack of echoed guns from battles far away. It is attention to detail such as this that makes Call of Duty 2 such a grand opera. If Infinity Ward continues to make them this good, we'll continue to play them. Yes, even if they are based on World War 2.