Naturally, being a guy that likes his history, I wanted to see if the game play closely matches the events of the Second World War. So it was good to see the Call of Duty franchise return to its roots, as I chose my difficulty (regular).
I embarked off on my first mission – to June 6th 1944, to storm the beaches of Normandy, also known as the D-Day landing spot, and the turning point for allied forces in World War 2. The campaign itself is a substantial, six-plus-hour trek where intense close-quarters combat complements spectacular showcase events, brought to life through excellent visuals and sound design. The booming cacophony of gunfire is fittingly accompanied by the crispness of the weapon reloads. It is also a journey rich in scenic environments, that poignantly contrast against the death and destruction that surrounds you.
A supporting cast of well-crafted personalities greatly enhances the narrative. Moreover, they directly assist you during combat based on your needs and performance. As your best friend, Robert Zussman, fittingly takes care of your health pack supplies, yes you have a health limit in this game, while the equally helpful Drew Stiles ensures you have enough grenades at the ready. Whilst the war-hardened William Pierson is an dispassionate commanding officer effectively played by Josh Duhamel, his eagle-eye skill with binoculars allows you to spot outlines of nearby enemies. These contributions are tied to a cool down that decreases as you kill enemies. This kill-driven method of supply replenishment is a tad too convenient for a Call Of Duty, but it’s nonetheless a crafty way to serve the narrative’s focus on bonding with your squad.
While this is clearly Daniels’ story, developer Sledgehammer thoughtfully shifts your perspective from time to time by putting you in other soldiers’ boots, from Perez, a tank commander, to Rousseau, a French resistance operative. These valuable interludes relieve you of playing as the typical one-man army from start to finish. Sure, in the right hands, Daniels can be the war’s greatest sniper and an accomplished AA gun operator in the same play-through, but this campaign is a group effort and ultimately benefits from it.
Combat itself is not about rushing forward to the next objective – it’s about hunkering down at nearly every fallen table, and picking off just enough Nazis to give you an opening to the next cover point. Whether you’re roughing out every yard of forward progress with your best available machine gun, or quietly knifing Nazis in the tough-but-fair stealth sections, the campaign delivers a wealth of harrowing battles where checkpoints feel well-earned. As you count on your squad for supplies and recon support, you feel empowered as a valuable team player in a company that has your back.
It’s a story supported with just the right amount of emotion, playing out both during firefights and periods in between. You have the option to add to your heroic reputation by saving wounded and exposed comrades or sparing surrendering Nazis. Sledgehammer carefully humanizes Germans with dialogue that acknowledges the country’s cultural contributions as well as having you play through a section where you help innocent civilians escape a heated war zone. Such small touches go a long way in adding heartfelt gravitas in a game focused on killing.
Mission number 11 is the final mission in the game and has a scene in it where many people refer to it as Sledgehammer’s weak depiction of the Holocaust, I do feel as though Sledgehammer did attempt to dull down the travesty that happened to several million Jews during 1943-1945, which was seen as the Final Solution by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Although Hitler himself never appears in the game, the undertones of what he and his party did ring true during the gameplay
- Overall - 8.5/108.5/10
All in all a great campaign to play, but the sheer lack of acknowledgement to those who died both in the war and in the holocaust, just shows that this was a money making exercise by the developer.