Preview By: Andrew Joy
|# Of Players:||1-4 (24 online or system link)|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play), System Link, HDTV 480p/720p/1080i, In-game Dolby Digital|
From what we’ve been told, each version is virtually identical as far as mission structure is concerned, but that may be the only thing the three versions have in common. With Nintendo’s gameplay over graphics standpoint, it should come as no surprise that the Wii version will look inferior to the PS3 & Xbox 360 versions. The question is, how bad will it be? This is where there has been some dissension among the ranks, so to speak. As it is, Call of Duty 2 for the Xbox 360 seems to be the benchmark - when Call of Duty 3 finally does come out for the Wii, some think it will look better than that (highly unlikely), some think that it will be on par (possible), and still others that it will look slightly worse (likely). Of course, some neat effects are set to make it on all three versions, including the seemingly seamless transition from indoor to outdoor environments, the ability to demolish enemy cover, and that sort of thing.
No doubt about it, there is a sort of graphical polish going into the Xbox 360 & PS3 versions that, whether it be for the nearly life-like look of the troops, the aged and crumbling building façades, or even blades of grass being bent down as you and your fellow soldiers tromp over them, deserves to be seen by every gamer at least once. Although early reports have the PS3 version at running at a "mere" 30 frames per second, we expect any such issues to be ironed out by the time the game ships. Sadly, it's unlikely much of that will happen on the Wii...at least not this early in the system’s life. Unfortunately, just as the system will only be getting 480p (also 16:9 widescreen) while the other next-gen systems get true high definition graphics, the sound may also be lacking. While the average gamer may not yet be able to take advantage of all the frills offered by the other systems, to those that can it will certainly make a difference that the Wii version only supports Dolby Pro Logic II while the other systems support Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. While it is hard to say how much of a difference that will make until we have actually tried it out, the thought of all that ambient noise coming to life with the startling realism that it is meant to is enough to make one salivate.
Finally, in what is perhaps the biggest blow to the Wii version of Call of Duty 3, there will be no online or offline multiplayer. There was talk of course that the feature would be added later through WiiConnect24, but that is more or less just wishful thinking on the part of Nintendo fans derived from a single comment, from another company, about another game (by Nintendo regarding Metroid Prime 3: Corruption). That said, it is possible that a special edition (like Call of Duty 2: Game of the Year) might be released with extra content at some point, including at the very least split-screen multiplayer, but it seems more likely that Wii owners will have to wait until the next installment. There, now that that is out of the way, on to the versions that actually do have multiplayer.
From the get-go, it was known that the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty 3 would feature online play. Like its predecessor, the Xbox 360 had already proven its worth online, and Call of Duty 2 (a launch title for the system) featured eight player matches over Xbox Live (and up to 16 through system link). Though there were rather ominous signs at first (such as online play being dropped from Tony Hawk's Project 8, another PS3 launch title from Activision), at a recent event at their company HQ Activision showed off a fully functional multiplayer mode. Both the Xbox 360 & PS3 versions of Call of Duty 3 will receive the same multiplayer setup. Not only has the paltry eight players been upped to a more robust 24, but there are also a variety of other additions to help keep the gameplay fresh, including new gameplay modes and the addition of character classes.
In most online games, multiplayer affairs are typically limited to deathmatches, Capture the Flag, etc., while Call of Duty also includes Headquarters (destroy the other team’s radio) and Search and Destroy (destroy the other team’s equipment). While most of those will return in some form, including tweaked Capture the Flag and Headquarter modes, Call of Duty 3 will also introduce a new mode simply called War. Similar to typical King of the Hill games, in War both teams try to locate, secure and defend a single point on the map. As for the new classes, there are several to choose from, and each has its own combat-essential abilities, including everything from the sniper-like scout to the unit-reviving medic. A combination of player kills and successful use of your abilities will also net you promotions. It should be noted that vehicles, including tanks, jeeps and even motorcycles, have been added to the online multiplayer experience, throwing in a whole new level of strategy that could knock longtime Call of Duty vets off their feet.
The way I see it, Call of Duty 3 on the Wii seemed doomed from the start. From the moment it started to sink in that, hey, Nintendo is actually telling the truth and the Wii actually will be underpowered, I think games such as this were on shaky ground. That is not to say that Call of Duty 3 couldn’t very well succeed (and I look forward to eating crow), but this series has more or less always had graphics going for it. After that, things didn’t look any better for the franchise, as we soon found out that FPS games on the Wii were not working as smoothly as some had hoped (though this issue is being ironed out by more and more developers), online play isn’t looking to hit full force until sometime in 2007, and information regarding the Wii-mote’s built-in speaker wasn’t given out until it was far too late to include it here.
For a Nintendo fan, what I am about to say is about the equivalent of dropping an F-bomb with your grandparents in the room: the PS3 version of Call of Duty 3 may be the way to go for those of you who have the financial means. Not only does it have the next-gen graphics, but it also includes online play, and even tosses in a bit of tilt-support for a sampling of what Wii owners will also get.
For those of you who won't be able to afford Sony’s beast of a machine, it comes down to a question of what is more important to you. Do you want the visual realism (not to mention camaraderie - both online and off) that the Xbox 360 can offer? Or do you want the full-on immersion that Nintendo’s new controller can lend to the experience? I’ve already made my choice, but each of you will have to make your own.
Posted: 2006-10-10 18:57:17 PST