World War II may have ended in 1945, but that hasn't stopped the Axis and Allies from waging war against one another on the video game front. And now there's a new battleground: the Wii. Call of Duty 3 for the Wii has the same great single-player campaign found in other versions of the game, though it's missing multiplayer options, and not all aspects of the new control scheme work well. But the overall intensity and playability of Call of Duty 3 remain intact, making for an exciting first-person shooter experience despite these issues.
There's practically never a dull moment in Call of Duty 3.
Call of Duty 3 takes place in 1944 during the Normandy Breakout. After landing successfully on the beaches of France, the Allies focused on getting the Germans out of France and liberating Paris, which was under Nazi control at the time. As was the case in the last game, you're placed in the role of several different soldiers, and you'll participate in campaigns for America, Britain, Canada, and Poland. Each country's campaign has a unique storyline that is supposed to get you emotionally involved with the characters, but the stories aren't very interesting; there's a soldier with a strong distaste for the French, an overbearing sergeant, and a young radio operator who has been labeled a coward. Though the stories aren't particularly engaging, fighting for four different armies works because it gives you a sense of how much effort it took to wrest control of France from the Germans and that it wasn't just the United States that lost men and women in World War II.
The game opens with a brief training mission. Here, you'll learn how to fire weapons and throw grenades, as well as how to move around. The training mission is sufficient in other versions of the game where you just have to learn how the buttons are mapped on a standard controller, but here you're learning a whole new control scheme, and the training doesn't get the job done. You'll have to learn on the fly, which initially means a lot of frustrating deaths as you fumble with the controls. Movement is controlled by the analog stick on the Wii's Nunchuk. You look around and aim by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen and moving it. Moving your reticle around the inside portion of the screen affects your aim, while moving it near the edges makes you look up and down or turn left and right. You can fire your weapon by pressing the B button, but this doesn't allow for much accuracy. For precision aiming, you'll want to press and hold A, which raises your gun to eye level and lets you use the weapon's sight. The basic mechanics work quite well and are the easiest aspect of the controls to learn, though it will be quite a while before you're a crack shot.
There are a couple of alternate control schemes, but each one is limited in some way by the physical position of the buttons on the Wii Remote--specifically, any move mapped to the D pad. Any time you need to hit the D pad you've got to adjust your grip slightly, and this causes the remote to move, which in turn alters where you're looking or aiming. This makes it extremely difficult to throw smoke or frag grenades with any accuracy. An alternate control scheme lets you toss grenades by making a throwing motion with the Nunchuk. This feels neat when it works, but you still have to press the D pad to select the grenade, and sometimes the game doesn't recognize your throwing motion. You can perform a melee attack by pressing down on the remote or by moving the remote forward. Once again, this almost always screws up your onscreen view.
Close-quarters combat is an uninteresting but new addition to the series.
There are other surprises in store. Rather than hitting a button to plant a bomb and then running away, you'll put in the fuse by moving the remote, rotate the Nunchuk a few times to twist the fuse, and then pull back on the remote to arm the bomb. There's also a close-quarters battle mechanic that takes place when you're surprised by an enemy. Some of the scenes look pretty cool, but the mechanics are boring, and there are less than 10 of these situations in the entire game, so they're rather worthless. These scripted events have you rapidly moving the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk forward and back to fight off your attacker and then make a sweeping motion to finish him off. The game tells you to turn the controls sideways here, but that doesn't seem to work--keeping them perfectly straight works best.
Not all of the game's action takes place with you on foot. There are a few missions that place you in the driver's seat of a jeep, and it's your job to follow the checkpoints and avoid enemy fire while escaping from an area or rescuing hostages. You'll need to hold the remote and Nunchuk in the 9 and 3 o'clock position to steer. Like many other aspects of the controls, this takes getting used to, and even when you get the hang of it, it doesn't add a whole lot to the game.
The game starts with a bang. After your training is complete, you hop in the back of a truck and ride into battle. When you get out of the truck, or rather are blown out of the truck by an explosion, you're boosted over the cemetery wall. Here, you'll find yourself in the midst of one of the more impressive firefights in any first-person shooter. Everywhere you look, there's carnage. Bullets and grenades whiz through the air while bombs explode all around, leaving soldiers to scramble for whatever cover they can find--be it a bombed-out mausoleum or a gravestone. The bodies of your fallen comrades are strewn about the battlefield--a stark reminder that unless you want to join them, you need to keep moving. A later level sees you making your way across a pasture using a tank (and even the carcasses of dead cows) as cover to shield yourself from the Nazi soldiers who surround the field. Most of the rest of the game's 14 missions aren't quite as intense as these two examples, but there's rarely a dull moment to be found.
If stuff's not blowing up, you're doing something wrong.