Call of Duty may be a very polarizing franchise now but there was a time where everyone agreed that it felt fresh in a genre that hasn’t oversaturated the market just yet. It helped shape the first person shooter genre and inspire other developers to try new and fresh things. Love it or hate it, its no doubt that Call of Duty helped make your shooter of choice be better than what it would have been. Infinity Ward helped lay the groundwork for what it meant to make a damn good WWII shooter before eventually doing the same for a modern day shooter.
I won’t even try to hide it. Call of Duty is not my preferred first person shooter franchise. I haven’t played a Call of Duty game since the first Black Ops and I’m not entirely sure if I’ll even end up playing Infinite Warfare yet. I’m too busy playing other first person shooter games that scratch the same kind of itch. Halo and Battlefield have always been my preferred shooting games but don’t get me wrong; there was a time where I would gladly throw in a Call of Duty game at launch and play until the rooster cawed knowing the next day was going to be rough from the lack of sleep. The first Call of Duty helped lay the groundwork for what was to come and it has held up pretty well too.
Right from the beginning, this game feels like it’s going to be different. You go through some training and learn how to use your weapons and the controls but in a manner that makes you feel like a soldier. As you do this other soldiers join you in training and you feel like you’re at training camp. Infinity Ward could have just dropped the player into the action and let them learn how the game played and no one would have complained. Hell, that was more standard back then and it’s a complaint many people have about modern games. It was important for them to do it this way though because it helped add to the sense of realism and more importantly the sense of unity with your teammates. It makes things feel more real and adds a bit of heart to the faces you’ll see on this journey.
The sense of camaraderie is what really helps bring me in though. Hearing my teammates yell for help or encouraging us all to push forward or flank the enemy on the left just adds this sense of unity that graphics will never be able to do. Graphically this game might not look like much now but it looked pretty damn good when it first released almost 14 years ago. It has held up well though and still manages to be recognizable and convincing when you crank up the volume and remove outside distractions.
Environments and characters look a little dated now but my only real issue with the game is the lighting and how it isn’t always clear where you can and cannot go. I died a few times attempting to run to areas that weren’t accessible, like a tunnel or a closed door that I’d once again failed to remember can not be opened. Remember, this was over a decade ago so we couldn’t just go wherever we wanted. Many things were just for decoration and so tunnels, closed doors, and many other landmarks remain inaccessible. This is difficult to remember at first and may cause you to die a bit however the biggest consequence of faulty scenery was the disruption of my suspension of disbelief. I can handle rough graphics but when I can’t go somewhere that’s clearly visible in the middle of a firefight and die because I can’t open a door, it’s going to pull me out of the action.
Call of Duty has war down pat, I felt as if I was in World War II, mostly. The atmospheric nature and set pieces that would later propel the franchise to enormous numbers in both players and sales is visible within the groundwork in this first title. There’s a mission that starts off with you parachuting into a field near a farm area where Nazis have set up a base and the way you drop in before crawling up the hill and engaging with the enemy is just incredible. The mission definitely is a great example of less being more. I felt both powerful and vulnerable as I floated towards the Nazis, never knowing what my fate may be.
The combat is highly satisfying and will keep you playing for hours. I enjoyed switching between different weapons and popping off headshots just like I did so many years ago with this game. Graphically it may have less going for it than the Call of Duty games everyone is used to now, but Infinity Ward did such a great job with enemy placement, environment design, and creating a world that feels convincing. Levels feel meaningful and as you travel within them, there’s an adequate but believable amount of enemies. This game never felt as if it was just throwing waves of bad guys at you. Instead it feels like you’re navigating through real life areas and fighting against the hordes of evil to save the world.
The story will take through different spots in the war as you play as American, British, and Soviet soldiers from different angles of the war. This further adds to the sense of immersion that is already in place from playing with a squad of teammates and convincing locations and environments.
It’s been a long time since Call of Duty has been seen a positive force of change in the majority of the industry’s eyes but this game was definitely exactly that. It helped mature the first person shooter landscape and tell stories besides demons and science fiction based locations. This was war. These were your teammates and as far as we were concerned, this was real and it was time to kick ass, kill Nazis, and save the world. Infinity Ward made a damn good game that has definitely remained relevant, meaningful, and fun to play.
Retro Review: Call of Duty
- An undeniable impact on an entire genre
- Exhilarating combat
- Squad of teammates adds to immersion and atmosphere
- Playing as American, British, and Soviet soldiers adds to sense of realism
- Action packed atmosphere
- Health packs may be a drawback for some
- Lighting is very low and makes it hard to see some areas
- Not always clear which areas are inaccessible