Monday, 6 September 2021

Call of Duty (Nokia N-Gage review)

Developer: OmegaSoft
Publisher: Activision
Released: 2004

Call of Duty is a first-person shooter and the first squad based World War II FPS on a handheld.

There's 11 missions and you battle the Nazi war machine from the perspectives of an American, a British and a Russian soldier. Weapons include rifles, sub-machine guns and grenades, and you can also bash enemies during close-quarters combat. The most egregious flaw is the limited draw distance, as enemies will often fire with pinpoint precision despite you not being able to see them on screen; using your gun's zoom feature does help slightly, but not enough to stop enemy soldiers from getting in a shot. Even when bad guys are in your immediate vicinity, it can be incredibly difficult to see them due to the game's dark, pixelated graphics where character sprites tend to blend into the scenery. The upshot of this is many cheap deaths and then waiting an age for the mission to reload itself into memory. Furthermore, enemies are total bullet sponges (head shots rarely have any effect), your teammates are utterly useless (preferring to stand around and let you do all the work) and the frame-rate dips significantly during heavy combat; the latter leads to severe over/under-steer while aiming, as well as many occasions where your button presses are completely ignored. Mercifully, you can save your progress at any point during a mission to alleviate some frustration (including a generous helping of four individual save slots), and in reality it's the only way to get through the game. Despite all of these flaws, what's infuriating is that the level design is actually very good (especially the claustrophobic bunker runs) with intricate, sprawling maps for you to explore and the lengthy missions do result in some good value for money.

Call of Duty has some solid level design, but it's completely and utterly hampered by its technical issues that render the gameplay borderline unplayable at an alarming frequency. It feels as if you're simultaneously fighting both the enemy and the game engine, and in the long run seeing it through to the end credits is a real slog.


Random trivia: Activision also published Spider-Man 2 (2004), Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (2003), X-Men Legends (2005) and X-Men Legends II (2005) on the N-Gage.

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