Last week, gamers lined up at their local retailers to purchase Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty. This game was such an instant success that Activision went ahead and bought up Infinity Ward. Already you can practically smell expansion pack.

Call of Duty’s demo may have been impressive, but that was just the icing on the cake. If there is one World War Two shooter that you plan on buying this year, then pick up COD now! Most gamers and readers are already familiar with what has been reported about the American campaigns in the two demos, so I’ll focus on the new goodies. However, I must comment that my favorite American level was when you and two fellow squad members are sent cruising through the country side in a tin can doubling as a car. Your mission is to reach HQ and get help. The action in this level is worthy of all kinds of awards, but more important, it really teaches you teamwork.

Over the last few days, I have heard from several fellow gamers, who have been quite critical of the British campaign. Yet, it was my favorite portion because it practically mirrors one of my favorite WW2 movies: A Bridge Too Far. In that movie, Sir Anthony Hopkins was tasked with capturing and defending a bridge. COD provides a similar series of events.

Your commando unit’s glider lands in a nearby field at night. After being tossed like a salad, you regain your balance and move out with your team. You then have to fight your way through a small village to capture both sides of a bridge. The next level you are faced with is a massive German counterattack. It is all you can do to stay alive, as your fellow commandos start dropping like flies. During the defense of the bridge, there were several times that I was forced to use hand-to-hand combat. Ammunition was available; there just was no time to reload. This is a common occurrence in COD. This British level is one that I will continue to replay, even on the hardest levels.

The epic campaign, by far, is the one that focuses on the capture of Stalingrad and the eventually journey to Berlin. Although I will not give it a way, the opening sequence will literally leave you as giddy as a schoolgirl. Stalingrad proves a formidable challenge, as your character is ordered to serve as human bait. Eventually, you grab a dead soldier’s rifle to make your way to the flank of the German defenders in Red Square. The musical score during the Russian campaign was as moving as the battles. It actually made feel a desire to free “mother Russia.” The other Russian mission you will want to replay is Pavlov’s house. Most of the time I used hand-to-hand combat because the Germans just sent wave after wave of soldiers at my unit. In the end, I was the only one to survive and I did it be cowering in the attic. The only mission in the game that felt forced was the tank level, where your character, an ace sniper, was forced into the tank division. This mission felt comical because, in my opinion, it just really did not belong. Yet, it was very cool blowing up buildings and running over Nazis.

Though COD is a top-notch game—more like WW2 simulator—it did have its share of problems and disappointments. For starters, this game is disappointingly short, even though it comes on two CDs. The designers needed about six more levels to balance it out with the other WW2 shooters currently on the market. Puzzles are almost nonexistent, so you will not need any hint books. Although the graphics engine should be showing its age, COD holds up well. In fact, the grenade detonations are by far the most accurate depiction in any game. The exploding terrain also heightens the experience.

The other disappointment I need mention is the sound. My EAX2 card had some slight problems in multiplayer and was not being recognized. Regarding the sound, there were times I wanted to increase the speech volume, but only had controls for the overall master volume. I hope the speech volume is addressed in a patch. My final criticism for the designers is the lack of movie sequences. I would have enjoyed seeing my objective destroyed or the troops landing safely on D-Day.

Multiplayer in COD is an experience unto itself. It beats all other WW2 multiplayer games hands down. The only thing I would like to see is some more weaponry, such as the potato gun. Yes, I am one of those addicted to shooting nades at people.

Multiplayer incorporates all of the learning lessons from MOHAA. You have stationery guns and some very challenging game types. The “Behind Enemy Lines” level was most enjoyable, even though it quickly becomes a chaotic “kill fest.” Axis soldiers who kill allies instantly spawn as allies. The standard games also are just as enjoyable. However, what makes COD different is that you really need to use stealth in multiplayer, too. Of course, you can run and gun it, but you’ll be quickly dispatched by an enemy sniper. The maps were conceived well, so every weapon type is used successfully. Pistols

In conclusion, COD is worth the money. Although its single player game is a bit short, you will be replaying it often. The multiplayer is solid action, so much so that I plan on trading in my other WW2 games for credit. This is a gamer’s dream, so take note game designers because we want to see many more like it. COD’s cinematic thrills combine with a realistic grittiness that grunts experienced in WW2 to deliver a knockout title.