Online play was fraught with problems for Call of Duty 2 players when it first arrived on the console but subsequent patching turned the game around and kept it high on the list of played games. This time however, no doubt all too aware of these problems a completely independent dedicated team was assigned the daunting task of coding the entire multiplayer section of Call of Duty 3.
On this occasion the stops have truly been pulled out and the multiplayer portion of Call of Duty 3 has become a vastly different experience from its older sibling. With the advent of 24 players online and multi-occupation vehicles the whole experience has changed from the cosy 4 v 4 scenarios we’re all used to playing. For some people this will be a good thing and they will leap headlong into the game and proclaim it as a panacea for all ills. Others though will be more reserved and may have a soft-spot for the good old days back by the piano in Carentan.
Call of Duty 3 offers a selection of game types to be played across nine different maps. Some maps are brought through from the single player campaign whilst others are entirely new. All the maps are large, some being exceptionally so. This is inevitable with the inclusion of 24 online players per game but is daunting for anyone wanting to play amongst a more select band of friends. Playing some of the maps in a 4 v 4 game is akin to organising an orienteering exercise across Dartmoor. If you thought you spawned a long way from the HQ in Call of Duty 2, just grab a set of Nikes and be prepared to put the miles in to get back to base on some of these maps!
The individual maps themselves are well designed and offer a variety of terrain to play across. From burnt out townscapes to village streets, fuel depots and concrete bunkers with gun emplacements variety is certainly not going to be an issue. The inclusion of vehicles had many people (myself amongst them) very concerned that the game would descend into chaos with people desperately seeking the nearest Tiger Tank or Jeep, however the vehicles in the game have not turned out to be the all out destructive force we feared and in some maps are not featured at all. With suitable weaponry they can also be attacked very effectively so often they struggle to find willing drivers at all.
Comparisons with Battlefield 2 are inevitable and the game types available certainly bring the game closer to this than the previous outing did. Game modes range from the usual death match and team death match, headquarters and an all new game type ‘War’.
War is the one game most closely resembling Battlefield as your troops actively seek to overcome strategic points (flags) on the map and then advance forward to the next position. Success comes from capturing the final point or being in control of the battlefield when the timer ticks out. Of all the game types played this seems to be the most popular at present online and that would be good but for the problem of co-ordinating a twelve man team to work co-operatively. This is one area where the game needs a full friends list as only then do you stand a chance of having any type of tactical battle as opposed to all out anarchy on your battlefield! That breakdown in communication and the sheer number of players inevitably means that if you are a loner with an anorexic friends list, public matches will provide little for you in the way of enjoyment.