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     " ...Fundamentally entertaining and a definitely worth playing. "

      Title: Call of Duty 3 by Activision

      Format: Xbox 360 WWII Shooter

      Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo

      The Hype: The definitive shooter of the 360's launch is back for more in this rehash of the classic franchise. But with most everything done and the next great technology upgrade still a long ways off, is there anything they can do to keep the series fresh? Read on, my Monkeys, and find out.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: As you'd expect from their second outing on the "next gen" consoles, it would be hard to call Call of Duty 3 anything but smashing. Though built on the same engine as 2, the extra year has allowed them to squeeze a surprising amount of improvement out of what was already a great looking game. Model detail, environments, effects…they're all huge improvements. Of particular interest is the extra touches that have been added to the characters--who now have remarkably elaborate uniforms and frequently sport scars or other defining features, and the foliage, which is some of the prettiest I've ever seen. It does lose half a point, however, for the lack of detail in some of the HUD models (i.e. the gun you see from your first-person perspective), which really could stand to be more elaborate. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, Call of Duty is a pretty straight forward World War II first-person shooter that is part run-and-gun death fest and part tactical engagement. Fast paced and addictive, it uses mock-ups of real-world battles and a pretty entertaining array of weapons and fuses them with a cinematic style of play and a somewhat arcadey damage model. In general, Call of Duty (CoD) has been considered the definitive WWII FPS series and number 3 has been hotly anticipated by pretty much everyone who indulges in the unadulterated joy of killing Nazis.
          So it's no surprise that, at it's heart, CoD3 is a pretty big case of "more of the same"…especially since there's no major technology increase due out for a while yet, so there wasn't a whole lot more they could do with 3 than they did with 2. What they did decide to add was an even faster pace (often touted as having exponentially more explosions-per-minute than 2 did), more time spent in vehicles, and a new hand-to-hand system that lets you go toe-to-toe with your enemies and struggle for control of weapons. And while all three seem, initially, to be good things, each does it's own to detract a bit from the game as a whole.
          The increase in tempo, while initially entertaining, is actually so severe that you play through pretty much the entire campaign without more than a second or two to breathe. Which, though for serious twitch junkies is probably a blast, for more methodical gamers it makes the entire affair seem a little rushed and rhythmless. As for the extra vehicle aspects, they're also fun when you first start playing--but since the relatively simplistic engine isn't really designed for that kind of play it all feels very base and remedial. Finally, the melee stuff is a fun addition, but in the end it's really nothing more than a gimmick and loses its luster fairly quickly.
          Still, as 3 is, in general, really more-of-the-same as 2, it remains fundamentally entertaining and a definitely worth playing. 3.75 out of 5

      Story and Drama: One of the problems with a series that's been around as long as CoD has is that you will, eventually, start running out of new places to go and objectives to achieve. As such, the story elements of 3 really do start to feel a little recycled, even if it does execute what is presented well.
          They focus on the breakout after Normandy and the liberation of Paris (which is interesting historically, but not particularly game-friendly). It's fun, but it's starting to lose the excitement that we had when playing earlier games. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Starting with the single player, CoD3 has a surprisingly high level of replayability due to a number of factors. First and foremost, the missions often have multiple pathways to reach your objectives and so can be played differently each time you work your way through, which is great. Vastly different levels of difficulty also add enough that you'll likely try and go the campaign again on a tougher level just to enjoy the more intelligent and aggressive AI. And the experience is only enhanced by the multiplayer, which sports a whopping 24 players using six different game types on nine maps (with more promised through Live download). CoD3 also fixes one of our chief complaints about CoD2 by having split-screen play even while linking multiple Xboxes. It's kept from a perfect score only because of the lack of a co-op mode, which the franchise still sorely needs! 4.5 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, Call of Duty 3 is a worthy addition to the franchise and a good game for the money. And while there's nothing really new or innovating added to this latest version, its highly-replayable campaign and massive multiplayer support is still a strong follow-up to the venerable series.

      The Good: Pretty and entertaining, with great multi-player options.

      The Bad: Not much different from 2.

      The Overall Ugly: Worth picking up for pretty well any shooter fan.

      What it's Worth: Market

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