Calling Call of Duty 1 "retro" is maybe a little strange, it’s only been around since 2003, but I felt like playing through the sheer awesomeness of this game again! I got the game along my Hardened Edition of Modern Warfare 2 and it’s been lying on my 360 hard drive unused since. So a couple of weekends ago I decided to play it. I played through the original on PC, including its add-on disc, seven years ago. So yes, I know how good this game was, and after playing through it again it still is.
Call of Duty 1 followed in the footsteps of the Medal of Honor series, and together with it both of the series are to “blame” for the masses of WW2 games that have emerged since. However, the CoD and MoH series are the best at the genre, and what CoD did differently from MoH was to make the scenes depicted and the variation of scenarios better. CoD1 started the tradition in the series of playing for different countries armies. Changing from taking part in US, British and Russian campaigns during the second world war.
COD1 took the change of making the battles on big scales and taking a varied amount of historic battles into it. For today’s standard the game looks old, it seems like a HD version of PS2 games, but the controls and gameplay still is smooth and fun. The lack of physics and the amount of scripted scenes seem a little out of place, but they don’t make the experience bad.
The playthrough has been a nice trip down memory lane and there are some very cool settings in the game. Stalingrad and the dam-busting levels come to mind as the best. Would I recommend it for players seven years on? Well it still is good to play, and if you can accept older graphics you should give it a try on PC or the 360. If you get the PC version, remember to pick up the add-on disc United Offensive too, it’s great!
Over to Alan Wake! 2003 comes back as a year to remember here too! It’s the year Max Payne 2 came out, it’s been seven years since we got a game from the Finnish developers Remedy. Has the wait been worth it? Oh, hell yes!
The game starts with the nightmare of the main character Alan Wake, who is a famous writer. The nightmare serves as a tutorial level for the game and after you wake up the story is introduced and the main game begins. Right from the beginning the control system and the heavy feeling of the shooting quickly grow on you. The gameplay in AW is actually quite simple, yet fairly original. The game is centered around the darkness that takes over the world at night and it makes you use light to take down the enemies in combination with standard weapons. You will need to remove the darkness from the enemies, then shoot them.
This combat gives the game a strategic feel, and puts you in some hectic moments when you are attacked by several enemies far from any safe places where light is present. You will after a while become very good at dodging enemies and finding out how to attack and stop them, but it will take some training.
What really grabs you in AW is the fascinating story and the natural environments which serve as a great scenery for the creepy story to take place in. It’s the combination of a really well written and fascinating story and the scary dark world and sense of being totally alone that really makes you want to simply continue playing and playing the game. It’s one of those games that you simply have to keep on playing after it’s started. I almost played the game in one long playtrough. However if you want to take a pause the game does an excellent job of giving you a short video of what happened previously in the game to remind you!
I’m fascinated by the fantastic environments, how the woodlands look so natural and the feeling of loneliness is so well presented to the player. I would have liked even more freedom in them actually, but they do a fantastic job of giving you the sense of freedom. Other small complaints are the little amounts of enemy types. They could have varied it more to give the fights new approaches and strategies and while the voice acting is fantastic, the lip sync also needs an overhaul.
This is one of those games that really amazes you throughout, it’s one of those games where the story, gameplay and environments all go together perfectly. Just like Bioshock or Silent Hill, it’s a scary and atmospheric singleplayer experience that you simply shouldn’t miss out on. Alan Wake is in other words a truly excellent and unique game!
Well, I’m off to play more of FF13, BC2 and my second round of Alan Wake.
(This article was first published on Friday, May 21, 2010 on my original IGN blog.)