December 14, 2006 The shooting scenes in Rayman: Raving Rabbids proved that on-the-rails shooters work very well on the Wii, which as well as whetting our appetites for a port of Virtua Cop or Time Crisis, led us to have fairly high expectations of how a first-person shooter (FPS) would fare using the Wii Remote. Call of Duty 3 is the first Wii FPS we've had our hands on - and it's a bittersweet experience.
Like the prior Call of Duty 2, we're back to World War II - in particular, the historic Normandy Breakout, a campaign that allowed Allied troops to liberate Paris. We hope you're not tired of World War II games yet, as at this rate, it doesn't look like they'll ever stop.
It's not really a surprise to find that negotiating an FPS on the Wii is fantastic. Using the Wii Remote to aim and fire, and the nunchuck to move around. Everyone's initial moments with the game will be spent overaiming and jerking about, but within a few minutes players will get the hang of things. Fine aiming through a scope is where the control really shines - it's just never been this easy on a console.
Unfortunately other aspects of the controls don't work so well. The melee action is performed by thrusting the Wii Remote toward the screen, which is performed easily enough, but is difficult to do without moving your aim and disorienting you for just long enough to be annoying.
At intervals throughout the game, moments where specific actions with the Wii Remote and nunchuck are required, like wrestling with a German for a rifle, or driving a jeep. These seem bolted on and add nothing to the experience - bright coloured "do this" animations appearing on the screen acting to the detriment of the players immersion.
Much like Gears of War, there's no health meters or health packs to be seen. After a certain amount of damage, you'll need to take cover for a few seconds to recover full health. Unlike Gears of War, this mechanic makes the game incredibly easy - even beginners will breeze through the single player missions without breaking a sweat. This makes the complete lack of multiplayer the final nail in the coffin here - there's just nothing here to keep you coming back.
The graphics are just average - and will be a major let down for anyone expecting something comparable to the Xbox 360 version's amazing visuals. A more appropriate comparison would be more like the last gen Xbox. They aren't bad enough to detract from the game, but there's just no "wow factor" here at all.
Call of Duty 3 screams "launch title". While it shows us the potential for the Wii to be a fantastic console for FPS games, it fails to deliver on just about all fronts. All detriment aside, the game is definately worth a rental - if only to get a taste of FPS action on the Wii. Take solace in the fact that better graphics and multiplayer modes will grace the Wii eventually, once developers have had enough time to learn the ins and outs of the system.