Have You Played… Call of Duty 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Call of Duty 2 [official site] tends to get forgotten about, sandwiched as it is between the huge success of Call of Duty and the truly gargantuan success of Call of Duty 4 (we don’t talk about Call of Duty 3 here in PC town). This is an unfortunate state of affairs, as it might just be the best game in the series.

It’s essentially the same as the first one, but with a much more modern feel. In fact, given there’s only eighteen months between them, it is quite remarkable how farther advanced the sequel is. Despite its dazzling scripted set-pieces, Call of Duty was a traditional corridor shooter for large chunks of its play-time, straining at the edges of what id tech 3 was capable of. Call of Duty 2, by comparison, has far more natural-looking level-design, with wide-open battlefields and sprawling North African cityscapes. It even let you occasionally choose which route you wanted to take through the level. Revolutionary!

This is a cracking shooter. Missions like the British Assault on El Dabaa and the battle for Hill 400 still stand out through their thunderous intensity, and the whole experience feels wonderful under the fingers, with slick movement and snappy shooting – particularly those lovely bolt-action rifles. The only downside is that the Russian campaign, which was the high-point of the first Call of Duty, here feels surprisingly anaemic. Oh, and it introduced that stupid pinging noise for grenade impacts, which makes them all sound like they’re made from porcelain.

Anyway, if you feel a sudden, totally unprovoked urge to blast a few Nazis, and you don’t fancy the alternative dystopia of the new Wolfenstein, then I think you’ll be surprised by how well Call of Duty 2 holds up.


  1. Infinitron says:

    This post looks incomplete.

    Also, no it isn’t. The first levels are dreadfully dull, like they were still learning to use the engine. It gets better later on, but not as good as CoD1 and its expansion.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Someone done a whoopsie. It’s fixed now, thanks.

    • Flopdong says:

      Agreed, COD and its expansion were better in my opinion. The battle of Kursk in the expansion still stands out in my mind.
      I enjoyed COD 2 though, the mission where you run across the desert using tanks as cover was pretty rad. (El-alamain i think)

  2. Eightball says:

    The North African levels were amazing (except for the start of the one where you have to escape from a building that was being machine gunned – took a lot of checkpoint reloads to escape successfully). I thought the other levels were both less visually interesting and also felt more openly artificial – particularly the endless waves of Germans that will keep coming until you get to a certain point.

    The North African levels had that stuff too but somehow didn’t feel *as* mechanical in that regard. Maybe I was more easily distracted by how good it looked.

    • GernauMorat says:

      North Africa was great, as you say, and France in the American campaign was good too. Unfortunately, the Russian campaign is grey and repetitive, and I think you have to play it first.

  3. anon459 says:

    I didn’t have a PC at the time but it was my favorite launch title on the Xbox 360. It definitely felt epic at the time coming from the original Xbox. I never did manage to beat Hill 400 on veteran difficulty.

  4. EternalPioneer says:

    Important thing that you don’t mention at all is multyplayer

    CoD 1 and United Offensive had fun multyplyaer, but it all really went off with CoD 2. Big improvement, made the game really popular.

    Funny stuff, I never even played campaign of CoD 2, only multyplayer (which is weird since i liked campaign of CoD 1)! That is how good CoD 2 MP was!

    Even more awesome thing, There is still active community! You can still download and play on many big servers with full players!

    I remember even playing in clan wars, it was intense

    Good game, great multyplayer!!!

    • natebud says:

      I always liked COD2 multiplayer but it doesn’t really hold up. I returned to it not to long ago only to find that the combat had devolved into strategic grenade spam on half of the maps, where you couldn’t get two seconds of life before you were blown to smithereens. It’s a real shame.

    • Skydancer says:

      We hold a COD2 tournament at the biggest lan party in Italy each year, and it consistently has the most partecipants out of all the other competitions, even the mainstream ones.

  5. natebud says:

    I’ve been to Playstationtown and they don’t talk about Call of Duty 3 there either.

  6. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    I played both CoD and CoD2 for the first time a few months ago.
    I felt that generally CoD2 was a bit better most ways, but it did a much worse job of hiding the fact that it was just spawning waves of nazis for you to mow down, until you managed to cross them magic invisible line on the floor that said you’d reached a checkpoint.

  7. bfar says:

    Hear hear

  8. Hunchback says:

    Yes i have played it, it’s practically the only CoD worth anything in terms of MP. It had proper servers, proper gameplay, an actual setting and atmosphere…
    I am really sad that things went console-way since then and the series turned into a load of shite… (ok well, maybe CoD4 was fine)

  9. aircool says:

    The multiplayer was fantastic. A couple of scoped weapons that required skill to use and the rest were iron sights.

    So sad that BF1 is all quickscoping and SMG’s. CoD turned to shit after CoD2, especially online. Sure there are more ‘realistic’ online shooters, but they’re a bit too much for my liking.

  10. DantronLesotho says:

    Beating CoD 2 on veteran was one of my favorite gaming accomplishments. It was tough as nails and great fun.

  11. Gomer_Pyle says:

    One of My favourites was The Battle of El Alamein.
    (And most of the other North Africa ones, for that matter.)

  12. GameOverMan says:

    I play the campaign from time to time using mods like WCP, Merciless or COD24ever, they make the experience a bit different. There are some good single player maps too.

  13. hobnob says:

    This is one of the few COD’s I’ve been back to a lot. Some glorious moments. The dogfight over El Dabaa as you advance on the town is still genuinely beautiful. The Stukas in their dance of death with the Hurricanes (Spitfires?), goddamn majestic.