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Call of Duty 3

by Daniel Bloodworth - January 25, 2007, 7:51 pm EST
Total comments: 7


Activision drops their WWII bomb on Wii. Too bad it's a dud.

Like endless columns of Nazi soldiers, WWII shooters will probably never end their march on game consoles. Activision rolled out Call of Duty 3 in time for the Wii launch, but with some frustrating control and design headaches, the game suffers from more than genre fatigue.

The good news is that COD3's basic control layout works fine. Some players may want to adjust the sensitivity in the game options, but once you've taken ten or fifteen minutes to get a feel for it, the pointer feels more natural than a dual analog controller. Jumping and crouching are mapped to the C and Z triggers on the nunchuk, with the analog stick controlling movement. On the remote, holding the A button brings up your gun's sight for precision aiming, and squeezing the B trigger fires your weapon.

There are a handful of gestures used with the standard controls, but they are redundantly mapped to buttons on the remote in case you aren't happy with the gesture response. You switch weapons by either moving the nunchuk sideways or pressing up on the cross pad. You reload by pulling the nunchuk upwards or pressing minus. Melee attacks can be done by either shoving the remote forward or pressing down on the cross pad. The melee gesture feels natural when you get the timing down, but hitting the button is quicker and more reliable when you need it.

Similarly, the grenade motion is so unreliable that Activision has it turned off by default. The standard setup is just to press left or right on the control pad, but with the gesture turned on, you have to press the button and then make a throwing motion with your left hand. Meanwhile, the grenade is already counting down. If you don't manage to throw it in time, it's an instant death, which is a real problem because the game is really picky about the motion when you attempt to throw. Throw. Throw. Dang it! Throw! BOOM!

Along the way, you encounter various situations with specific motion controls. Driving works pretty well. You take the wheel of the jeep by holding the controllers at ten and two and tilt them side to side to steer, pressing the triggers for gas and brake. In contrast, tank controls are set up so that the analog stick drives and the remote is used to aim the cannon. There are also times when you'll use gestures to row boats, aim larger weapons, or wrestle off German soldiers. I don't really have a problem with the controls in any of these examples.

What I do have a problem with is planting bombs.

Let's stop for a second. Why is it that every time I'm supposed to plant a bomb, I can see the bomb as I walk up to the object? There is an animation of me planting the bomb, but I can see the bomb before I put it there, every time. Was someone lazy? Yes, someone was lazy.

As if that didn't destroy the sense of immersion already, the controls when planting a bomb are so unresponsive that if I had only played Call of Duty 3, I'd be convinced that the Wii controller was broken. You stick the bomb (which was already there) on whatever object you need to blow up. Push the nunchuk forward to insert the fuse and rotate it to screw the fuse in. Finally, pull the pin by pulling the nunchuk back. I said pull. Pull. Pull. Okay, up? Pull. That didn't work. Umm… angle it a bit. Pull. Make sure it's perfectly straight. Pull. Pullpullpullpullpull. PULL!@#%*

At some heroic moment in time, the pin will actually come out. I cannot fathom why this requires razor's edge precision. And if you think that it's because the nunchuk has cheaper sensors or something, there's a crane later in the game that proves you can make terrible motion controls for the remote too.

Most of the gameplay is pretty standard stuff. Move forward, take out a few enemies, clear a house, spot targets for bombers, etc. COD3 doesn't seem to have quite as much variety as 2005's Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. The only levels that really stand out are the ones that let you get behind the wheel. One level in particular has you driving from house to house to rescue captured comrades. However, much of the game fails to really draw you in, and there are several annoying scripted sequences.

Multiple areas have what I like to call "invisible walls of death". You see, Call of Duty 3 doesn't like explorers. You follow the guy in front of you, or you die. So, you come upon this area with four or five Germans manning machine guns, with a tank providing cover for you. Your squad mates move on down the way, but you want to see if there's anything over by the gunners. You carefully pick off each guy, make sure there's no one left, then start to move around the tank. Popopopopop! The damage meter takes about twenty hits in two seconds and you, sir, are dead. There weren't endless enemies, no mines, no sound of gunfire, you simply crossed some arbitrary line and before you could even react, you died.

One stage places you in a factory. You clear the bad guys from every building, then close off the entrances around the perimeter. The moment the last entrance is sealed, your radar lights up like a Christmas tree: there are enemy soldiers everywhere. The dialogue tries to play it off like a counterattack, but they didn't move in, they just appeared. It seriously makes you wonder why you just ran around wasting your time.

However, the winner for bad game design here goes to an objective called "Clear the Courtyard". This is one of the first goals you have in the Crossroads level. Now I don't know about you, but when I read this objective, I tend to think that the game wants me to clear the courtyard, right? By this, it sounds like my goal is to take out all the enemies in the area before I move on. Well, apparently, I am wrong.

I position myself at the outskirts of the courtyard and attempt to kill all the enemies there. The enemies keep coming and coming and coming. I move forward and position myself in one of the buildings, and after a while, I find myself dead. I give it another go, but this time, I plow through the buildings surrounding the courtyard. I've shot the minimum number of enemies, but look there: "Clear the Courtyard" has been completed. Again, this is not because I skillfully took down each of my opponents, but because I ran to an invisible line in the level that tells the game I am done. Had I not gotten to that line, the enemies would have kept respawning without end.

All told, Call of Duty 3 is kind of a funny beast. The main control scheme works really well and makes the game worth a rental for anyone who just wants to get their hands on a Wii shooter. However, some of the simpler tasks are somehow completely broken, and the game as a whole is pretty uninspiring. Since the Wii version doesn't have a multiplayer mode, there really isn't much to come back to.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 7 7.5 6 4 6

Overall, the game is in about the same ballpark as the GameCube version of COD2: Big Red One. However, there are some sloppy pieces like bombs attached to items before they're planted. Cut-scenes appear to either be pre-rendered or taken from another version of the game that has more texture effects.


Guns, explosions, battle cries, heavy breathing. Most of the elements are all right, but what about that voice acting? The game shifts between US, Canadian, British, and Polish units, but while the accents of the main characters vary, the troops on the battlefield always sound American.


Call of Duty 3 has some really broken and frustrating moments, but the core control scheme actually works pretty well.


There are a few high points and a few really annoying parts, but most of the game is just straightforward and kind of boring. Getting stuck in the environment and having to reset isn't fun, and neither is running out of bullets because the enemies are endless and the game didn't tell you to move five steps to the right.


Call of Duty 3 really only lasts about eight or ten hours. After that, the only other option is to try it on a higher difficulty level. The Wii version lacks a multiplayer mode of any kind, which is a big draw for other versions of the game.


The main controls are good, but Call of Duty 3 is rather short, and it has more than its share of unnecessary frustrations.


  • Driving jeeps is fun
  • Natural and responsive shooter controls
  • Boring overall
  • Level design flaws
  • Unclear objectives
  • Unresponsive motion controls for some tasks
Review Page 2: Conclusion


ShyGuyJanuary 25, 2007

Out of curiousity Bloodworth, have you tried Red Steel or Far Cry on the Wii? what did you think of those?

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusJanuary 25, 2007

I have not played the final build of Red Steel, but I should probably rent it sometime. I'm not touching Far Cry.

chaingunsofdoomJanuary 26, 2007

This review is probably around where I'd rank it. I might give it a 7 overall. A definte rental.

Aiming controls were really well done and I couldn't go back to play it on another console after I finished the Wii version. Graphics could've been better. No multiplayer is understandable since it was a release title but it should never happen again if there are sequels or whatever in the future. I liked the story and really liked playing different Allies and I liked the unlockable video extras you got from real Veterans.

It seems I missed a whole whack of the stuff mentioned in the review... I never encountered the 'death wall' even once. Maybe I just followed the missions too well? I did have tons of trouble driving though (missed a turn, back up, oops wrong way, oops mortar shell killed me). The tanks were really fun. My main gripe was the waves of spawning that occur (guys would run to the exact same spots where I just sniped 'em) and continue to do so until you did what you were supposed to (which usually meant to move somewhere).

I think having the bombs "in place" was only to show you where they needed to go, which is kinda cheesy. Instead of anywhere on the tank/wall/whatever, they forced you to go to that glowing yellow box. It didn't bother me much though, and the pulling the pin part was really easy for me. I was watching someone play the 360 version, and the bombs were even more convoluted on there - they had to do have half-rotations on the right analog stick with different button sequences. Really odd. Oh, and that 'clear the courtyard' thing might just be a grammatical issue: clear as in - 'kill everyone!' OR clear as in: 'get out of there!'. I don't remember what I did on that level. face-icon-small-smile.gif

SeaBassJanuary 26, 2007

*sigh* i disagree with yet another review. Driving was one of the game`s strong points? If you say so. Throwing grenades was a breeze though...planting bombs is another story.

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusJanuary 26, 2007

Throwing grenades is a breeze when you're just using the cross pad. But the optional throwing motion doesn't seem to work unless you do it perfectly.

SeaBassJanuary 27, 2007

Well if you`re having trouble throwing grenades I`ve got a tip: simply flick the nunchuk forward. DO NOT use a realistic throwing motion. hope tht helps

KDR_11kJanuary 27, 2007

Why use the gesture at all then?

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Call of Duty 3 Box Art

Genre Shooter
Developer Treyarch

Worldwide Releases

na: Call of Duty 3
Release Nov 19, 2006
jpn: Call of Duty 3
Release TBA
eu: Call of Duty 3
Release Dec 08, 2006
aus: Call of Duty 3
Release Dec 06, 2006
RatingMature (15+)

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