Call of Duty 3 for the Xbox 360 is one of the most intense first-person shooters I've ever played, and the current-gen PS2 and Xbox versions did a decent job of replicating this experience, albeit with less striking visuals. With Activision showing strong support for the Wii at launch, Call of Duty 3 is one of the publisher's early releases, but it suffers from too many control issues to be held in as high regard as the other versions of the game.
Set during the summer of 1944, Call of Duty 3 sees the player switch from one nation to another (the British, Americans, Polish and Canadians) with the overall goal being to liberate Paris. The problem with switching from nation to nation is that you'll feel a little disconnected from the story, but the on-going narrative does its best to keep things together, even if it doesn't wholly succeed.
At first glance everything is very Call of Duty 2, with the game mechanics, minimal HUD, regenerating health, and those familiar, if rather panic inducing grenade symbols, all present and correct. It's a good job too, as you'll need something familiar to cling onto. Within seconds you'll be running for the nearest cover, and some missions don't even let you move before assaulting you with gunfire. To say Call of Duty 3 is explosive would be putting it lightly - it's absolute chaos, and you rarely get a moment to breathe, let alone think. It's a total assault on the senses, with all hell breaking loose on-screen and your ear drums being blown out at the same time.
The problem is that the Wii controls simply don't feel right. After a while you'll gain a degree of accuracy, but you never feel as in-control as when playing the other versions of the game, and the whole control scheme seems shoe-horned onto the Wii-mote and Nunchuck. Reaching for any buttons on the Wii-mote other than A and B while trying to aim is a recipe for disaster, and unfortunately you'll have to do this a lot throughout the eight or so hours it'll take you to reach the end. For a game as intense as this, the controls really need to be spot-on, and that simply isn't the case here.
'The problem is that the Wii controls simply don't feel right. After a while you'll gain a degree of accuracy, but you never feel as in-control as when playing the other versions of the game...'
A number of motion controls have been added for actions such as changing weapons, melee attacks and grenade throwing, but they aren't guaranteed to work and one instance of a movement failing to be recognised at a vital moment is enough to put you off and switch to standard button controls - where possible. Grenades can now be hurled back at enemies if you can pick up and return in time (something that scares me each time I do it), vehicle sections play a much bigger role, and you occasionally fight mano-a-mano with an enemy soldier. Driving proves to be pretty terrible in the Wii game, with the steering wheel-like controls causing more than a few headaches, and the one-on-one fights feel very clumsy.
You also get little mini-game-like moments for events like laying an explosive charge, but you're invincible during these moments and rather than adding to immersion they take you out of the action. You'll get a few other pretty pointless events, such as crowbaring a door and operating a crane, but they could just have easily been cut from the game. On the Wii these sections are incredibly annoying due to some very hit-and-miss motion sensitive controls. The inclusion of fixed weapons, such as firing a mortar on a blocked road, is a nice touch though, as you feel like you're in control and doing something meaningful.
A number of other problems are likely to aggravate you throughout the game. The first is stupid AI squad mates. When you enter a building they'll often bundle in behind you, which is fine, but it's not so great when you try to retreat from a maniacal machine gunner, only to find the way to cover is blocked by said squad mates. With the screen flashing red, your escape route blocked, and panic rising, it's a sure-fire recipe for stress, and lots of it. What's worse is that at various points my character and AI characters became stuck on scenery, forcing me to restart from the previous checkpoint.
Call of Duty 3 on the Xbox 360 looked incredible, and while the Wii shouldn't be judged to the same standards, it's still a little disappointing. The Wii version uses the same colour pallet as the 360 game, but blurry textures make the extensive use of brown and green look rather messy. This has a negative impact on gameplay too, as enemy soldiers are often hard to pick out, with their outfits blending into the background. You could argue that this is effective camouflage, but it makes for a less enjoyable game. The great smoke that appeared in the other versions of the game gladly makes an appearance, but this does cause the frame rate to drop fairly regularly.
While there's no Dolby Digital 5.1, the Wii version of the game does support Dolby Pro Logic II, which is very impressive in its own right. Some of the weapons aren't quite as booming as they could be, but the overall level of audio is great, with thunderous explosions, constant chatter from your squad mates and enemy soldiers, and some impressive voice work from a fairly large supporting cast. On the presentation front the in-engine cutscenes are the biggest letdown, not because they're poor, but because they seem to take an age to start, with everyone standing around waiting for something to happen.
And that's your lot for Call of Duty 3 on the Wii. There's no multiplayer functionality at all, so an impressive single-player campaign was vital, but numerous control issues make the experience far less enjoyable than it is on other platforms. Despite some visual shortcomings, the atmosphere created in the game is still impressive, but unless you really must own another FPS for your Wii, you'd be better off experiencing the action elsewhere.