Much has been said about the rich and inclusive history in this year’s edition of the famous Call of Duty video game franchise.
It may be, but “Call of Duty: The Vanguard“, released Friday for PlayStation 5, PS4, Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, and PC ($ 59.99 and up, rated Mature for ages 17 and up) loses little time on display at first. , the single-player story mode immerses you in the action of WWII.
You are part of a team of special forces soldiers who are trying to requisition a German train heading for Hamburg. It’s a fast-paced, frenzied fight as you and your five teammates jump between the cars of two parallel trains. You have to avoid the Nazi fire on the two tracks and the German military trucks buzzing between the tracks.
Your team, led by Sgt. Arthur Kingsley, a multilingual black officer in the British Army, discovers that the Germans have hatched a secret plan, the war not ending in favor of the Nazis. Their investigation leads to – semi-spoiler here – the team’s capture and sets up an intriguing story device.
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As the captured characters are interviewed by a Nazi officer, we get each other’s story in flashback. This is a device that doesn’t always work in movies, books, or games, but looks appropriate here.
Each character’s hero journey involves a different type of mission. Stealth is vital in Kingsley’s goal of meeting other paratroopers who landed in France before D-Day. And it’s still important after fighter pilot Wade Jackson crashed on Bougainville Island. in the Pacific and must fight his way through a jungle full of Japanese troops to save his gunner.
Dexterity and speed are necessary when you play as Polina Petrova, before she takes on a sniper rifle and becomes Stalingrad’s most feared shooter. It is especially difficult to guide her towards the dismantling of a truly malicious Nazi figure. Later, she is responsible for monitoring her brother and other fighters in Stalingrad, then the Special Forces squad – and as a sniper you feel that duty.
You’ll want to focus on good grenade aim as you play as Australian explosives expert Lucas Riggs, one of the Tobruk Rats, the Australian troops in North Africa who pushed back General Erwin’s desert tank forces. Rommel.
Eventually, a military leader decides to assemble this disparate group and send them on a secret mission to the heart of “Call of Duty: Vanguard”. Hitler is dead, but some uber-Nazis are planning a Fourth Reich. You and the team must prevent this from happening.
Using a focus on leadership feature – press the up button on the PlayStation 5 – is essential when the team has to fight called-in villains jagermord, almost unstoppable soldiers deployed by the successor of the Führer who spit smoke, making them more difficult to target. You won’t want to face them alone; point the squad in their direction and attack when it’s safe.
It took about 11 hours to finish the fight in regular mode, and I really enjoyed the adventure. There were nits to pick. A defeated villain was floating in midair suspended halfway through a doorway at one point. Every now and then an enemy patrol would walk to the right and not notice me if I went from lying down to standing to shoot. Again, this could be because I’m playing on relatively easy Regular difficulty – a man needs to know his limits.
Speaking of violence, there are some pretty bloody battles here. A reminder: the game is rated “Mature” for ages 17 and over, by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, for blood and gore, and strong language. There is a graphics content setting that you can turn on or off, which should mitigate the effects, if you want to.
But overall, the game’s storyline, its sultry bomber effects hitting Stalingrad, and its tough combat – the fast-paced air battles in the Pacific skies, for example – have all been masterful.
And I hope the game leads players to learn more about the real-world fighters these characters are based on – and the story of the 93rd Infantry, a unit of black soldiers in the US Army, which in the game helps Jackson in his mission. Diversity and inclusion were touchstones for the Sledgehammer Games studio owned by Activision, which developed “Call of Duty: Vanguard” and had previously created Call of Duty: WWII, released in 2017.
When players complete the story campaign, there is a lot more to “Call of Duty: Vanguard” including multiplayer battles and you can kill zombies in the pursuit of a story started in Zombies mode. ‘last year “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. “
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.