These are the things that Call of Duty II does so well, throwing you kicking and screaming into the action. However, you may ask, whats so different from the first one? Well, essentially, its the same kind of game. Infinity Ward (wisely in my opinion) has decided to keep with the same formula and enhance it. Gone are the few below par solo missions that graced COD I, replaced by a game that from beginning to end is about you as one soldier among many, playing your part. Dont expect swathes of intricate story, COD II isnt about that. Just like the original game, you spend some time with the Russian, British and American armys, picking up where you left off with the Russians, taking over Stalingrad, followed by the British in North Africa with a variety of desert missions that see you driving tanks amongst various other objectives.
Finally, the American missions see you take a foothold in France, and then follow the Americans as they take the (very difficult) Hill 400, and on over the Rhine into Germany. As you progress through one set of missions, it will unlock the next set, so you have some freedom to choose which order to play them in, which is a nice touch. There have been tweaks to the overall game play design. One thing you will instantly notice is the controversial absence of a health bar. In a bid to make the game feel more realistic, there are no health packs in COD II. Instead, if you get hit a few times, you will see a red haze appear around your screen, and if you continue to ignore it, then you will start breathing heavily with your vision getting blurred. Instead of running around, hunting levels for health packs, you can dive into cover and take a breather and your health will regenerate. In general, this works pretty well, although on the easier (first two) difficulty levels, it can be all too easy just to keep re-healing yourself meaning that some of the intensity is taken out of the game. On the harder difficulty settings though, the balance is excellent on the whole, allowing you to duck down when you need to, but not being too all powerful to make you into an unstoppable killing machine. No doubt this will divide gamers opinion, and some will prefer the traditional system, however I have to say that I actually like the idea, and it stops you constantly monitoring your health level.
'When you take damage your vision will turn red and you will become short of breath'