Call of Duty 3 Graphics

Graphics

Graphically this is indeed a step up from the previous game. The textures are crisper and more detailed and the surroundings have been modelled to a finer degree. At times in the middle of the game (particularly ‘The Crossroads’ level) I actually found myself clearing a house and then retracing my steps back out into the street simply to take in some of the graphical finesse on display! Grass and trees now wave gently in the breeze and the subtle lighting effects by both night and day all add to the realism of the experience.

This added detail is nowhere more noticeably realised than in the uniforms of the in-game characters. Million dollar NASA laser scanners were employed to produce full body scans of the real uniforms on actors and these were then translated into the actual game models you see. Take a closer look when playing and you’ll appreciate the effort taken, right down to the mud on their trousers as your squad dashes through the fields! This same attention to detail was also used for the motion capturing of key events in the game such as the opening sequence as you ride in the back of the truck to St Lo.

The cinematic sequences and scripted events are woven nicely into the unfolding plot and they help to maintain a level of affinity for the characters within the game. The little ‘digs’ in some of these scenes at allied nationalities by each side is quite amusing and you never feel too stalled by having to watch the cinematic as the level loads in the background. The only exception comes once you have finished the campaign and are seeking some achievements, then the restarting of levels becomes a chore as there is no option to skip any of the sequences and get straight into the game.

The burning buildings, explosions, smoke and rubble have all seen a real polish in execution and the overall feeling as you fight though the narrow streets and cellars is graphically impressive. You start to feel the claustrophobic atmosphere as you fight on a much more up-close level than ever before. Likewise the inclusion of destructible cover now plays an important part as you advance. No longer can you sit behind a pile of crates impervious to MG42 fire. Now the crates shatter and break realistically around you forcing you to keep pushing ever forwards to your objectives.

The frame rate as you play through the campaign is consistent and never really falters too much at all although recent reports suggest that the game is actually playing at a slightly lowered resolution than true 720p HD (1280 x 720) which would help to keep the frame rate consistent. No tearing is evident while playing and the game holds up well against all the other current titles available for the Xbox 360. At times I found you can’t help but just sit back and watch the wondrous chaos unfolding on screen before you, although doing so usually sees you despatched rather rapidly by the Jerry hordes!

Xbox 360: Call of Duty 3

Your weapons arsenal for the onslaught is comprised of the usual range of rifles and machine guns coupled with smoke and grenades for those tough to reach machine gun nests.

Just as in the previous game you are free to scavenge both weapons and ammunition from your defeated enemies, a vital resource when you’re running low on ammunition for your M1 Garand! One area of definite improvement is in the ability to ‘cook’ your grenades before launching, effectively this reduces the fuse time and allows for some pretty impressive incendiary action. Also on the grenade front you are now permitted to throw back any potato mashers that Jerry chucks your way. With a deft flick of buttons you can now send back his messages of death but you’ll need to be quick!

As the game progresses you play through the missions as each of the four Allied forces. Your next missions after St Lo involve the British SAS and will see you getting your hands on a jeep to drive ably manned by your squad mates who will pick off Nazi’s as you race through the streets and on into the rail yard. Ever onward through the countryside and forest you are tasked with the clearing out of bunkers and destroying enemy flack guns before taking to the controls of a Polish tank to clear a path through the villages and advance ever onward towards Chambois.

The game continues at a fairly rapid rate and if you are a veteran of Call of Duty 2 nothing will really come as much of a surprise. Along the way although there is some interesting variation here and there which will certainly test your ambidextrous skills when firing the fixed mortar tubes! I completed the single player in around 7-8 hours on the normal difficulty settings. This was a leisurely romp through the game and it may take others more or less time depending upon their skill levels (I would put myself maybe just above average, but not much!) The option also exists to play on hardened or veteran settings and a run through the earlier missions on veteran certainly shows a step up in the enemies AI ability and accuracy so you should get a reasonable longevity from the single player aspect of the game.

A variety of achievement points are available during this outing of Call of Duty, nearly half of them are awarded for single player campaign play and the remainder for Ranked online play. Some of the campaign achievements are actually quite entertaining to obtain and extend your game time accordingly. You can replay missions which demand you use only melee attacks or shoot only German weapons as well as playing for some secret achievements which will test your driving skill and speed of play!

First Bookmaker Opens in Spain

Spain’s first sports betting shop opened for business on Wednesday, one of thousands that foreign bookmakers hope to launch in the football-crazy nation which already bets more than any other European country.

British bookie William Hill and Spanish gambling firm Codere plan to set up 70 sports betting shops across the Madrid area — the first of Spain’s 17 regions to grant licenses — under the joint venture’s Victoria brand. The Spanish betting market is expected to grow to 39 billion euros ($57.8 billion) by 2010, with the sports betting market set to hit 4.5 billion euros, according to MECN consultants.

“There is a huge demand everywhere,” said Victoria’s Operations Manager John Hallahan. “It’s an old cliche but the sky is the limit,” he added. Spaniards already spend an average of 670 euros each a year on betting, according to industry and government figures. Spain’s state-run Christmas lottery, known as ‘El Gordo’ or ‘The Fat One’ is the world’s biggest prize draw, dishing out 2.2 billion euros last December.

However, apart from a workplace sweepstake or an informal wager between friends, up to now Spaniards have had to go online to bet on sporting events, although the state-run lottery does offer a twice-weekly football pools game. Although Madrid’s residents will be able to bet on social events and TV competitions like Pop Idol or Big Brother, authorities have banned wagers on religion or politics.

Madrid has granted a license to a joint venture between Britain’s Ladbrokes and Spain’s Cirsa, while Greece’s Intralot were awarded one last week. Austrian firms bwin and Betbull also plan to launch a joint franchise and private-equity owned Gala Coral has been in talks with potential Spanish partners for the last six months.

Victoria’s new shop, located above a Codere casino, gleams with chrome and glass and has comfortable sofas and a bar — a far cry from the stereotypical British bookie, offering plastic seats and a bank of screens showing the 3.45 from Kempton Park. Hallahan said Spain was “virgin territory” which offered bookies the chance to redefine betting shops as a more attractive destination for women.

“We are starting with a blank sheet… I would expect a healthy interest from women, who won’t be deterred by a historical perception in the UK that betting is a male-only activity,” he said.