Call of Duty (video game)

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Call of Duty
North American PC cover art
Developer(s)Infinity Ward
Director(s)Ken Turner
Producer(s)Vince Zampella
Designer(s)Zied Rieke
Programmer(s)Jason West
Artist(s)Justin Thomas
Writer(s)Michael Schiffer
Composer(s)Michael Giacchino
SeriesCall of Duty
Engineid Tech 3[1]
October 29, 2003
  • Microsoft Windows
    • NA: October 29, 2003
    • EU: November 7, 2003
    Mac OS X
    • NA: May 2004
    • EU: November 10, 2004
    • NA: November 23, 2004
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Call of Duty is a 2003 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the first installment in the Call of Duty franchise,[2] released on October 29, 2003, for Microsoft Windows. The game simulates infantry and combined arms warfare of World War II using a modified version of the id Tech 3 engine. Much of its theme and gameplay is similar to the Medal of Honor series; however, Call of Duty showcases multiple viewpoints staged in the British, American, and Soviet theaters of World War II.

The game introduced a new take on AI-controlled allies who support the player during missions and react to situational changes during gameplay. This led to a greater emphasis on squad-based play as opposed to the "lone wolf" approach often portrayed in earlier first-person shooter games. Much of Infinity Ward's development team consisted of members who helped develop Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The game received critical acclaim and won several Game of the Year awards from reviewers.

In September 2004, an expansion pack called Call of Duty: United Offensive, which was produced by Activision and developed by Gray Matter Interactive and Pi Studios, was released. At the same time the N-Gage Version got an Arena Pack with 3 new Levels.[3] An enhanced port of Call of Duty for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, titled Call of Duty Classic, was released worldwide in November 2009 with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, being available via redemption codes included with the "Hardened" and "Prestige" editions of the game.[4]


In-game screenshot of Call of Duty on the PC

As a first-person shooter, Call of Duty places the player in control of an infantry soldier who makes use of various authentic World War II firearms in combat. Each mission features a series of objectives that are marked on the heads-up display's compass; the player must complete all objectives to advance to the next mission. The player can save and load at any time, rather than the checkpoint system utilized in later Call of Duty games.

The player has two primary weapon slots, a handgun slot, and can carry up to ten grenades. Weapons may be exchanged with those found on the battlefield dropped by dead soldiers. Unlike later Call of Duty games, the first allows the player to toggle between different firing modes (single shot or automatic fire). Call of Duty was one of the early first-person shooters to feature iron sights in game play; by pressing the corresponding key the player aims down the gun's actual sights for increased accuracy. In addition to weapons carried by the player, mounted machine guns and other fixed weapon emplacements are controllable by the player.

The game uses a standard health points system, with a limited amount of health reflected by a health bar. Medkits scattered throughout the levels or dropped by some foes are used to restore health when the player is injured.

Call of Duty also featured "shellshock" (not to be confused with the psychological condition of the same name): when there is an explosion near the player, he momentarily experiences simulated tinnitus, appropriate sound "muffling" effects, blurred vision, and also results in the player slowing down, unable to sprint.

As the focus of the game is on simulation of the actual battlefield, the gameplay differed from many single-player shooters of the time. The player moves in conjunction with allied soldiers rather than alone; allied soldiers will assist the player in defeating enemy soldiers and advancing; however, the player is given charge of completing certain objectives. The game places heavy emphasis on usage of cover, suppressive fire, and grenades. AI-controlled soldiers will take cover behind walls, barricades, and other obstacles when available.


American campaign[edit]

The American campaign begins with Private Martin, a newly enlisted member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, completing basic training at Camp Toccoa in Georgia, United States, on August 10, 1942. Afterwards, the action shifts to June 6, 1944, with Martin forced to undertake a solo mission to establish a landing zone for soldiers participating in Operation Overlord. Under heavy fire, the paratroopers are scattered, leaving Martin in a mixed unit formed from various companies led by his CO Cpt. Foley. The mission closes with Martin and his allies seizing a nearby town from German forces. In the second mission, Martin and his unit are sent to drive out the remaining Germans from Sainte-Mère-Église and disable several Flakpanzers (anti-aircraft tanks) as the events of June 6 begin (D-Day). A paratrooper is seen hanging from the town church. The third mission occurs later that morning, with U.S. forces fending off a German counterattack. The fourth mission has Martin, Pvt. Elder (voiced by Giovanni Ribisi) of the 82nd Airborne and Sgt. Moody driving from Sainte-Mère-Église to Sainte-Marie-du-Mont along highway N13 to deliver an important message, while fending off German assaults. The fifth mission, the Brécourt Manor Assault, occurs on the evening of June 6, with Martin's unit destroying German artillery positions attacking the landing force at Utah Beach. After the mission, Martin learns that his unit has been assigned to several secret missions. The first occurs in the sixth mission, with Martin participating in an attack on a secret German prison in the basement of a Bavarian manor to rescue two British officers, Captain Price and Major Ingram. He then learns from Price that Ingram had already been moved to a more secure POW camp for interrogation. Thus, the seventh mission has Martin, accompanied by Price, infiltrating the camp and rescuing Ingram in under ten minutes before the arrival of German reinforcements.

In the final mission, Martin's unit takes part in the Battle of the Bulge, successfully securing top-secret documents from a bunker and stopping an attempt by the Germans to reinforce their troops with tanks.

British campaign[edit]

The first mission of the British campaign has Sergeant Jack Evans and a unit from 2nd Ox and Bucks of the 6th Airborne Division take part in Operation Tonga. Just after midnight on June 6, 1944, the unit is dropped in Horsa gliders alongside the Caen Canal near Pegasus Bridge, Bénouville. Led by Captain Price, Evans and his troops clear the bridge of German soldiers. In the second mission, just past noon on the same day, the unit manages to hold out against an attempt by a German battalion, supported by tanks, to retake the bridge. Eventually, reinforcements from the 7th Parachute Battalion arrive and the Germans retreat.

By the time of the third mission, on September 2, Evans has been transferred to the Special Air Service or SAS. He takes part in a mission to sabotage the Eder Dam, destroying the anti-aircraft guns protecting it. During Operation Chastise the previous May, the No. 617 Squadron RAF destroyed the dam using bouncing bombs, but the Germans had been able to restore it. Following extraction by Price and Sgt. Waters (voiced by Jason Statham[5]), the fourth mission begins with Evans fighting off pursuing German troops until Waters cuts them off by blowing up a bridge. The fifth mission sees the team arriving at a German airport to complete their escape. Evans uses an anti-air gun to cover Price and Waters from German Stuka dive-bombers as they procure a Fw.200, using it to fly to safety. In the sixth mission, Evans and Price pose as German naval officers to infiltrate the battleship Tirpitz, disable its defenses, and steal information the RAF needs to attack the ship. Price sacrifices himself to buy time for Evans, who escapes with Waters by boat.

The final mission of the British campaign shows Evans, Waters and their squad near Burgsteinfurt, Germany, with orders to assist the impending Allied assault on the city. Discovering plans to launch V-2 rockets at the Allied forces, the unit destroys them before joining the rest of the army.

Soviet campaign[edit]

The first mission in the Soviet campaign occurs during the Battle of Stalingrad on September 18, 1942. Corporal Alexei Ivanovich Voronin, a young volunteer, and his fellow recruits are sent across the Volga River, many of whom are subsequently killed when the Luftwaffe launch an attack. Once across, Voronin is given a small number of bullets, which he gives to a fellow soldier so he can cover an officer calling in an artillery strike that forces the Germans back. The second mission begins in Red Square with Soviet officers killing soldiers who retreat (see Joseph Stalin's Order No. 227—"Not one step back!") Some say the opening of the campaign is based on Enemy at the Gates.[6] Voronin gets his hands on a rifle and kills several German officers, disrupting the German offense long enough for Soviet artillery to destroy their tanks. In the next mission, Voronin links up with his surviving allies in a train station and must guide them to Major Zubov of the 13th Guards Rifle Division. For his actions, Voronin is promoted to Junior Sergeant. The fourth mission, on November 9, has Voronin moving through the sewers to rendezvous with a unit tasked with retaking an apartment building in German hands. The following fifth mission has Voronin join the unit, led by Sergeant Pavlov, as they prepare to attack the building (see Pavlov's House). Voronin acts as a counter-sniper while another soldier draws the fire of the snipers in the building; the unit assaults the building, clears it of Germans and defends it from a German counterattack until reinforcements arrive.

The sixth mission occurs much later, on January 17, 1945, with Voronin now a full Sergeant, serving with the 150th Rifle Division of the 3rd Shock Army. The unit secures a makeshift German tank repair facility in Warsaw in the midst of the Vistula–Oder Offensive. The seventh mission takes place shortly after, with the unit moving to regroup with the 4th Guards Tank Army. Due to shortages in experienced soldiers, the eighth mission, on January 26, requires Voronin to command a T-34-85 tank for the 2nd Guards Tank Army. In a full scale offense, the Soviets capture a town near the Oder River. The ninth mission is also fought in the tank, with Voronin eliminating all surviving German units in the town.

In the final mission, on April 30, 1945, Sergeant Voronin is returned to his old unit, the 150th Rifle Division. He and a small group of soldiers storm the Reichstag building and raise the Victory Banner atop the roof, ending the European war.


Promotion at E3 2003

Call of Duty was developed by Infinity Ward, a new studio formed in 2002 originally consisting of 21 employees, many of whom were project lead developers of the successful Medal of Honor: Allied Assault released the same year. Led by Chief Creative Officer Vince Zampella, development began in April 2002, and the team grew to 27 members by May 2003. Using an enhanced version of the id Tech 3 game engine developed for Quake III Arena and an in-house skeletal animation system called "Ares", Infinity Ward set out to develop a new World War II-era video game that, unlike many of its predecessors, placed more emphasis on squad-based play with intelligent assistance from teammates during large-scale battles. The team also extensively researched weapons, artillery, and vehicles from World War II to enhance the authenticity of animation and sounds used throughout the game.[7]

Another area the development team focused on was their artificial intelligence (AI) pathfinding component dubbed "Conduit". The ability to suppress the enemy with cover fire and clear obstacles, such as fences and windows, was tightly integrated into the squad-based aspect of the single-player campaigns. The AI in the game was designed to flank the opponent, bank grenades, and move from one cover point to another.[1] Lead animation director Michael Boon explained that actions which would have normally been scripted in past games were moved to a dynamic AI environment, in order to help create a different experience each time levels are replayed.[8] While the campaigns were the primary focus, development of the multiplayer modes were tailored to please modders. Zied Rieke, a lead designer, clarified that gameplay and modes were written in script making it "extremely easy for players to make their own modifications to Call of Duty multiplayer".[8]


Critical reception[edit]

Call of Duty received "critical acclaim", according to review aggregator Metacritic.[9] It won several "Game of the Year" awards for 2003 from several reviewers. It was the recipient of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences 2004 "Game of the Year" award. The game also received "Computer Game of the Year" and "Computer First Person Action Game of the Year", and was nominated for "Outstanding Innovation in Computer Gaming", "Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition", and "Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design" in the Interactive Achievement Awards.[15] GameSpot named it the best computer game of October 2003.[16]

Computer Games Magazine named Call of Duty the sixth-best computer game of 2003, and the editors wrote, "This game ups the ante in the WWII shooter arena, and makes everything that has come before it seem as outdated as France's army."[17] The editors of Computer Gaming World presented Call of Duty with their 2003 "Shooter of the Year" award. They remarked, "Call of Duty won this category without a shot fired—there simply was no debate."[18] It was also nominated for "Best Game" at the 2004 Game Developers Choice Awards. While it did not receive that award, it did win Infinity Ward the "Rookie Studio of the Year". Chuck Russom was also presented with the "Excellence in Audio" award for his work on the game.[19]

IGN rated the game 9.3/10, with reviewer Dan Adams saying "You have to love a game that glues you to your seat and keeps you interested... A thrilling piece of software that action fans should grab a hold of and love fiercely." His only negative critique was on the short length of the game, which many reviewers pointed out.[20]

The N-Gage version got "Mixed or average reviews" on the site Metacritic.[21]


The NPD Group named Call of Duty the eighth-best-selling computer game of 2003.[22] It maintained this position on NPD's computer game sales rankings for the following year.[23] In the United States alone, Call of Duty sold 790,000 copies and earned $29.6 million by August 2006. At the time, this led Edge to declare it the country's 13th-best-selling computer game released since January 2000.[24]

In the United Kingdom, Call of Duty sold 95,000 copies by the end of 2003, which made it 88th-biggest seller across all platforms that year.[25] Discussing this performance, Kristan Reed of wrote that "Activision will be pleased that it managed to interrupt the Sims party" with the game's release.[26] Call of Duty ultimately received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[27] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[28]

Call of Duty ultimately sold 4.5 million copies worldwide by 2013.[29]


Call of Duty spawned numerous spin-offs and sequels, part of the Call of Duty series. Its expansion pack - Call of Duty: United Offensive was developed by Gray Matter Interactive and released September 14, 2004. Call of Duty 2 was also developed by Infinity Ward and was released in October 2005. Some Call of Duty spinoffs were developed for consoles, such as Call of Duty: Finest Hour by Spark Unlimited and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One by Gray Matter Interactive (now Treyarch). The franchise eventually had over fifteen more sequels and spin offs.


Call of Duty Classic is a downloadable version of Call of Duty for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, featuring HD resolutions.[30] Tokens to download the game ahead of its release were sold along with special "Hardened" and "Prestige" editions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,[30] and the game was publicly released on December 2, 2009.

IGN rated this version 7.5, citing it as not well adapted to the consoles, as well as criticizing the multiplayer for only supporting up to eight players.[31]


  1. ^ a b Stead, Chris (July 15, 2009). "The 10 Best Game Engines of This Generation". IGN. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  2. ^ "GameSpot - Call of Duty". Archived from the original on October 1, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  3. ^ "Nokia N-Gage | New Unlockable Content For N-Gage Games With N-Gage Arena Packs". December 18, 2005. Archived from the original on December 18, 2005. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  4. ^ "Modern Warfare 2's 'Prestige Edition' Is Insane". IGN. July 13, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "Sergeant Waters". Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Nast, Condé (April 24, 2017). "You Can Thank 'Call of Duty' for Everything You Love (and Hate) about Modern Shooters". GQ. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
  7. ^ "Call of Duty Q&A". GameSpot. May 1, 2003. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Blevins, Tal (May 14, 2003). "E3 2003: Call of Duty". IGN. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
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  10. ^ "EDGE magazine review score archive". Retrieved December 1, 2017.
  11. ^ "Review: Call of Duty for PC on". GamePro. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
  12. ^ "Call of Duty for PC Review - PC Call of Duty Review". GameSpot. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
  13. ^ "IGN: Call of Duty Review". IGN. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2008.
  14. ^ "X-Play review Call of Duty PC - PC Call of Duty review". X-Play. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  15. ^ "7th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  16. ^ Staff (October 31, 2003). "GameSpot's Month in Review for October 2003". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 7, 2003.
  17. ^ Staff (March 2004). "Best of 2003; The 13th Annual Awards". Computer Games Magazine (160): 58–62.
  18. ^ Editors of CGW (March 2004). "Computer Gaming World's 2003 Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World. No. 236. pp. 57–60, 62–69.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ "4th Annual Game Developer Choice Awards". Game Developers Choice Awards. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  20. ^ "Call of Duty Review". Dan Adams. IGN. Archived from the original on March 24, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry: 2004 Sales, Demographics and Usage Data (PDF) (Report). Entertainment Software Association. May 12, 2004. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 5, 2004. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  23. ^ Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry; 2005 Sales, Demographics and Usage Data (PDF) (Report). Entertainment Software Association. May 18, 2005. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 4, 2005.
  24. ^ Edge Staff (August 25, 2006). "The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century". Edge. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
  25. ^ Reed, Kristan (March 11, 2004). "UK Charts 2003: Smash Hits". Archived from the original on April 7, 2004. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  26. ^ Reed, Kristan (March 1, 2004). "UK Charts: 2003 Annual Report Round Up". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on January 21, 2019.
  27. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Silver". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009.
  28. ^ Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017.
  29. ^ "Call of Duty: A Short History". IGN. Ziff Davis. November 2013. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  30. ^ a b Reilly, Jim (July 30, 2009). "Call of Duty Classic Coming To PSN, XBLA 'Eventually'". IGN. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on August 3, 2009. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  31. ^ "Call of Duty Classic Review – Xbox 360 Review at IGN". Archived from the original on December 7, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2009.

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