- "One of the best-looking shooters ever to grace consoles."
- — IGN.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One is a historic first-person shooter that takes place during World War II. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One was released on November 1, 2005 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube by Activision. It was developed by Treyarch.
In Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, the player takes the role of American soldier Sgt. Roland Roger of the 1st Infantry Division throughout the whole game except for a level where the player takes the role of Roger's brother as a gunner in a bomber mission.
The game starts the player off at a tutorial shooting level called "We've Been Through Worse" that is located somewhere in Maubeuge, France. The next level is a flashback that takes place during the invasion of Algeria in the Battle of Oran called "Baptism By Fire", and soon back to where the tutorial left off.
The character is led by Sgt. Glenn Hawkins alongside the other soldiers of Hawkins' squad. The 1st Infantry Division moves on to Kasserine Pass, pressing through the German lines, helping clear a minefield, and recapturing several American howitzers. The squad continues into Kasserine, clearing the region of German troops. The Big Red One continues to press the advance, and the player takes control of a tank in which Pvt. Rogers is firing the main gun. After finishing the African campaign, the player takes part in a bomber mission aboard a B-24 Liberator over the Mediterranean.
The Italian campaign opens with "Operation Husky" with the Battle of Gela during which the squad rescues members of the 82nd Airborne Division. At Piano Lupo, the 1st Infantry once again faces opposition from the Hermann Goering Panzer Division, whom they had defeated in Africa. They fight through Troina to rest and recuperate, consolidating their forces; the Fighting First quickly secures Sicily.
The player now leads part of the squad as a corporal. The 1st Infantry Division then takes part in the D-Day invasion. The player directs fire using binoculars, destroying bunkers, warehouses, and pillboxes. The level closes as the player takes control of a Flak 88 to defeat German counter-assault waves. The 1st Infantry moves on to Mons and Eilendorf, moving closer to Germany. Fighting through the Hurtgen Forest, they continue to press German soldiers back.
The player now leads the squad as a sergeant during the last two levels. At Bucholz and the Siegfried Line, the player leads the soldiers during the final crossing into Germany in the snowy winter of 1944. After the 1st Infantry crosses the line, the squad destroys several V2 Rockets. As the rest of the division arrives, the game ends.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One tends to focus much more heavily on the character aspect of the player's squad mates. He learns their names and watches them as they age and gain rank over the course of the war and as some are killed in combat. The player also gets promoted, and seems to grow, as other soldiers show him more respect.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One features an online play in both the PS2 and Xbox versions with drivable tanks, character classes, and experience gain much like multiplayer in Call of Duty: United Offensive. Multiplayer functionality is handled by highly modified netcode originally licensed from DemonWare. However, a multiplayer mode is absent from the GameCube version. The maps in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One feature Bizerte, Buchholz, Canyon, Cassino, Crucifix, Gela, Kasserine, Maubeuge, Peaks, Troina, and Town Square. It was also the first Call of Duty game to introduce the French in Multiplayer.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One also has a Collector's Edition that contains a bonus DVD with:
- Four exclusive character skins for multiplayer gameplay – using Elite soldier models.
- Interviews, MoCap/VO session footage of the in-game voice actors from the cast of Band of Brothers.
- Interviews with WWII veterans of the Big Red One, including memories of in-game events.
- Multiplayer map fly-through's with DVD-style developer commentary (tips, interesting facts, etc.).
- Behind the scenes with Treyarch, discussing the development of Call of Duty 2: Big Red One.
- Concept and production art gallery (Art, sketches, storyboards, renders, etc.).
- On the GameCube version, the credits still credit the multiplayer staff, although multiplayer is not present for that console.
- All the weapons in-game have their iron sights misaligned.
- In the game manual on the third page, it seems to have a changed version of the SAS emblem.
- The logo for "The Military Channel" in the Noir-newsreel-style epilogue and prologue for every mission is a direct product placement for the real-life Military Channel which had been rebranded as such from "Discovery Wings" in the same year of the game's release. It has since been rebranded "The American Heroes Channel" as of 2014.