Released in 2005, Call of Duty 2: Big Red One became the second game of the popular first-person shooter franchise Call of Duty to appear exclusively on home gaming consoles. Gamers can play Big Red One only on the Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony PlayStation 2. Similar to its predecessor from 2004, Call of Duty: Finest Hour, a PC version of the game never became available. The game's developer, Treyarch, went on to create several other games in the Call of Duty franchise, including Call of Duty 3, World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops II.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One continues the franchise's devotion to World War II; however, developers significantly altered the single-player campaign. Instead of following several different campaigns from the American, British, and Russian militaries, the game focuses solely on the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, otherwise known as the Big Red One, providing the inspiration for the title. The game includes only one predominant protagonist, as opposed to the three or more characters that players cycled through in previous games in the franchise. The game follows the unit from the fighting in North Africa, to the landings on the beaches of Normandy, France on D-Day, and up through the push into Germany.
As with previous games, Big Red One instills in its gameplay a motto that originated with the first Call of Duty that no one fights alone. Computer-controlled NPCs (non-playable characters) accompany the player throughout each mission and provide support to aid in the completion of objectives. Whether as a part of a major offensive, or only with a small squad, the game provides a sense of fighting together as a unit, rather than fighting individually as a lone warrior. This factor is synonymous with the Call of Duty franchise, and it allows for a more realistic military experience. Historically accurate weapons of the time serve as the player's main tools in the battle against the Germans, and med kits can be found scattered throughout the missions to replenish health lost in firefights along the way.
Additionally, Big Red One features an online multiplayer mode to complement the single-player story campaign. Similar to Call of Duty: Finest Hour, the Nintendo GameCube did not support online play. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox, however, support matches for up to 16 players in a variety of solo and team-based game modes.