We didn't see this coming. Call of Duty 2 support for Xbox One backward compatibility arrived yesterday, and the Xbox 360 launch title sees a frankly remarkable increase in performance compared to its showing on original hardware. Lurching dips in frame-rate are ironed out, producing a much more consistent experience that sticks much more closely to its target 60fps.
Revisiting the original Call of Duty 2 on Xbox 360 today, the frequency of its lurching stutter is actually quite remarkable. The game always targeted a full 60fps output, but utilises a double-buffer v-sync set-up. There's a 16.7m render budget per frame, but consistently failing to hit that target causes a 33ms stutter - in effect, the game is momentarily running at 30fps, before returning to its target. For a game like Call of Duty 2, this creates a jarring sensation as it switches between these two refreshes - almost like slowing the game down whenever you were faced with any real action.
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The increase in performance running the game on Xbox One is plain to see. Watch the video below and most of these drops are eliminated - leaving you with a clean 60fps line most of the way. It's not a perfect read-out though: you do get the odd hiccup here and there, but the opening Stalingrad campaign mission shows Xbox One only really buckling with lots of enemies on-screen. But the point is that it's rare that this happens, while the alpha-based effects that gave the Xbox 360 so much trouble are no longer an issue with the newer hardware's more powerful GPU.
It's still running at the same resolution of course - native 720p. And as you would expect, the Xbox One visuals are a complete match for its delivery on original Xbox 360 hardware. There's no improvement there, but the feel of the game and the quality of its all-important low latency controls see a huge improvement. Based on our tests, there are no more lurching frame-rates, and where there is a drop it's usually settled within a few seconds. Call of Duty 2 is a somewhat barebones release by today's standards, but we had a lot of fun revisiting this title. If the game is in your old Xbox 360 collection, it's well worth checking out on Xbox One.