About Brittany Review - Call of Duty: World at War
November 28th, 2008 by Brittany
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Bound and helpless in a tiny hut surrounded by fierce Japanese soldiers, you watch. You watch as a fellow soldier is grilled for information by a cigar-smoking general who would give up his own life for his Emperor. When your Marine brethren won’t give in to their relentless torture, he receives a searing hot coal to the face. As he spews blood all of the face of his interrogator, his life is quickly ended by a violent slashing of his throat. All you can do is look on in horror as you realize that the soldier coming toward you is about to offer you the same fate.

Just as you come to the realization that your time serving your country has come to an end, a glimmer of hope appears. A knife slices cleanly through your captor and he falls over, dead. A stream of Marines enter the rundown tent and offer you a weapon with which to exact vengeance on the Japanese soldiers who trapped you there. With that, the explosive campaign to Call of Duty: World at War begins.

When gamers think of FPSs set in World War II, their response is usually lukewarm at best. When Call of Duty announces intentions to return to the era after the phenomenally successful Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, people listen. However, since the wheel was turned over to developer Treyarch rather than Infinity Ward for this release, a startling amount of gamers believed the company could pull it off. Well, nonbelievers, guess what—they have, and how. Treyarch has gifted FPS fans with a followup worthy of the hallowed Call of Duty name, atoning for their past transgressions wholeheartedly. While it’s true that much of the praise should be owed to Infinity Ward for the game’s engine, Treyarch took what they were given and ran with it. The result is a visceral, involving experience that gets far more right than it does wrong.

The single-player campaign features two storylines: that of the U.S. Marine Corps. and the Soviet Red Army. Following the Marines, gamers take on hordes of the Japanese Army and the Soviets are faced with the Germans, as they push toward Berlin. Each story finds you as a member of one squad who is faced with many different issues along the way toward their goal. In the Marines’ story, you fill the shoes of Private Miller, the marine who was rescued in the beginning from the Japanese.

Missions are quick, gory, and concise. The basic premise for each outing is to get in, exterminate waves upon waves of enemies, and get out by any means necessary. Occasionally there will be differing objectives that will require usage of artillery strikes, elimination of enemy tanks or defenses, but each mission is relatively similar. The game does lack in variety, but makes up for such in its graphic, intense gameplay. However, I did find that when trying to distinguish enemies from fellow soldiers, it was decidedly difficult. True, it was near impossible to do so in real life, but in a video game some allowances must be made. Often I would find myself offing comrades simply by mistake. In some missions it’s more obvious who the enemy is by the way they’re dressed, but when everyone is wearing the same type of outfit in the heat of battle, and NPC names do not appear until you’re right upon them, it can get frustrating. Also a notable flaw is the fact that grenade indicators have been downsized considerably. They can be tough to see and you’ll be on the ground drawing your last breath before you even realize what hit you.

This is the goriest Call of Duty yet. Faces are blown off from shotguns, limbs are torn off, and blood sprays all over surrounding areas in the heat of combat. What felt clean and almost sterile in Modern Warfare has now been caked with blood, sweat, and tears. War is decidedly cruel and inhumane, and this is one of the first games I’ve seen to showcase that fact so well. If a soldier happens to catch you with a knife coming at you, you can quickly press in the right analog stick to stab in the neck, thus freeing you. It’s this kind of attention to detail that has been previously missing in World War II titles. When heads are splattered all over the environments, at certain points you really do have to stop and wonder if human beings really can be this cruel to one another.

This gritty realism does come at a sacrifice. In Modern Warfare, where a close bond begins to form between you and your AI teammates (such as between Soap and Price), the interaction between squad members here feels a little artificial, almost as if the game is attempting to forcefully forge a connection. In this, it almost feels a little robotic. You never really begin to feel for these characters as we saw in Modern Warfare, and this is where I feel the game fails in outshining its predecessor.

A host of weapons that were utilized in World War II are present, such as the Type 100, M1A1, Arisaka, and the BAR. The weapons look and feel fantastic, and balance each other out. Flamethrowers are available as well, which are quite effective in clearing out huddles of enemies from tall grass or snipers from trees. Bayonets are always useful for spearing Japanese soldiers who lie in wait in the grass. Don’t think that they’ll allow you to slip past unnoticed as you come running through the countryside. You’ll learn to love these weapons as you enjoyed the arms in Modern Warfare, but they do end up feeling a little cumbersome in relation to the smaller and more powerful guns of the present.

Along with completing the missions, rewards called Death Cards can be sought out. Essentially the same concept as Halo’s skulls, they are found in different locations throughout the campaign. They are used to add different twists to the game. Searching for them is an interesting addition to a campaign that would otherwise lose value after its first playthrough. They added some entertaining cheats such as providing explosive bullets while in Last Stand, or turning soldiers into the undead.

When you’ve completed the extremely short single-player campaign, you have a few options from there. You can call upon up to three more friends to engage in a multiplayer co-op session in order to complete the game again. While this may seem pointless to those who do not normally enjoy playing the same game over, experience earned in the co-op games carries over to your multiplayer rank. World at War’s multiplayer mode is where it shines most brilliantly. In fact, once you’ve completed the single player campaign, there is little reason to return to it unless you plan on earning experience through its cooperative mode.

If you’ve heard that World at War’s multiplayer mode is a carbon copy of Modern Warfare’s, then you weren’t completely misinformed. It is essentially the same gameplay with a World War II skin. Still, with COD4 having been played for a year now, a contender has been sorely needed to take its place and offer a bit of variety for gamers. There’s only so much that gold crosses can do before the game tends to get old.

What you’ll find in World at War are your typical perks with a few new additions such as Second Chance, the ability to revive teammates, and Reconnaissance, which allows you to seek out the location of enemy dogs, tanks, and locations of artillery strikes on the map. Also provided are perks to aid in smoothing out tank combat, such as Greased Bearings, which speeds up the turret rotation speed. The new perks and the retention of familiar ones was a great move, keeping things the same but changing it up a bit. Along with new perks, the kill streak bonuses have been altered. Three kills gets you a recon plane (essentially the same as a UAV), five gets an artillery strike, and seven sends out a pack of vicious dogs to take down enemies. The dogs seem to be far more effective than Modern Warfare’s chopper in that they are free to roam the maps the same as players can. They can also be taken down much easier than the chopper, but it’s a fair tradeoff. Prestiging is still an integral part of the experience, as are the challenges to obtain. A host of new challenges are available, and provide that same feeling of completion when you’ve tackled a particularly difficult one.

Rounding out the list of features of the game is the long-awaited Nazi Zombie mode. Upon completion of the campaign you unlock a minigame where you fight off wave after wave of zombie Nazis. It’s actually quite the contender even against Left 4 Dead, though all it does is skin regular enemies with zombie appearances. It’s still entertaining to board up windows and doors in an effort to fend off the horde. It’s an interesting addition to what would otherwise be a dead serious (see what I did there?) war game.

While playing through World at War does have its faults, there are not too many negative things that can be said about watching someone play. This the best-looking World War II shooter that I have seen. Desolate, ransacked villages, moonlit camps, and grassy pits are crawling with enemies. Landscapes are fantastic, and fit the hopelessness and despair of the game beautifully. Character models do have the downfall of looking a bit like they were formed out of plastic, much like we saw in Halo 2, and does detract from the realism. Where it fails here it excels in with sound. Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman lend their voices for stunning, forceful narration. Explosions are terrifying, and the chilling “Banzai!” of Japanese soldiers is quite the spectacle.

Is Call of Duty: World at War perfect? Far from it. Is it an action-packed, gritty, gory World War II shooter than anyone can enjoy? Why yes, yes it is. While it is devoid of some of the elements that pushed Modern Warfare to its tremendous success, it’s a solid addition to the Call of Duty series. It goes a long way in presenting the case that the second (and hopefully last) world war was one of the most violent and harrowing experiences the world has ever faced. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Infinity Ward should consider putting out a restraining order on Treyarch. If you enjoyed Modern Warfare or FPSs in general, this is one of the highest quality titles you’ll find this year. If you’re not a fan of grit and you prefer your war games more sanitized, such as in Halo, then you’d do well to steer clear.

4 Responses to “Review - Call of Duty: World at War”

  1. a gnarly hogie Says:

    I was disappointed by the fact that the series went back to WWII but I was surprised by how decent it is. I’ll forgive it this time but hopefully they won’t use the same environment next game.

  2. Bong water Says:

    The online play actually leaves a lot to be desired. To many of the maps have tanks, the tanks take to many hits to destroy thus the guy in the tank can dominate for quite awhile. The SMGs have more knock down than the rifles do, wtf is up with that? Offline it is a great game, but I was happier after I started playing COD4 again, my copy of WAW can be found posted on Ebay at this very moment, and it wont be missed

  3. Andy Says:

    Since I’m kinda new to the Call of Duty games (the first game of this series I played was Modern Warfare), I have to say I like this game a lot. At first, the fact that you have to play an immense amount online to unlock any other games aside from team deathmatch made me want to look the other way when I saw it at the stores. But one day, I bought it anyway, and I immediately loved it. This game is great, and I’ve loved every minute of all the times I’ve played it.

  4. Sarong Says:

    This games are action game. I like Call of Duty: World at War. Modern Warfare to its tremendous success, it’s a solid addition to the Call of Duty series. It goes a long way in presenting the case that the second (and hopefully last) world war was one of the most violent and harrowing experiences the world.

    Sarong

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