|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treyarch||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 11, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-18||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
If you're reading this article, you're likely already familiar with the competitive online multiplayer features because of the hours you've logged in Call of Duty 4 (or those logged in World at War's Multiplayer Beta). Veterans of Modern Warfare can hop right into World at War's multiplayer mode and feel right at home. Many of the conventions established by Infinity Ward, including acquiring experience, weapons, perks, and ranks, Create-a-Class, as well as Kill-Streak Rewards are all present.
There are 65 ranks in all, and a ton of weapons and abilities (including the flamethrower) to be unlocked. There are even a bunch of weapon-specific challenges that can be opened up, which lead to big experience point bonuses as well as the ability to unlock Achievements or Trophies depending upon which console you play on. The Kill-Streak Rewards include "Recon Plane" (after three consecutive kills), "Artillery Strike" (after five consecutive kills), and "Unleash the Dogs" (after seven consecutive kills). These rewards are fun to use and can increase point totals in a hurry.
The maps are all really fun and varied. Like in Solo Campaign, they take advantage of differing abilities and builds (load-outs) depending on the size, scope, and layout of the map. In all, there are ten multiplayer modes to choose from, including Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All, Sabotage, Search and Destroy, Capture the Flag, Domination, War, Headquarters, and Hardcore Team Deathmatch and Free-for-All (more or less one-shot-kill modes). All these classic modes are well-known, play well, and offer something for everyone.
All is not rosy with the Multiplayer mode, however. Kill-Streak Rewards are too powerful and stay with you after you die. Achieving five kills is challenging but certainly attainable. As such, lots of players will be unleashing overly-intense mortar strikes and the resulting series of 'earthquaking' death is annoying. Once you've gotten five kills, getting seven is a no brainer, especially with a well-placed artillery strike. Moreover, because rewards don't disappear after death, players are best served to hold onto the reward until they die. When they respawn, they can then 'Unleash the Dogs' and have their puppies take out another seven victims, restoring the power and fueling a vicious cycle of broken mayhem. Players should lose the reward if they're killed; use it or lose it, I say!
Fortunately, a patch has been developed by Treyarch that addresses the overpowered artillery strike and a number of map hole exploits found in the beta on day one, so the retail online game should be quite smooth. Also, Activision and Treyarch are committed to supporting the game going forward, so that game-breaking problems will be fixed in a timely fashion. However, I fear Kill-Streak Rewards will always mar the experience; aren't skillfully placed headshots rewarding enough? Who needs dog and mortar kills anyway?
Rounding things out for World at War are the silky controls and beautiful, powerful presentation. Upon picking up the controller, FPS fans will immediately feel comfortable with the responsive setup. Also, controls nicely mimic the weapon you have in your possession. For instance, the vibrations, firing rate, and reload times all feel realistic. Also, cooking off grenades, steadying a sniper shot, driving tanks, etc. is a breeze. Players used to CoD 3 or CoD 4 won't miss a beat when picking up World at War, and FPS fans at-large will have no problem adjusting.
Because World at War uses the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare engine developed by Infinity Ward, the game looks fantastic. The environments, animations, explosions, particle effects, and framerate are all very solid. A lot of care went into making this game shine. You can tell that time was well spent tweaking and detailing the game's visuals rather than creating another functioning engine. Not to be outdone, the sound effects and voice work are also outstanding, especially the voice acting. Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman take on the roles of Sgt. Roebuck and Sgt. Reznov, your commanding officers in both theatres of war, and their voices truly exude talent. Also, the ambient comments made by your foes and allies during cutscenes and battle are stellar. There is somewhat of a dip during multiplayer, however, as commentary becomes painfully repetitive and mute-worthy. On the whole, the presentation in World at War is on par with that of Modern Warfare; in other words, very good.
Treyarch did a remarkable job of breathing new life into the WWII shooter. They followed the conventions outlined by Infinity Ward to a tee and, as a result, created a shooter that is every bit as good as last year's entry. Of course, there isn't a whole lot of innovation this time around, but the increased Multiplayer options, new settings, and great enemy A.I. should more than satisfy all but the most jaded Infinity Ward fanboys.
CCC Editor / News Director