|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|
When you think about console first-person shooters (FPS), the Wii is usually the last system that comes to mind. With the beautiful graphics, steadily high framerates, precision controls, and online capabilities afforded by the PS3 and Xbox 360, many forget that the Wii can also be a great destination for this genre. While there hasn't been a plethora of excellent FPS games on the Wii, the list has officially grown one title longer thanks to Call of Duty: World at War.
I know that most gamers, including myself, have grown tired of WWII as an FPS backdrop but World at War manages to come back from that arid well with a full bucket of water. It does so by telling two separate and interesting stories from two less recreated and exploited aspects of the war. Half the game will have you playing as a U.S. Marine named Miller, trying to survive the constant barrage of Japanese soldiers. The other half puts you in the boots of Dimitri, a Russian soldier seeking revenge with the help of his comrades for the atrocities committed against their homeland by the German army.
The way these stories are told is incredibly cinematic and unabashedly brutal, which I have to say surprised me, since the Wii is considered a more family-friendly console. However, the game is rated mature but does give players the option of toning down the violence, though doing so does diminish the overall experience. Without any filters, expect to see some grizzly, authentic war footage that sets the mood of the game perfectly as well as some pretty horrific, yet appropriate for the setting, in-game events. Scenes such as watching a fellow soldier being burned with a cigarette before having his throat slit and waking up in a pile of mostly dead soldiers with enemy troops executing any who move are par for the course. While these scenes can be hard to watch, they draw you further into the experience and effectively convey the horrors that often occur during war.
Besides the fresh storytelling opportunities provided by these relatively unexploited backdrops, they also make way for differing gameplay elements. Admittedly, the Dimitri portion of this game plays similarly to many previous WWII FPS games but there are still some interesting missions to be experienced. One in particular finds you teaming up with an injured sniper who is unable to fire his weapon. As such, he functions as your eyes and ears, essentially training you on the fly on how to be an efficient sniper. With his guidance, you'll find yourself using low flying airplanes to cover the sounds of your shots, sneaking through buildings and around troops to find good shooting positions, and having a shootout with a skilled enemy sniper.
On the other hand, Miller's levels play much differently than most of the other FPS games on the market. Instead of fighting against a foe who just passively sits behind cover trying to pick you off with a skilled headshot, you are battling enemies who can literally be anywhere at any time. While walking across a field, Japanese soldiers may spring forth from nearly invisible tunnels and bring the fight directly to you. Well camouflaged combatants will ambush you in the jungle, making suicidal dashes, with their bayonets leading the charge. The sheer spontaneity of these attacks will constantly keep you on your toes and ensure that you never let your defenses down. However, if you do get caught off guard, you'll be treated to a very cinematic struggle where you have about one second to shake the Nunchuk or press down on the D-pad to stab your adversary with your knife before being run through by their blade.