Welcome Back to World War II
Call of Duty: World at War is Treyarch’s latest entry into the franchise. This game is great and it even surpasses last year’s effort. In fact, I think this is the best World War II game to date. Last year, Infinity Ward reinvented the franchise with Modern Warfare by moving the game to a different setting. It allowed the developer to create a new and fresh experience. Many of you are probably disappointed with the decision to return to WWII, but trust me; you should not be, because this latest entry is fantastic.
World at War covers two unrelated campaigns featuring the Americans and the Russians. The campaign mode starts in the Pacific theatre when players take control of Marine Raider, Pvt. Miller, to fight against the Japanese Empire, and later takes on the role of a Russian Soldier, Pvt. Petrenko to fight against the Germans. The plot is based on major battles of World War II, you will fight through the Makin Island raid, the Battle of Peleliu, and the Battle of Berlin. You start in a P.O.W camp as Pvt. Miller. As soon as the level starts, you will witness the brutality of war, you will see another marine tortured and killed. After the marine refused to cooperate, the Japanese officer stuck his cigar in the soldier’s eye and then slit his throat by a katana. Moments later, you are rescued from the camp and vow revenge on the Japanese. The first mission in the Russian campaign is called “Vendetta”. I really enjoyed playing through this level because it reminded me of one of my favorite movies, “Enemy at the Gates”. You will start the mission as Pvt. Petrenko, playing dead in a fountain surrounded by dead bodies. This is very reminiscent of the opening scene of the movie. Those of you that watched the movie will know what I am talking about; anyway, you crawl to the other side with another soldier, a sniper who injured his hand, so he can no longer shoot. You take the sniper’s rifle and, just like in the movie, you have to kill an officer when the planes are overhead so the soldiers will not hear the gunfire. This level is great because it recreates the scene from the movie accurately, and this is something you will notice right away about World at War, the presentation is top-notch, but I’ll get to that in a little bit.
The gameplay is very similar to previous Call of Duty games, players will have objectives that they must complete. The missions consist of clearing the building, defending the building, or taking out the antiaircraft guns. There are missions where you have to overtake certain areas. It simply follows the Call of Duty formula. The American campaign is more open ended than the Russian campaign or at least it feels that way; most of the missions are outside in tall grass. The flamethrower is especially handy in these situations because you can burn the grass to flush out the Japanese soldiers. You can also burn the palm trees to kill the snipers hiding in them. The flamethrower is especially helpful when the Japanese are charging you with their bayonets; you can toast them instantly or let them come in for hand-to-hand combat. If you press the melee button (V letter by default), you will stab them. The animation looks great; it actually looks like there is power behind the trust instead of the traditional swipe. Sometimes, they will tackle you in order to get the upper hand, you have to press melee instantly if you want to survive, and this will block their attack and will cause you to stab the enemy in the neck.
Another great weapon you will encounter is the M1919 Browning machine gun. It is powerful enough to rip off limbs, and well-timed shots to the head will decapitate the enemy. This weapon is ideal for killing hordes of enemies at once. Once you move to the Russian campaign, the gameplay changes a bit. The game moves from the long grass of Japan to Berlin, where you will be engaged in urban warfare. This will be similar to city battles of COD 4. You will fight inside apartment buildings, in the train station, rooftops, or in the street. I enjoyed the Russian campaign more; it was really gritty and violent. The gameplay is intense but, at times, it is too chaotic, and you will lose yourself in the game between the screams, the explosions, and the motion blur. This is not a bad thing, because Treyarch captured the intensity of battle perfectly; I can only imagine how chaotic this war must have been. The controls are very standard, they are what you are used to, so if you have ever played a shooter before, you will feel right at home. You have the option to change the controls to how ever you like, that is, if you do not like the default configuration. Most will complete the single-player within eight to nine hours, World at War is longer than COD 4, but it is still too short. This year’s outing features co-op play as well as the multiplayer.
The multiplayer builds on last year’s effort, just like the single-player, the Americans will battle the Japanese and the Russians will battle the Germans. There are a total of 13 levels and several modes. There are a couple new modes such as Capture the Flag and War. Other modes from COD 4 made a comeback. Players will be familiar with Search and Destroy and Headquarters. Create-a-Class came back as well; the system allows you to level up. You gain experience by killing enemies and winning battles. I really like this system because it gives you a reason to come back and play. One new major element to the multiplayer is vehicles. They are available in the Eastern Front. There are no vehicles available when you play in the Pacific theatre; it is infantry only. Capture the Flag is new as well. It is basic, you have to capture the opposing team’s flag and the first to capture the flag three times wins. War mode is a lot of fun, the objective is to capture five flag points (the amount varies depending upon map size), but only one flag can be captured at one a time, so the entire battle becomes focused at that one flag. The newest and most welcome mode is co-op, you will be able to play the whole single-player campaign online, the mode supports up to four people.
The developer made full use of the mature rating, this is by far the most violent Call of Duty to date. World at War is really bloody, there is a lot of gore; this game is not for the squeamish. You can decapitate enemies with powerful enough weapons, grenade explosions rip them in half, you can burn them alive and listen to them scream, and you can even stab them in the neck and watch the blood squirt.
As great as this game is, it does have a couple small problems worth mentioning. My biggest gripe with the game is the squad A.I. There are times where it malfunctions. Sometimes your squad mate blocks you off, this is especially annoying when there is a grenade in close proximity that you cannot throw back, but it is close enough to kill you. Grenades will kill you repeatedly because of this bug.
There are times where the friendly A.I. is just dumb, I have seen them completely ignore enemy soldiers and even walk past them. Or, they’ll engage enemies over a wall or some other obstacle, but for some unknown reason become stuck in an infinite loop, shooting at each other, neither dies because they never make contact. So, they continue until you kill that specific soldier or else they will not stop. The other problem is the enemy respawns endlessly until you hit a trigger, so you have to move forward or you will never get through the game. Finally, the last issue I have is with some of the commentary. Why are Russian soldiers speaking fluent English? I know this is a small problem, but it is distracting and I am sure others will notice too.
Call of Duty: World at War looks fantastic and runs even better. You will never see the framerate hiccup. There is great texture work, animations are nearly flawless, and there are awesome particle effects, with excellent lighting. I played World at War on a mid-range machine with an Intel Core 2 Duo, running at 3.4 GHz, with an Nvidia 8800GTX, with all the details set to maximum, and the game ran perfectly. It looks even better than last year. The sound, as always, is excellent. This is the perfect excuse to invest in a sound system or a nice pair of headphones. You will hear constant gunfire, explosions, and officers barking orders. The voice acting is excellent, everyone sounds great, especially Sergeant Roebuck voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, it is awesome to hear the voice of Jack Bauer barking orders.
Treyarch came back this year with an excellent addition to the franchise. Many gamers may look at this game with an “I’ve been there, done that” attitude. I am here to tell you that this is the best WWII effort so far, as well as the best game in the franchise. Call of Duty: World at War will be available November 11th, it’s been developed on every platform, and will retail for $49.99 on the PC.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The game looks fantastic, but there is a lot of competition among other PC games. 4.5 Control
Controls are great. They are standard, but solid. No complaints. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There is not a game out there that sounds better than World at War. Explosions, guns, and voice work are all top-notch. However, I did find Russian troop commentary to be disconcerting; they speak fluent English. 4.8 Play Value
The single-player is a blast, extremely chaotic, and fun. It would be perfect if the campaign were longer. Co-op is a welcome addition. The multiplayer is awesome; you will find yourself coming back for more. 4.8 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.