Review: Call of Duty: World at War
According to Edwin Starr, war ain’t good for absolutely nothing’ but if you are or have been a videogame developer in the last decade or so you know damn well that war, and the Second World War in particular, is ripe for exploitation to the point now where we have over half a dozen long running franchises all focused on a nineteen thirty nine to nineteen forty five timeframe and all the various campaigns and battles played and replayed over and over until we’re at the point now where your average first person shooter fan knows as much about WW2 as Stephen E. Ambrose.
So it’s a Call of Duty game and it’s set during world war two and it’s by Treyarch (forever to toil in Infinity Ward’s shadow) so it must be a load of shit right? So we can end the review here and all go back to playing Call of Duty 4 right? Well no, despite the initially unappealing mix of developer and setting, Treyarch have put all the criticism they (rightly) took for Call of Duty 3 aside and made a great game which might just be better than Call of Duty 4 depending on your personal preference.
The single player game covers two theatres of combat with the first being set during the US marines’ island hopping campaign against Japan. Each of these early stages is teaming with Japanese soldiers who despite not having the American’s expansive arsenal and naval support more than make up for it with shear determination and cunning by alternating between lurking in hidden spider holes only to emerge for a sudden sneak attack or charging en-mass with bayonets.
For me the biggest challenge next to avoiding the grenades that the enemy AI could drop on a pin head a two hundred feet is not laughing at the voice talent used for the marine sergeant who takes you through the story. Treyarch have enlisted non other than Jack Baue- I mean Kiefer Sutherland and you can be assured they got their money’s worth with him screaming inspirational clichÃ©s with every other bullet. Sure it’s nice to hear a familiar voice amid all the gunfire and explosions but when he bellows â€œout-fucking-standing marines!â€ My reaction is to laugh. not go all gung-ho.
Many of the marine stages are set at night which gives the game a good chance to once again show off the beautiful lighting effects in the Call of Duty 4 software engine. The mood is spoiled somewhat by the inappropriate music that is used throughout but once the gunfire starts you won’t care. New additions like flares that blind you and nerve gas grenades that wash out your vision look great along with much hyped flash fires that breakout on surrounding scenery when the flamethrower comes into play.
As a practical weapon it is hugely overpowered with it taking seconds to clear out bunkers filled with solders before it overheats leaving the biggest danger being accidentally exploding a nearby barrel or getting too close to an immolated soldier who will set you ablaze. Add to this the naval artillery strikes you can call in using a field radio and other new weapons like rifle grenades and 40mm anti-aircraft guns you can turn against the enemy in no time at all you’ll be though the first few marine stages and onto the Russian campaign.
This is not COD5, this is COD: WAW. Taking this into account, I consider WAW to be an EXPANSION PACK rather than a stand alone game. There are a few improvements, but in all honesty, it’s COD4 in a new skin.
The multiplayer is the same as before, albeit with a few additional perks and game modes. The best addition in regards to the multiplayer is the availability to choose the regions in which you search for a game, Default, Local or Locale only (thank fuck, not so many laggy transatlantic games!).
The main new additions to the game are the co-op missions. The co-op in WaW is not complete, as there are a few campaign missions that cannot be completed in co-op, a small problem to be honest. For a lot of gamerscore whores who want to get a few of achievements with a group of friends, it’s annoying as you can complete the Co-op on veteran but not get the game completion achievement!!
The graphics, as expected, are good; it is using the COD4 engine after all. The maps look the part, large, filled with foliage or corresponding debris. Penetrable cover makes a return (if this disappears I will definitely have a shit fit, one of the series saving graces) and it does feel good, and amazingly realistic again, aiming your Tommy-Gun at a beach hut and taking the enemy troops out from behind their cover.
The worst parts of this game for me are the lack of a British Allied campaign in a reasonably good story and a huge lack of originality. The campaign missions are well scripted, even though there is no British perspective (same old American version of world history), and amazingly acted by the vocal talents of Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman.
The Zombie Nazi mode (think GOW2 Horde, with the continuing levels getting harder) is probably the best part of WAW for me, as they have used the classic foot dragging Zombie, instead of the sprinting-like-fuck Zombies of certain games/films. You use a grenade on these Zombies, body parts fly off. If they lose their legs, they will still drag themselves to bite your ankles! This mode is something that seems to have been really concentrated on by Treyarch and I’m impressed. I still think it should have some more options, e.g. more maps, weapons etc. but it’s a really solid part to an above-average shooter.
It’s a good game, but not the game it could have been but really, Infinity Ward spoiled us with COD4. If you look at WAW as a stand alone game, it’s a slight fail, but as an expansion pack it would be a reasonable game.
Secondary Score: 7/10
Read the full review at Righteous Reviews
It starts amid the last days of the Nazi invasion of Russia with the tide really turning against Germany and you teaming up with Gary Oldman *ahem* I mean a friendly and near indestructible Russian sniper in Stalingrad. The early Russian stages play more traditionally than the marine missions with you sneaking through bombed out buildings and ruined streets to assassinate high ranking German officers and provide cover fire for friendly squads attacking enemy positions. With Stalingrad liberated you begin travelling the long road to Berlin but rather than do it on foot you link up with an allied tank unit and reach by far the worst part of the game.
If you ask anybody who’s played a Call of Duty game before what their favourite part was I would bet both my nuts they didn’t tell you the tank sections. Take away the smooth and fluid first person controls and replace them with a metal behemoth that moves like the fat kid at sports day and replace the run and gun gameplay with tedious inching forward a little bit at a time until enemy units come into rage of your cannon and you get the tank sections. Even adding a flamethrower to the tank can’t liven things up but preserve because once completed you reach the best part of the gameâ€¦ well once you get past the turret section.
Yep just when you though you where done with them another long and mandatory turret section rears its ugly head. It’s presented as a mission aboard a PYB Catalina a type of amphibious aircraft bristling with guns that you run between in a cool animation when new targets appear or the mission changes in some way. It’s a well executed and original turret section but a turret section none the less and just like the tank sections a chore to complete before reaching the final stages of both the American and Russian storylines.
My description of the single player game may make it sound like a sprawling epic comparable to War and Peace but truth be told if you play it on the default difficulty expect to clock it in less that five hours maybe sooner if you’re more adept and driving a tank or have a better knack for turret sections than most (read: me) or if you play it in the online/offline co-op mode which has the entire story intact for play with a friend.
Once completed you get a nice reward in the shape of the bonus zombie mode but it quickly gets old when compared to Left 4 Dead and as of me writing this glitched in such a way to make it pointless if you get stuck in a game with someone willing to exploit the glitch.
Speaking of glitches brings me nicely to the multiplayer game which now has a very deserved reputation for several of the maps being broken and open to all manner of exploits letting those who know and more importantly use them to kill with impunity making a mockery of the rank based experience system. Treyarch have promised to patch any glitches but I think it’ll be some time yet before they find them all and find some way to combat the increasing problem of people using turbo pads to cheat.
If you do manage to find a lobby filled with ‘honest’ players it can be a great experience with the weapons and perks being far more balanced than those found in Call of Duty 4. Sure many will players will bitch about the overpowered tanks or underpowered grenades or the inclusion of controversial perks like juggernaut, stopping power or martyrdom but if you take them in context of the whole game they work and encourage players to adapt their tactics rather than fall back on the time tested strategies of Call of Duty 4.
If you can play both the single and multiplayer games without any preconceptions you’ll be surprised just how well Treyarch have taken the Call of Duty torch and run with it. Sure the single player game is far too short even with the added padding of tank and turret stages but a well implemented co-op mode and a fresh take on the best multiplayer first person shooter on Xbox Live has ensured it deserves your time if only so you can dispel the myth that every other Call of Duty game is rubbish.