Call of Duty: World at War Review
Monday, December 15, 2008 5:09 PM
War: what is it good for? Well, if you're developer Treyarch or Infinity Ward, it's good for a rather plump bank balance. The Call Of Duty series has been blasting its way onto our screens since 2003, and with each gun-toting version comes a whole new set of bombastic bells and whooshing whistles.
For many, last year's COD4: Modern Warfare by Infinity Ward became not only the benchmark for all future COD games, but also for all other first-person-shooters to boot. It was sleek, sharp and about as sexy as a war game can get.
When it was announced that developer Treyarch would be helming the next instalment, audible gasps could be heard through headsets the world over. When the news broke that it would also be set during WWII, the gasps were replaced with profanity. Could the series survive a return to old, mortar-cratered grounds?
Worry not brave soldier, as Call of Duty: World At War delivers the goods. To begin with, knowing that it was going to run on the same engine as COD4 was a fair indication of what was to come. Which is, more of the same. It is, essentially, COD4 transposed to the Second World War. And there's nothing wrong with that.
You go off into battle in two different campaigns. The first features you as a young soldier in the US Marine Corps - Private Miller; captured by the Japanese while scouting Makin Island, you're rescued by the Marine Raiders. You're then attached to the group to participate in missions against Japanese troops.
The other campaign sees you as a private in the Red Army, with the Soviets taking on the Germans. This time fellow soldier Sergeant Reznov helps guide you through the ensuing chaos.
Whichever side you're fighting for however, sometimes it feels like you're A.I. comrades are a little too eager to get into battle. It's easy to sit back while they do the majority of the attacking; and if you want to be more pro-active, you've got to be pretty pushy if you want a decent head count.
If you've ever played a Call Of Duty title before, there are no real surprises in terms of level design. Your missions lead you in a specific direction, where you'll have to overcome fairly obvious obstacles in the way.
Having said that, there are a few notable exceptions, where there's certainly a greater sense of atmosphere. Two of these are both in the Russian sections, where your sniper skills are tested to the max, as well as during a siege of an underground station.
Another level is where you play a character in charge of the gun placements on a plane during an impressive on-the-rails section. Shooting ships and planes makes a refreshing change to running through bunkers.
As seems to be the norm with a lot of new releases, the single-player campaign is a wee bit on the short side. A COD veteran would have little trouble completing it within 8 hours. Thankfully, the game has a few attachments to its weaponry that expands its longevity.
Once you've completed the single-player campaign, you will unlock.drum roll.Nazi Zombies! This is a mini game, which finds you in a small building, under attack by wave after wave of zombies.
You get points for keeping the zombies out, and what do points make? Prizes! These can be used to upgrade your weapons, or to open up another part of the building. Although it's just a bit of extra fun, it can be a tad disturbing if you're playing it alone in the dark.
And of course there is the splendidly bloody multiplayer. Again, everything that is loved and adored about COD4's multiplayer, the same applies here. There is a huge variety in maps and missions, which will keep any die hard COD fan happy.
The one annoyance perhaps, is the new perk of releasing a bunch of yappy dogs on your enemy after a certain number of kills. Sadly throwing a grenade and then shouting 'fetch!' doesn't appear to work.
Although World at War isn't a huge jump away from the foundations firmly laid by COD4, it is undoubtedly just as enjoyable. It has everything you could ever want from a Call Of Duty title, and a little bit more. In fact, if you've never dipped your toe into murky COD waters before, this would be the perfect place to start your fight.
Richard J. Fallon