Call of Duty: World at War Review
While it does little to stray from the formula established with Modern Warfare, World at War is still a solid and enjoyable shooter
Treyarch, the developers of the console exclusive Call of Duties and the expansion to the PC exclusive original Call of Duty, have been inconsistent in releasing games that live up to the Call of Duty name which Infinity Ward has made so famous, or infamous, depending on who you are asking. With World at War, Treyarch for the first time since the expansion for the original Call of Duty returns to the PC, and they do a pretty decent job. World at War has all the stuff a pc fan has come to expect from a good PC game, and while the World War II setting is very tired indeed, the fact that half the game occurs on the Pacific front serves to make things more interesting.
What would a WWII game be without a chaotic beach landing
Treyarch borrows heavily from the more brutal, mature tone adopted with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, although the strong plot is disappointingly absent. While the animated loading screens remain, they serve to provide historical information on the current mission, but there is no plot to speak of in the 6-8 hour campaign, which while a bit longer than that of Modern Warfare, is still relatively short. The campaign is divided into two completely disconnected sets of missions, one half occurs in the over-used eastern front where you are part of the Russian army making your way to Berlin. The other, much more enjoyable half occurs in the pacific front, which is used much less in World War II games.
The quality of the missions that occur in the pacific is much higher than those which occur in Eastern Europe; the missions in the pacific are thrilling, gorgeous, well paced, varied, and are undoubtedly the strength of the campaign. All of the more interesting missions occur here, which include beach landings, night time stealth operations, the defence of an air plane, and many more unique and highly enjoyable scenarios.
The missions in the pacific are often a sight to behold
The missions which occur in Russia and Eastern Germany feel like they were developed by a totally different team, because for the most part they are ugly, repetitive, and often frustrating. Once again you start out as a Russian sniper in Stalingrad, something we have seen in pretty much every single Call of Duty since the original, and you gradually make your way to Berlin. The levels in both the Pacific and East Germany are fairly open and allow for some tactical freedom, which is a nice change of pace from the super linearity of Modern Warfare, although many of the levels are forgettable and you probably won’t feel the need to play through the campaign more than once.
Fortunately there is the option to play through the campaign with up to three other players in online co-op, a feature that is not present in any other Call of Duty game on the pc. At the end of the campaign you also unlock Nazi Zombie mode, in which you must defend a house from increasingly tough waves of, well, Nazi zombies. You can unlock more rooms and better guns as you go along. This mode is fun and addicting, and is a nice addition to the game that adds a bit of variety.
Some matches will turn into tense sniper battles
The multiplayer is pretty much a carbon copy of that found in Modern Warfare, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it’s such an effective formula. You start off with a few pre-made classes, every time you kill someone, assist in killing someone, complete or an objective or finish a game you get experience points. As you gain XP you level up, and once you reach level 3 you can create custom classes with a main weapon, side arm, regular grenade, and a special grenade (like smoke or tear gas). You also get to select a couple of perks, like increased health or bullet damage, and increased bullet penetration. All this is exactly the same as what is found in Modern Warfare, and all the same game types remain as well; team death match, free for all; domination, where both teams fight for control of three flags; and headquarters, where both teams race to capture and hold a single control point.
There is one new game type called “War,” which is essentially tug-o-war, where both teams fight to capture a single point out of five total and attempt to push the other team back until they run out of points. Hardcore mode is also back, where you have reduced health and increased bullet damage with much of the HUD taken away. The addition of tanks makes things a bit more interesting, but they are only used on a few maps, and don’t do a whole lot to change the way the game is played. The maps themselves are fairly varied in size and structure, there are a few very small, corridor type maps, and some big, open maps, with everything in between. The maps themselves are well designed, although the spawn points can often get messed up, making things even more hectic than usual in games with more than 16 players. The multiplayer is as fun and addicting as ever, and is easily the strength of the game and offers up the greatest amount of play time.
Nazi Zombies are not your friends
Gameplay is pretty much what you would except from a Call of Duty game, lots of intense firefights, loads of different weapons in both single player and multiplayer, although the weapons you unlock in multiplayer games aren’t terribly exciting because of how many times they have been seen before, but the fact that you can upgrade them with things like bayonets and tactical sights makes things more interesting. There are a few missions that break the gameplay up, like one where you are in a rescue plane going around rescuing soldiers who are stranded at sea after being on a sinking ship, and fighting the Japanese requires different tactics than fighting Nazis, since they tend to charge at you or lay traps.
World at War uses the same engine as Modern Warfare, and looks about the same visually, with the exception of some of the missions which occur in East Germany, which look ugly and dated. The missions in the pacific more than make up for this, with spectacular lighting effects and massive, hectic battlefields to play on. It is very well optimized and very stable technically, but it’s not hard to see the engines numerous and fairly obvious weaknesses in areas like shadows and textures, which are often flat and low resolution. The audio is decent, nothing outstanding, although weapons sounds and special effects are fairly well done, and the voice acting is fine.
Overall Call of Duty: World at War is a good first person shooter with a weakly plotted albeit enjoyable single player campaign, some nice features like co-op and Nazi Zombie mode, as well as the trademark fun and addicting Call of Duty multiplayer. Treyarch has done a good job bringing the game to the PC, and should be commended for their efforts as everything that should be in a good PC shooter is in World at War. Fans of the series should definitely check this game out.