Call of Duty: World at War Review
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 11, 08
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While Infinity Ward, the creators of Call of Duty, are indeed working on a sixth installment in the popular shooter series (as revealed recently by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick), Treyarch was given an opportunity to deliver Call of Duty: World at War for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. With Call of Duty 3 under their belt, Treyarch is no stranger to the license. Now, Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a fine and immersive game experience. These guys know the secret and they certainly know how to create an exciting and well-polished shooter. Alas we can't say the same thing about Treyarch, especially knowing how they managed to screw up certain releases such as Spider-Man 3. We've changed our minds after seeing WaW in action at this year's GC 2007 and realized this is the right opportunity for Treyarch to make amends.
The story in World at War shifts between two campaigns; one lets you fight alongside the United States Marine Corps against the Japanese Army in the Pacific, while the other lets you join the ranks of the Soviet Red Army as it advances towards Berlin.
Okay, let's cut to the chase. The narrative doesn't contain the kind of depth necessary for proper player immersion. Instead it throws a few historical events your way and introduces a number of well-voiced characters in an effort to reel you in. This doesn't mean much, since you'll probably rush through the single-player campaign without any particular interest for any of the characters. Chapters feel more like segments from blockbuster action flick, rather than pieces of a coherent storyline.
Developers these days completely exhausted every possible game concept related to WW II and that's likely to discourage a number of gamers from giving this one a try. After franchises like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and Brothers in Arms, audiences have grown tired of the whole Saving Private Ryan type of cinematic ambiance. Still, the initial feeling that this won't prove to be a satisfying shooter started to dwindle after the first few hours of play. World at War has something other CoD games do not - co-op play. The main campaign can be played in 4-player co-op, which we found to be one of the most gratifying aspects of the game. So, what exactly does this do for the game? Well, it actually gives you very good reason to return to the main campaign, even once you've finished it in solo mode (one afternoon should be enough for that, by the way). Not only is the co-op mode engaging, it severely enhances the fun factor, particularly when you're playing it with three companions.
Making the whole experience more challenging, the developers added Death Cards, which you'll find to be quite similar to Bungie's skull system in Halo 3. Each level contains a certain amount of collectable Death Cards. Picking them unlocks specific abilities and features. It even triggers a handy cheat mode in co-op - for instance, allowing enemies to be killed with headshots only. Another cool element is unlocking 'Sticks & Stones' offering the player a chance to use a knife and dud grenades. None of these features are groundbreaking, albeit they do increase the challenge and make you want to continue playing. Tasks like 'kill 100 enemies with pistols' earn you experience points towards your multiplayer rank, which I'm sure, most players are going to find more than rewarding.
We have to congratulate Treyarch on adding a superb and extremely addictive aspect to the Call of Duty multiplayer. Not trying this game in co-op means you'll be missing out on a lot of fun.
The single-player isn't without challenges. For example, you're going to have a hard time defending yourself and your squad against unexpected Japanese 'Banzai' charges. The nonstop action keeps you on your toes the whole time. Regardless, a solo game in WaW won't be enjoyable as much as the single-player campaign in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Make no mistake, Call of Duty: World at War is a fabulous-looking game, with impressive explosions, awesome music, first-rate sound-effects and great character animation. And yet, somehow, it lacks the spirit and kick-ass atmosphere of Infinity Ward's CoD 4, not to mention those excellently directed action scenes.
Four-player co-op kept us busy for days, Nazi zombie mode, character animation, explosions, sound-effects, music;
Short and disappointing single-player, weak story, you've played this before... believe me; same old weapons, same old setting.