The day was Friday on a cool summers evening and with no plans for a party due to a rescission I decided tonight would be a good time to catch up on one of the many AAA games out at the time. So of I go, down to my local video store in hope That I may be able to get my greasy mits on the likes of Dead Space, Fallout3, Farcry 2, or Motorstorm 2 and low and behold all of which were rented out. So out of pure intrigue I decided to take the plunge on Call of Duty: World at War (WAW). I say "Plunge" as that was exactly what Treyarch took with this title. The design decision to take the Call of Duty series back to its roots after the master piece that was COD:4 was meet with allot of Hoo's and Ha's from the gaming community. The story follows two different soldiers fighting in two completely different campaigns. You play as an American and then a Russian and switch between the two as the game progresses. So with the back story behind us lets get down to the nitty gritty and review the crap out of this game.
Straight of the bat you will notice that WAW has much in common with it's predecessor. The cinematic at the start followed by an identical menu you would swear your playing a patched version of COD:4. As you kick of the campaign the changes made become allot more apparent. Besides the obvious change of setting Treyarch have also implemented a couple of nice changes and a couple of so so much nice changes.
One change that will tip the scale 50/50 is they way the story is presented. Instead of a stylised S.A.S mission briefing you are presented with a slide show of sorts showing history footage of WW2 and a very vector artist graphics showing the situation you are in. While this is pleasing to the eye it doesn't really fit what was one of the grittiest times in mankind.
So I'm happy to say that this grittiness has not gone astray during gameplay. This is shown right of the bat with a cutscene that makes the R18 rating justified. And this is not to mention that we have flying limbs ahoy during gameplay. The feeling you get when you take cover, frag out and seconds later, a hollowed cry burst out with limbs flying in the sky is something not to be missed.
With Treyarch using the same engine as COD:4 its no surprise at all that it still retains the overall look and feel of COD:4 which is not a bad thing of course and when the dust settles I believe Treyarch have done quite a reasonable job with the engine. Everything in the game just has that little bit more detail to make it a slightly better looker then COD:4, and yet still retaining that butter smooth frame rate that has been proven to melt eyeballs.
Despite you being an average cab of the rank solider it seems as if the levels were designed for you to lead. Even though you have a clear leader amongst the group. This is in very much a way in which shows up COD:4's superiority. In COD:4 you really did feel like the rookie of the team and that you were just one part in something that was a shit load bigger then you. Feeling a part of an elite group of soldiers was one to behold and you simply just don't get this in this title. It feels very pedestrian in a way, very generic if you will.
One of the most talked about features in FPS in recent times is the very liner type of level design but made to look good with decent scripted events. This was beautifully executed by the team at Infantry Ward but the same cant be said for WAW unfortunately. The set pieces here either consist of A. Your bacon getting saved from top notch split second timing or B. Doing your best impression of Usain Bolt and running from point A to point B while taking in the cinematics around you.
A.I wise its all reasonably solid here. There is a select few characters in your squad that can not die (because of story), and these are the guys that actually know how to shoot, so your not expected to take on the world by yourself. But the rest of the guys are about as useless at tits on a bull. The enemy on the other hand are all clones of legendary Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino. Lets just say you have a higher chance of dying from a grenade then actual lead. That's not to say they cant shoot, as you will find out soon enough playing on veteran. Something else I noticed that was kinda cool was the real world tactics that mainly the Japanese soldiers will use. They often camouflage in with the terrain and charge you in a very kamakazi like fashion. They will also take to the trees believe it or not for the element of surprise. But once you use some tactics of your own, like say... flanking, you will be able to run riot. Heck you could start singing God Defend NZ in full voice and they would take no notice.
Ounce your killed to many Nazis to remember and have completed the game you will receive a very pity and unrewarding ending. You will feel a little hole in yourself particularly after the last couple of missions which leave you a few controllers down and no hair left. But not to worry as you get rewarded with a extra little nifty mode that makes for great fun with a mate. The mode is called "Nazi Zombies". Yes they have pretty much taken the two most drawn out enemy's in gaming history and meshed them together to create the king of all clichés. The problem with these little add on modes is that they are so often an afterthought, but I'm pleased to tell you that, that is not the case here. The mode involves you in a very Resident Evil type of setting, its all very claustrophobic. In more ways then one this mode is of the old school type. The aim is to survive and score as much points as possible. Getting these points requires killing. Who woulda thunk it. But to survive your gonna have to use these points to acquire more guns, new bullets, and fixing windows so the bastard Nazi Zombies cant get in. All in all this was designed for co-op but is still great fun on your own and makes up for the shitty arse ending.
The similarities between COD:4 and WAW don't stop in the single player campaign. Multiplayer is very much a carbon copy of what was the superb and benchmark setting online play that was COD:4. However the setting of WWII means it has some drawbacks and takes a bit of the magic out of it. The guns are the major let down here but one thing that it does do better then COD:4 is that there seems to be a pretty top notch matchmaking system going on in the background, as in the games I played I had plenty of fellow country man fighting right beside me. This meant my worse ping rating was 3 bars which is heaven for us kiwis.
As the saying goes, "don't fix it if it ain't broke" It seems as if the developers have had this firmly impeded in there mind during the development cycle as there is not allot that can differentiate itself from COD:4. Yes there is a wicked flame-thrower a few vehicle missions and slightly better graphics but it lacks the magic in online and single player that COD:4 had in spades. While it was a valiant effort to create a squeal to a modern classic it just doesn't seem to have that same spark that one COD:4 had but at the same time it didn't embarrass itself as many had predicted.
-Nazi Zombies! There is no way anyone can say that these guys are not cool.
-Pretty standard gameplay
-Enemies whoring nades like its going out of fashion.
-Online lacks a little something.