Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360)
OverviewPlatform: Xbox 360
Take Call of Duty 4, add flamethrowers, Kiefer Sutherland & hundreds of Japanese blokes and what are you left with?
The Call of Duty franchise takes a step back from modern combat and gives us a gritty, albeit abbreviated; look at the battles which finally ended World War II. You won’t be storming the beaches of Normandy or fighting in the Battle of the Bulge but you will be invading the beautiful beaches of Japan and conquering the notorious Reichstag.
Right off the bat it’s refreshing to play lesser known though equally important battles that led to the final defeat of the Axis powers. The two campaigns play parallel to each other as you take on the roles of both the American Private Miller in Japan and the Russian Private Petrenko in Russia and Germany.
Let’s get one thing straight—this game is visually spectacular. Environments are finely detailed and explosions are near lifelike. The game designers deserve a medal for fantastic fire effects, like the especially powerful flame thrower with its destructively beautiful multicolored flames.
One thing this game does perfectly is recreate the sense of the brutality of combat. This is especially true in the Russian campaign in Germany where you get a view of the brutality first hand. Players are given the option of executing soldiers who are severely wounded or are in the act of surrendering. While this doesn’t change the game play one way or another it does show how brutal the Red Army was in retaliating for the German invasion of their homeland.
The campaign lasts 7 to 8 hours on normal with a few hours extra for bumped up difficulty. While enjoyable it doesn’t stray far from the Call of Duty formula. The same linear progression through levels is here. The Call of Duty series is predictable, but with the other titles there are at least interesting and amazing set pieces to fight on. World at War, with the exception of the last level, offers fields of grass and dirty European streets to fight through, which doesn’t make the experience unique nor provide a compelling reason to play.
Much of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s success was due to the phenomenal multiplayer mode that compels people to play the game in great numbers. World at War has the same XP gaining, perks and weapons customization from last year but with a few minor yet welcome additions. The technology available in the game is vintage 1940’s and it shows with the weapons, add-ons and the new kill streak reward. In World at War, when you kill seven enemies in a row you unlock a swarm of attack dogs that hunt down your enemies. While it is a unique feature it is somewhat overpowered, in the sense that the dogs blend in with the dark, grainy environments making them hard to spot. They are also extremely deadly; two bites will kill you instantly.
The game ships with 13 maps that really don’t measure up to Call of Duty standard. Unbelievably, I have no favorite map in this game. The maps designed were too big or too small making the game chaotic or boring. Capture the flag and war make their return to the series while all the classic modes return as well. It would have been nice to see new modes but nobody will complain with what’s provided here. The weapon add-ons are slightly different; camouflage has been removed but machine gun bipods, rifle mounted grenades, larger magazines and bayonets are offered.
Call of Duty: World at War is essentially a mod of Call of Duty 4, taking too many aspects from its predecessor. The sniping mission reminds players of Ghillies in the Mist and taking control of the guns from a PBY Catalina (AKA flying Boat) is quite similar to the AC-130 gunship mission from Call of Duty 4. The multiplayer is also way too similar with the exception of the two returning game modes, maps and guns.
There is the nice addition of “Nacht Der Untoten (Night of the Undead)” a mini game you unlock for beating the game where you play alone or through 4 player co-op as a soldier that must defend a bunker from the living dead. You can buy weapons off the wall with points you gain from killing zombies or unlocking additional areas of the bunker. This is more of a novelty that you and your friends will play a few times before diving into the multiplayer.
All in all, Call of Duty: World at War is its predecessor with different weapons and fresh new locations, and yet, it still is a great game. An average, albeit short, campaign and addictive multiplayer will have newcomers and World War II junkies playing this game for months. For veterans of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare there just isn’t enough new good content here to warrant a purchase.