Call of Duty: World at War ReviewMartin Zmijewski
Modern War was a difficult title to follow up. Therefore in that sense World at War is a little lacking to one of the best first person shooters, at least in my opinion. That is why I do not truly see this as a follow up, especially since Modern War 2 is the true follow up to CoD 4. Actually I see World at War as more of a follow up to CoD 3, as it brings the series back to World War II, except this time around you follow two very different story lines. One set in Japanese occupied South Pacific as a Marine and the other as a Russian soldier as they invade Germany. Two very unique perspectives in a video game, well I’m sure the Japanese side has been told, but the Russian storyline is where the game shines in originality.
The main story line starts out as the player takes the role of Private Miller who happens to be captured by the Japanese on Makin Island. Just as you watch a Jap soldier cut the throat of one of your companions and begins to turn on you the rescue team pops in. Then the action begins as you begin your mission to free the other POWs and get the hell off the island. You then continue on to invade the island of Peleliu and then on to Okinawa. The fighting is intense, as a war game should be, enemies firing at you from all angels. At times this can get a little over whelming. Every time there is a brief pause in the fighting it is usually because a group of Japs are waiting to ambush the group. This part of the story brings you through jungles ravaged by war, airfields, trenches swarming with Japanese soldiers, and Shuri castle on Okinawa for the climatic battle.
Once you play as Private Millar for a couple of missions the story shifts as you take control of Private Dimitri Petrenko as you wake up in a ditch with dead Russians all around you in German occupied Stalingrad. This is where the game began to get really interesting. Waking up and meeting your guide and commanding officer Sergeant Reznov you begin to track down a German officer whom you have to kill and free Stalingrad from the Nazis. After this mission the Soviets take the battle onto German soil as the march towards Berlin. Traveling through the German U-Bahn, a German train system, and finally into Berlin where the Soviets take the Reichstag. When it comes to first person shooters I have for some reason always been interested in those set in World War II, but eventually they begin to get old, as it seems like the same stories are being told and the same battles fought. The Soviet storyline of World at War brought a new perspective of WWII to games.
With this first mission the graphics seem just ok, it is dark and you cannot see much of the landscape around you. It is not until the next mission, which jumps a couple years ahead in the war, where you see the true beauty of the games graphics. You storm an island with palm trees, sandy beaches, cliffs in the background, and bombs going off in all directions. Other missions bring you through jungles and Japanese castles all looking very impressive. Even the war ravaged cities of Berlin and Stalingrad have an element of detail that brings them alive. I enjoyed the diversity of landscape and settings.
The game play and controls are the same as Modern War, as the development team Treyarch used the game engine created by Infinity Ward for CoD 4. They are not too simple but not difficult at the same time. It does not take much to get used to them, especially if you play shooters often enough. But that is where the controls flourish, in their simplicity and low learning curve. The graphics are also very similar, the only difference being the type of environment as I mentioned above.
For the most part the game’s AI is good. In ways the AI could be better. The enemies duck and cover from your gunshots and hunt you down when you try to take cover. Many times while taking cover to heal from a couple of hits I would hear a Japanese soldier yelling “banzai” as he charged at me in my hiding spot. At times the patterns ran by the AI can be predictable and repetitious. Other times it also was possible to reach a checkpoint without killing many enemies and just allowing the NPCs the kill them. Some of the missions are challenging, sometimes frustrating as the great numbers of enemies you have to deal with. When I would become angered by situations where I could not progress rather then throwing my controller in anger I would go online and take my anger out on other players.
Like much of the game the online play is taken from Modern War, just inserting World War II settings and weapons. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The system of levels and perks remain. As you kill, win matches, and complete challenges you gain experience. As you make the trek to level 65 you pick up new weapons and perks which allow you to do such things as have increased health or bullet damage, or even automatically dropping a grenade when you are killed. The only change in online play is the addition of vehicles. The only problem I see with the hour and hours of game play fun would be the lack of more interesting guns. I found that some of the middle level guns were a little boring and for the most part I would use low level guns like the Thompson, BAR, or Springfield until I got past level 30 or 40 and got some better stuff.
Once completing the main storyline you are rewarded with another unique aspect of the game, the Nazi Zombie level. Everyone likes shooting Nazis. And everyone likes shooting zombies. So what can go wrong with the awesomely addictive endgame level. Starting off with just a pistol you have to kill the zombies to get points. The points can be used to purchase stronger weapons as well as unlocking other rooms in the mansion you are trapped in. As you kill more and more zombies the game progresses in levels. The higher the level the more zombies will spawn and the faster then move. It is a tough level, as the zombies eventually get over whelming. Luckily you can also play the level in co-op mode.
Overall I greatly enjoyed playing CoD World at War. The main story is not that long though interesting until the end. Some of the mission objectives are kind of clichéd, such as blowing up tanks, rescuing companions, sniping officers. But that is what to expect in a war game. The game play is good but not great. At times it seems like just a constant push to different checkpoints. Though at other times the fighting can get really intense and the intelligent AI can make the game a little frustrating. But I like a challenging game. All this considered where the game truly shines is the storyline. It remains interesting until the end when the Soviets take Berlin and the Americans capturing Shuri Castle in Okinawa. Despite the length of the main story there are countless hours of playing to be done between the awesome online matches and the Nazi Zombie level.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.