Call of Duty: World at War review


Posted by Eric on Sunday, May 24th, 2009 in Gaming Life / Reviews
Call of Duty: World at War

The World War II genre of video games has become an extremely saturated market over the last couple years thanks to our friends over at Electronic Arts shitting out a new Medal of Honor title every six months. But it’s not just EA, really... check out this list. Of the 170+ games in that list, 135 of them were, or will be, released since 2000. This should give you a good idea of just how many games have cluttered such an interesting topic; one that might have people scratching their heads as to why anyone would even make a "game" about in the first place.

If you read the article I wrote on BIA:HH, you’d know that obviously I’m not all that thrilled on what’s happened in the industry to my favorite historical event. Not since the famed opening level in Medal of Honor: Frontlines, where you participate in a Saving Private Ryan-esque beach storming, has there been a WWII game as good as this. I say that with 100% sincerity, so you can go buy the game now.

I’ve never really been a fan of the Call of Duty titles; I always thought they were too stiff, boring, and inaccurate. That’s where this game helps the franchise take a turn for the better. As soon as the campaign starts up you’re pummeled with real archive footage of soldiers dodging bullets through trenches, seamen shooting Zeros out of the sky only to be kamikaze’d by another, and all the death, guts & glory that comes along with such an epic war. Hands down I knew right away this game was going to set some standards for the genre. The sheer fact alone that they used footage as graphic as what my eyes were just raped with meant that the developers at Treyarch were serious about this game.

Let me say, first off, that this is probably the most well thought out FPS I’ve ever played. The actions and events within each mission of the campaign, scripted or otherwise, are simply stellar and help to keep the pace of the game as well as your ass on the edge of your seat. Not only that, but there are two campaigns; each with entirely different characters, weapons, missions, etc. You don’t get a choice of the two to start off, but Treyarch does an awesome job keeping the game interesting by switching storylines from American vs. Japanese to Russian vs. German every three or so missions. The switch-up is almost seamless and flows extremely well; not like other games where this happens... <cough>Halo 2</cough>.

The controls are pretty standard first-person, though I had to switch to the alternate button layout to avoid the default melee by clicking the right-stick (weird). All of the movement is extremely smooth and fluid. Melee can feel a bit sluggish or delayed at times, but is usually quickly forgiven by it’s effectiveness. A click of the left-stick snaps you into a sprint to haul ass, limiting your turning radius and denying you the ability to pull the trigger. Awesome.

The American campaign starts with you being held POW and witnessing a squad member give up his life for his country. When the executioner heads your way, there’s not much you can do except fall on your ass. Your new squad leader and rescuer, Sgt. Roebuck, shanks the guy that was once your flashback-inducer while the rest of the squad makes haste to slaughter the others in and around the hut. You’re given a helmet, a Japanese Type 14, and a choice of rifle: Japanese Type 100 or the classic M1 Garand. Welcome back to the battle.

The Russian campaign starts out apparently after a battle of some sort where you are awoken to a friendly crow ready to peck your eyes out and the cadavers of your fallen war-buddies to remind you of your impending death. After the Nazis move through the area, you find that you’re not alone in your quest for survival, and what you once thought was just another corpse turns out to be a fellow sniper, Sgt. Reznov, ready to screw your head back onto your shoulders. Grab that rifle and take some heads off comrade!

For the longest time, I couldn’t control the excitement I was having over the intensity of this game. Everything has this awesome, gritty look & feel to it; perfect for the era/topic. The menu system is quick and easy to pick up; for the most part it’s just simple text, but you’re guaranteed to find what you need when you need it. Each of the missions welcomes you with a status report & mission brief using this cool blend of real footage and animated graphics. Each of the guns has a different feel to it; a feature that devs rarely put any thought into. Accuracy of the weapons is spot-on, be it the bullet spread & recoil while holding automatic fire, or the sound of a slide staying cocked back as you reach the end of a clip. This game definitely puts others in the genre to shame, and hopefully this won’t be Treyarch’s last attempt at achieving perfection.

The Bottom Line: 4.5 (out of 5)
Call of Duty: World at War screenshotCall of Duty: World at War screenshot
Call of Duty: World at War screenshotCall of Duty: World at War screenshot

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