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Our Finest Hours- Call of Duty: World at War

Spend a few minutes with the new Call of Duty: World at War, and it becomes painfully obvious the developers have done their homework: The first Marine you encounter is named Private Pyle, after the unstable recruit in Full Metal Jacket. Seconds later, skilled players may unlock the Saving Private Ryan achievement, an obvious nod to Spielberg’s epic. Later, the game convincingly reproduces a pivotal scene from Enemy at the Gates.

Yet merely referencing remarkable war films doesn’t guarantee a satisfying interactive experience. Developer Treyarch’s last attempt at the genre resulted in the mediocre Call of Duty 3, a technically competent title that was rendered obsolete a year later by its sequel. Franchise pioneers Infinity Ward created one of the best FPSs of the current generation with Call of Duty 4, a games that is still actively enjoyed by a large number of players.

So when word spread that Treyarch was returning for the next Call of Duty, the news was met with trepidation across the internet. Luckily, those fears can be put to rest; because while CoD:WaW isn’t a huge evolutionary step forward, it is a engaging and intense title that fans will want to own. The title offers a proficient thrill ride for one to four players, as well as a myriad of multiplayer options.

                                               Private Pyro makes some of the best ‘toast’ in all of the Corps.

Call of Duty: World at War returns the series to the WWII setting, yet wisely sidesteps the locations typical of the genre. Within moments of starting a new game, players will witness Treyarch’s appendage to the gameplay- intensified blood and gore. Flaming soldiers scream in agony, while shots to the upper body can produce an arterial spray. The developers have carefully straddled the line between intensity and gratuity; at no time does the carnage seem hyper-realistic. The solo campaign keeps players interested by moving between two distinct narratives: Private Miller, the American marine and Private Petrenko, the soldier in the Soviet Red Army.

Once players have finished the relatively brief solo campaign, the Nacht der Untoten mode (Night of the Undead in German) is unlocked. Here players battle an endless barrage of zombies, while adding to their cabin and collecting experience to unlock weapons. As a solo diversion the game is enjoyable, but cooperatively the mode is superb, and adds a bit of longevity to the title. Players can also enjoy the majority of the solo campaign cooperatively, building experience that is transferable to the multiplayer modes.

                                                                          “Comrade, that’s a tail, nyet?”

With ten different modes, sixty-five ranks, and a ton of weapons and abilities to unlock, CoD:WaW’s multiplayer is a virtual time-sink. After playing the beta, we were fearful that World at War’s online component would be too similar to COD4. Luckily, most of our fears were unfounded; the game’s speed and pace feel similar, but the weapons and kill-streak rewards are different enough to appeal to veterans of the previous game. One caveat that we found was that dying didn’t reset the kill-streak rewards.

World at War’s failings mirror that of its processor- in the solo campaign, enemies respawn endlessly until the player crosses an invisible threshold. While enemy ambushes are thrilling once, any tension is robbed during subsequent play-throughs. We wish the campaign were designed with multiple sessions in mind.

                   “I said ‘aim a bit higher’, not ‘start a big ass fire’. Maybe you should clean your ears, Private”

Overall, Call of Duty: World at War offers a engaging campaign, a satisfyingly deep multiplayer mode, and the ability to play cooperatively. Developers Treyarch have created an intense WWII FPS that rivals its processor in some ways, and outstrips it in others. We eagerly await to see how developer Infinity Ward’s will raise the ante for next year’s inevitable COD title.

Good: Flamethrowers, Nazi Zombies, and the beauty of the COD4 engine.
Bad: Enemy trigger zones mean endless respawns until you press forward.
Get those anachronistic electric guitars out of my WWII game!

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. I’ve been playing it all weekend. It kicks all kinds of ass sideways.

  2. Sounds great. I wish I wasn’t broke!

  3. I guess you guys like flamethrowers.

  4. Ive learned that a FPS gets a good grade on this site its worth getting (with the exception of resistance 2)

  5. Sounds like DE know his war porn, too.


  6. Got this last week, and I love it.

  7. I got to say it- that games looks hot.

    (Pun intended)

  8. I want this for christmas.

  9. Thanks for the review. I’ve been meaning to pick this one up.

  10. I played the beta for this game and it had some issues with accuracy, especially what it considered a headshot. (lots of pissed off nights yelling at the screen)
    But i like the idea of playing as four different countries and the variety of weapons.

  11. I must say im interest after reading your review, but I’m a bit burned out on the WW2 game.

  12. Hoping to get this game for my brother in law, he’s been wanting it. Looks like a great game.

  13. I didn’t have too many problems, was it a lag issue?

    When target were relatively still, I could usually nail ’em.

  14. I am pleasantly surprised by all the scores this game is getting.

  15. I rented this and was surprised how lag-free coop was. I’m going to have to make a purchase.

  16. I’ll probably end up grabbing this one.

  17. I was deadset against buying this, but the reviews are starting to sway my opinion.

  18. The game looks great, but I can’t afford it! Christmas, or any other way please!

  19. My friend got it and he said it’s good, but a little too similar to COD4 to spend $60

  20. You had me at zombies. Left 4 Dead demo left me cold.

  21. Who thinks that 2008 has been one of the best years to be a gamer?

    This looks like another great one.

  22. Hmm, the enemy spawn barrier aspect will probably deter me from buying this game. Thanks for the heads up.

  23. You must be a Xbox only FPS gamer. Being a Xbox fanboy means that you are missing out on one great game R2. I own both systems so don’t try to say I’m a PS3 fanboy. I like GOW2 but I think you are limiting youself as a gamer with such a narrow view…

  24. Ivan, def. 2008 f’ng rocks when it comes to being one of the best years as a gamer.
    graphics look amazing in the sceenshots above. awesome review, thanks!

  25. It is, I mean Fallout 3, COD5, LBP, there’s so many AAA games.

    It just a shame that this comes during a recession.

  26. Well stated, Panther!

  27. You guys are your great reviews are making me broke. I’d on the path to playing PS3 on the streets because of you 😉

  28. I speed over to Target to pick this up before work, and with traffic didn’t come home until an hour later. That left me 10 minutes to play.

    From what I saw, the game looked really good. Im going to rush home.

  29. Don’t forget about the twos- Fable 2, Gears or War 2 and Resistance 2

  30. Yeah, if there’s a halfway decent war film, I’ve probably seen it.

    I still need to add Boys of Company C to my collection. It was just released last month on DVD.

  31. I though this was going to be a huge POS, another Treyarch disaster. Then I played it today, and gradually realized that with the right engine Treyarch did some really amazing things.

    I need to unlock Zombie mode, now.

  32. Does the fire spread like Far Cry 2?

  33. Yeah it does, just not as much.

  34. This sounds like a great pickup down the line when it drops in price a little. But at the moment, there are just too many games out that demand my attention and my limited supply of money.

  35. This sounds like a great pickup down the line when it drops in price a little. But at the moment, there are just too many games out that demand my attention and my limited supply of money.

  36. Great review, DE.

  37. I don’t know how this could top 4…but I will at least try it.

  38. I agree 110%. 2008 has been THE best year to be a gamer. and it looks like 2009 will come veerrry VERY close. I can’t wait. I need my turtle beach though!

  39. I probably won’t play much multiplayer because I was in the MP beta and felt COD4 was still the better game but as a single-player experience, I’m in.

  40. Some people were skeptical about going back to WWII, but I thought it was a good move because tons of people will always play COD4 since it’s pretty much a quintessential FPS. We need a great WWII FPS and I think World at War is it. I hope I can get this for Christmas.

  41. This game looks pretty good.

  42. Fantastic review, it just makes me want to get it so bad but it’s Christmas time pretty much and with that I have a low income to spend for myself. But you can help me out, you know my birthday is December 5th :]

  43. Would love to get this game but can’t see myself paying $60 for it…

  44. I hear this will be $40 at some places for Black Friday. I cant wait!

  45. Just bought this for my nephew, thanks for the review.

  46. Thanks for the review. Game looks great.

  47. Yeah, I’m hoping to get this soon. Review made me more interested

  48. Wow nice review… can’t wait to pick this one up.

  49. This was a good review. I must admit that I haven’t play world at war yet. I love to play COD4: Modern Warefare. I will be checking this game out soon. Now all I need is a big t.v and some big tv cabinets to fit all of my games. Has the price of the game gone down since it’s release?