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.
Ugly: Get those anachronistic electric guitars out of my WWII game!