Call of Duty: World at War
Developer Treyarch had quite an assignment to do with making Call of Duty: World at War. Call of Duty 4 was a bomb and one that kept resonating thanks to the excellent multiplayer possibilities. Going back to the setting of World War 2 made it even more difficult as everyone quite liked Modern Warfare and the more current day setting. The tale of the less-used Japanese chapter in the war, an extra sniff of brutality and realism and a year extra work to polish things up were the elements chosen to save the preverbial furniture.
From the first images on you feel that this game is a lot better than its predecessor. The voices from amongst others Keifer Sutherland are right on the spot, the weapon models are good and feel right (eventhough the flame thrower is a bit too powerful) and you’ll rarely get stuck in the decor. Unfortunate that especially in the more linear campaign on the road to the Reichstag you’ll too often find out that all side paths are dead ends or accidentally are blocked by a fire, a fallen cupboard or a broken down wall. What also gets noticed is the high level of realism, or an attempt to create that. Limbs flying around, blood guttering vividly (and perfectly showing whether you hit someone or not) and now and then you also get the horror of war thrown straight in your face. For instance killing captured opponents or seeing Japanese soldiers get burnt alive.
Despite this, the more realistic scenario, and real images of the war between levels, the makers still didn’t succeed in making me think deeper about the war or the sometimes dubious deeds that were done. For that this remains too much a game, you feel just too often the wheels behind the curtain (think of hidden triggers when a new piece of script is set off) and you’re too much of an untouchable killing machine. Although the predecessor probably on the surface did less its best to be realistic, the makers of CoD4 succeeded better in displaying how cruel a real war is. Think of the infamous level where you got to bomb people to death from a plane high in the sky while your pilot was cheering.
Still a lot of levels are craftly made and more than often they loan parts from the inevitable Modern Warfare. The sniper mission for instance that was a bit more brilliant in the predecessor, the mission in the water plane and the one where you got to penetrate the heart of Berlin. Also the hostile encounters in the metro are worth remembering. Only the tank mission is a déjà-vu and disappoints a bit, while the missions in the jungle form a nice variety, especially since an opponents gets to run up to you a bit quicker and dares to crawl into a tree. Beware, although the marketing campaign concentrated on that it also forms a big change with the previous games. Just consider it as a variation to what you’re used to!
In short, the gameplay is quite good and Call of Duty just remains thé best shooter if you like intense missions, constant weapons firing and beautifully scripted events. The visual finishing may no longer be top of the bill, the PC has managed to leave all the competition behind it by now with some more modern graphical engines, still World at War succeeds to beautifully recreate the surroundings like the grey, desolate cities in Russia or the green, dangerous jungles of the Japanese islands.
We’re also pleased with the sound, eventhough the weapons could have sounded a bit more real. Probably this was adjusted slightly as otherwise you would be deaf after ten minutes. It never remains quiet for more than a few seconds. Personally I also checked out the multiplayer a bit less but it’s not wrong to describe it in a few lines: Call of Duty 4 in a world war 2 jacket. You get the same structure, possibilities, perks, rankings and so on. Also the gameplay there is pretty good but you get a bit more the feeling that there’s little new under the sun. Not that that means this isn’t a solid online game.
World at War is without a doubt a great shooter: intense, immersive, with some memorable levels, a very high finishing and a basic gameplay that’s as tight as possible. Too bad that there’s little new and that despite everything Treyarch doesn’t manage to get to the level of what Infinity Ward surprised us with last year. So buy it even if you’re a mild lover of shooters but don’t expect something as unfortgettable as Modern Warfare