Reviewed: November 18, 2008
Released: November 11, 2008
Just when you thought Modern Warfare was the current FPS fad Treyarch welcomes you back to World War II in Call of Duty: World at War. Like most of my friends I was disappointed to hear that we would be revisiting the tired WWII era this year, but who could make you forget about Modern Warfare better than Treyarch?
One way they were able to pull this off is by making the single player experience entirely cooperative. You and up to three friends can play through nearly the entire story or select individual chapters. Co-op and single player campaign mode are amazingly fun. Once you start playing you will not want to quit until you have beaten the game. Playing with a friend makes the game all the more enjoyable, add two more and you have a four-player squad ready for action.
There are two different ways to play co-op, truly cooperatively or competitive co-op. In competitive co-op each player competes for the most kills and points while true co-op doesnít. Either way you decide to play you must work together as a team to complete the missions because you cannot go on if your friend dies. If you go down while playing alone you are dead, but in co-op if you go down your friend (Ďs) have a limited amount of time to revive you while avoiding being killed in the process. You can help assist your rescuer while you are down by firing your pistol at enemies or slashing ones close by with your knife. It takes a while to heal a player and you will both be lucky if you survive the medical process.
The game has you playing from the American, Russian, German, and Japanese perspectives. This allows you to see history and brutality of the Pacific and European theaters of operation from multiple perspectives. The main story is actually two sided. One the one side you play as an American Private who has jus t gotten out of a POW camp and on the other you play as a Russian soldier, sniping and fighting through impossible odds.
Other than co-op, multiplayer is the next best reason to get COD5. The level up system is nearly identical to Modern Warfare and is just as rewarding. Level designs are also top notch with small to large areas to compete in depending on the game type and number of players. You can even call in air strikes, dog and mortar attacks to name a few after meeting certain team/individual killing criteria.
Air strikes and mortar attacks can be deadly if you are driving a tank while dogs are fast and brutal if you are on the ground. Tanks can be extremely fun in multiplayer, especially on certain maps where up to four different people/teams can control them. The tanks have a gunner position so your teammates can join in on the fun with you. Certain maps can also be large enough to satisfy camper happy individuals. There really isnít anything more satisfying than following an unsuspecting opponent and stabbing him from behind. One other extremely fun, but small extra co-op mode is Nazi Zombie hunt. In this mode you and up to four other teammates have to defend a house from wave after wave of zombies. Each wave has more and more zombies breaking down boarded windows and crawling in.
There is an interesting RPG element to this mode as well. Each player starts off with 500 points, a pistol, and a handful of grenades. You earn additional points by shooting and killing zombies. These points are used to buy more powerful guns (located on walls throughout the house) and additional grenades. You can also use the points to unlock additional portions of the house to buy better guns, but by doing this you also open up more access points for zombies to crawl in. One appealing way to slow down zombies and earn additional points is by re-boarding open windows and walls. This is even possible while fighting off approaching zombies and while reloading.
The weapons in Call of Duty are awesome and abundant. There are tons of distinct weapons for each faction that you play as. One welcome weapon that I didnít plan on seeing in the game was a sawed off double-barreled shotgun. It is extremely effective in zombie hunt because it can take down a row of approaching zombies with its only real downside being the lengthy reload time.
Every single mode and feature from Call of Duty 4 has been carried over. Many of them have been enhanced with additional features. Ten levels are now required to gain the prestige class and there are death cards to collect, challenges to beat, and various unlockable items. There is even a new momentum-based war mode where you must capture a series of control points.
Finding all of the death cards in the game can be challenging, but rewarding. The death cards (besides being an achievement on Xbox360) are used as cheat codes in the game. One of the cards makes enemies explode when you shoot them in the head. It is hilarious watching enemies exploding left and right. Call of Duty looks amazing at times, but the graphics are kind of a mixed bag for the PC. While the game looks amazing for 360 standards, the PC has seen games like Brother in Arms and Crysis. Call of Duty doesnít come close to matching the level of detail in Crysis, and Brother in Arms Hellís Highway is more polished for the PC with higher resolution textures enhanced for DirectX 10.
The most notable effect in the game is the tanks flamethrower. I have never seen a flamethrower or the smoke billowing off of the stream of fire look so real. Thereís even a handheld flamethrower in the game that looks and acts remarkably real. The tanks armor has a nice bump-mapped texture to it that stands out as well. Smoke, dust, and particle effects are incredible. During a big tank battle I could barely see through the flying debris and dust clouds from exploding rounds. There are several moments where you have to (quite literally) let the dust settle before proceeding.
Weather effects are good, but by no means great. You have seen simple water, snow, and rain like this before. Lighting and contrasting lights are really good. Level designs and locations look spectacular and you almost donít notice the way you are playing through a level because you are so engrossed in the gameplay. Call of Duty World at War has also carried over the mature gameplay of COD4. The game get bloody right away as you watch a fellow marine get tortured with a cigarette to the eye and his throat slit. Later on you will see fellow soldiers crawling on the ground with only their torso fully intact. Arms, hands and dismembered bodies litter the battlefields you fight on. In Nazi Zombie mode heads explode with the same disgusting popping sound like that in Gears of War.
Everything from planes flying overhead to tank explosions sounds incredible. The weapon noises are amazing as they should be considering the audio team got to visit a shooting range and use practically all the weapons in the game. Wars comes alive with the amazing sounds of machine guns blazing, bombs exploding, and the blood chilling screams of enemy soldiers. Luckily the screaming noises werenít a result of an accident while recording at the shooting range.
An uplifting and emotional soundtrack leads the musical charge for Call of Duty. The inspiring and patriotic score is energizing during critical battle sequences. At one point in the game I can remember the battle music startup and I couldnít help but want to lead the charge into combat. Voice acting is also very well done and is extremely professional.
You canít put a price on Call of Dutyís value. With its amazing RPG multiplayer system, Nazi Zombie, and co-op story modes you will be playing until next yearís Call of Duty arrives or longer. I could not stop playing the story, I could not put down the multiplayer, and I could play co-op all day long. Make sure to pick up a copy of Call of Duty because value does not get much higher than this.
Call of Duty is an amazingly fun game that offers you everything youíd want or expect from the series. One of the few places you can knock it down on is overall originality. The game plays exactly like those before it. Shooting, running, crawling, sniping, and driving tanks all feel the same. Even the checkpoint system hasnít changed. The only new (and welcome) addition is the extremely fun cooperative modes.
Call of Duty World at War is an amazingly fun and addictive game all around. You couldnít ask for a better FPS value. Whether you are playing solo, competitively, cooperatively, or are just kicking back killing Nazi Zombies you are sure to have a world of a good time until next yearís Call of Duty. Even if you are really disappointed that this isnít Modern Warfare you should still pickup this game because you wonít find a better World War II game out there.