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Call of Duty: World at War
By Ryan Newman
Dec 16, 2008,
7 :01 am
Déjà vu. Going from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to Call of Duty: World at War was exactly like going from Call of Duty 2 to Call of Duty 3. That shouldn’t be all that surprising, given that the developers are the same, but it is a bit disappointing. What Infinity Ward knocks out of the park, Treyarch again gets to second on. Getting to second base isn’t bad, of course, but it’s also not as exhilarating or gripping as a homerun. Right, then, stretched but appropriate analogies aside...
As before, Treyarch’s offering isn’t bad. I would expect it to be either, though, considering it’s built on another sturdy foundation. Really, the best way to describe World at War is inelegant. To where as Modern Combat had poignant moments meant to drive the events home to the player, World at War is crass and goes for gore and shock value. While Modern Warfare features solid level design with an appropriate pace and improved respawnings, World at War is highly uneven, with mundane areas that are excessively difficult and AI that is often erratic. Even the dull quicktime events that had been muted after 3 are back in force, but now they are even more grating with bonsai and guard dog attacks requiring lightning quick reflexes to defend against. It seems that only a few lessons were learned since the last outing.
A few random hang-ups also bugged me. There is a very strange dissonance between the ultra slick intro screens, narrated by the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, and the subsequent grainy archival footage of combat; the lack of consistency is just very off-putting. I also died more times by grenades in World at War than in any other Call of Duty title. Either each soldier was given a few dozen grenades or they rained from the sky during the 1940s, because there is nothing else that can explain the vast amount being tossed around at all times. The icon and sound that indicates when a grenade is nearby was also slightly off; often the icon blends in with the background and the sound is heard too late to evade the blast.
Building upon an award-winning base did lead to some inevitable pluses. The graphics are gorgeous and add a great deal to the chaos; from the streets of a crumbling Berlin to caves dotting the islands of the Pacific, there are moments of grandeur that are unbeatable. Unevenness aside, the core of the game is solid as well. There is the mix of sniper, turret, and infantry missions for US and the Soviet Union that is the hallmark of the older titles. As it goes, how much you enjoyed Modern Warfare is a fair gauge of how much you will enjoy World at War.
There is one addition that is an absolute blast, and that is the flamethrower. Capable of burning grass and trees, including the snipers hiding within, it offers a variety of tactics that weren’t available before – creating smoke to mask advances, clearing caves out with well-placed bursts, and making sure that you aren’t caught in the flames. The turret missions are at least on par with previous titles, particularly one that involves fighting off preying PT boats while rescuing sailors from the harsh Pacific. None are as memorable as the nighttime helicopter level in Modern Warfare, but they have their own charm.
The multiplayer is also good fun. The ranking and weapon systems of Modern Warfare were carried over and the levels, while not fantastic, are varied enough to keep the game going after its surprisingly short single-player campaign. Some of the weapons seemed unbalanced, but that could be very well my lack of skill with them – looking at you, shotgun. Like the rest of the game, the core mechanics are so strong that it, at its most basic level, is enjoyable. Co-op goes a long way in keeping things interesting as well, with two-player splitscreen and four-player online action. The longevity might not be the same as Modern Warfare, but for those who have experienced its predecessor, you know you’re in for a good stretch of upgrading and kit tweaking.
Overall: 7.5/10Despite being built upon the shoulders of Modern Warfare, World at War isn’t as enjoyable as its predecessor. Similar to the previous entries from the frogging developing method of Infinity Ward and Treyarch, the follow-up isn’t as good but is still better than much of its competition. It is, however, better than 3. Hopefully the next go produces something on par with Infinity Ward’s work.
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