Players: 1-4 (16 online)
Console: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Hours Played: ~ 20 hours
Progress: Finished single player, played every map in online multiplayer.
The first-person shooter genre is over saturated, no doubt. However, as in so many other aspects of life, competition makes for greatness. Being a multiplayer gamer, my journey to figure out exactly which game I would devote my gaming life to was an arduous one, but alas, as in war, victory was won by pure grit and determination. Enter Call of Duty: World at War (CODWAW). With grit in the pure visceral impact of every second of the single player campaign, you can feel the determination of Treyarch to make one of the largest games of last year. War is hell, and hell is here.
Green, Brown, and Grey
CODWAW is a visually impressive game. Considering it is the COD4 engine, this should be no surprise. The environments are lush and vast, character models are polished and animations are for the most part smooth. The exception to the latter are the dog attacks in multiplayer. Considering the complexity of such an event, I don’t blame them. Scripted events are numerous, and add to the immersion into the brutality of WWII.
One of the core strengths of the Call of Duty franchise has been on their environment maps. The art style, however is limited to its time frame, and since this isn’t a fantasy world (see Gears of War 2), the art itself is not incredibly new or innovated. This may turn off gamers who want a more fantastical feeling to their games. This is the only real gripe I can see with the graphics. To the game’s credit, the environments are incredibly varied, from the lush forests of the pacific to the desolate rubble of WWII Europe. But even in it’s variety, there is an over-arching sense of war torn chaos in every square inch of the maps, with loads of visual details.
The scores and voice acting in this game are amazing. Gary Oldman AND Kiefer Sutherland (!!!); what more can you ask for? The timing is perfect, and the war noises are as satisfying as you would expect. The dialogue is at best ‘meh’, but when in battle, the gunshots and the knife noises are all one needs to enjoy this game. The occasional “BURN IN HELL!” in multiplayer is a fantastic addition over COD4; at least something unexpected to hear while muting the hundreds of loud-mouth idiots on Xbox live.
This is, to me, the best controlling shooter on the 360. It’s fast paced, and immersive in every way. In the single player campaign, while the progression of the objectives are very linear, the levels and the scenarios themselves seem a little more open, with large branching paths and multiple points of entry to the enemy strongholds. This openness makes dying in the game rewarding and more of a learning experience as to which way works best. In terms of story, it is nothing spectacular, very similar to most other WWII shooters.
Multiplayer gameplay is what makes this game for me. The servers are sharp, and players are at an abundance (my average is around 200,000 players on at any time). It is keenly balanced, and the tanks (I know I’m going to get flamed for this one) are a worthy inclusion given their exclusivity, limiting them to certain maps. Given the incredible maps, every square inch serves a purpose and means the difference between life and death to players of every skill level.
And to top it all off… Nazi Zombies. PLEASE, everybody who enjoyed at least three seconds of this game, play Nazi Zombies. This game mode is fun with friends, and frustratingly hard alone. It involves waves of zombies attacking your house, breaking into your windows, while getting progressively faster and more stubborn as you pass each level. It’s surprisingly deep and well thought-out. All these accolades, with only one level. Yes, it is one level: an abandoned house. If ever there are more levels available for download for Nazi Zombies, I would like a pre-sale right now. Explaining this mode would only hinder your experience of surprisingly realizing that getting greedy and opening the doors may not be the best idea. (Please note: this mode has to be unlocked by first beating the campaign).
Call Of Duty: World at War is a terrific entry into the COD franchise. It is technically impressive, and dense with content. All aspects come together well to deliver a engaging, fun gaming experience. If you consider yourself a FPS fan, you owe it to yourself to buy this game. It is a fantastic value for the amount of quality content it delivers.
+ Great FPS gameplay
+ Graphically strong
+ Lots of content
- Story is generic
- Animations sometimes wonky
- Impact of art style wears off
Second Opinion (Miyamoto):
COD4 was a game that captured the hearts and minds of many nations. It is the only game that I have ever spent over 50 hours playing online. The online certainly made that game as awesome as it was, especially since the single player mode was unfortunately short. Infinium Ward most certainly put an ungodly amount of time into making COD4 what it is today, and you can taste the quality in every aspect of that game. CODWAW, on the other hand, is developed by Treyarch, the black sheep of the COD development duo. I went into playing CODWAW with fairly reserved expectations because I had full knowledge that it is not made by the same people. Unfortunately, most people don’t pay attention to such things and will have already bought CODWAW thinking that it is another Infinium Ward masterpiece.
Even with my reserved expectations, I was disappointed with CODWAW. The multiplayer aspect does not nearly carry as much weight or immediacy as COD4 does. This is not only due to the difference in developers, but also in the difference of setting. Making a game modern adds a lot more immediacy to the gameplay than just another WW2 shooter. Overall, I could most certainly tell that Treyarch didn’t spend nearly as much time on their game as Infinium Ward did. This game is the anime filler equivalent of the gaming world. A kind of cheap, in-between game while we give Infinium Ward enough time to make another magnum opus.
Pretty much every “helper” thing that you can earn with kill streaks in multiplayer is incredibly cheap and unbalanced. Balance is absolutely key in any game that people are expected to invest time in playing each other over the interent, and it is unfortunately quite absent in CODWAW. COD4′s balance is superb, and very carefully maintained by Infinium Ward through patches and the like, and is so tight that most people do not even think about it.
The graphics were not at all impressive in this game, as the powerful COD4 engine was put into inexperienced hands. I’d compare it more to the “quality” of COD3, Treyarchs other COD game, than COD4. I understand that it’s difficult to make WW2 look good, but lower poly-counts and murkier textures just shouldn’t be allowed.
Single player is just the same WW2 games we have all been playing for 10 years, except with the welcome addition of flamethrowers. Fire can only do so much to save a game, and it certainly does not do enough for CODWAW. I’m sure that the zombie thing is fun, in a very Left 4 Dead kind of way, but there’s no way I want to experience this game enough to unlock it.
A very generous score for this game is a: