Call Of Duty: World at War (360) – Review

cover With this iteration of Call of Duty flipping back to Treyarch, Call of Duty: World at War returns to the historical setting of World War II, this time focusing on two theaters of war that haven’t been explored in depth: the Russian invasion of Germany, and the retaliation of America on Japan.  While the game does little to change up the formula of the game (including keeping some of the more disliked elements such as infinite enemy respawns, while using the same experience-based approach to multiplayer as Call of Duty 4), the game is otherwise a decent and solid title

Story: B

While CoD: WoW takes a page from CoD 4 in telling a two-part story by switching back and forth between the characters, the two stories are only remotely linked, as they occur in very different theaters of WWII; one of an American soldier captured by the Japanese but then rescued and part of the raids to end the Japanese threat, while the other is of a Russian soldier helping to turn back the German invasion in the last part of the war and eventually taking over Berlin.  That approach works better overall for the game series, though unlike the CoD 4 version, it is a bit more difficult to connect to simply due to the setting.  Mind you, they still manage to incorporate the Japanese equivalent of storming the Normandy shores, but for the most part, these events (post D-Day) really haven’t been seen before in the series and work out well.

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Gameplay: B+

For the most part, CoD: WoW plays out exactly like its predecessors; objective-based first person shooter, various prone states you can use to stay behind cover, you can carry two weapons and two grenades along with certain missions giving you the ability to call in air strikes or throw satchel charges, and so forth.  As with the previous games, it suffers the same gameplay fault that to progress forward in a given level, you personally usually have to move up to certain covers in order to get the rest of your squad to advance while fighting against an endless stream of enemies.  While the idea of slowly working to regain control of the battlefield by small steps is certainly a good idea to mimic, the CoD approach is starting to get old; after playing a game like Band of Brothers where you can order your squadmates to take up a farther piece of cover while you work on your own is becoming much more appealing.  What usually results here otherwise are areas that you’ll spend time and time again trying to work past since you can never cut down their forces; add in the AI having a bit of extra help in knowing your location at most times, and you’ll find you’ll need to put yourself in the line of fire more often than you’d probably like to be.  (There will be a sniper mission early on in the Russian campaign where you find how “bad” the computer opponents have it in for you.. it’s no “Snipertown”, but enough to throw the controller at times.) 

There are a couple of variations in missions; you’ll get to drive a tank a couple of times, as well as take the gunner seat of a plane helping to protect a fleet.  These are nice diversions but most of the time you’ll be working on foot to get through.  After beating the game, there is a nice treat: a zombie-based game based on the same engine and weapons, where you get points for killing zombies to be used to get new weapons, ammo, and more spaces to assault them from.

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The multiplayer portion is wisely copied from CoD 4, providing a similar experience-based system with customizable classes, perks, challenges, and numerous gameplay types, just using the settings and WWII weapons instead of modern variations.  There’s not much more to say about this beyond that it is as well-done as its direct influence and looks to be a staple of the series in the future.

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Value/Replayability: A-

The main game is probably a bit shy of 8 hours on normal difficulty (based on my experience on Hardened), and there’s always other more difficult levels to try.  The multiplayer feature of this game is likely what you’ll be coming back for, and certainly worth it if you enjoyed how CoD 4’s multiplayer worked out.

Graphics: A

Audio: A-

Not much really to say in this department: everything looks suburb, and sounds great.  The voice mixing is a bit off, as to get the cues to know when the computer wanted you to move forward, I had to enable subtitles as their voices were really soft (more than expected) against the war backdrop.

Overall: B+

Call of Duty: World At War isn’t a lackluster effort, but it is starting to show that the series is starting to have age when it sticks to historical accuracy, as there is only so much “cool stuff” that you can add without breaking history, in addition to the somewhat tired gameplay aspect of having to move forward yourself to trigger events. However, given that, the re-use of CoD 4’s story-telling and multiplayer approach is a positive impact on the game.  You’re not going to find a lot new here, but it is a solid consistent title in the series.

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