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Call of Duty: World at War Review

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Developer: Treyarch Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 11, 2008 Also On: PC, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

Apparently Call of Duty is now one of those franchises with annual iterations. What Activision has done is switch between two studios each year: one year is Infinity Ward’s turn, the next Treyarch. One is based in modern warfare, the other in World War II. 2007’s Call of Duty 4 was Game Freaks 365’s Game of the Year. While I doubt that Call of Duty: World at War will follow-up on that streak, it does everything right that Call of Duty 4 did and then some more. This is by far the best and most complete World War II shooter to come to market.

The story mode in Call of Duty: World at War takes you to the battlefields of the Eastern Front and to the Pacific Theater. There were stories that I’ve heard through veterans and in movies that tell of old Japanese soldiers. These soldiers were found several years after World War II had ended on deserted islands in the Pacific Ocean and had no clue that the war was over. The Japanese had lost. Playing World at War reminds me of them. You spend most of your time on tiny islands that most people have never heard of, fighting the entrenched imperial forces. The other half of the game you play as a Russian fighting the Germans in Stalingrad, eventually pushing all the way back to Berlin.

Call of Duty: World at War gives you a good sense of what it was like to be in the middle of this historic conflict. Most games have failed to deliver an epic war experience, especially when it came to the Pacific. Medal of Honor: Rising Sun is an example of how difficult it is to build jungle environments and adapting your A.I. to it. World at War does it well for the most part. You will find yourself landing on beachheads, inside Japanese built trenches and walking through streams and forests. The enemy is well hidden with their camouflage and true to form, are not afraid to rush you with a bayonet.

The Eastern Front was the bloodiest chapter of World War II and indeed human history with over 30 million deaths, many of them civilians. The battle between the Germans and the Russians was waged after Hitler invaded Poland and broke a non-aggression treaty with Stalin. Again, World at War does a fantastic job of showing the conditions on the ground. You start your fight on the Eastern Front on the ground, nearly dead. All of your comrades around you have been shot by German soldiers. While pretending to be dead, one of your allies is still alive. You crawl near his body and obtain a sniper rifle. Your first mission will be to take out a German commander and reclaim the city.

The storytelling uses actual footage from World War II. Combined with next-generation graphics and impressive animation, Call of Duty: World at War has a great presentation. Likewise, the sound will keep you on your toes in both single and multi-player. I find it especially useful in multi-player to discern where your enemies are. Using both your eyes and ears will help you vastly in achieving a high kill/death ratio. That being said, there are a few annoying glitches that I noticed. Hidden walls appear from time to time in the single-player. You also may get stuck in place at times for no good reason.

The single player campaign is no shorter than that of Call of Duty 4 and while you can play it with friends in co-op to extend its replay value, you will undoubtedly spend most of your time online. To that extent, not a whole lot has changed from Call of Duty 4 to World at War. The biggest difference is obvious: you’re playing in a World War II setting. The game may use a Call of Duty 4 engine, but the weapon selection is all historically accurate and the maps are brand new. The maps will vary depending on the game type you select (smaller maps for Deathmatch, larger for team-based combat). The maximum number of players you can have in a group is twelve and as a group, you can veto a map that you do not like. Another great thing about Call of Duty’s multi-player is you stick with the same group of players (and new players get added as people leave) until you no longer want to stay with the group.

Since helicopters and airstrikes (at least M16s) did not exist during World War II, there’s now a new reward system. Like Call of Duty 4, World at War benefits players that do well. If you get three consecutive kills without dying, you will unlock a recon plane (radar). The radar always shows a dot on the map when someone fires, but with the recon plane, all of the dots will show regardless of whether they are firing or not. Five kills in a row without dying will get you artillery and you can choose where to fire on the map. Lastly, get seven kills in a row and you can unleash a pack of dogs on your enemies.

Another one of the things that made Call of Duty 4 distinct from other shooters was the perk and ranking system. This is brought over from that game and enhanced for a World War II setting. Instead of claymores you get bouncing bettys. They got rid of the UAV jammer in favor of camouflage to avoid detection on enemy radar. As far as rank goes, this is the experience system in Call of Duty. As you gain more experience by killing people and winning matches, this will unlock new weapons, perks and game types. Finally, there is a class system that you can use to modify and save the combination of weapons and perks that you want to use in any given match (these can be switched in-game as well).

Finally, one of the more unexpected modes that they added to Call of Duty: World at War is a Zombie Mode. It takes place in a single house where you can play by yourself, with a friend in split-screen or online with up to four other people. Communication and teamwork are necessities as you will have to defend against waves of zombies trying to get through windows boarded up with wood. You earn points for killing zombies and can use it to repair the windows, unblock new parts of the house, as well as buy ammo and weapons. It’s definitely a fun mode to play and a creative idea, even though it may seem out of place at first.

Call of Duty: World at War picks up where Call of Duty 4 left off. While there are basic modifications that have to do with a change in time period, World at War uses the same engine as Call of Duty 4, making gameplay nearly identical. Not that that is a bad thing. With what could be described as the most well rounded multi-player experience ever, Call of Duty: World at War inherits a tested game engine and a lot of goodwill from gamers. In a year from now, when the next Call of Duty will no doubt get released, I hope to expect something from Infinity Ward that is different from the current formula. I have every reason to believe that they will live up to this. Until then, World at War continues the same formula that has been working and keeping gamers up for long nights of gameplay since the release of Call of Duty 4. For that reason alone Call of Duty: World at War stands as the best World War II shooter to date.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.3
Written by Kyle Review Guide