Monday, November 24, 2008
Earlier this year, you could probably hear an audible groan from all the rabid Call of Duty 4 fans when Activision announced the series would be returning to World War II. While the first three COD games were fantastic games set in WWII, it was COD4: Modern Combat that blew away virtually every other FPS ever made. The single-player campaign was short but spectacular, and the online multiplayer revolutionized the genre with an incredible experience-based perks system. While COD: World at War returns to the insanely overused World War II setting, the gameplay is easily on par with its predecessor.
World at War's campaign experience is similar to what was offered in COD4. It's somewhat short, but each and every mission is packed with memorable moments and intense firefights. Some of these moments are certainly scripted, but they're all a blast to watch. Characters animate beautifully, and the voice acting from Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman is superb. It's very immersive, and I'd take a 6-8 hour campaign like this one over a repetitive 15-hour campaign any day.
As was the case with the last two games in the series, the real star is the multiplayer. World at War takes the fantastic perks system from Modern Combat and brings it onto the WWII battlefield. In addition to the standard three slots, there is an additional slot for vehicle perks. Unlike COD3 which featured a variety of vehicles, World at War only features tanks. They're extremely powerful, but only available in a select few maps.
One noticeable change in the multiplayer experience has to do with the kill streak bonuses. Obviously the technology is different in WWII, so you'll get recon planes instead of UAVs, artillery shells instead of airstrikes, and (my favorite) a pack of attack dogs instead of a helicopter. The dogs are a great addition, and it's easy to get a little anxious when you hear barking coming at you and you have no idea where from.
In a first for the series, COD: WAW features four-player online co-op. You can play through most of the campaign missions like this, and it makes an already entertaining experience even more engaging. If you beat the single-player campaign, you can unlock "Nazi Zombies" mode, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It's a fun distraction that has you holed up in a house that's being attacked by hordes of zombies. You earn money by killing them and building barricades, and can use this to purchase new weapons or unlock other areas of the house. It's not especially deep, but it's certainly a fun mode for when you're looking for a quick break from standard multiplayer matches.
I was extremely skeptical about this title, but it delivered on all fronts. It may be WWII again, and it may be Treyarch instead of Infinity Ward, but World at War does the Call of Duty name justice. It's every bit as good as its modern predecessor.
First Play: 9.5
Replay Value: 10