Wasder's review: Call of Duty 5: World at War
Treyarch were given this one chance to prove they can create a successful Call of Duty game, after the series was handed permanently to Infinity Ward. Have Treyarch managed to create a masterpiece, a game that, according to interviews, is the "best game Treyarch have ever created"?.
The Call of Duty games are all first-person shooters, acclaimed to be realistic replications of real-world wars. With addictive multi-player and fast-paced campaigns, the series has been very well received by gamers all over the world. This edition is set in World War two, a set back in history from the recent "Modern Warfare" game, and perhaps a breath of fresh air in a sea of "sci-fi" shooters. A choice that received a tremendous amount of unreasonable criticism from fans across the internet.
The game follows the adventures of a private in the American Army during the raid on the Japanese who goes by the name Miller. As per tradition in the Call of Duty games you also control a second character, a Russian private known as Dimitri, who helps lead the charge on Berlin in 1945. What's interesting about the storyline is the way the two events parallel each other. Despite these battles taking place on the opposite side of the world, and in different years (as a result different guns are used) its easy to see what kind of tale Treyarch are looking to tell. That war never really changes, no matter where your fighting. For example; events such as pushing foreword on an enemy stronghold or sneaking around through enemy bases are similar.
That's not to say the game is a carbon copy, despite using the same base. The two different terrains play out differently because of the enemy's weapons and A.I (artificial intelligence). The Japanese soldiers will use the long grass and jungle terrain to ambush your allies, often charging suicidally towards your squad with a Bayonet. As opposed to the German soldiers, who use cover and Machine gun posts to push back your resistance.
Well, that's the theory anyway. What Treyarch have failed to do in this game, and this is my main criticism, is re-creating the excellent A.I seen in Infinity Wards latest effort. Enemy soldiers, particularly on the harder difficulties, will completely ignore your squad-mates, purely to focus on your character. Like-wise your squad mates will soon forget how to fire their guns and stand absent mindly, holding their weapons to the heads of the enemies whilst that same hostile force fires at you...
Simply put, the event I have just described is one of the most infuriating moments I have ever faced playing a video-game in recent years. The lack of support is particularly frustrating when you remember that the game follows the same Call of Duty formula involving infinite enemies (that will only cease respawning when you push foreword), yet at times, the sheer amount of enemies makes this near-impossible.
Unfortunately the narrative throughout the game is pretty weak, only your squad leaders seem to be characters you can relate too, yet they are all too easily forgotten. The level of set-pieces just does not match up to that of its predecessor. With most levels following a very linear path with only a couple of interesting set-pieces between them.
The decision to move back to World War two was a brave one, yet the gritty nature of these fights shines (ironic choice of words) through, with dark lighting, lots of cover and a variety of different ways to play through each conflict. Despite the clever lighting effects, the art direction is rather dull - even the beaches appear grey and boring - I would have preferred a more colorful backdrop, despite the obvious reasons for this choice. From a technical standpoint everything moves smoothly, there is no slow-down or noticeable glitches. Although I raised concerns over a few of the fire effects used in later levels. These "flames" are actually 2D, and are animated on the walls.
Due to the step back in time; guns such as the MP40, the Tommy gun and other classic WWII guns make their return to the battlefield. An improvement, in my opinion, from COD4 is the exclusion of a wide variety of automatic guns. Due to the time period these guns often fire inaccurately, but this fact shows-off the level of accuracy the series has developed over the years. There are a couple of new additions to your arms in this version. The flamethrower being the most noticeable newcomer, which you gain playing as Miller. Whilst the gun may be a little overpowered (burning enemies extremely quickly, with a long range and infinite ammo) the sheer enjoyment of watching the enemies collapse around you matches any worries fans may have had about this weapon. I was particularly impressed with the way flames from this gun set fire to your environments (trees, grass).
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of World at War has nothing to do with the game directly. It is not a bad game, but the high expectations it received were far too great. They were forced to resort to rather cheap ideas, such as an almost direct copy of one of the most enjoyable levels in COD4 (a stealth sniping mission) with your commander actually bleating out the exact same dialogue as Captain Macmillan.
I am not going to try and elaborate on the multi-player side of the game, as it is really a replica of Call of Duty 4's with a few additional game-modes. What I completely disliked was the maps and the way they encourage "camping". There are a number of gaps that are designed to allow players to stay in certain areas. Something that personally disappoints me.
Other additions include the return of the gameplay mode "War", almost a parody of capture the flag in Team Fortress two, in which both team have to capture markers in a set order. Tanks also make an appearance, yet they are unbalanced and fairly difficult to bring down. In short, the multi-player is average and your preference comes down to which maps and guns you prefer. (Between WaW and MW)
In conclusion, Call of Duty: World at War is not bad game, it does not live up to the enormous expectations fans had for the series, but is certainly worth at least a rent if you have an interest in First person shooters.
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