Call of Duty: World at War (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Friday, December 5, 2008

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 10.00
Gameplay: 7.50
Replays: 8.00
Gamelength: 5.00

Treyarch has returned with the release of their latest entry to the popular series, “Call of Duty: World at War”, but it simply falls behind last year’s title by Infinity Ward.

“Call of Duty” has become a well-known name amongst any gamer who knows the scene these days. Most famous for taking the world by storm with fast-paced World War 2 gameplay time after time, this is a series of video games that many people will never forget. To this day, while the population is quite low by comparison to most newer games, people still play the first game in the series. When you take into consideration the fact that the first Call of Duty was released for the PC in 2003 and has had a whopping 9 games since that time, that’s pretty ridiculous. All of that aside, times have changed and technology has reached previously unimaginable heights, which means the “Call of Duty” series has even higher expectations to make and break. So, that’s what we’re here to find out; Has Treyarch met those expectations? Let’s find out! This time, we’re heading into the shoes of various soldiers all over the world for a blast from the past in a World War 2 setting. Throw on your BDUs, grab a gun and follow me onto the latest battlefields in Treyarch’s “Call of Duty: World at War” for the Xbox 360.

Much like Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”, this game is quite a looker. The framerate is obscenely high, aliasing is kept to a minimum and textures are all quite attractive at a moderate distance. Lighting and shadows are also wonderful, but the real stars of this show are the absolutely ridiculous character models. They look immensely realistic and have very fluid animations. There were supposedly numerous graphical enhancements to the engine, but to be completely honest, I didn’t really notice any differences, but that’s still not a bad thing at all. This game looks wonderful and anyone who says otherwise is clearly blind.

Another wonderful thing about this series is that each and every title has top-notch sound quality. “Call of Duty: World at War” simply does not fall behind in this category; not in the slightest. The sounds of war really do a great job of helping to immerse the player, which includes everything from background gunfire to enemy soldiers shouting and even planes soaring over head. And let’s not forget the guns! The guns sound so realistic that you might just find yourself taking cover while you play the game. This is one of those games that everyone should experience on a high quality HDTV with a nice 7.1 surround sound setup. It’s by no means necessary, but you’ll see exactly what I when if you experience it yourself.

There’s a lot to do if you give this game a chance and explore everything that it has to offer. The single player campaign, while short, is absolutely terrific. It’s quite repetitious, but the story is pretty cool and the missions really do feel quite varied, even if it just boils down to a bunch of mindless killing. The campaign may also be played with a total of up to 4 players, which is a huge step forward for the series, but playing with more than 2 players makes the game far, far too easy. My personal favorite part of the game is unlocked upon completion of the campaign. Upon completing the game, you’ll find yourself in the Nazi Undead mode after the credits are finished rolling by. No matter if you die in 3 seconds or survive 50+ waves, after you finish playing, the mode is unlocked for play both locally and via Xbox Live. In Nazi Undead mode, players must work together to fight off endless waves of zombies to survive as long as they possibly can. If a player dies, another player may bring the dead player back to life if he or she does so within’ a small time frame. Aside from that, there are tons of things to buy, includes unlockable areas of the map, ammunition, weapons. You purchase those things using points, which are obtained simply by killing zombies. In between each round, players have 30 seconds to repair any windows, revive one another, restock and buy things without interruption from the undead. That’s really all there is to it, but it’s such great fun that it could rival Valve’s “Left 4 Dead” if there were ever 3-4 new maps added for variation. As for the standard online multiplayer mode, there hasn’t been all too much change from “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”, but this is where the game shows it’s true colors and starts to trail behind the previous game a good bit. For starters, the weapons are extremely unbalanced to the point that the game feels broken at times. Almost everyone uses the same small handful of weapons, which brings up another problem: Levels. Just like the previous game, an xp-based ranking system is in place to give players a heavy sense of progression. As you gain levels, you’ll unlock new perks, weapons, challenges and weapon add-ons, as well as new types of camo for each weapon. It was awesome in the previous game and was very well-balanced, at least for the most part. However, the guns unlock in such a seemingly random order that the game really doesn’t even feel playable until around level 20 this time around. Most of the better weapons and perks take a long time to unlock, which means you’ll be getting killed quite frequently until you start unlocking the good stuff, which in turn means you’re probably going to be extremely frustrated early on. Some players wont mind it, quite obviously; especially not those who pre-ordered the game or purchased the Collector’s Edition, what with the terrible marketing strategy that was used to give players an advantage, almost like using a cheat code that you have to buy. What’s more, the far inferior quality of the maps is just ridiculous. I mean, a small amount of them are really good, but most of them are just terrible by comparison to the maps found in the previous game. Then there’s the addition of tanks. Who thought that would be a good idea? Vehicular combat is good, but not in a series that’s always been focused on man-versus-man combat utilizing guns of various types with an occasional knife kill on the side. It breaks the game in some cases, unless you’re using a custom class build that’s specifically been designed to take out tanks and that doesn’t even become possible until very high ranks. Still, despite the few rather annoying flaws, “Call of Duty: World at War” is sure to entertain the masses for quite some time. It’s just not a replacement for “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” as far as I’m concerned.

Overall, Treyarch didn’t do an absolutely terrible job and the inclusion of Nazi Undead mode was perhaps the most brilliant thing they could have come up with, but the game really just needs more balance and a few more good maps that don’t cost extra money to obtain, considering the terrible lineup of maps out of the box.

Pros:
-Outstanding visual presentation.
-Hyper-realistic sound quality.
-Very cool story.
-Nazi Undead mode is perhaps the best thing to ever come from this series.
-Online gameplay is almost completely lag free.
-Controls are extremely tight and responsive.

Cons:
-Extremely bad weapon balance.
-Tanks break the game.
-The rank system is horribly broken.
-Most maps have very poor design.
-Campaign is extremely short and rather easy, even on Veteran difficulty.
-Nazi Undead mode only has a single map.
-“Day One Advantage” marketing campaign is a slap to the face.

Bottom Line:
If you absolutely must have a World War 2 theme, this is the game to buy. However, if you either don’t care about the theme or if you prefer something a bit more modern, “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” is a much better choice. Either way, no gamer who owns a next-gen console should be without at least one of these 2 games.

Overall Rating: 8.00

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