Call of Duty: World at War Review
Call of Duty: A Tradition of Action
The Call of Duty series spans 5 years, 4 releases, two developers and that doesn’t even count the numerous spin-offs and handheld versions. First released in 2003, Call of Duty was a continuation of the work that Infinity Ward had begun over at EA on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The series has built a reputation on fast game play, cutting edge graphics, audio immersion, and addictive multiplayer. Call of Duty and its sequel were both developed by the original team, while the reigns of Call of Duty 3 were handed off to Treyarch Studios for a console-only release. This freed up Infinity Ward to develop the outstanding Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the first game in the series to not be set during the Second World War.
Modern Warfare set a new standard in the series, bringing with it many innovations while also remaining true to its action packed single player roots. Released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and the PC, Call of Duty 4 was a huge success, both financially and critically, making a sequel in the series a foregone conclusion. Now with Infinity Ward working on the true sequel to Modern Warfare, Treyarch has been tapped once again to develop another entry into the series. However, instead of following up on Call of Duty 4’s modern success, Treyarch has decided to return us to World War II in Call of Duty: World at War. Will a return to the Second Great War herald another successful entry in the series or are we stuck with a prettier version of Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault?
The focus of World at War is on the Pacific theater and Eastern Front, with the player swapping roles between a U.S. Marine and a soldier of the Red Army. Gameplay follows the standard set in Call of Duty 4 as the player can carry two main weapons, two types of grenades, and can insta-kill anyone with the magic melee button. You work with fellow soldiers in combat to achieve an established set of objectives that are usually communicated to you as the level is loading. As with the previous game, load times are nice and brisk, but there are animations between levels help to kill the time. The “briefings” themselves feel a little bit out of place as they are a mix of real footage, 3D graphics, and a voiceover by Kiefer Sutherland. The combination of modern animation and period footage doesn’t mesh too well, however it gives the player all the information he needs, so it’s hard to really find fault with it.
You take part in quite a few historic battles, including the Battle of Okinawa and the Battle of Berlin. Treyarch has wisely studied the Call of Duty formula very intently, as World at War plays like an action movie: light on plot but heavy on guns and explosions. Gameplay is fast and furious, with little time to catch your breath before you have to get moving towards another objective. As you progress from checkpoint to checkpoint, many of your A.I. compatriots will fall, but they will quickly be replaced by another generic G.I. whose aim is just as horrid. It would appear that according to Treyarch, the armies of World War II were just full of Red Shirted Ensign Ricky’s’ to be gunned down and replaced at the writer’s whim, removing any kind of emotional connection you may form. Then again, the only emotion you might feel when fighting alongside the A.I. is probably frustration, as they have a habit of running in front of your gunfire or even pushing you from your cover in the middle of a firefight.