Call of Duty: World at War First Impressions

October 20, 2008

Call of Duty: World at War has gotten a lot of flak before it’s even been released because it’s being developed by Treyarch, the satellite Activision company that developed the lesser Call of Duty 2: Big Red One and Call of Duty 3. Activision (and some of the games press) claimed that Call of Duty: World at War really won’t be the same.

For single player, this may be true. Japan is different from Germany, even though it seems Germany is still in this one since some of the maps don’t have Japan in them but instead have the Germans and Russians facing each other again.

There is some room to brag: the graphics and presentation are pretty awesome and up to speed. As 3 had some improved graphics over 2, so will this edition over Call of Duty 4.

Still, this is the multiplayer beta we’re speaking of, and for most who purchase a Call of Duty game, multiplayer matters.

Well, people will be playing it. It’s decent, but it’s no revolution the way CoD 4 was. World at War multiplayer is what happens if you stick all the great CoD 4 multiplayer elements and stick into previous settings and editions of the series. So far, the only complex map is Makin, and even that one pales in comparision to many a blown-out cityscape you see in CoD 4.

What’s new? They have Japanese guns now and they redid the art and mechanics for the guns we’ve seen so many times. There are tanks the players can drive and man too, but they will do little to the core gameplay since they are so awkward and easy to take down; they also don’t fit on most of the maps as yet. Three kills gets you a “recon plane” instead of a U.A.V. and 5 kills gets you an “artillery strike” instead of an air strike. One of the few truly unique (and indeed, welcome) additions is that 7 kills gets you dogs instead of a helicopter, and instead of making everyone lay low and occasionally shoot in the air until the helicopter goes down, everyone hides in a corner until they can stab all the dogs. It really disrupts the other team–even if you shoot the dog, your position is given away, and you are a much easier kill while distracted. They are better at killing than the helicopter is yet are also easier to kill, making them blend in more smoothly with the gameplay. Instead of pausing the action, they disrupt and intensify it.

Kiefer Sutherland shouts at you while you’re on the American side, while the Japanese guy sounds like a dub from a B movie, as awesome and chilling a phrase such as “for the glory of the Emperor!” may be. It’s tragic that details as unimportant as this will make players always care what side they’re on, whereas before it mattered little.

Back are the perks and experience point systems and create a class. They work exactly the same way, only with a few different perks and different challenges.

Same CoD 4-inspired action applied to World War II weapons–there’s so little improvement or core differences that an update isn’t worth it except for those interested in the single-player campaign or those who are disappointed that CoD 2 and CoD 3 don’t have players in them anymore. Many players will play this for a while to see the novelty of the CoD 4 system in a World War II setting, but once 2009 rolls around Call of Duty 4 will still be thriving. If you prefer World War II style gameplay, this is a welcome addition, but those who don’t care about or prefer certain types of settings or weaponry won’t find this one a must-have.