Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has been a monumental success. Hell, I still play it fairly often to this day, and that's a testament in of itself. Over ten million copies sold worldwide, extremely popular online multiplayer, and more importantly, it's one of the most immersive shooters ever created. Let's face it, a fictional campaign that took place sometime in the not-so-distant future caught us off-guard, and there's nothing wrong with that. U.S. Marines and the British S.A.S. indirectly teamed up to take down an Arabic terrorist bent on holding the world hostage with WMDs, and ruling over his native region. Thus it came as utter shock, and why millions of groans could be heard 'round the world, when Call of Duty 5 was announced. Activision handed development duties over to their other CoD studio, Treyarch, for installment five, but didn't want them to build on MW's success. Well not only is Treyarch looked down upon by gamers right now, but even worse, it was revealed that the incessantly abused war-time era (WWII) would be coming back. However, not all may be lost. In fact, Treyarch and Activision might be onto something with its attempt to redefine how WWII shooters are played. Plus if you really think about it, shouldn't Infinity Ward have the pleasure of producing CoD4's inevitable sequel? Despite this next entry losing its number, being called CoD: World at War, optimism could benefit us all, and it's mostly thanks to the game being built on a tweaked Modern Warfare engine. Gamers, prepare for what might be the grittiest FPS ever concocted.
Out will be the days of stepping into the military boots of a no-name/mute Marine officer and having the brunt of your battalion's campaign placed on your shoulders. In will be several hours of treading the Philippine jungles, in addition to 1940's Eurasia as the US Marines and Allied Russians battle the dreaded Japanese guerillas and retreating Nazis respectively. Mark Lamia, head honcho of Treyarch, wishes for the World at War team to be responsible for bringing the most authentic virtual jungle warfare ever into our living rooms. Supposedly the weaker technology of past consoles prevented developers from fully pursuing such shooters. Well evidently the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii (yes, even Wii) are capable of handling such lush environments. Let's face it really, such settings are probably of the most if not the most complex and difficult to design and code for. You have massive trees everywhere, wildlife all over the place, tall grass and other forms of foliage/shrubbery...jungles are pretty intense. Treyarch wants you in the middle of all that when WaW hits next month.
In other words, Activision and Treyarch want us to feel World War II like we never have, which veterans would likely frown upon, and gamers are sure to salivate over. WWII was gritty, action-packed and excessively violent, which is just what CoD: WaW wishes to conceive. That won't be accomplished just because of all the blood spilled and guts falling every which way though. While that certainly helps, it will be mostly due to Treyarch's extensive research into how the Japanese guerillas operated. From not only information handy in historical documentation, but interviews with surviving military veterans, the team has put together one hell of a sinister atmosphere that's begging to be experienced. Just don't show this game to anyone you know who may have been involved, seriously. Not only will the Japanese's brutality be witnessed on the TV screen, but helping the pissed off Russians take it to Nazi Germany should make CoD5 something to behold.
Let's start off with those Japs. Using guerilla tactics, those punks pulled every cheap trick in the book to put a hurting on the Americans. This included a number of possible scenarios. One is terrestrial camouflage. The Japanese apparently loved to adorn their military garb with their natural surroundings so that any unsuspecting approaching battalions could be easily ambushed. The same goes for guerillas that would lie on the ground and play dead. By doing so, they could trick any Allied soldiers passing by, which would in turn spur the fakers to rise when the time was right and rip them a new one. How about those trees? Yup, they're a guerilla sniper's second home. By tying themselves to the towering plants, they could wait days for just one Marine to emerge, shoot for a minor/moderate injury, and wait for his buddies to pop out to help, which ultimately fulfilled the shooter's dastardly plan. Oh, and of course we saved the best for last. Along with having no problems going kamikaze if it meant ending the lives of numerous Allies at once, the guerillas were experts in the ways of torture. As a matter of fact, that's how World at War opens up. You're a Marine imprisoned in a Japanese hut, forced to watch as a fellow soldier is mistreated while being interrogated. That is until help arrives that bulldozes your enemies and escorts you to safety so that proper medical attention can be applied.
Call of Duty: WaW is itching to blow us away with the most emotionally gripping war-time shooter atmosphere ever encountered. Utilizing a modified Modern Warfare engine, Treyarch has pulled out whatever they could think of to wow us with CoD5's audio-visual elements. Whether it's a superior officer barking orders (like Kiefer Sutherland as 24's Jack Bauer will with his voice work), mortars, grenades and other artillery fire decorating the landscape, or bomber planes crashing about...Call of Duty 5 is ready to follow in MW's footsteps in being an absolute graphical and sound powerhouse. The same isn't so applicable to the Wii version, but even then, Treyarch has used the same development environment for Nintendo fans, just obviously not including every bell and whistle. Soldier models in the Wii build should look essentially as those in MoHH2, but the environments will be as massive and equally overloading. The DS version, which has been handled by n-Space like the year before, will more or less look as CoD4 DS did. Some slight improvements to the special effects and weapons (now 3D models) should be noticeable though.
Gameplay-wise, Modern Warfare players will feel right at home with World at War, as the two are virtually identical (except the weapons are obviously WWII-based). Imagine that. Regarding specifics, I'll touch base on the Wii controls first. If you played Call of Duty 3 at Wii's launch, you should have no problem controlling WaW. Sprinting is handled with A, crouching/going prone with C and bringing up iron sights with Z. Unfortunately, Treyarch seems to have not played MoHH2, because Wii WaW doesn't reflect its custom sensitivity options. While modifiable to an extent, we'll have three presets to choose from, none of which apparently rival MoHH2, Metroid Prime 3, or even the upcoming Conduit. It's a shame and makes you wonder why Treyarch chose this path. If motion is part of the equation, we know nothing about it, so just wait for our review of the Wii version to hear more. Ok, now back to the other builds. Again, nothing is really changing control-wise, but one element in particular should make World at War extremely memorable, the flamethrower. Yes, likely inspired by United Offensive, the flamethrower is included in the game's overall arsenal, and boy will it be a vital tool. As long as it doesn't overheat, you can use the device to torch anything, and it will be necessary if you want to survive the Japanese tactics. Since they love to hide in tall grass and trees so much, it's most effective to draw them out by destroying their cover, unless it kills them outright. If you unsurprisingly set them ablaze in the process, it'll just make your job easier. Plus, the fact that flaming victims melt is enough to send a chill down any gamer's vertebrae column. Outside of that though, expect to return to using the M1 Garand, rather than rounding off a burst of MP5/M16 bullets. If this disappoints you, then simply wait for IW's Call of Duty 6 next year. Otherwise, you have another likely great CoD to enjoy.
In light of the DS build, n-Space has considered all feedback from reviewers and gamers alike. While the game itself will play essentially the same, a couple modifications have been made. For instance, you no longer have to double tap to bring up your iron sights if you don't wish to, as a touch screen icon can be tapped to toggle that. The developers aren't forcing it though, so you can play just as you did CoD4 DS, no questions asked. They also claim to have tweaked sprinting and crouching/going prone so that it's not as sensitive and unnatural as before. Can't complain there. In addition to these gameplay changes, n-Space also wanted to break up the environmental monotony. In WaW DS, you'll shoot your way through a number of different locations. Finally, the touch is being used even more than before, allowing you to disarm mines, launch mortars and send messages via Morse Code, amongst numerous other mechanics.
Something is especially eye-opening about the DS rendition though; the complete overhaul of multiplayer. Folks, Call of Duty: World at War DS could very well set a new standard for online play on the handheld. It may support up to only four people, but when it includes Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Hunter vs. Prey, this could be an experience to behold. The infrastructure is also sporting the same create-a-class and perk system that MW/WaW does, which should make players want to come back. How impressive is that for a portable game? On the Wii side of things, Nintendo fans have the chance to play CoD online for the first time, except unfortunately voice chat won't exist. That's a pretty significant pill to swallow, considering it's standard for online shooters, but I suppose they'll just have to live with it. MoHH2 didn't have it either, yet with the imminent launch of WiiSpeak courtesy of Animal Crossing: City Folk, you'd think that the Big N would open the device's tech to other developers. Too bad thinking in this regard wasn't such a good idea. However, the Wii version does have an exclusive two player co-op mode called "Squadmate" to potentially make up for it. At any time during the single player campaign, someone else can synch up a Wii remote and press the 1 button to drop into the action right away. Not only does this allow for two gunners, but the difficulty ramps up to account for it, which could be exciting. However, we've heard from our media friends that player one's movement speed and constantly bringing up iron sights could impede his/her backup from being very helpful. We'll have to see how that plays out.
With regards to playing over Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, it's essentially a carbon copy of 4's offering, at least structure-wise. Currently a beta is available to those that have preordered the 360 build, or anyone with special privileges. I'm unfortunately not a part of that, but I'm looking to become involved, so right now you'll have to settle with the general information I know. However, if I manage to jump into it, you can be sure that I'll update soon with more specific impressions. For right now, live with knowing a few changes and additions that we're aware of. First off is the perk system. While just about every one from MW is returning (even that dreaded Juggernaut), a number have been added to help balance things out and keep the WWII element in check. I for one am interested in trying on the Flak Jacket, which protects you from explosive blasts. Rewards for kill streaks have also been tweaked. Rather than an air strike for five in a row, you can call in artillery. Instead of a helicopter equipped with rockets and an underbelly turret, you can sick a pack of aggressive dogs on your opponents. Radar can still be called up after three, it's just UAV anymore, but that has no bearing on what it actually does. Easily the most significant addition is vehicles, which are available in certain modes. If you participate in such a mode, the battle will involve both ground and tank tactics, so be on the lookout.
I've intentionally saved the most anticipated feature [for the 360/PS3] World at War for last, because it happens to be a Call of Duty first. Can you say four player on and offline co-operative? Oh yes, if you and your buddies loved Modern Warfare, by all means team up over Live or PSN and enjoy tackling the campaign together. The difficulty will vary depending on how many people actually play and the average skill level, but there's no reason to be complacent over this. Even my good buddy Ahmad can appreciate that you can play online or via split-screen. However, it's important to understand that it goes even further than co-op, because there are two modes that support it rather than one. Sure you can team up with three others to kick some Japanese and Nazi Germany behind, but why not add some friendly competition into the mix? That's right, you still work together like you would normally, but if you choose competitive co-op, you play with and against one another for points. Accomplishments like intense kill streaks, headshots and fulfilling mission objectives add to your score. Be killed by the enemy however, and your score drops, not to mention supplementing the total of whichever one of your mates manages to revive you, because that's worth something too. At the end of each mission, points are tallied and a winner is declared, so have some fun getting on each others' nerves. I can only imagine playing this with Jarrod, Ahmad and Steven.
It's ironic how a number of those that have cried foul at the possibility of CoD5 returning to WWII have likely changed their minds. While many of the over ten million CoD4 owners are probably skeptical over this game, it's become increasingly tougher to write it off. World at War may make us lose count with how many times we've played a virtual interpretation of the bloodiest era in human history, but it should also bring it to life like no other game has. It also shouldn't matter which version you end up investing in, they all appear entertaining. Think about it, jungles to torch with the flamethrower, co-op across the board (except on DS), online multiplayer for every build, and an intense audio-visual atmosphere. I've admittedly been on the fence for this one ever since initial details were first released, but even I'm starting to sway towards a full purchase. There's really just too much cool crap to ignore, which only begs us to hope that it comes together November 11. Look for a full review around then.
No matter how badly we all want it, Call of Duty: World at War isn’t the last time we’ve seen a WWII shooter. Be that as it may, the team behind the fifth entry in this veritable series did excellent work in piecing together WaW’s presentation. Treyarch interviewed a handful of veterans that served in the bloodiest era during humanity’s history, and analyzed all sorts of documentation they could gain access to. This was necessary because no shooter developer has ever tread the ground that World at War does. Every mission is preceded with very interesting WWII world map animations, in addition to authentic video footage. The overall goal though, is that instead of single-handedly penetrating Nazi Germany for the hundredth time, you help win the war as mute members of the Allied Marines and Russian Red Army. CoD5 takes you to the battles of the Pacific, and the vengeful Russian motherland.
Obviously the millions of Modern Warfare fans were plenty eager to scrutinize every last detail of this game. You can't exactly blame them, given Treyarch's reputation of botching Call of Duty projects. However, we could revel in the thought of World at War failing until CoD6 came out really, yet there was very little chance of that happening. The reason is simple: the CoD4 engine. Similar to Quantum of Solace, Treyarch already had the tools they needed, so it was simply a matter of tweaking a few mechanics, inserting new content, and making sure it all worked. For all intents and purposes, they succeeded across the board, yet a handful of problems regrettably escaped from the project and have landed right in our hands.
I'll start off simple. and let's face it, no one has ever cared about a WWII FPS story, with perhaps the Brothers in Arms series being the black sheep. The case is no different here, but I should outline the details just to paint a basic picture. Call of Duty 5 offers up two completely separate campaigns that took place over the course of about five years in World War II. On the western side of the world, the Allied Marines are fighting the Japanese Tojo guerillas all throughout the Pacific. During these segments of the game, you're responsible for the role of mute and almost nameless Private Miller. For the majority of the Marines' journey, Miller's team is led by promoted Sgt. Roebuck, who's appropriately voiced by 24's Kiefer Sutherland. On the Red Army's end, you handle Pvt. Dimitri Petrenko, who despite his rank, is considered the heart of the Russian campaign. Your mentor is Sgt. Reznov, a sniper when you first encounter him, then a submachine gunner as you more or less take over that position. He's quite open about Russia exacting revenge on the Nazi scum, and that's precisely what you do.
That's just low-level information, because what I want to emphasize most is the game's atmosphere. Treyarch was really on to something, because they claimed to want to change how we look at war-time shooters. While World at War, by no fault of its own, will always have that familiar feelings to it, the team really managed to nail the audio-visual presentation. From the moment you escape Japanese capture from a hut on Malkin Atoll, to the planting of the Russian flag on the German Reichstag, Call of Duty 5 does excellently to keep you immersed in the battle. At any given moment, you either feel cornered by all the overwhelming gun fire, grenade tossing, and mortar explosions, or unnerved because nothing is happening and an ambush could occur any second. Even more dramatic are instances in which the game makes you think you're dead, only to trick you as you're brought back into action by a squad mate. If that weren't enough, good luck dealing with the Japanese banzai charges, because they'll often make you spray your gun like a madman. It's merely a shame that when you do die, you don't see any famous quotes from war history, which added another layer of authenticity to CoD4:MW Overall the immersion is pretty fantastic, but it wouldn't have a leg to stand on were it not for the technical functionality. How about it?
Well I thought you'd never ask! Now as you continue reading, keep in the back of your mind that this software runs off the Modern Warfare engine. In that respect, it'd be foolish to believe that CoD5 would be anything other than an audio-visual spectacle. Granted it's not perfect, but pretty darn close. Much of the campaigns in this fifth installment take place in jungle environments and dilapidated cities. As the Marines, you trudge through dense foliage, well-defended underground tunnels, and murky wetlands. The Russian plot takes you into broken buildings, rural settings, and the heart of Nazi Germany itself. Everything looks wonderful, with most soldier/vehicle animations being realistic and convincing. I noticed a couple issues though, and they point to the game's tanks and palm tree snipers. Regarding the former, methinks the Russian tank you eventually command can move and rotate a little too smoothly. Steel beasts like that are supposed to feel a bit stiff, but that's not the case. There are also a few missions in which Japanese snipers take position in the tops of palm trees, and make life miserable for you and your team. It's unfortunate that on some occasions, they don't take damage from your gun fire thanks to glitchy hitboxes. There was one particular moment where I tested this by unloading ten consecutive perfectly placed rifle rounds into one of the punks, only to see him behave as if nothing was happening. Outside of that, Call of Duty: World at War is a graphical masterpiece. The visual effects are amazing, as if it's any surprise. Every spatter of blood, frag grenade/mortar/rocket explosion and smoke grenade may have you second-guessing as to whether you're actually there or not.
If the previous paragraph didn't provide proper indication, all the praise I just laid out also applies to the audio. While chances are you won't pay much attention to the music, much like in CoD4, it's there and suits the action reasonably well. At first it comes off as a little awkward, especially in the beginning, but it certainly grows on you. The latter missions have great scores, however. What you do focus on, all the ambience and voice work, is absolutely incredible. Just ask my superior Jarrod Nichol, because he played co-op with me the other day and specifically pointed out what was emitting from his sound system. It's unfortunate that he had to turn off his woofer because he couldn't hear me as a result, but that should tell you how in-your-face World at War sounds. I wish I could think of another way of pointing out the positives about everything else without sounding like I just repeated my reactions to the visuals, but I honestly can't. Thus you can basically take everything I said about the special effects and such, associate the appropriate audio, and insert my praise. If I were to emphasize anything, it would have to be the missions in which you can call in naval/air strikes, and the scenario that has you man a series of Marine plane turrets. All I have to say is what you will say, "WOW!" The voice work falls in a different line of analysis though, so I'll tackle that separately. Thankfully, anyone that talks does so superbly in this been there, done that FPS sub-genre. While it can be annoying when your squad leaders repeat specific commands because you're moving slow or just don't want to move ahead [thanks to Veteran difficulty], all roles are executed well. I can't say the same about the online competitive mode though. When any team match starts or concludes, you hear a background member of your particular faction speak, and my goodness is it cheesy.
Alright, now to flood your brains regarding gameplay, because there's a lot to speak of. Let's start with the controls shall we? CoD4: Modern Warfare fans, be very happy, because World at War plays 100% identical, no ifs, ands or buts. If you've been absent from the Call of Duty scene for a while, I still can't imagine jumping into either game being much of a chore. This is definitely the easiest part of the review, because I have no problem stating that manipulating this game with your Xbox 360 or PS3 controller is perfect. I'm not so sure how things stand with the PC version, but given how the platform made the FPS famous, it'd blow my mind if the game controlled poorly.
The rest of this section encompasses what I feel to be a mixed bag in terms of enjoying World at War. Don't misinterpret, I think the game is very fun, just not necessarily superior to Modern Warfare, if not actually worse off. I ultimately want to leave the overall experience to you, but since I have a job to do, let's take care of it eh? I shall begin by discussing what I think to be the worst aspect of Call of Duty 5 it's AI (artificial intelligence). I'm probably going to be flooded with hate mail for this, but so be it, because it's too borderline embarrassing to be ignored, like I've seen with other reviews.
It's absolutely ridiculous that no matter what difficulty you play with, your squad mates and the enemy are absolutely bloody retarded. This isn't quite as noticeable when you're playing as the Russians, which I'm certainly happy about, but when you're toe-to-toe with the Japanese, God help us! I don't know how all the following problems made it through the QA department, but there's nothing that can be done now. To be blunt, a great deal of the enemy behavior appears to be static processes, rather than dynamic reactions to player decisions. When you can literally stand in the middle of two or three Toja, and watch them run right by to take position at a place of semi-cover, only to turn around and see your fellow soldiers scoot right past them...man oh man I'm having a hard time not busting out laughing right at this very moment! It gets better. How about trekking to the next regroup with your squad checkpoint, only to feel compelled to stop because one of your guys is literally standing two feet from a Toja soldier, and both have their guns drawn in the face of the other? If you think any bullets were discharged, don't hold your breath.
That's the most annoying problem with the game. Both sides of soldiers either don't know how to shoot their guns, or are too lazy to draw their index fingers back. I couldn't tell you the real reason, but to test this out by lying in the grass for about five minutes, only to see Reznov fire off a few submachine rounds once is quite telling of how much Treyarch wanted the game to help you. To top it all off, on the less extreme difficulties it's painfully easy to sneak right behind enemy lines and stab and/or shoot everyone to death, without them so much as ever knowing you were there. Folks, these paragraphs are what explain the whole alone portion of the review's description. Over 60 million people lost their lives during this gruesome battle, and World at War can really make you feel personally responsible for the majority of them. It's quite uspetting to see such atrocious AI in a current-gen game like this, and especially since Modern Warfare was certainly better. Oh, and yes, I wish you the best of luck on Veteran difficulty. I've completed seven missions on it thus far, and wanted to kill myself prior to every eventual success. CoD4 was very tough in this light, but thanks to the shoddy team mate intelligence and how quickly you can die, you'll have your work cut out in attempting this one.
It's also unfortunate that despite how interesting it is to witness first-hand the Japanese guerilla tactics, the events are a tad too predictable. Other than the first time I was notified of snipers hiding in those palm trees I talked about earlier, I could tell what was going on during every other situation. Whether it be a fellow Marine becoming ensnared by a tree rope trap, running into a group of Japanese playing dead, or encountering a booby-trapped Marine corpse, I saw it all coming and was rather disappointed. To an extent this is forgivable because coding such scenarios to appear natural is quite difficult. Then again, Treyarch spared no moment to brag about how they were instituting these into the game, so they didn't exactly leave much room for surprise. Still, it's cool to see these; I wouldn't want them to be absent.
All this fighting wouldn't be possible without one obvious feature though: a weapon arsenal. Again, World at War emphasizes an era that we've all seen in a videogame many, many times in the past. That means a handful of the guns featured are absolutely nothing new. The Colt pistols, M1 Garand, Panzerschreck, MP15, Gewehr...they're all present and accounted for. While they're not exactly boring or frustrating to use, I certainly prefer the weapons that I've never seen before in a WWII shooter, especially those featured during the Russian campaign. When playing as Pvt. Miller, the light machine guns are definitely the most entertaining thanks to their deadly aim and damage. As Dimitri Petrenko, the German submachine guns, in addition to the Russian sniper rifles, are very slick to use. Still, this arsenal can't compete with that of Modern Warfare's, how can it? In World at War, you've either seen the gun in your hand several times before, or just aren't as enthused with it. It also doesn't help that precision aiming is always iron sights with the exception of sniper rifles. That method of pinpointing your enemy is extremely old now, and makes us sorely miss the red dots and ACOGs of CoD4. However, you'll never grow sick of the flamethrower. While it's true that United Offensive introduced it to Call of Duty, it's World at War that truly makes it feel worthwhile. You can burn just about all foliage in the game realistically, and witnessing a Japanese guerilla or German Nazi slowly toast to death will make you laugh maniacally every time. Additionally, a welcomed improvement was made to the melee attack. Going for a kill with your knife is a great deal more accurate this time, even if the resulting sound is a bit strange. If you have a gun equipped with a bayonet, you can alo stab with that and watch as the blade skewers your victim, a very satisfying feeling indeed.
With all that out of the way, I can now describe some of the missions and their impact. I think both campaigns are fairly immersive, but the Russian side edges out the Marine end. When it comes to memorable missions, you simply can't forget the first Russian scenario. A handful of Nazis finish off your injured comrades, only to see you take revenge as you start sniping with bombers flying overhead, canceling the noise of your shots. It's also freaky when you're eventually pinned inside a broken down bar that's slowly burning thanks to German flamethrowers. The march to Berlin and the domination of the Reichstag is also unforgettable. As Pvt. Miller, the only real memorable moments are when you can call in several air strikes over the course of a mission, in addition to when you man several turrets on your strike plane.
While World at War isn't always the most captivating game to play, the campaign generally keeps you interested every step of the way. It's interesting that Treyarch didn't opt for a longer campaign than Modern Warfare's. While COE actually doesn’t have a problem with the length of either, we're aware that some would've appreciated extra content. Yet there's only so much that you can make a gamer do before the experience starts to feel stale. At least it's pretty hysterical that once you plant the Red Army flag where the Swastika-adorned cloth formerly was at the Reichstag and the credits finish rolling, you're immediately stuck in the series' first zombie mode. Yes, the offering is just as it sounds. As a random soldier, your goal is to patrol a damaged house and kill off as many Nazi zombies as you can. This is a wonderful distraction from the main campaign and co-op/competitive modes thanks to its claustrophobic feeling and great design. The undead crawl through boarded windows once the planks are removed (which can be replaced), through a big hole in the wall, and via the roof. The more you kill, the higher the round count goes, and the difficulty/numbers of zombies increase. Points are awarded for every kill and obstacle repair, and they can be redeemed within the house itself for better guns. Occasionally the Nazis drop power-ups such as one-bullet kills for 30 seconds, double points, or instant maximum ammo. By yourself, this is fun to jump into every now and then, but with friends, it's a blast. It's simply unfortunate that co-op doesn't allow you to unlock mission-specific Achievements or Trophies at all. There are ones dedicated to co-op, but only a few. My good friend Jarrod wasn't too happy about this, especially since we've beaten three campaign missions on Veteran difficulty, with really nothing to show for it.
Aside from killing zombies though, there are two forms of co-operative: campaign and competitive. The former I actually just described. You gather with one to three friends, and complete the campaign's missions on whatever difficulty, and with the possibility of cheats enabled. There are 13 hidden Death Cards to find, and they unlock various possibilities. Competitive, however, keeps the same co-op element intact, while introducing a point system into the mix. Enemy kills, headshots and team mate revivals are all worth points (with the latter giving players a lot more), and a winner is crowned at the end of a mission. I rather like how Treyarch designed the competitive aspect, because there's really no reason for anyone to feel like they've been ripped off. You could really ignore the point aspect altogether and still have lots of fun. Plus, the only real reason to come out on top is to unlock one particular Achievement/Trophy...and once you've done that, the leader board doesn't matter anymore.
Thus I'm brought why most World at War players may continue popping in that disc until Infinity Ward's next entry hits the market: online competitive. People are still playing Modern Warfare, which is just an incredible testament to that game's value (not to mention it's supposed to be updated with new weapons and prestige level 65). This obviously means that WaW's multiplayer had overwhelming expectations to live up to. Well, for all intents and purposes, there's little reason to dislike playing the game online, because the architecture is essentially a carbon copy of what IW managed to accomplish. The same class and perk system is present, but of course Treyarch didn't just leave it like that and call it a day. There are now four perks to customize instead of three, as the fourth is directly tied to maps that allow you to drive a tank. Everything else however, is ripped straight from MW, just renamed to account for the time period. The rewards for kill streaks are different though. Three consecutive kills still amounts to the same exposing of non-camouflaged opponents on the radar, it's simply not called UAV anymore, but Recon Plane. Five kills allows you to call in an artillery strike, which is more effective and deadlier than CoD4's air strike. The mortar launchers barrage your intended target with shells, and it lasts considerably longer than the carpet bomb we're all used to. However, I'm still on the fence as to whether I like the pack of dogs for seven kills more so than the friendly helicopter. It's not particularly difficult to kill the aggressive pooches; it just sucks when you have two or more after you. The perk makes sense at least though, because helicopters really didn't exist back then. Take it as you will. Everything else is the same. Prior to rank four, you choose from pre-determined classes, and then you can piece together your own: primary weapon, pistol, grenade type, perks and all.
Sadly, the mode lockdown isn't exactly appealing, nor does it all work like it's supposed to. Unlike Modern Warfare online, you don't have immediate access to every gameplay mode, which sucks because I've been rather fond of CoD4's Hardcore Team Deathmatch over the past couple months. Initially you only have Boot Camp, Team Deathmatch and Free-for-All Deathmatch, and they're all of the arcade style. However, Boot Camp is currently broken, because players of rank higher than 8 are able to gain access, and that's ridiculous because it skews the entire playing field. After ranking up to level eight, you're supposed to be locked out of it. I actually am, but of course people feel the need to break the rules, and we have to suffer for it. Hopefully Treyarch fixes that soon, or else some people may quit playing altogether. It's no fun to be owned by a level 20+ multiple times just because they know the maps better and have more weapons and perks unlocked. That’s quite frankly BS. I don't know if it's a hack, or the ability to join a friend that's already in the lobby, but either way, it's totally not cool. However, aside from that, the actual experience is just about as fun as Modern Warfare, you simply have to deal with the growing pains of learning the battle environments, and what perks are most effective with the various weapons. Thankfully, due to my learning experience with CoD4, I currently have a 1.00 k/d ratio, and I'm quite proud of that. Once I start learning the layouts more, I'll start pulling away with a greater positive number. It took me a great deal longer to reach that point in MW because that's the first shooter I've ever dedicated extensive time to online. I look forward to feeling less like a noob, and more like a level ten prestige down the line. Oh, and readers, if you're interested in joining me for some matches, my Xbox Live GamerTag is WolverineCOE. Feel free to add me, and maybe send an invite here and there. I'm sure you'd enjoy that, right?
As I bring this to a close, I can't help but feel awkward in slapping an overall score on this game. Like the many sequels we've seen release over the past few weeks: Resistance 2, Gears of War 2, Saints Row 2, and others, Call of Duty 5 features elements that are superior to Modern Warfare, but others aren't so much. In the end, I've given this plenty of concise and thoughtful consideration, and I'm comfortable with the verdict I've reached. Essentially, Call of Duty: World at War is every bit as worthwhile to play as CoD4: MW was and still is, but I think the many flaws I've emphasized throughout the course of this review causes me to ultimately hand it to Infinity Ward for developing the better experience. Still, World at War is an excellent game, and certainly should not be missed by fans of the most respected war-time shooter franchise to exist today. Project COE simply hopes that WaW is the end of the series' involvement in that particular era.
Call of Duty: World at War
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November 19th, 2008: Review/Video Review Published.