" I definitely think it's about time to leave 'The Greatest Generation' to their retirement and maybe give Korea, or the Cold War, or any of the other notable conflicts in the last hundred years a whirl. "
Title: Call of Duty: World at War by Activision
Format: WWII Shooter for the Xbox 360
Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo
The Hype: What is officially the fifth title in the Call of Duty franchise (and about the fifteenth unofficially) blasts its way onto the 360, this time returning to the series' World War II roots via the lush jungles of the Pacific Theater. But in a world where 1940's-era shooters occupy an entire wing of the "me too" museum of gaming, is there really room for yet more Tommy gun action?
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: Sporting an updated version
of the Call of Duty 4 engine, World at War (WAW) certainly shines in the graphics
department. What was already a stellar looking setup last year has become something
even more spectacular now. Effects are bright and vibrant, models are richly
detailed, terrain is lush, and the violence is enticingly grotesque. Also present
is the franchise's knack for managing to put a whole lot of models on screen
at once, and so you can look forward to having dozens upon dozens upon dozens
of people laying glorious waste to each other.
The only two gripes I have, and they're both minor ones, are that there seems to be an awkwardness to the balance of transparency and opacity, which can leave some of the more cinematic moments a bit disconcerting, and that the lighting effects on the model can frequently produce an odd halo-like shimmer around the models. Still, those are the very definition of nitpicking issues, and do nothing to detract from the very pretty carnage. 5 out of 5
Playability: At this point, I simply can't
imagine that any of you haven't played a Call of Duty game, and if you have,
you already know what you're going to find here. The game is a fast paced shooter
that focuses more on intense run-and-gun action than strategy or realism. It
is chaotic, and action packed, and burns through rounds by the hundreds of thousands.
It goes without say that said formula is not exactly to everybody's liking, but what's much more concerning to me is that it has not changed, not even a little bit, in a good many years. When compared to it's brethren, World at War is down-right formulaic. The missions all have the same "push forward or die" feel, the campaign includes the same vehicle and gimmick levels (and the same "repeat until you know what's coming" difficulty) , and the combat is virtually indistinguishable from any Call of Duty game since number 2.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing, assuming you liked the other incarnations as much as I did. Still, in an industry where so many companies are working so hard to innovate, it's almost shocking to see a franchise that is so content to deliver yet more of the same. And the return to the World War II roots...well, let's just say that, despite the inclusion of a very interesting Japanese AI for some entertaining kamikazi and ambush action, I'm done with shooting M1 Garands for a while. I definitely think it's about time to leave "The Greatest Generation" to their retirement and maybe give Korea, or the Cold War, or any of the other notable conflicts in the last hundred years a whirl. 3.5 out of 5
Story and Drama: As with the gameplay,
the story elements to World at War are very familiar. As with other titles in
the series, the campaign splits between two Privates on two fronts; a Russian
soldier on the Eastern front and a US Marine in the Pacific. In both cases,
your character is at the center of an aggressively unfolding offensive that
has Sergeants leading you from one seemingly impossible situation to another.
Which is not really a bad thing. Though it definitely has a bit of a "been there, done that" feel, the story is compelling and ties the violence together nicely. It also includes the voice acting of one Jack Bower (Kiefer Southerland), who by now has the grizzled NCO voice down pat. 4 out of 5
Multiplayer and Replayability: Wow. In
a word--wow. Standing on the shoulders of Call of Duty 4's amazing persistent/customizable
character concept, WAW brings an absolute ton of goodies on the multiplayer
front. First, you have all your classic multiplayer gametypes (deathmatch, TDM,
and some very cool objective concepts). Then you have a cooperative mode that
lets you play through the campaign with up to 4 people (plus Halo 3-esque skulls
that let you replay it all again with cheats and mods). And finally you have
a very clever, and insanely fun, Nazi Zombie mode where you and three buddies
work to hold a small building against an ever-increasing horde of Zombies that
are trying to come in and eat your brains. Add it all together and you have
an unbelievably rich multiplayer offering.
That said, the adversarial multiplayer, while solid, is not nearly so engaging as COD4's was--mostly because it's all recycled. It keeps the same perks and attachments (down to the point of allowing you to put imaginary red-dot sights on WWII guns...presumably because the developers were too lazy to actually come up with something historically relevent), has functionally identical support weapons, and still has the same ridiculous, and unbelievably frustrating, spawning issues. Enough so to guarantee that you will put down your controller at several points and swear that you will never play the $#@&ing game again...but just like that burning rash you got in Tijuana, you'll be back. 4.5 out of 5
|Truthfully, if not for the stellar multiplayer offering, World at War would probably score in the high 3's. By now the gameplay is starting to feel a bit dated, and has been repeated, verbatim, no short number of times. Fortunately, the multiplayer is fantastic and boasts a nice combination of adversarial and cooperative games. If the next incarnation shakes up the campaign and adds more bot action, it may be the perfect shooter.|
The Good: Very pretty, very solid, and very sweet when you're playing with buddies.
The Bad: You could not have more of a been there, done that feel in the campaign if you tried, and spawning right in front of enemies (or their artillery) in multiplayer sucks rocks.
The Overall Ugly: It's a fun game, but is probably the last time they'll get away with this particular formula.
What it's Worth: Market.