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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Call of Duty: World at War - Review

Actually, I played the PC version so I guess the box art is a bit misleading.

After Infinity Ward decided to take over the development of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I thought, "Hooray! No more World war II games!" While WWII is my "favorite war" (and apparently the favorite of many other developers), I'm also brutally tired of it. We know what happens, we know what's supposed to happen, quit remaking the same places. So when I saw World at War being developed once again by Treyarch (Infinity devloped 2 and 4, the Good ones. Treyarch developed 3, the negligible one....) a large groan came from me. My initial thoughts were that we were going to go through another series of tired events. While everyone around me was having a heart attack screaming about how it was now in Japan and how different it was going to be, I thought otherwise......and I was right.

Call of Duty: World at War is a World War II First Person shooter that's actually broken down into two stories. One is about an American soldier, Pvt. Miller, placed in Japan, the other is about a Russian sniper, Dmitri Petrenkov, who repeatedly cheats death. Overall, I feel like the Modern Warfare is Treyarch's attempt at Modern Warfare "the way they know it." Before I start ranting about it, I'll cover the good points.

The guns feel good in this game. When the clip in your M1 Gerand runs out, you hear the all too familiar "cling" that follows the last shot. The iron sights take a while at first to get used to but they're all really nice. Treyarch uses blur very well to place the focus like in real-life. When you use your iron sights, depending on what gun you use, the amount of focus goes in and out around you. When you reload, the area around the gun blurs a bit (done before in Soldier of Fortune Payback, I believe). In terms of the first person perspective, it's been cleaned up really well. Bolt action rifles' recoil, albeit annoying, makes using the gun really fun. You can also mount certain machine guns onto sandbags or other flat, chest high walls. Not only does it improve aim dramatically, but the ability to mount is really nice.

The Russian battles are epic. All of them. They're all pretty large-scale and always swarming with germans. Having your commander, Reznov, give you orders has a pretty good feel to it. Playing through Stalingrad and fighting your way through Berlin was great. Everytime I saw the loading screen for Pvt. Petrenkov, I couldn't wait. Having always seen the American side of the war, the Russian side had a really nice feel to it. I feel like most of Treyarch's efforts were focused on that campaign.

The selling point for this game though is the co-op. Up to four players can participate in a campaign for some awesome co-op action. There are times when the road splits and these times are perfect for having 2 guys go one way and 2 guys go another way. Treyarch also decided to add to the fun by finding Death cards. These cards modify the gameplay in specific ways. There are some cards that make your game "realistic" (No HUD, no crosshair, no ammo check, and allies bleed to death much faster) and others that are just fun (Vampire card: you lose health over time, but regain it by killing). None of them overly break the game and fun results can occur if you combine them. All the cards are well balanced and implemented.

At the end of the game, there's a Nazi Zombie mode where you're stuck in a bunker and have to survive oncoming waves of zombies. You buy weapons and ammo and unlock other parts of the bunker with the points you get from killing. This is strictly for team play. While it is available for you loners, there's far too much work involved that you won't get past.... level 8ish, after they've started to run.


That's about it. I can't really think of anything else that makes the game good. I'm being serious. I'll review the bad parts of the game.

First off, Treyarch is trying too hard to be like Infinity Ward (the fact that they even used the CoD4 engine as a base proves that), rather, they're trying to hard to be good and it shows. First off, all the loading screens are now mini movies with vivid explanations of the strategy or the commanding officer's comments complemented with scenes from WWII or 3D spinning models of the specifications of maps or vehicles. After the first near death experience, in the first level, I thought, "that was kinda cool" but after, I noticed they liked to do that.... a lot. There are so many of these cut scenes it's almost pitiful. There's even a scene where you're the gunner of a plane and have to provide support for a fleet that's just been kamikaze bombed. Halfway through the mission I was expecting a flat radio voice to say "Ka-boom" as I took out a plane (refer to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 'Death from Above'). I kinda feel sorry for them for having to keep up with a company that sets high standards. In addition, the opening to the Russian campaign was, in my opinion, lackluster. It had a nice feel to it, but the opening is basically a scene rip from beginning of the movie "Enemy at the Gates" with Jude Law. I feel as if in their attempts to make it movie like, they ended up just ripping scenes from whatever looked nice.

The Japanese campaign is boring. With the exception of the last mission, the entire campaign is lackluster. There are pockets of action and the ambushes don't really take you by surprise. Banzai charging just leaves them open for you to shoot and there's that issue where you can get brain dead idiots shooting at you from close range but missing their shots and hundreds of sharpshooters that tag your foot, or hit you through the minuscule space between stacked barrels.

I've been reading reviews about how death by random grenade was bad in CoD 4. Honestly, I think otherwise. Yes, it was annoying, but they yell grenade at you when it's thrown. Here, you just have to rely on the marker you may or may not see as well as fumble to cover. In the Russian campaign, it isn't bad because you're quite often in an urban setting and it forces you to run to advance cover. In the Japan side you just have to die. I can't count how many times I've died by retarded snipers or spoonfuls of grenades being tossed at me, at the beginning of the level.

The cooking of grenades isn't very useful. Rather, during the times I had to do it, I had to continuously pop in and out of cover like a gopher to make sure my target didn't move. It's even less useful in the zombie nazi mode because the moment you realize you need a grenade, they've already breached the blockades and are now running at you. Honestly, a better tactic is to do the "flea-flicker" achievement, where you toss a nade to your friend and he picks it up and tosses it at the enemy. Just replace "your friend" with "the ground" and "he" with "you". You've just cooked it a nice, healthy 2-7 seconds that may or may not result in an explosion in mid air.

I know it sounds odd, but the guns are TOO accurate. The moment you switch to iron sights, it's more or less one hit kill. If they were to make every gun as accurate as a sniper, they should have then made the recoil much stronger so that you can't just aim and shoot and if you happen to not kill him, shoot again.

Overall, it's not a BAD game, it's polished and pretty well done, but it also feels like a reskinned version of CoD4 despite what other sites say.... actually, let's think of it as a mod. Yes, a mod, that sounds more fitting in the PC community. Taking an engine and reskinning it along with adding your own elements? Yes... a mod. I have to say though, the zombie nazi thing is fun. It's like a nice multiplayer version of the Mercenaries mode from Resident Evil 4.

Did I check multiplayer? No. Because that doesn't really show me a lot about how well the developers are. Yes, multiplayer takes a lot of balancing and months of beta testing, but that's more trial and error.


Anonymous said...

My god are you a pretentious idiot.

Zerreth said...

Sorry I didn't give it the 10 you wanted. Perhaps next time I should hand out sticks to bite on so you can deal with the pain.
It sure as hell wasn't worth my money, and I ended up losing $15 due to resale and shipping. I coulda spent that 15 dollars on on a micro sd card.