To say that Treyarch had some big shoes to fill when creating Call of Duty: World at War, would be the understatement of the century. Infinity Ward put up yet another smashing COD title with Call of Duty 4, and for the second time left Treyarch with a tough act to follow.
If I was betting man, I would bet that when the men and women at Treyarch sat down and tried to imagine what they could do to honestly make World at War even better than COD4, they probably came up mostly empty handed. So instead, it appears they set out not to top COD4, but to just try and keep up. On the surface that looks like quite a task when you consider that COD4 was (and is still) one of the deepest on-line shooters to ever hit the market, and was also the victor of many game of the year awards. It kept literally hundreds of thousands of people coming back day after day, night after night, for well over a year. Very few titles out there can boast the kind of on-line numbers that COD4 can. Well, I’m happy to report that World at War at least stays on par with it’s predecessor, and maybe even surpasses it in some areas.
One of the things that made the fourth installment of the franchise so popular was the setting. Finally, a well made war game that took us out of the 1940’s and away from WWII, and in to modern times for some current day action. Treyarch made a very bold decision when they decided to take their title back to that familiar setting that so many games had covered before. A move that didn’t necessarily spark excitement from the community, but a move Treyarch was adamant about, none-the-less. This time you find yourself right in the middle of both the Russian push in to Germany, and the Pacific assault against the Japanese. The campaign premise of WaW should actually be very well known by fans of the series, as it follows the same design as the others before it. You actually control two different soldiers and two different sides of the battle, that usually twist back and forth every couple of missions or so, at just the right pace. As you start to push your way through the campaign, several things are immediately noticeable, like the gorgeous visuals. From the nice looking textures and awesome lighting effects, to the authentic look of the guns and troops, it’s a real pleasure to look it. Granted, these graphics aren’t much we haven’t seen before, but they still look top notch. Keep digging and you’ll find it’s also a real pleasure to play. The controls are tight and crisp, and while the AI is not super intelligent, they’re just smart enough to keep you entertained all the way through the fairly lengthy single player campaign.
Don’t feel like fighting the enemy alone? Grab up to 3 friends and go at it together, either just trying to complete the missions, or competing against each other for kills. While a big chunk of the story and a few of the missions from the single player experience don’t survive to see the co-op side of things, it’s a still fun way to enjoy the game with your buddies, all the while adding more replay value to the campaign.
When you decide you’ve had enough of Keifer Sutherland’s voice, you’ll probably find out that multiplayer is the place to be anyway. Using a ranking system that’s identical in nature to the COD4 system, you’ll gain XP points for obtaining kills or achieving objectives. While the XP/challenge system is just a touch different this time around, it’s still fantastic in all the right ways. Some of the perks have been changed, but you probably won’t miss the ones they took out, and the 3-5-7 kill reward system remains in place, but has a touch more flare this time. For getting 3 or 5 consecutive kills, the prize remains pretty much the same(Recon plane, then artillery strike), but if you can get to the 7 kill mark without being taken down, that’s where the real fun begins. The hovering helicopter has been done away with, and it’s been replaced with a pack of fierce dogs. Get those 7 kills in a row, and you can unleash a countless number of dogs upon your enemies, for up to 60 seconds. While being on the defending side of this attack can be quite the annoyance, when it’s you that gets to unleash it, it becomes oh-so-much fun. If you sink in all the time it takes to reach the highest on-line level of 65, you’ll discover that the prestige mode has also made the trip. You can go through the ranking system as many as 10 times, before all the rewards finally come to a halt.
When trying to think of what complaints I could possibly have for this title, I always seem to find myself drawing a blank. I mean, there’s no glaring holes or anything really wrong with this game. The only valid points I can think to point out come from the lack of new content. Granted, this is a new game with a whole new story and campaign, but outside of some minor changes and new multiplayer maps, it’s still just more of what we’ve already seen and done.
While trying to top COD4 would’ve been pretty hard, failing at making something just as good would’ve been hard as well, when you take in to consideration that Treyarch basically took the same engine, same multiplayer system, and same campaign design to bring us this game. Not to take anything away from WaW, but it really does feel like COD4 with a new setting and a touch of polish here and there. With that being said, the game still looks and handles so well, the touch of polish and new setting make it worth every penny. For fans of the shooting genre, it’s highly recommended, but for fans of COD4, it’s simply a must have.
Release: November 10, 2008
Genre: First Person Shooter
Available Platforms: X-Box 360, Playstation 3, PC, Wii, DS
Players: 1-4(co-op), 2-18(Multiplayer)
ESRB Rating: Mature