Review by Sinroth
"What is this!?"
This review will be taken solely from Single Player Experience, since this is where I demand a game be good. Call of Duty: World at War is the latest installment in the Call of Duty series, a highly acclaimed bunch of First Person Shooters that, until recently, were set in World War 2. Call of Duty 4 took a step in the direction of freshness and originality, and decided to be set in Modern Times. Call of Duty: World at War, while it could have been an excitingly new experience in World War 2, just remains utterly stellar. There is NOTHING exciting here. It is comparable to a World War 2 mod for Modern Warfare, only, it isn't, so there is NO excuse for it being so utterly appalling. The Call of Duty series, since its beginning, has been well-known for bursting onto the World War 2 scene and revolutionizing it. It has helped spawn the generations of World War 2 knock-offs that are so prevalent in the First Person genre, so you'd think by now they'd be used to delivering high-quality games. Everyone has great expectations, but unfortunately, this humans expectations were not fulfilled.
Let's start with the Graphics. The Graphics are good; people say they are okay, but to be honest, in this day and age, I really can't differentiate between the graphics of all these new releases anymore. They all look utterly stunning to me (except for Crysis, which looks real), so I will be honest in this section, in that I think the Graphics are good. The environments are a bit bland, and extremely repetitive. You'd think that the jungles of the Pacific would be a great place to set unforgettable battles, but to be honest, it was just confusing, and had nothing going for it. The Graphics are okay - nothing special, but as said, I think all the new-end graphics look the exact same. The level-design is boring and straight-forward (The main pro to setting a game in a jungle is that it gives you a lot of areas to explore, but this is not so), and there are a heap of invisible barriers that prevent progress at any direction but straight ahead.
The Sound is next, and I don't think I've ever seen such a bad effort put into sound for such a major developer. EVERY gun sounds weedy. It's not like Modern Warfare where the guns have a lovably cheesy effect to them. It's not like Dynasty Warriors where the sound acting is so hilariously goofy you can't help but fall in love with it; it is like Call of Duty: World at War where everything is so shoddily put together that you can't help but shake your head in utter disdain. The Arisaka, for example, has such a pitiful sound that I could urinate more menacingly. And I truly believe that. It sounds like a paintbull gun firing. It sounds like someone spitting in the wind. It sounds like nobody put any effort into trying to make the guns sound even remotely realistic. Where is the grunt to these guns? In other shooters, you can FEEL the kick behind the guns as your character recoils on screen and it delivers a meaty combination of lead and visceral audio. In Modern Warfare, the Barrett BOOMED with strength as you fired it. In Modern Warfare, the big anti-tank guns just sound like someone tapping against a can. Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix has more satisfying weapons, and it was released in 2002. What happened? And the music... well, the music, when it WAS playing, seemed a bit dull. There was nothing really going on, and it was hardly noticable. No use putting a sound-track in a game if you aren't going to immerse people with it, so all in all, it was totally forgettable.
The Story & Characters are next, and they were very lame, and not at all interesting, to say the least. The only thing this game has got going for it is its World War 2 background, but it jumps around so much you can barely tell what is happening. One reason why Modern Warfare was so great is that it had a proper storyline; you weren't just participating in these big battles of ye olde World War 2. You grew attached to the characters, even if they weren't particularly well-developed, merely because you were fighting beside them every level, and they were unique from each other. In this game, you have your typical John Rambo in the form of Roebuck, you have your stereotypical Communist in the form of Reznov, and the wheel keeps on turning. I can't even remember the other peoples names, except one was a Russian that just wanted to go home, and you had a few useless American comrades that all make a big fuss when their Sergeant dies dramatically (or rather, gets stabbed.) There's no reason for you to get behind this emotional scene; Roebuck did nothing except brief you on missions and tell you what your objectives were. Very little thought was put into developing these characters. However, it IS a World War 2 shooter, so you don't need to think too hard about the Characters when playing, since you're likely playing for fun.
But that element is missing from the game as well. Take the Modern Warfare levels, try to "cool" them up a bit, and chuck everyone in a World War 2 setting, and that is World at War in a nut-shell. There were some particularly interesting sequences, but they either went on FAR too long, or they were so brief that it just made your jaw drop in utter astonishment as to why they weren't longer. To understand the long sequences in this game, you must know that they have cleverly implemented Japanese tactics. They will play dead, and leap up and stab your eye when you aren't looking. They will jump out of holes in the ground, they will snipe you from trees, they will suddenly run around a corner and charge at you. And your counter to this? A flame-thrower. Man in the tree? Burn the tree down. Guys in bunkers? Meh, no problem, just walk up to them and burn them out. But that's the thing. This happens in almost EVERY American level. It was fun the first time, actually, no, it wasn't fun the first time, since the level was so easy that you didn't even need to use the Flamethrower, but later on when you have to gap it around corners, dodging all the banzai to get the tree where the guys are constantly sniping you, you are reminded of just how mundane it's all getting. As for the sequences that go on too short, in the Russian levels, you have a sniper battle with a German across the streets in the ruins of Stalingrad. Why was this so short? Why couldn't we have more sequences like this? How awesome and fun are sequences like this, where you have to take pot-shots, run and hide, and then pray that they didn't see where you were? They're frustrating, sure, but they're also a lot of hard-work that pays off in the end and feel rewarding. There is one sequence like this in the game, and then you're back to running through the streets of Stalingrad dodging Germans. You'd think that last part would sound very frantic and fun, but it's a rehashed version of All Ghillied Up from Modern Warfare, and it's done poorly. Oh, yes, there is the obligatory Tank level thrown in for absolutely no reason. And it sucks. There are also special grenades; for the Americans, you get smoke, for Russians, you get molotov cocktails (!!). The only cool part of the game was burning out people in fields with molotov cocktails, but after having played Far Cry 2 where you can burn entire buildings, and set a farm on fire, it felt a bit weedy when you have to have super-human precision in hitting a certain part of a little plot of grain to set it alight. And even then, the people just come screaming out, and then die with no emotion, and no satisfaction on your part. There's no essence behind it. Even the guns are pitiful. There is the typical World War 2 repertoire, except, since there is only the Pacific Campaign and the Russian front, you get a lot of Japanese weapons you likely haven't seen before, and no British weapons, and no Italian weapons. There is justice, however, in that Light Machine-guns can be deployed, which should have become a staple of World War 2 shooters about six years ago. Deployed Light-machine guns are sadly useless on later difficulties, however, since it takes ten years to set up and even longer to pack your things away. And you can't just duck and leave the machine-gun there, so you're pretty much screwed if anyone decides to shoot in your direction.
And replayability? Don't even ask. The game glitched for me on multiple occasions (running Widnows Vista 64-bit), in that the entire screen just went black. This happened whenever I decided to quit to the main menu, or even during briefings, where I could only hear the (poorly acted) voices. It worked perfectly fine during the levels, however, so that's nothing to fret about. This game is not recommended; you've seen it all before. It plays like a Johnny-come-lately made during the peak of World War 2 shooters, and it plays badly.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/22/09
Game Release: Call of Duty: World at War (AU, 11/12/08)
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