The development of the Call of Duty series is a touch odd. Infinity Ward (Call of Duty 1, 2, and the stupendous 4) trade design duties with Treyarch (Call of Duty 3, and 5) to make sure a new one hits the shelves every holiday season.
Unless you’ve been living under a particularly sturdy rock, you’ll be well aware that Call of Duty: World at War heads back to the series’ starting point. Namely, World War II. And as such, all those new fangled weapons, and snazzy kill streak bonuses fail to make appearances.
This time the single player story is split between two soldiers. The American soldier you’ll be in control of spends his time in the Pacific, attempting to slaughter the Japanese. While your Russian soldier is intending to push his way into Berlin and take out as many Nazi’s as possible on the way in.
Back come the traditional black and white news reel-esque starting points for each level, a big plus for long-term fans of the series. And the story itself is certainly gripping, and packs a real emotional punch at certain points.
To play it’s just like every other World War II shooter before it. Weaponry is mainly along the lines of slow reloading rifles, though the major high point of the flame thrower is an absolute joy to wield, particularly when surrounded with enemies just waiting to be set alight.
For those of you coming straight from Modern Warfare to World at War, the change in weaponry is slightly jarring. It all certainly does the job of feeling just as you’d expect weaponry from many a year ago to react. But it’s a long way from feeling just as exciting and easy to use as some of the real pieces of brilliance featured in Modern Warfare.
Your time on the battlefield during the story mode isn’t helped by the lack of enemy AI. Enemies unfortunately aren’t always the brightest of sparks, with moments of ridiculous stupidity occurring every half an hour. It’s not that rare an occurrence to spot a single enemy standing side on in the heat of battle, simply waiting for his head to be blasted off his shoulders. Even your own team can seem completely oblivious to the enemy standing right in their sights, leaving you to despatch the majority when they feel like dropping their IQ levels a few points.
Utilising the same game engine from Modern Warfare there’s little shock to discover that World at War certainly is no slouch in the looks department. Rain effects in particular truly look superb, and explosions will be a real treat on the eye.
One major new inclusion is the introduction of Nazi zombies. No, this isn’t some dodgy film inspired twist in the single player story, but an unlockable mode that forces you to defend a small building from on rushing hordes of zombies. It’s somewhat akin to Gears of Wart 2’s fantastic Horde mode, and it’ll certainly be a real time sink for those who go to the lengths of completing the game’s main campaign to unlock it.
Multiplayer, which played a huge part in making Modern Warfare such an incredible title, is sadly somewhat lacking. Brand new perks, the inclusion of the odd tank in certain levels, and some fairly impressive level design simply isn’t enough to recreate that fantastic multiplayer feeling included in this games predecessor. It’s still an enjoyable experience, but somehow fails to pack the same kind of thrills that we’ve all been gorging ourselves on for the last year.
World at War had an unenviable task. Any game following Modern Warfare was almost certainly going to fall short, and its unfortunate that World at War struggles to attain the same level of brilliance.
The single player campaign is unfortunately marred by ridiculous AI, and the multiplayer mode simply doesn’t hit the same heights of its forbearer, making World at War potentially one to wait for until it hits the bargain bins. A real shame.