Can the battles of the Pacific Front hope to rival COD4?
Format: PS3, Xbox 360 (version played), Wii, PC, DS, PS2 Dev: Treyarch Pub: Activision Out: 14/11/08 Players: 1-4, 2-16 online
With a legacy of highly successful titles in the Call of Duty series, the fifth instalment Call of Duty: World at War has a lot to live up to. Developer Treyarch, returns to the series World War II roots aiming to expose wars true face rather than the glorified versions often shown in video games. Unlike previous instalments of Call of Duty set during World War Two, World at War covers the Pacific theatre of war.
In the pacific campaign you play as American Marine Private Miller and are involved in the fight to wrestle the Pacific islands out of Japanese hands. The enemy, however, is extremely reluctant to give an inch and you face innumerable dangers both visible and hidden. Fortified buildings, snipers in trees and perhaps the most memorable, enemies that perform the Banzai charge, running to gut you with their bayonets. The Japanese campaign does not live up to its full potential – very rarely did the enemy manage to truly surprise me. The hidden enemies were in obvious places and with the addition of the flamethrower to your arsenal it can be too easy at times on the lower difficulty levels.
The second part of the campaign sees you fight as Private Dimitri Petrenko, soldier of the Red Army, advancing to capture Berlin. The action tends to be a bit more challenging and the campaign extremely visceral. As the Russians advance into German territory you are shown the war-crimes that were committed during World War Two and as Dimitri you are forced to make some tough decisions. The story often comes second to the gameplay however, and some aspects of Treyarch’s storytelling is noticeably weak, especially when it comes to the representation of other nationalities. The Russians all talk with almost comical accents and the Japanese and Germans don’t seem to be treated as anything other than something to shoot, making it very hard to feel remorse when you are made to execute an enemy.
The game really comes into its own with its multiplayer options. Where the campaign mode can sometimes feel a bit of a drag when playing a solo game, co-operatively it is very hard to put down, and the creation of unlockables for co-op adds to its replayability. If you prefer to be killing a friend rather than killing alongside them then World at War is just the ticket, the multiplayer game modes allow you to level up and create your own class with its own weapons and abilities, a feature that it shares with Call of Duty 4. Personally I don’t feel that this is a good system to use in World at War as it breaks down the differences between the World War Two nations and makes it feel like any other shooter. Overall, Call of Duty: World at War is a solid shooter with a lot going for it, however, it could have been a much better game if the developers had taken a few extra risks and tried a few new ideas.
[Originally published on Tuesday, 6 January 2009]