|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treyarch||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 11, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-18||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
October 9, 2008 - After the juggernaut that was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it wasnt surprising that the announcement of Call of Duty: World at War met with such reluctance. Many fans feared that since the game was going back to World War II and being developed by Treyarch, as opposed to Infinity Ward, it would be a step backwards for the series. If the multiplayer I had a chance to experience is any indication of what we can expect from World at War, Call of Duty fans should fear no longer.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, World at War takes everything that players loved about Modern Warfares multiplayer and even adds a shiny rim and a slick spinner. The perks are back with some new additions, including shades, which reduces the blurring and blinding effect caused by flares, and gas masks, which help better protect the player from chemical-based weapons. The perks are earned in the same fashion as in Modern Warfare, gaining experience from your online prowess, moving up in military rank, and receiving a perk when you do so.
With the new vehicles such as tanks that come with a secondary gunner seat that players can take advantage of in multiplayer, there are also some new vehicle perks as well. The one I was able to utilize was water cooler, which made the tanks mounted machine gun take longer to overheat. These tanks can definitely turn the tide of most battles, as they are heavily armored and pack some serious firepower. They can also be incredibly difficult to take down, requiring quite a few rockets and sticky grenades to make a dent in its armor.
Also on display was a new play mode called War. In this mode, there are points on the map that need to be captured one at a time by your team. Of course, the other team is attempting to do the same, so these capture points end up being a mass grave for both teams. Whenever a team successfully captures a point, the momentum of the match turns in their favor, making capturing the next point quicker and easier for that team. This momentum is an interesting addition, but it did tend to make these matches incredibly one-sided. I suppose if you had a skilled team of friends working together, it would be possible to come back from a deficit, but with a bunch of strangers it seemed incredibly futile. Almost every match was won by the team that was able to capture the first point on the map.
The maps in World at War are also well-constructed and varied, ranging from bombed out cities to a hut-filled village on the edge of the ocean. The latter map was called Makin, and it offered an interesting backdrop for capture the flag. When playing in Makin, there were several out-of-the-way courses one could take to sneak up on their opponents flag. On one side was the ocean, which could be traversed with players walking under the supports of the overhead huts. The other side was made up of some jungle paths that provided excellent cover, making survival and stealth much easier.
As in Modern Warfare, World at War also rewards players who manage to go on kill streaks. After three kills in a row, players will get a recon plane, five will net you an artillery strike, and seven gets you one of the funniest and most interesting things Ive seen in a multiplayer game. As soon as youve scored your seventh kill in a row, players will hear Gary Oldman scream Unleash the dogs. When this occurs it means you now have a pack of vicious dogs that will seek out and attack your enemies. There arent many things funnier than sneaking your way to an opponents flag and having experience points constantly popping up in your window from team Cujos handiwork.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of my time with World at War was its competitive co-op mode. In this mode, players will need to work together, all the while competing against one another for the high score. As a four person team, players will make their way through levels from the campaign, getting points for killing enemies and healing teammates. When you are mortally wounded in this mode, you will lose points and have a limited amount of time in which a teammate can save your life. If a teammate fails to heal you before you bleed out, your team will have to restart from your last checkpoint. The balance that this mode strikes between working together and competing is interesting to say the least and really has me excited to play through the game in this mode once it is released.
You will definitely need to function as a team to survive, as levels like the one I experienced, entitled Relentless, certainly lived up to its name. In Relentless, players are frequently pinned down behind cover, as seemingly endless hordes of Japanese soldiers rush and attack you from every direction. While playing this level there was nary a moment in which I wasnt firing, reloading, healing a teammate, or bleeding out waiting for a helping hand and a healing touch.
Although World at War takes Call of Duty back to World War II, it still manages to feel different than pre-Modern Warfare Call of Duty titles. Besides being set in the Pacific Theater, much of this is thanks to Treyarch borrowing from what Call of Duty 4 did right and improving upon it as well. Even with the games older weapons and setting, fans of Modern Warfares multiplayer should definitely give this game a try when it is released this November. It may be World War II again, but it is far from the same old Call of Duty.
CCC Staff Contributor