Activision’s war simulating, FPS has definitely experienced highs and lows throughout it’s several console and PC releases. The see-saw effect of two different development studious (Infinity Ward & Treyarch) has weighed heavily on the quality of each new iteration of the franchise. With IW at the helm for the release of Call of Duty 2, gamers were given a triple A title that coincided with the launch of Microsoft’s white box. Treyarch’s CoD 3 left a sour taste in the mouths of veterans of the series, and when 4 released gamers welcomed the return of experienced development team, Infinity Ward. The wait paid off as FPS fans were rewarded with arguably the best shooter that this console generation has experienced and a new step away from the overplayed WWII setting.
The Call of Duty Franchise makes it’s return (sans distinguishing numeral) with World at War, and while gamers look forward to seeing how the modern setting will be fleshed out, most cringe with the thought of Treyarch stepping back into the driver’s seat. Yes, Activision continues the flip-flop development act, and to add salt to the wound fans find themselves back to the old World War II setting. So, how does WaW perform in the shadow of it’s older, more modern, big brother CoD4? Does Treyarch create a compelling and entertaining FPS that feels more relevant than WWII? Those questions and more will be answered as we take a look at the newest addition to the CoD family.
CoD has always had a special place in my heart, as it was the franchise that introduced me to the FPS genre, but like many other gamers who were jaded by the past outings from Treyarch, I really wasn’t anticipating WaW like I have past Call of Duty titles. CoD 3 had given me enough of an idea of the developer’s style, and with CoD4 still feeling fresh (even a year after release) I felt no need to dive into this game. As more time passed and new details were leaked my interest began to peak and I found myself anticipating facing off against Nazis for the umpteenth time. Let me get this out of the way – forget what you know, Treyarch delivers with World at War as the game surpasses all expectations.
Once you jump into the game play the first thing you’ll notice is how closely WaW emulates CoD4’s game play mechanics. The settings may have changed (this time you find yourself in the Pacific Theater), but so many things have made the transition from 4 to WaW. At times even the missions seem to be repeat offenses just with new backgrounds (sniper mission anyone?). This is a good thing, obviously CoD4 did so many things right, but it would be nice to see more originality in the story. Many times I got the feeling that Treyarch couldn’t think on it’s own and had to copy missions from the game’s predecessor. This is no reason to skip the campaign, there are some incredible moments, but don’t be surprised if you experience a little deja vu as you play through much of the story.
Possibly one of the biggest questions is: How do the weapons control? World War 2 doesn’t equal dated weapon controls (at least not this time). Just as Treyarch has borrowed several aspects from CoD4, weapon control is not an exception. The weapons may look different from the modern day offerings that we received in the fourth outing of this series, but don’t be fooled as the controls will immediately feel familiar for anyone who has played 4. On top of all of this – how many time’s have you used a flamethrower in a WWII game? The addition of the flamethrower helps to add a new element to what most gamers have come to expect from weapons in a WWII game. Like any good FPS the weapons in World at War are more than competent – in fact I thoroughly enjoyed being able to get more hands on time with WWII weapons inside the CoD4 control scheme.
There is no lack of game modes with this CoD outing. Returning is the ever popular online mode which features the usual Capture the Flag, Death-match, Team Death-match, etc. Throw in co-op game play and you have enough to keep you coming back long after you’ve completed the main campaign. If that wasn’t enough for you Treyarch kept a tight wrap on a special game mode that only became public knowledge shortly before the game’s release. Nazi Zombie mode makes it’s CoD debut – look at it as Gears of War’s Horde mode meets CoD with zombies. It’s an incredibly challenging game mode that will keep many gamers occupied as they defeat wave after wave of Zombie all in the name of climbing the ranks.
World at War makes it’s case for it’s spot in the CoD franchise. Developer Treyarch has created a gorgeous game with smooth controls and a competent story – with this outing they prove that they are a credible player in the CoD series. If you enjoyed CoD’s previous WWII entries or you simply enjoy the franchise as a whole then you should check out WaW – if nothing else it’s at the very least worth a rent. While the game may not progress the story or game play of Call of Duty it does nothing to set back Activision’s hit series. As long as IW and Treyarch can continue to perform in this manner there is no reason to think that Activision will ever find itself anywhere but on the top of the FPS market.