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Call of Duty: World at War on Game and Player

Call of Duty: World at War

Curtis Mettler  //  December 29, 2008

Polish and refinement.


rior to playing Call of Duty: World at War, the majority of my Call of Duty experience came from Infinity Ward's fourth installment in the series, Modern Warfare. Such an introduction made quite an impression on me in terms of how incredible the game looked and how well it handled. Difficulty was another strong factor, as the Call of Duty series had always been known for its realistic and unforgiving take on combat, punishing even slight lapses in caution with swift death. Making progress in the face of intense enemy opposition was grueling work and could only be accomplished by painstaking degrees. Such challenges brought intense frustration at times but always intense satisfaction when surmounted.

Experience scenes straight
from war journals.
After completing Modern Warfare, I began to wonder what Treyarch, Infinity Ward's sister developer, was going to do to top the experience in their next title. It soon became clear that their plan was not so much as adding to the series' formula, but refining what had worked in the past. In Call of Duty: World at War, Treyarch took Infinity Ward's example and applied it to what they do best, resulting in the cleanest World War II shooter yet to be made.

Visuals in World at War are as good as they get. Landscapes look incredible and feature such subtle touches as immersive grass capable of hiding enemy soldiers intent on ambush. Every location you visit, from war torn beaches in the South Pacific to German-occupied cities deep in the heart of the Russian stronghold, is rendered with incredible detail. Facial features on each and every character are rich and believable and sync beautifully with the dialogue. There are certainly no disappointments to be had in the way the game looks, by any means.

Play is as tight and well-executed as ever. The controls have remained the same, and do a terrific job of feeling smooth and realistic through every situation the player must contend with. The scenarios dreamt up by Infinity Ward embody some of the most iconic moments from the history books. Shortly into the first chapter my squad and I came across a clearing littered with the bodies of Japanese infantry. It was quiet moment after a hard-fought battle to secure the beach and it gave me pause. My suspicions were aroused, and I dropped to a crouch and began backpedaling. No sooner had I done so, than I was blinded by a flare launched from across the field. I knew what was coming. All around the field the bodies were leaping up, awakening from their feigned death to strike at an unwary foe. It was a scene straight from the war journals my brothers and I used to pore over and it gave me chills to experience. Other powerful moments included shooting down Zeros by the dozens and a terse sniper battle against a much more mobile enemy.

Experiences such as these, and the welcome addition of a two-player co-op mode for the campaign, make up the bulk of World at War's fresh content. The remainder of the title is largely made up of features already pioneered in Modern Warfare. Multiplayer retains the perk and promotion system already established by previous iterations with the addition of several new options. New recruits start out at the bottom of the proverbial food chain, with few weapon and kit options and plenty of bigger fish circling above. Success in the arena grants access to increasingly better toys and perks rewarding diligent practice with deadly new abilities. The reintroduction of vehicles to the mix provides a new dynamic, satisfying both the urge for more complex tactical situation and the desire for brutal firepower and destruction. Excellent maps, and an enormous pool of eager opponents make online play fast, furious, and extremely enjoyable.

The campaign
evokes powerful emotions.
In the long view, the only negative I found while playing was the non-aggressive nature of the AI of the men in my squad. Proficient only in taking cover and giving orders, my companions only other real contributions were the occasional kill and the continuous noise. As a result of Treyarch's respectful treatment of the realities of war, advancement in the game cannot be made without intense effort. The only way to effect an enemy retreat is to push them back, step by arduous step. The rest of the squad will only go as far as the player gets — which means they cannot be counted on to make any progress forward. As a result, I experienced an ever-increasing sense of frustration as I towed my squad through skirmish after skirmish.

This frustration was compounded by annoyance each time I witnessed one of my companions take a fatal bullet only to pop back up and cheerily resume the fight, dashing back and forth firing enthusiastically while I inched from my hiding place to squeeze off a few rounds, trying desperately to make every shot count. While I recognize that the horror of watching men die all around you and the incredible pressure of an overwhelming enemy force are all part of the rigors of the battlefield and, as such, go a long way towards making World at War into an authentic experience, I find it rather unlikely that huge portions of the actual war hinged on the efforts of only a single person as it does in game. Still, the fact that playing through the campaign can evoke such intense emotions in me offers powerful testament to the quality of the gaming experience found in this most recent installment of the Call of Duty franchise.

At the end of the day, World at War easily places itself in the top tier of first-person shooters. Every aspect of the game reflects the polish and refinement of teams highly adept in their craft. Because most of the major advances are carried over from Modern Warfare, I can't place World at War into my list of candidates for Game of the Year, but I can recommend it with complete confidence for any and all enthusiasts of both the historical and FPS genres. Easily its stars, Call of Duty: World at War excels in every aspect necessary to make a truly great game.

Call of Duty: World at War






NA Release

November 11, 2008


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Intense, driving combat
  • Realistic and respectful treatment of the topic


  • Limited companion AI
  • Not for the casual gamer

G&P Rating

G&P Latest

July 1, 2011

June 28, 2011

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