Call Of Duty: World At War was an ambitious take on the WW2 Genre at the time. It was the first WW2 themed game to use Infinity Ward’s upgraded COD engine.
It was also Treyarch’s second time working on a Call Of Duty game, and believe me back in 2008 Treyarch was known as the little brother of Infinity Ward who bumped its head on the ceiling too many times when it was a baby. It’s ironic how times have changed, and now Treyarch is the only company that COD fans trust to make a good game, but I digress.
The game’s cinematic opening is gritty, dark, ominous, and eerie. It also does a good job splicing real news footage with a silhouetted background and characters.
Juxtaposing the opening of the previous game where you feel powerful as you play as an elite British SAS commando, here you start off powerless and weak as a grunt in captivity held by Japanese imperials as you and your teammates are tortured. Just as all hope is lost your allies storm Macon Atoll and set you free. After you run out of the hut you’ve been detained in you can see more of your teammates; deceased, being stripped naked, stripped of dignity and stripped of life. Already in the first 3 minutes, World At War does a better job at absorbing you into the story than most modern COD’s do in their entire campaign.
What the earlier Call Of Duty’s did right was subtlety. In Horror movies, you are often told by critics that what you don’t see is more terrifying than what you do see. And this game did a great job of making you feel the horrors of war.
If World At War was made now I guarantee you there would be a prolonged torture sequence that overstays its welcome followed by tons of explosions and ridiculous over the top set pieces that feel like they are straight out of a Michael Bay movie. The developers occasionally try to shock the hell out of you by showing grotesque images but it’s done with enough nuance to avoid feeling like the excessive gore was the selling point.
It did a good job of conveying its message: That the people you are fighting are monsters and you are clinging to life to defeat them and struggling to stay alive just for one more day. This is after all 1942, you won’t have the luxury of calling in a gigantic AC-130 to level the ground, or using a GPS to warn you of upcoming enemy artillery.
It’s you and your squad VS whatever the enemy throws at you.
Admittedly the game’s linearity might be a bother to some, but I prefer a game that is honest and tells you where you have to go, to a game that gives you the illusion of freedom like the latest entry in the franchise Call Of Duty WW2. A game where if you so much as move one inch away from where you are supposed to go you get shot from every direction form enemies you can’t even see.
The game’s campaign shifts back and forth between you fighting the Japanese Imperial Army as Americans and fighting Nazi Germany as the Russians.
What I liked about the Russian part of the campaign was that your teammates felt and talked like actual people. You have Dimitri, a follower who objects to killing defenseless people when they are bleeding out, as well as tries to be more diplomatic. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have Viktor Reznov a real hard ass who won’t hesitate to kill everyone and deals in absolutes. “Death comes in two ways quick or slow” Reznov shouts as he has cornered unarmed Nazi’s into a terminal giving you the chance to either shoot them or light them on fire with molotovs.
Again nothing like the righteous Boy Scouts you play as in Call Of Duty WW2 where after capturing armed Nazis the game encourages you to keep them alive because it is the right thing.
World At War was also the last game to feature dismemberment. When you shot an enemy’s limbs with a shotgun or threw a motor at them, their limbs would blow off and they would squirm in agony for a few seconds before dying.
Watch COD: World At War Game Movie:
Overall the campaign was great. Not a masterpiece but it did have memorable moments that stuck with you for all the right reasons.
The multiplayer on the other hand was a mixed bag.
Surprisingly on PS3 as of the writing of this review January 21st, 2018, there are on average 800 people still playing the game’s multiplayer. Though I recommend if you want to play online you get the 360 version as that version is Backwards compatible with Microsoft’s New Xbox. The 360 version has roughly 20,000 active players.
For 2008 the multiplayer was very good and (I really hate to keep comparing it to Call of Duty: World War 2 but they are both World War 2 games and one did things so much better) unlike 2017s COD:WW2 the maps feel open enough but not so much so that they become distracting. There is vantage point that people fight for, as well as spots that made great hiding places. Not at all like the most recent COD games where you constantly feel pressured to keep moving forward without thinking.
One map has a giant wheat field you can hide in that makes it great for stealth. Some maps also allow you access to a tank which sacrifices speed and mobility for power. Even the smaller maps were fun to play on because of all the nooks and crannies you could explore.
Most of the killstreaks where fun to use and didn’t feel overpowered. Though I always wondered why you couldn’t snap the dog’s necks when vicious German shepherds were attacking you. It felt like a step back from Call Of Duty 4 where if you can’t kill a dog before it jumps on top of you, you can quickly push the melee button to instakill it.
Finally, there is Zombies mode. You know I always liked how World At War kept things simple. There were four zombies maps and you just played for fun. I yearn for the days where zombie modes in games were just about fun and not trying to complete some ridiculous easter egg that took dozens of hours to accomplish if you were lucky.
Fun fact in World At War, the zombie mode was actually an afterthought. It wasn’t until later games where Treyarch mucked things up by making them so needlessly complicated and taking away the simplistic fun.
Overall, World at War was and is still a great game. It might not be a masterpiece of the story or competitive multiplayer, but it was a fun time if nothing else. Here’s hoping that Treyarch goes back to their roots with COD 2018 and makes a game like this once again true.