After the amazing Call of Duty 4 hit last year, it was a bit of a disappointment when it was announced that the followup was: A) Returning to a WWII setting; and B) being developed by Treyarch, the guys behind the worst game in the series, Call of Duty 3. While that’s still a very fun game (and controlled incredibly well on the Wii) it couldn’t compare to the stories and “Holy Shit!” moments on display in the other games.

However, if you’re going to do something right, you might as well ape something that already worked. The recently released Multiplayer Beta for the game has done wonders for showing people why it’s worth getting, as the multiplayer modes are as fun as ever.

While it’s back in WWII, the multiplayer gameplay remains almost exactly the same as in COD4. You’ll return to using the same old Thompsons, Kar98s and M1 Garands (gotta love that “PING!”) as the old games, but of course since this is set in the Pacific Theater you’ve got some Japanese rifles like the Arisaka and Nambu as well. There’s some nifty new grenades in place too, like the signal flare that will mess up your sight.

One thing you’ll realize right away is that the game doesn’t look nearly as good. Keep in mind that this is a beta, of course, but it’s a bit of a disappointment not to see the improved graphics we were promised in this entry.

One of the biggest differences in the game are the streak bonuses you can attain. In COD 4 you could get a recon call that would point out your enemies on your map, an air strike that’d rain down bombs, on or attack helicopter that would just destroy everyone who didn’t run to cover. WWII didn’t really use many helicopters, so in its place in World At War you’ve got attack dogs. They’re both a blessing and a curse. On the receiving end, the dogs are scary as hell… you’ll hear them barking and chasing you, and if they get a couple of bites in you you’re as good as dead. Shooting them works (you’ll also get XP for this) but if they get too close you’ll have to knife them, which is oddly satisfying. If the level’s got water on it, get in that shit! They won’t follow you, much to the Mythbusters’ chagrin. On the attacking end the dogs are incredible- you can use them to sniff out where your enemies are, and chances are that they’ll be so busy trying to avoid getting bitten that you can easily shoot them down.

The three levels included in the beta are already balanced and really fun, except when you run across a few people who know about some of the bugs you can exploit. It’s just a good thing that these were found now…

Roundhouse is a circular map set at a train depot. Here you’ll see another big another difference from COD4- driveable tanks! They don’t control too well and make you a huge target, but you can easily rack up the kills with it. A gunner can sit on top and be good sniper fodder. It’s better to ignore them and keep to the sides of the map. Still, keep a bazooka on hand in case someone decides to jump in it.

Castle is a map in a Japanese castle (shock!), with plenty of rooms and annoying statues that you’ll shoot at, thinking they’re enemies. This one offers the most fast and furious gameplay, especially if you pick the new War game mode. War is a revamped Domination which has everyone going after one control point at a time, till one team gets all 5 or the time runs out. All the other usual game modes are available.

Makin is set on a swampy island, and is perfect for snipers and people who like to take it slow. There’s a lot of water to hide out in but unfortuantely not as much jungle. There are plenty of wooden huts and houses to take cover in but your footsteps will give you away easily. Great board for a firefight, as there’s plenty of places to get cover. The gritty look to the graphics really helps this level out.

If you can get in on the Beta by signing up through, do it as fast as you can. The beta will only last till the game’s release on November, and will definitely give you hope for this game. We’ll see if the single player campaign can match COD4‘s (doubtful) but it’s nice to see that the multiplayer is just as fun and addictive.