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PLATFORM: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS2, Wii, DS

ESRB RATING: M
DEVELOPER: Treyarch

PUBLISHER: Activision

Everyone groaned when they heard that Treyarch (makers of Call of Duty 3) would be doing the next COD game, and that it would be taking a step back from Modern Warfare to the familiar trenches of WWII.

The multiplayer beta eased people a bit. It was obvious that they were using the exact same system as COD4 and just placing their game into that same mold, but it was still just as fun, and as sick as we might be of WWII shooters, it played damn well.

Now the final product’s here. It’s a good game, of that there’s no doubt, but is it everything it could be?
 
THE PITCH

To change things up, they’re ending this war. Instead of focusing once again on D-Day or one of the bigger battles, we follow two troops (American and Russian) through the Pacific Theater and the Battle for Berlin. They’ve also got some star power in the game, with Keifer Sutherland playing your American leader and Gary Oldman starring as your loving Russian Sergeant.

The Pacific Theater missions do change up things a bit, as you now have kamikaze Japanese soldiers to contend with, as well as an entirely new landscape. Provided, of course, you haven’t played one of the other dozen or so shooters set during that part of the war.
 


CHUDTIP- Fire is not only goddamn beautiful in this game, but it’s useful. Use the flamethrower to burn any big fields of grass or trees you see- there might be some kamakizi lying in wait.


In between those missions you’ll also play as a Russian fellow who survived Stalingrad, fought his way with the Red Army and ultimately finishes the war in Berlin. The last mission has you participating in the battle for the Reichstag and and planting the Russian flag on the top, much like in that famous photograph. Yeah, the Russians win- spoiler?

Course, your triumphant victory is a bit bittersweet if you have the tiniest bit of knowledge of the horrors that went on in Berlin after the Red Army took over it, but who cares! We’re heroes!

Does this also mean that the war is over and that the series will finally move on? Let’s hope.
 
THE PLAY
 

If you know COD, you’ll be right at home. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

The game controls perfectly, and it’s still as satisfying as ever to look down the sights of your gun and pop an enemy in the head from far away.
 


CHUDTIP- Remember to lead the planes to make sure your shots hit. Women and children? Not as muich.


It’s a decent campaign- you definitely won’t get bored. But it’s like they took the best parts of the other games and tried to emulate them. You’ve got a sniper mission, a mission as a gunner aboard a plane, a mission piloting a tank. It’s nothing you haven’t done before and about as standard as it gets.

They also never give you a toy and allow you to play with it. Instead, it’s always “Here, here’s some satchel charges. Use them to blow these camps up. Here, here’s a air strike. Use it for that building.” You’ll never find a panzershrek or bazooka without a tank around, and it’s just indicitive of how much the game holds you by the hand. In COD4 it was acceptable because even though the game is linear as all fuck, the experience was exhilarating. There were memorable characters, exciting scenes, and there wasn’t a moment were you wished something else was going on. Here it’s much more standard and boring… of course, it doesn’t help that we’ve played through billions of WWII shooters before. We know every weapon we’re going to get, and what happens in these battles. We know all the scripted events and it’s becoming increasingly easy to anticipate them.

I’ve also really gotten tired of respawning enemies. In the COD series you won’t get anywhere unless you advance. You can sit in one spot and keep getting headshot after headshot from a safe location but they’ll just keep coming unless you move to the next bit of cover- even when you’re ordered to clear out a room! It’s a bit irritating, and while it’s obviously a design decision to keep you moving in the game, there are some times where it would be nice just to sit still and let them come after you for once.

Basically, the series is already starting to get repetitive, and with two dev teams working on pumping out a new one a year alternately they’re going to have to change a lot of its fundamentals to keep gamers coming back.


CHUDTIP- You’ll get hit with fewer bullets if you hide behind your teammates. It’s not cowardace, this is all about survival!


THE PRESENTATION
 
The graphics are beyond beautiful, which is a relief, because they weren’t looking too spiffy in the multiplayer beta. But it’s a revamped version of the COD4 engine which was no slouch itself. There are some great fire and water effects, and it’s getting more and more creepy to do up-close kills on your enemies because they’re looking more and more real.

Unfortunately, a lot of bugs raise their head… no surprise if you’ve played through COD3. More than a couple times I somehow got stuck on some terrain and had to wiggle around for a few minutes to escape, or just give up and restart from the last checkpoint.

The music is a mixed bag. There’s some epic, powerful stuff, and then there’s the weird choice to use metal guitar riffs whenever there’s a really big battle in the game. It really throws you out of it.


CHUDTIP- Don’t use the Juggernaut perk, unless you want everyone in the game to bitch at you for being a noob.

 
THE REPLAY


Here’s where the game gets its score.

One of the biggest features is its co-op modes. You can play through the entire campaign with up to 4 people at once, and it’s so much more fun to go through the game with some friends. The game isn’t exactly suited for co-op gaming, though… this was built with a single person in mind. There are some weird times such as when your character is knocked down in a scripted event and dragged by your Sergeant- and you all end up playing the same character at once. But having a friend watch your back makes the difference.

I’ve already talked a bit about the multiplayer, and it turns out I was right. The multiplayer is just as fun as COD4, fun and fast and with a whole ton of stuff to unlock. It’s the same smart system that’s kept people playing the last one, and will most definitely suck your life away. The levels are fun and varied, and if you’re smart this is where you’ll spend most of your time.

World at War also contains one of the most fun minigames in recent memory in Nach Der Untoten. (Night of the Living Dead) Unlocked at the end of the single player game if you sit through the credits, this is a bonus game (played either solo or with up to 4 players) that has you defending a house against- you guessed it, Nazi Zombies. There are barricades over each window but they can tear through them pretty quickly, so you’ve got to ward them off and repair the windows as best you can. Each hit or headshot you get on them earns you cash, which you can use to buy new weapons or access new areas of the house. There’s an upstairs and a fruit cellar, but each time you open up a new place you also open up new access points for the zombies. It’s a fun, frantic game, one that’s perfect for a horror nut like me- even if it doesn’t make much sense in relation to the series.

So yeah, a ton of replay value. People will be playing this for a long damn time…. or at least until the next COD hits in 2009.
 
THE VERDICT
 
Don’t get this if you’re a solo gamer- buy it for the incredible multiplayer and fun co-op. You can’t go wrong with it there.


8.0 out of 10