Call of Duty: World at War is remarkably similar to its predecessor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, despite the fact that they were made by different developers. We guarantee that you’ll hear this repeatedly, so what of it?
Well, for starters the only significant difference between the two games is the setting; one covers a fictional modern day theatre and the other WWII. This creates an all-too-familiar formula to the game which is set in the all-to-familiar WWII theatre anyway.
The CoD5 multiplayer mode is more an adaptation of that found in CoD4 than an evolutionary development. To cite just two instances of this; it is observable in the unashamed replacement of flashbangs with flares and the inclusion of an almost identical perk system with the slight revision of setting a pack of ravenous hounds on your opponent as opposed to an attack helicopter, to reward successive kills. The campaign mode is still rigidly scripted and the mechanics of the game are virtually identical.
It is precisely this similarity that totally captivated us. CoD4 set a shooter benchmark, both in the campaign and multiplayer modes, and it therefore only makes sense for World at War to incorporate every feature held by its predecessor. The jungles of the South Pacific and the war-torn cities of Eastern Europe look magnificent in-game and spectacular battle scenes make World at War the most visually stunning WWII shooter we’ve played yet.
An edge that World at War has over its predecessor is a more acute depiction of the physical horrors of war. Blood, guts and gore form a major part of the game as human motivations such as the overriding desire to survive, vengeance or even pure blood-lust are convincingly portrayed; the addition of bayonets and flame throwers in World at War highlight this brutality.
Another great aspect to the game is the tracking of less popularised WWII theatres in terms of the single player campaign following the stories of an American soldier in the South Pacific and a Russian soldier en route to Berlin from Stalingrad.
The campaign mode is enhanced by a co-op option of up to four players, with various mode options such as competing for points or simply completing missions together. This makes the campaign enjoyable to replay and an incredibly social experience.
An even better addition to the game is its Nacht der Untoten co-op mode, or Nazi Zombie mode, which can be unlocked by completing the single-player campaign. Similar to Gears of War 2’s Horde you are confronted by wave after wave of zombies who get quicker, more deadly and more vicious as the game unfolds. It’s a little cheesy for the Call of Duty series, but never the less good fun.
By remaining true to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare formula, World at War has managed to capture the same technical qualities in both the campaign and multiplayer modes. At the same time new settings and a new take on WWII means that its story is fresh adding great entertainment value to a challenging game.