Call of Duty: World at War
Come on now. Can Treyarch truly claim the COD crown?
360, (PS3, PC)
By Adam Doree
As a singleplayer game, Call of Duty: World at War is another very high quality experience. The ferocious pace of action and perfectly pitched difficulty for whatever setting you initially choose, make for one of the most engrossing and addictive FPS campaigns around. Rather than play for a couple of hours in several sittings here and there, this is the sort of FPS story mode you could easily work through in one or two sittings.
While that's a testament to the game's pulling power, it also makes the very short campaign more obvious. The campaign this time is surely even shorter than in COD4's (which was already widely regarded as short, compared to other FPS titles), and it isn't even as long as either of Half-Life 2's episodes One or Two - let alone the mammoth original release. We're talking six or seven hours tops, people. It's no epic.
But here's the thing: as an overall purchase, World at War is not so bad off for its very short single player campaign, and this is for three reasons. Firstly, it's a really, really tight singleplayer romp. There's some great variation between the European and Japanese levels, which switch back and forth through the mode - the environments are stunningly designed, enemy AI is noticeably improved, and the game unsurprisingly inherits all of the qualities that made the previous Infinity Ward effort so staggering - perfect controls, crisp sound effects and simply the most cutting edge FPS graphics engine on consoles in existence.
Secondly, because its multiplayer component is arguably the major part of the game (people are still playing COD4 online in vast numbers, though that may have taken a dent this week with the release of the sequel we're reviewing) - we'll come to multiplayer later in the review. And lastly, because of the significant replay value of the campaign, which comes in the form of not only the usual collectibles like achievements and trophies and quirky new cheat-enabling 'death cards' spread throughout the levels, but more importantly - and this is the bit where World at War significantly one-ups Modern Warfare - in the addition of co-operative play.
All of these are reasons to go and play back through the sharp campaign levels of the game, and the co-op side of things works really well. It's the first time co-op has been done in the Call of Duty series, and yet frankly Treyarch had no shortage of games to draw inspiration from. The result is something that isn't easily comparable to any single existing product, but more of a successful blend of all the stuff that feels right for a Call of Duty game, particularly a console one.
It flows seamlessly without toning down the difficulty, and the revival element, in which players must revive teammates who've taken a hit that would otherwise kill them in singleplayer, adds a lot to the playthrough. I'd had my doubts about it and thought it might just get annoying, but you can use it to your advantage by timing your revivals in order to further your own point score, while at the same time enjoying another go through story with your friends as many times as you like. It's really a great way of enriching the campaign you'll complete within a day again and again, and the incentive is there because the world is watching who's best. And it's fun.