Call of Duty World at War on the Wii is a solid attempt to emulate the experience found on next-gen consoles and the PC.
The background of the game hardly needs any detailed description; it's a World War II based game, and you're put in the role of the allied powers, fighting against the axis. However, instead of planting you entirely in Europe, World at War puts you in the middle of the Eastern and Pacific Theaters of operations. The campaign has 2 story lines, the battles fought by the Russians from Stalingrad, up to the siege of Berlin, and the other has you fighting in Japan, taking the role of a Marine Raider. While not a new concept, and much to the disappointment of die-hard CoD 4 fans, it is a refreshing experience for Wii owners who haven't played many WWII shooters, or spent time with last year's CoD 4.
Each of your missions is introduced by a cinematic, and narrated by either a Russian or an American character, putting things into perspective. On the surface, World at War is simply objective based, having you move from point A to point B while scattering some firefights in between. But what Treyarch managed to do so well is provide you with a frantic battlefield setting. While probably not as cinematic as on the next-gen consoles, the Wii version still holds up with some battle intensity. Whereas Medal of Honor Heroes 2 had you shooting Nazis in closed skirmishes, World at War throws you onto the open battlefield where you fend off literally hordes of Germans or Japanese enemies. You will notice the difference in enemy tactics when fighting the Nazis as opposed to fighting the Japanese; for example, the Germans will tend to cluster in groups of two or 3 behind walls or corners, while the Japanese will pop out of spider holes, patches of grass, or hide in trees. Your combat techniques will also differ depending on which campaign you're in. During the American campaign, you'll have a much more squad-based feel, as you have to navigate through open terrain with opportunities to snipe, whereas the Russian campaign is almost entirely close quarters. While this isn't obvious at first, it's nice to see that the developers put some effort into differentiating the style of fighting rather than have you go through the same point-and-shoot situations repeatedly.
Each of the 4 sides has their own specific armory, and whether you stick with your default weapons, or pick up the weapons of your slain foes, you are guaranteed to find something you like. The weapons all feel balanced, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. Unlike in EA's MoH, where there was generally a dominance to be found with Axis weapons, World at War carries the balance of the weapons found in the campaign over to the online modes, which ensures that everyone will have a fair chance of racking up a few kills, regardless of what weapon type they choose.
(At this point in the review, I feel that I should address the issue of the flamethrower, which is very satisfying to use, but is better described in an unprofessional manner-simply put, the flamethrower is badass.)
Unlike MoH:H2, World at War's control scheme will not force you into using the motions for certain actions. Reloading and melee attacks are functional with the simple shake of the Wii remote or nun chuck, but are also mapped to the (-) and down buttons respectively. And while you can't customize the aiming to the same degree as EA's game, aiming in World at War is not at all complicated, and works just as well, if not better in some instances, especially when sniping and throwing grenades, which is noticeably less clunky. However, aiming sensitivity is almost entirely subjective, and some may be disappointed with the lack of a customizable "dead-zone", but what you still have is a very functional scheme.
World at War is the first CoD on the Wii to feature a functional online component, which again is by no means perfect, but is generally a step in the right direction. The ranking system, along with unlockable perks, weapons and attachments has been carried over from CoD 4, and is a fresh experience for Wii owners who never played last year's game. However, the multilayer component is noticeably stripped down, and generally lacks the same features found in the 360 and PS3 versions, and is limited to 8 players, no online co op modes (the only co-op is a 2nd player light gun option) and has no vehicle support. But perhaps the biggest disappointment-especially for those who have spent time playing MoH Heroes 2-is the limitations of the friend code system, which means that once again you will have to build your friends list from the ground up, 12 digits at a time. Treyarch definitely should have made the effort to implement the same friends list system that EA used for Medal of Honor. While all of these would have been great to see, it's understandable that the developers are limited by the Wii's technology (or lack thereof), but again what you have is still a very enjoyable multilayer experience.
The graphics for World at War again are nowhere near as good as they would look on the 360 or PS3, but they are definitely some of the best on the Wii. In a nutshell, the overall game is far better looking than EA's Medal of Honor, and definitely an improvement from Call of Duty 3. It still has a very intense cinematic flair to it, as the game world and characters generally look detailed, and are complemented by some solid special effects. The game's audio was well designed, with each front sounding entirely different. The Marine campaign will have you hearing enemies screaming "BONZAI!" whereas taking the fight to the Nazis will have them spewing German curse words at you (which oddly enough sound just as they were in CoD 3.) The explosions and the gunfire all sound just like they should (with the exception of the Thompson sub machine gun, which sounds like a paintball marker.) The dialogue was put-together well, and so was the voice acting; Keifer Sutherland as both a narrator and an in-game character was a welcome and fitting surprise.
The question "Is this game the defining first-person shooter experience on the Wii?" must still be asked. The answer unfortunately is still a "no". However, the game comes very close, and serves as a "role model" for future releases on the Wii-if this game is any sign of things to come, then Wii owners have a lot to be excited for. Treyarch should be commended for their effort; they did a lot of things well in World at War, and still have room for improvement in their next game. But for the meantime, the experience they've crafted on the Wii stands up very well beside the 360, PS3, and PC versions, which is nothing to be ashamed of.