Treyarch's latest swing at the Call of Duty franchise pales, matches and surpasses COD4 on many different levels.
Sharing the same engine, WaW is a lot like Call of Duty 4, and this plays to its advantage. Thankfully taking a breather from the American focused campaign against the Nazis, the story centers on two different characters. These two characters are in separate theaters: the Russian push of the German out of their homeland, and the American assault on the Japanese. Alternating every few levels, the pacing feels just right.
Each story starts off at a low point. Without arms and hope, the players look deep into the heart of despair. The emotional tone throughout the tale doesn't match the beginning, or areas in Call of Duty 4. The first levels are desperately hard fought scraps, and as the campaign moves on, troops are infused with passion and a will to save their countries.
A superior officer like in Call of Duty 4, is present to set the the tone for the narrative, one of which is voiced by Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland. The spiteful and vengeful Russian campaign gets the blood flowing, while the American version shows the grim reality of war. A message is clear; despite the rewarding feel of victory, you are ultimately participating in mankind's worst side.
Being a World War II game, WaW offers a complete arsenal of 40's era weapons. Well designed, and they all feel right. Added to the mixture, are bayonets and flamethrowers which are greatly entertaining to use. WaW is also more violent and graphic then Call of Duty 4. Explosions will tear off limbs, and well placed shots will paint a bloody mess.
World at War offers a notable leap to the Call of Duty series; a two person split-screen and a four-player online cooperative campaign is available. Difficulty and numbers increase as the number of players increase. A scoreboard can also be added, this adds a competitive component in which players can earn points for picking off enemies or resurrecting friends.
Call of Duty 4 is world renown for its competitive multiplayer, but it had its share of problems. World at War deals with certain of them, but also does not solve others. There are less sniper dominated maps, which will be a huge sigh of relief to anyone whom plays otherwise. Most maps are great, and it is safe to say they are more grim, emotional (thanks to World War II) and better designed maps.
Call of Duty 4's player enhancement system is present, with more added. In addition to weapons upgrades and the usual character perks, a new slot exists for vehicles. These vehicles perks affect newly added Panther and T-34 tanks on certain maps. The rest of the perks remain the same; as players rank up, they unlock more weapons and upgrades.
Word at War unfortunately does not fix everything that needed to be repaired or otherwise altered. Headshots are still notoriously difficult to produce (even when the only body part an enemy is exposing is his head). Sniper rifles are still powerful, as they should be; however shots to the knee and below would not be an instant fatal blow, not even in the "realistic" hardcore mode. And S-Mines or more familiarly known Bouncing Betty's, just like Claymores are still as annoying and poorly designed.
World at War offers a few other novel changes from its older counterpart: the kill streak changing from radar, air-strike and helicopter to recon plane, artillery and attack dogs respectively.
Perhaps the greatest addition to WaW however, is the Nazi Zombie mode. This allows up to four friends to fight an onslaught of zombie waves. Not dissimilar to Horde mode from Gears of War 2, players fight these zombies in ever increasing waves of zombies. With every wave, more will come and in greater velocity. To combat these undead, a point system can be used to purchase weapons and ammunition.
It is World at War's fate to become less loved than its predecessor. The high bar set by Call of Duty 4 fresh approach at its time denies World at War from repeating. However, this game is no simple rehash or modded Call of Duty 4. With enhancements in its sensational multiplayer as well as brilliant cooperative and zombie blasting campaigns, Treyarch's latest game is every bit as impressive as Modern Warfare in its own right. Easily one of the best World War II shooters to date, there is a lot to enjoy and see in Call of Duty: World at War.