Archive for January, 2009
Friday, January 23rd, 2009
I met the announcement of another World War II game with the same enthusiasm that I meet most things in life; with a disinterested, “meh.” However, unlike getting up out of bed in the morning, I actually do have a reason to be disinterested in Call of Duty World at War (COD WAW). You see before I even got COD WAW out of the box, I had already played it at least twice.
There are two major flaws within COD WAW:
1. It’s a World War II game (which is a subject that has been way over done in games).
2. It’s a copy of Call of Duty 4 (COD 4) with different cover art.
COD WAW is a first person shooter set in World War II that looks, feels, and plays exactly like COD 4. The levelling, create a character, perks, challenges, and prestige systems are all back for COD WAW; and for the most part they are exactly the same as they were in COD 4. Along with that, the enemy AI has decided to keep the less than successful combat approach of sitting there and politely waiting for you to kill them, but on some levels that can work for them. Especially considering that the constantly re-spawning bad guys are also back to refill every hole you can make in the enemy’s defences.
Like COD 4, the plot of this game has you jumping between the bodies of 2 allied troopers in different parts of the world. This is where you can find one of the few major differences between COD WAW and other games; instead of the tried and true (and way overdone) invasion of Normandy route, COD WAW uses the Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbour approach to war and puts you in the body of Private Miller to fight Japan.
Apparently though, it is not a World War II party unless you invite the Nazis. As much as I was hoping to completely get away from them this time around; the Nazis do show up to play the role of cannon fodder for your alter-ego Private Dimitri Petrenko as he and the rest of the Red Army push on Berlin.
That all being said I still like this game a lot. While its biggest downfall is that it openly copies other games; its biggest saving grace is that it copied those great games perfectly. COD WAW keeps the same great cinematic feeling as COD 4 had, the controls are still highly responsive, and multiplayer is just as addictive as ever.
Now I personally feel that it is a problem that COD WAW does not bring many new things to the table, but what it does bring is simply amazing. The most talked about of these things has to be the Nazi Zombie mode you can unlock at the end of the game. It drops you and 3 friends into an old abandoned house that has the bad luck of being right next door to the annual Nazi Zombie convention. It can get really interesting and fun to see how long you can survive against the never ending zombie hordes, but at the same time there is a small nagging voice in my head that screams, “this reminds me a lot of Left 4 Dead.” It’s still very fun though and that allows me to forgive a lot.
Another item that will give you hours of joy is the flame thrower. To the best of my knowledge this is the first game to seamlessly integrate a flame thrower into multiplayer without causing lag or creating server instabilities. It might seem just like any other game weapon, but once you have the chance to use it on a few of your competitors you may forget all about the copying. It really is that good.
I probably should also mention that a co-op mode is available in this game, but I find it hard to praise COD WAW for this. It has become so common place in 1st and 3rd person shooters, that praising COD WAW for including it, kind of feels like praising Guitar Hero for having songs.
And if you are a fan of Kiefer Sutherland then you may find extra delight in the single player campaign as you listen to him boss you around every 5 seconds. At least I was told that you might find it interesting. To be honest I have never seen an episode of 24, nor do I plan to, so personally Mr. Sutherland is just another name on the back of the box that I didn’t pay attention to while playing.
I know at this point it seems like I am showering this copy of COD WAW with never ending praise, but don’t go running off to buy it just yet. Even with the philosophy of “let’s just copy the best,” this game still has a few problems.
Ironically, most of the problems are the same ones I had with COD 4. The one that ticks me off the most is that the perk system has remained exact the same since COD 4. The perks are additional multiplayer abilities that are divided into 3 different categories. You can equip 3 at a time to give yourself new in-game abilities. The problem I have is that you can only use 1 perk in 1 category at 1 time. I don’t know why I can’t pick any 3 perks across the board to use at will, but my inability to do so makes the multiplayer feel a little limited.
My biggest problem with COD WAW’s multiplayer is that there are hidden holes in the floors in some of the maps. Some players have found ways inside these holes, and once there they are in, they’re invisible to anyone on the outside. The problem is that anyone inside a hole can clearly see everything on the map as the ground will take on the property of a 1 way mirror. You can still be killed inside these holes, but because you can’t be seen that becomes really difficult (and extremely frustrating for us law abiding gamers). Online gaming networks like Xbox Live are punishing people if they are caught doing this, but that is a reactive measure that requires the community to report these cheaters. Therefore, just be warned that you will probably be killed many times by one of these cheaters before anything can be done about it.
On top of that, the challenges system (a system that gives you awards for completing difficult tasks inside multiplayer) can only be unlocked piece meal as you reach different levels in the multiplayer experience ranking. I know I am nit-picking at this point, but it can be really frustrating to fulfill the difficult requirements of a challenge, but still not get the award because your experience level is not high enough. It’s kind of like your boss saying he can’t give you your paycheck until you go make a million dollars on the side.
In the end, I have to give COD WAW my recommendation; however, it comes with a disclaimer. If you are new to the Call of Duty franchise, or World War II games in general than you owe it to yourself to pick this up. But, my fellow veterans of first person shooters be warned, you may not find enough new content in this game to make it feel like a worthy purchase.
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
I just wanted to take a moment to welcome you all to my own little corner of wonderland. I managed to annex it from the King and Queen of Hearts just this morning, and I brought it here in the hopes that I could be of help to someone.
There is a lot to watch out for in the world of gaming. It’s a confusing and distracting world full of flashy graphics, heavy marketing, and many people competing for your gaming dollars. Until they tell me to stop I am going to play as much as I can and report back here with what is good, what is not good, and what is a pointless cash grab by some company.
Look for my first trip down the rabbit hole later today. I hope you will join me for it.