Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Rant Review: Call of Duty: World at War / Call of Duty 4 (???)

Format: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC

Category: FPS
Players: 1-18
Publisher: Activision

What the CoD?

Time for a new feature: the quick capsule review, aka a rant review. Inspired by an obscure Hicksean joke, I have decided to 'quick capsule' those games I just cba to actually properly critique. This may be for various reasons but you can rest assured that it will always be for a reason, and not just due to laziness on my part.

CoD: WaW. It was inevitable this game would hit and hit it did. I wasn't even going to bother picking it up but swapping Far Cry 2 for a part exchange in a well known games store ensured the coinage came calling. To say I was sad to part with Far Cry 2 would, simply, be a lie.

I didn't expect much from "CoD5". Treyarch's games catalogue reads like a token example of a list of games that should be put on a bus for a one way trip to the desert. However, I wanted to give this one an open mind. People had told me that it was surprisingly good. Infact, many have even dubbed it 'the greatest' WW2 game ever made. Let's break that down.

I guess people are impressed by the dramatic set pieces that... wait. No. Let's roll back a year or two. So there was this games developer called
Infinity Ward and they created a few great WW2 FPS games off the back of their expertise having worked on the original Medal of Honor titles. By 2006, they got working on their magnum opus, Call of Duty 4. They made it from scratch and set a gold standard in the process. Call of Duty 4 was, and still is, that standard for FPS games on both the PC and consoles.

A few months pass. And here we have
CoD: WaW. Quick Capsule review time: this game is merely the sum of Treyarch taking IW's CoD4 formula and just dumping a few new ideas into the mix. This is literally akin to someone taking a core code for a game, customising the options screen, adding a new score over the top, and altering the maps/player models and then announcing it's the latest big thing.

I'll admit that, at first, this game actually really surprised me. At one point I fell for the line that Treyarch had actually pulled it off. I then realised that this was far from the reality of WaW. The reality here is that people are paying for a CoD4 clone. There is nothing new here. Co-op is decent enough. However, I'm not convinced it was particularly hard to implement. My real gripe is with the adversarial multiplayer. Compared to CoD4, it's just not that good. I can't put my finger on it. It's a sense of there being a lack of that magic touch to the map design we saw in CoD4. It's in the way weaponry lacks that cool and solid feel you get in CoD4. It's in the lack of red tiger camo. WaW just isn't as inspired.

It's also in the small things. The voices of the enemies and buddies alike. What they say. How they say it. The voiceover you get for the start of a multiplayer match. All of these elements are superior in CoD4 because they just are. I also prefer the helicopter for a 7 kill streak over a pack of dogs anyday.

Guns, generally, are a massive failing point for
WaW. Nothing is particularly exciting to use. For God's sake, to pit CoD4's arsenal of cutting-edge military shooters against the back catalogue of your Daddy's WW2 era firearms is only ever going to result in one winner when it comes to gamer satisfaction stakes. Treyarch needed to breathe life into these rusty guns in order to keep them exciting to use. We needed a little bit of artistic licence here. The M1 Garand, for example, needed a far more weightier, bass-heavy, blast of a sound effect. I don't care if your sound engineers didn't conclude that would be authentic. Also, camo patterns should have made it in in order to insert something into this dull set of boom sticks. There are also way too many bolt action rifles.

All WaW is is the product of an inferior studio trying to copy a superior one by literally pasting an entire body of code into their new game and tweaking/screwing with it in p-laces. About the only welcome new feature I could find was the filter for matchmaking that allows you to search for local gamers only (about time this became a standard over live). WaW does a few things well, such as the co-op and decent new gore system. The new zombie mode is also a neat bonus. However, I refuse to accept this game does anything better than, say, CoD2 when it comes to dramatic set pieces and linear level design. For me, it's also just a damn frustration that this WW2 title has taken all the limelight and left Hell's Highway in a cold and lonely shadow. Highway is the superior WW2 shooter even after its lack of co-op and poor multiplayer is taken into consideration. This is because it tried to do something different and ambitiously placed a heavy emphasis on realism.

is all about the fun factor both on and offline. That is why red tiger camo is acceptable. That is why you can take on near enough one hundred baddies as a solo sniper guarding a man with a busted up leg. CoD: WaW tries too hard to be a 'horrors of war' piece and trust me when I say that computer games cannot achieve this like a good movie or book can.

Here be my conclusive take on Call of Duty: World at War:

Quick Capsule:

Online: Inferior to CoD4 in every respect - including map design, weapon selection, gametypes.

Single Player: Just another linear CoD romp. Co-op is fun but nothing ground breakingly good - particularly after experiencing Gears of War 2's Horde Mode (review to come soon).

Because of everything I have stated above, I refuse to actually score WaW. This is because I fear giving it a mark out of ten will negate my primary message here; being that
CoD4 is the game and WaW is some pretender trying to make out it's the game. However, seeing as I never actually reviewed CoD4 back in 2007 I will use this moment to rate that glorious title instead.

Summary (Call of Duty 4)

+Linear gaming at its finest
+The paragon of pure FPS games
+Intense, dramatic, heart racing action
+Simply put, the greatest FPS multiplayer experience since CS
-Co-op... if only

9.6 / 10
The pinnacle of a crowded genre both on and offline

by The Critical Alien
© 2008


Anonymous said...

WaW isn't that bad... the gore system is enough to pump some life into it. It feels more polished than previous cods...

The Critical Alien said...

Last night I was on... CoD4. Enough said.

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