The World War II shooter genre is getting rather tired these days, with Medal of Honor, Brothers in Arms, and Call of Duty dominating the field. While most of these games end up being quite fun, there seems to be a tendency to focus far too much on the American forces and the iconic landings at D-Day. Call of Duty: World at War follows the superb Call of Duty: Modern Warfare by retaining most of its advantages and adding a few new things, but suffers from being too derivative at times.
After merely starting the first campaign mission, it becomes extremely obvious that this is not a game for kids. This is easily the bloodiest Call of Duty game yet: limbs can get blown off by explosives or powerful weapons, and bayoneting someone produces a spray of blood (as does countering an AI bayonet charge). There is also a fair amount of strong language in the campaign and occasionally online (to say nothing of other players’ language while online). Racial epithets against enemy soldiers are notably absent, although the Russians will frequently sling “fascist” at the Nazis. While politically correct in language, the game makes it very clear that the Japanese and German forces in WWII were not very nice, with several major cutscenes and set-pieces showing the brutal and cruel guerilla tactics of the Japanese. While the game does show a lot of immoral and brutal actions, it rarely depicts them as good, and even then only in self-defense. The game also has options that allow players to turn down violence levels and language. We found these modes to remove blood, gore, and language from the single-player game. Multiplayer mode can still suffer from other players’ language.
Call of Duty: World at War is a solid follow-up to the fantastic Modern Warfare, pleasing fans and attracting newcomers alike with its excellent campaign and deep, satisfying multiplayer. The campaign is on the short side and there are a few balance issues in multiplayer, but the pros easily outweigh the cons. The game’s well-deserved Mature rating merits pause, as the intense bloody action and strong language, as well as some disturbing scenes, will deter parents. With an option to turn off the majority of offensive material, though, this makes the game a more viable play. Overall, Call of Duty: World at War is a strong entry in the WWII genre and will be enjoyed by series and genre fans alike.
» By Joe Severyn, Plain Games. Published 1/9/2009 9:28:55 PM.