November 8 2008

Call of Duty: World at War Thoughts

In what seems to be becoming an annual event, it’s time for a new entry in the Call of Duty franchise of video games.

This year’s entry is going back to the roots of the series by moving the setting back to the days of World War II, with a heavy focus on the Pacific Rim theater.  There is also a change up in that last year’s mega-popular Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (CoD4) was by the design house at Infinity Ward, and this year’s version (Call fo Duty: World at War is the full title) is by a group named Treyarch.

Everyone on XBox Live has been able to download a demo for a few days now which allows you to play on three of the multiplayer maps.  As long time readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of online first person shooting games, so I downloaded and gave the game a try.  To be honest, Call of Duty 4 has literally not left my XBox since the day I inserted it, which has been about 8 months now, so me playing anything else is a novel concept.

First impressions tell me… I’m not going to be nearly as addicted to this game, and that is if I even buy it.

To be completely honest, this game is so similar to CoD4 that it feels more like an expansion pack than an entirely new game.  I almost wonder if that is why this game doesn’t have the number “5” in its title, it almost feels more like a “4.5” than a wholly new game.  Sure, there are some new aspects such as the addition of vehicles in at least one level of the three they let the public sample, and at some point in the game there is the inclusion of flame throwers, but otherwise the basic mechanics of the game just feel far to close to the last game.

I will say they did add far more details to what weapons damage could do to you, which I am not sure is such a wonderful idea.  I noticed after shooting a guy with a shotgun at fairly close range that I could see his rib cage clearly where the blast hit.  At another point I got hit with a grenade and as my character fell backwards I could see his left leg was missing.  Not to mention the amount of blood that gets splattered on the “camera” when you kill people at close range.  While I understand thay are going for a realisitc approach, I’m not sure I need that much gore in a game I play to relax after a long day of work.

One of the largest annoyances, and I know this is minor, is the inclusion of the attack dogs.  In CoD4, after you would get 7 kills in a row, you could call in an attack chopper.  Well, seeing as this is WW II, they couldn’t have coptors, obiously, so they replaced them with attack dogs.  As an animal lover, I’m not thrilled with haing to shoot dogs to save myself, and my 3 real life dogs are not thrilled with the barking coming from the TV whenever they show up.  Again, minor, but annoying.

True, I am judging this game by only a small slice of it, but the basic mechanics are there, and the actual character movement even feels a bit clunkier.  I mean the way the character itself moves, I expect the weapons to be clunky and harder to manage, but the actual physics of the figure you control just doesn’t feel smooth for some reason.

Will I end up buying it?  I don’t know, I’m tempted, but I may just wait for Infinity Ward to come back to being the designers with the next installment before I once again answer… the Call of Duty.  (Stop groaning!)

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