From the moment you launch the first mission, you'll learn that Call of Duty: World at War
isn't for the faint of heart. The opening sequence was very well done, and gave you the feeling of witnessing something horrific as your fellow soldier gets burned in the face by an enemy torture artist just before getting his neck slashed. It is then when your first person camera starts to squirm away before being saved by another troop. That is where the adventure begins. You will take part in the ending days of WWII.
While World at War does play a lot like its predecessor (COD4: Modern Combat), it also feels a lot more intense. In fact, this year's title goes above and beyond the call of duty (pun intended) and offers up brutality in warfare. What World at War lacks compared to a lot of first person shooters, however, is free-roaming gameplay. Unfortunately, this one is very, very linear, which takes away a lot of possibilities when war is the subject matter. Each mission is objective-based, but that is not the linear nature of the game that concerns me. What I'm talking about is that many of the levels that lie within feel like you're required to walk a very narrow path, and often that is exactly the case, especially while walking through the jungles and running into invisible walls. Along those lines, COD: WaW is a bit frustrating in that you'll often run into objects that you should be able to climb over, yet you won't be able to. The kicker is that sometimes your squad mates will hurdle something in front of you but you will hit those invisible walls and are forced to walk around the obstacle, or you will often even be corralled into a narrow passageway leading to death.
I have absolutely fallen in love with the intensity of World at War, however. Despite the horrible (and I do mean HORRIBLE) framerate issues that hit far too often, all of the explosions and special fx that happen around you can be not only stressful, but also disorienting. I particularly love the splashes of dirt as you are being shelled by mortars from afar and the smoke grenades that truly give the feel of a 3D blanket of dense fog that is impossible to see though.
Let's face it. Call of Duty: World at War wouldn't be as talked about without its multiplayer options. I'm hear to say that, while WAW may not be generally as fun as its blast of a cousin, COD4, it is still very entertaining and has a few more modes of play than its predecessor. Among them, you can now play some very interesting 4-player matches either cooperatively or competitively. My favorite mode is a bit off-track as far as World War II shooters go, but it is a blast nonetheless. This mode in question involves a run-down old building, lots of different weapon types, and... zombie soldiers trying to eat your brains. Here the undead come in waves, and you and your friends have to defend the building with your lives, rebuilding torn-down barricades faster than the creatures of night can destroy them.
Unfortunately, World at War is not without its problems. In fact, there are a ton of complaints that I have about the game, beginning with the horrible choppiness of the gameplay down to the frustrations of trying to connect to multiplayer matches via the Internet. In fact, the game has crashed on me and my friends numerous times (online and LAN, and on different machine configurations) and the developers still haven't fixed the horrible "black screen of death" that happens all too often on these Dell Vostro laptops when running Windows Vista (my test machine is running XP - I downgraded - and it doesn't suffer that crash during gameplay). Even the loading screens are choppy, as they try to play videos while the levels load in the background, which is quite distracting while trying to listen to the game's storyline. To top it all off, there was an extremely large (file size) patch ready to download the day the game was released, signifying a less-than-perfect out-of-the-box title.