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Call of Duty: World at War

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 (2 - 4 Co-op / 2 - 32 Multiplayer; both LAN/Internet)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

When it comes to visuals on the PC, the recent Call of Duty franchise has been better than average in more than one way. This year's title is no exception, as Treyarch's World at War offers up a great look to go with its equally great audio. From the initial moments of the game, the on-screen action is shown through excellent environments and authentic player models and weapons.

The game's gorgeous visuals come at a high cost, though. Being that there are a high number of explosions, a lot of rapid gunfire, and hordes of smoke and flames shooting everywhere, COD: World at War suffers some horrible framerate issues. In fact, at times and specifically during highly explosive scenes, the screen will absolutely chug, even after turning down a lot of the options in the Graphics Menu. I have a sneaking suspicion that even the most powerful computers will suffer from this slowdown, as I've personally seen brand new gaming desktop computers choke on the game's visuals.

Being that a large portion of the game has you traversing outdoor situations, the openness of each also plays a part of the framerate issues. With heavy foliage, looking out over large areas of action causes issues as well. Getting a hold of the flamethrower is of course fun, but it is also a killer. There is nothing in the game that causes chugging quite like this beautiful piece of equipment.

As far as audio goes, the feeling of war goes hand in hand with the voiceovers that bring the action closer and the bullets whizzing past your head. In fact, even with the powerful visuals that give you a wartime presence, it is the audio that truly immerses you into the action. Through the audio, you can almost feel the attacks through the rumbling of your eardrums.


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.


Fortunately for me, I have never been subject to being in a real war. After playing Call of Duty: World at War, it is easy to find a new respect for the men that so bravely have fought against past (and present) injustices. As the game depicts, war is very bloody and is a terrible waste of human life.

Call of Duty: World at War does nothing less than make you crap your pants with intensity nuggets as bullets go shooting past your ears and into the bodies of your friends and other platoon members. While there are four levels of difficulty to choose from as you start the Solo/Co-op Missions, you had better believe that this game is nothing less that disturbingly difficult. Sure, you can take a few more bullets to the chest with lower difficulty settings, but you'll still be guaranteed to go through more lives than houseful of cats. In fact, due to the reloading from checkpoints mid-combat, it was sometimes very frustrating to keep being placed where you're an easy target or where you're health is on the verge of death, only to have to restart numerous times until getting past that tough spot.

With that said, most of the game's difficulty is appropriate and prevents Rambo-style storming of the bunkers. War is brutal, and Call of Duty: World at War depicts it in an entertaining, yet somewhat realistic manner. The enemy A.I. isn't terrible, as they enemy will hide behind objects to protect themselves from being shot. However, the enemy is still very predictable, and often won't run or throw back grenades that are dropped at their feet. Multiplayer games will heavily rely on the skills of other gamers, but with these words coming from an average player, it's safe to say that there are a lot of good sharpshooters on the Internet ready to take your life. You really won't hear the bullet that kills you.

Game Mechanics:

Call of Duty: World at War allows you to set up the controls to your liking, making for a custom feel for each and every gamer. A big key to the gameplay is to map twitch keys (like the melee attack) to either a very accessible keyboard button or to an extra button on your mouse. Not only is melee an important part of multiplayer matches, but in solo play you will sometimes need to quickly mash this button to defend from being stuck yourself (or even mauled by a German Shepherd).

This year's Call of Duty allows players to not only use mounted guns, but also control vehicles. While I'm not a huge fan of allowing this in this type of game, the controlling of tanks does feel natural. You can also switch between seats and control from the gunner position. Sniping people is also a breeze with sensitive controls while looking through the scope, but also allows for a few seconds of very steady aiming by holding the [Shift] key.

Call of Duty: World at War may have its issues, but it is still a very fun single player title and entertaining on a Local Area Network or taking it online in matches that allow up to 32 players (according to the box; although I did see up to 44-player matches in the online lobbies - possibly a bug?). The Co-op modes are also a blast, but none more than barricading yourself into a stronghold while being attacked by wave after wave of zombie soldiers. It's true that I wish the developers had spent more time fixing bugs and improving the framerate issues than adding this extra bonus mode of play, but I have to admit that it is a blast to play. Most fans of Modern Combat likely have a similarly-positive reaction to playing Call of Duty: World at War.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/Vista; AMD 64 3200+ / Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz or better Processor; 8 GB free hard drive space; 512MB RAM (XP) / 1GB RAM (Vista); Shader 3.0 or better 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 6600GT / ATI Radeon 1600XT or better (onboard chipsets not supported)

Test System:

Dell Vostro 1700 Laptop: Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7100; Dual 1.8 GHz Processors; 2 GB RAM; NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT; Xbox 360 Wireless Controller with PC USB Wireless Receiver

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