I had never finished a Call of Duty game until last night. Having played Battlefield: Bad Company 1 & 2, I’ll tell you EA’s games have a clear graphical edge over the Call of Duty series, even after Call of Duty 4. Still, there’s a lot to like here, including a much longer campaign than EA’s offerings. Somehow, after the success of CoD 4, ActiVision decided to let studios Infinity Ward (the original Call of Duty team) and Treyarch switch on and off making titles in the series. So Infinity Ward published a game one year, and Treyarch published a game the next, giving each team a two–year development cycle, clearly a good idea to improve the quality of the games. This early effort from Treyarch is exactly that: high-quality, if you can look beyond the graphics.
This is an interesting title. The series made a name for itself – particularly with Call of Duty 2 – as a World War II series, but Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare changed all that. The title moved the “theatre of war” to the Middle East, turning it into an instant commercial success. World at War was released after this title, and the series returns to its World War II roots, but this time, from Treyarch, not Infinity Ward. Most of your time you are fighting alongside the Russians, or fighting as an American in Japan. At times it feels like enemies are constantly respawning until you hit a checkpoint. There was one instance where I had to run around a large fighting area to find the one remaining Japanese soldier preventing me from moving forward. All that said, the combat is fine, and it’s a lot of “boom head-shot” moments, but aiming for the body works pretty well too.
Weapons are plentiful but the only one I remember picking up frequently was an MK40. That said, there is a “driving a tank” level, a “fighting from an airplane” level, and a flamethrower level, breaking the monotony. Truthfully, the biggest threat in traditional combat is a grenade, which you can “throw back” if it’s close enough to you. Enemies are a little dumb after all, which I heard gets better in later titles. Checkpointing is generous, until the last two levels, deliberately spaced out to increase difficulty level. Of course, they could have made a really difficult combat sequence with the same checkpointing for the end of the game, but I suppose it’s fine.
The game runs beautifully with my AMD Radeon RX 570, and there literally wasn’t a single hiccup, not a single crash. That’s saying a lot. Max settings are fine, as it’s a last-gen game. I think what’s most surprising is it seems like the entire Call of Duty series is on Steam. Many publishers have left Steam, including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Epic Games. When ActiVision acquired Blizzard, they got a huge asset—Battle.net—which is a storefront for Blizzard games. They could have very easily made it a storefront for ActiVision games as well, reaping higher profits, but they’re still on Steam. It baffles me.
So, despite having a soft spot for the Battlefield: Bad Company games, and even though I really don’t like first-person shooters because I think they’re too violent, I found myself enjoying Call of Duty: World at War. It is a much longer campaign. The story explains the significance of capturing enemy bases, and there is a lot of archival World War II footage. There is a place in the game menu for “Mods,” though I’d really like to see modernized graphics most of all. It appears the entire series is on Steam, but my advice is wait for a sale price.