Call of Duty: World at War Preview
Last year’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took the gaming world by storm, and Infinity Ward reaped the rewards of a job well done. More than a few publications and industry sources handed over the Game of the Year nominations with gusto, and as of now, it remains one of the best titles of the new generation. But when fans learned the franchise would be returning to Treyarch, who would be bringing the series back to the traditional World War II setting, many questioned the move. After all, why return to an environment that never did as well as the modern warfare premise? Why give us another WWII shooter when the industry is already inundated with them? Well, you really shouldn’t jump to conclusions, for two very important reasons: 1. Treyarch is well aware of the raised bar, and what they’ll have to do to ultimately succeed with Call of Duty: World at War. 2. all early indications are that this new CoD title is mega-promising; the media thus far has shown us the best-looking World War II game to date.
Now, it’s gonna have to be all that and then some; Treyarch has even admitted they have to make “the best shooter possible” in order to retain all the fans gained by Modern Warfare. It’s a tough hill to climb, but we believe they’re most certainly on the right track. We’ve gathered up as many details as we can find thus far, and we start with the player heading out to battle the Japanese as a crewmember aboard the PBY Catalina. It’s a new mission recently unveiled by IGN, and in it, the player must use the onboard guns to tear a Japanese naval convoy below to pieces. You won’t automatically be placed in the position of gunner, either, because your commanding officers will direct you to the appropriate position in the plane, and you must respond as quickly as possible. The plane passes over a few times, giving you multiple chances to wreak as much havoc as those .50-caliber guns are capable of, and there won’t be much in the way of immediate danger. Just aim and destroy, action aficionados.
It’s going to be the diversity of this game that should appeal to just about anyone. Thing is, the days of simply hitting the ground running with a gun are dead and gone; we’re issuing in the age of the most involving and engaging first-person adventures in the history of games. In World at War, you’ll be faced with a wide variety of goals and obstacles; one minute you’re in the Catalina battling the Japanese, and the next, you’re battling the Germans as a Russian soldier. For those of you who don’t know, here’s a brief history lesson- many people understand the role the U.S. played in this war, but too many forget about Russia. The Germans were merciless in their attacks against Russians on their own turf, but at one point, the Red Army got sick and tired of getting pushed around. Far too many of their comrades were lost on the field of battle, and due to more allies joining the fight against Germany; Russia was able to take advantage and regroup. It’s at this point where you step into the shoes of a Russian infantryman, and there may be a bit of stealth mixed in with the standard FPS fare.
Remember, much of WWII was fought in hiding behind enemy lines, where elite groups of soldiers thwarted German plans by sabotaging supply routes and ambushing traveling units. In the demo Treyarch showed off to the press, you and a fellow soldier are working your way through a horrific aftermath. You take up some positions for sniping, but it isn’t long before the Germans acknowledge your presence and call in reinforcements, which completely changes your strategy (duh). The point Treyarch appears to be trying to make is a simple one: because we’re fighting two fronts in this particular game, because we have to switch between the war in the Pacific and the war in Europe, our experiences will change significantly. We won’t always be doing the same thing, and we also expect that facing the Japanese and the Germans will each present a unique set of challenges. The Japanese were fearless while the Germans were quite confident, and of course, both groups had contrasting weapon inventories (yeah, the flamethrower is gonna be crazy).
From what we’ve seen of the graphics so far, we have to admit, things are looking very good. The environments appear to be bigger and more detailed than ever before, and from the videos currently available, the intensity level seems to be through the roof. The key to any good war game is the developer’s ability to convey a sense of urgency and fear, and if they can deliver on that, the rest should fall into place. We have no doubt that Treyarch can nail down the technicals and the control; the final product’s ultimate quality (and popularity) will depend on just how well this game separates itself from the crowd. Call of Duty: World at War is currently scheduled to arrive in November of this year, and right now, we’re thinking it’ll be a huge holiday title. And for those of you who loved Modern Warfare and don’t like the idea of going back to WWII, we strongly suggest giving World at War a chance. Treyarch knows what they have to do, and if they do it, we’re all in for a very big treat!
7/15/2008 Ben Dutka