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Back in the Trenches
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a massive hit, big enough to even shake the juggernaut that is Halo 3. When the news first broke that the inevitable sequel was going to be set in World War II, gamers were less than happy. World War II is the most overused setting in all first-person shooters; quite possibly in videogames as a whole. So did Treyarch do the impossible and make World War II fun again? Find out in my Call of Duty: World at War review.
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The answer to the above question is yes and no. While the main campaign in Call of Duty: World at War is fun and gripping, and it helps that the game avoids D-Day and Normandy, instead focusing on fighting the Imperial Army in the Pacific and taking back Stalingrad as the Red Army.
Still, it's not enough of to change to convince one that this isn't just another World War II game. It's a fantastic World War II game, and that definitely counts for something, but it's familiar enough that some people might be turned off.
However, a great plus is being able to play through the campaign with up to three other players. Cooperative gaming is becoming more and more popular and for good reason; it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Treyarch's bonus zombie mode, as small as it is, is definitely worth mentioning here. When you beat the main campaign, you unlock a special mode that puts you (and up to three friends) in a bunker being overrun with zombies. Your job is to fight them off while earning better weapons, as well as repairing breaches in the bunker. There's no ending; you just survive as long as you can. It's amazing fun and with the WWII weaponry and the traditional slow-moving undead, it provides a different experience than the recent hit Left 4 Dead.
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Call of Duty: World at War was built using the beautiful Call of Duty 4 engine, and it shows. The game looks gorgeous, especially the locales, and it runs as smooth as a baby's bottom. Graphics are a tricky thing to judge. I've seen better, but I don't necessarily require better. The visuals here do their job and they do it well.
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I first got a taste of the multiplayer action in the Call of Duty: World at War beta. This should come as a shock to no one, but the multiplayer is fantastic and a worthy successor to Modern Warfare. I wouldn't necessarily call it an upgrade, as a lot remains unchanged, but given the vastly different setting, it's a great companion piece. Treyarch did a wonderful job translating elements from Modern Warfare into a World War II setting. Instead of radar, you know get a spotting plane. Instead of an air strike, you call in an artillery strike. Instead of a helicopter, you can release a pack of dogs that zip through the level, sniffing out enemy soldiers and tearing them to pieces. One of my favorite changes is the replacement of claymores with bouncing bettys.
The biggest change is the addition of vehicles. Players can now drive around in tanks and blow things up, while enemies will either match you tank for tank or try to take you down on foot, usually with bazookas and satchel charges. It definitely changes the game up and I think for the better. For those that don't like it, however, not every map allows vehicles.
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Call of Duty: World at War is one of the best World War II games available, but the main campaign isn't quite good enough to shake the familiar shackles. Plus, the familiarity to its predecessor makes it a little difficult to write a Call of Duty: World at War review. Still, it's a fun ride - especially with friends - and the multiplayer is just as good as Modern Warfare, if not better. If you're looking for a great FPS and you're willing to handle another WWII game, then this is a must have.