Over the last year I have been really harsh on Treyarch. After my disappointment with Call of Duty 3, I really wished that the series would be done exclusively by Infinity Ward. It was made even more apparent after the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a shooter that not only continued the action and suspense that made Call of Duty a great series, but actually surpassed it.
Setting the game in a modern, fictional environment also created a powerful narrative loaded with tons of scenes that made me just want to say "what the #%@!?" (The nuke, in particular, still captivates me to this day.)
However, this year when I heard that the latest Call of Duty would be developed by Treyarch, I started to show disgust. Even worse, when I found out that it was going to be set back in World War II, I accused them of complacency and going back to a "safe" environment. I really didn’t want to play World at War as a result.
But eventually I gave in and played it. After spending many hours to get to the end of the game and watching the end, I only have one thing to say to Treyarch: I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for criticizing the fact that you developed what turned out to be an amazing shooter, and I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you can actually make a unique experience from the oversaturated World War II environment.
And a unique experience it is. Rather than having the Americans go up against the Germans for the umpteenth time, the battles are taken to the Pacific against the Empire of Japan. Right from the beginning, an escape from a prison camp, the intensity comes full throttle, as well as with graphic brutality. After a fellow prison tells his captors to "f— off" and gets his throat cut as a result, and you’re about to be next. But then all hell breaks loose, and doesn’t stop until the very end.
Ambushes that we are used to in movies such as Platoon are dominant here, and fighting the Japanese requires different tactics than fighting the Germans. One stage in particular that I enjoyed was "Black Cats," which takes place inside a bomber and your character must switch from cannon to cannon against waves of Japanese Zeroes, patrol boats, and battleships. It was an amazing experience to behold.
In fact, THIS is the Pacific based World War II game that Medal of Honor: Rising Sun SHOULD have been!
Of course, the Germans make a return, but it is the Russians that fight them. Being one of the few survivors of the slaughter at Stalingrad, you are reunited with a fellow Russian soldier, Reznov (voiced by Gary Oldman) as both of you plot your revenge against the Germans for the loss of your comrades; a quest for revenge that will take them right to the heart of Berlin.
The storyline progresses in the same way it did in Modern Warfare, featuring a small cutscene as the game loads, then jumps right into the action. From what I heard, Infinity Ward provided their insights, as well as the game engine, based on Modern Warfare’s. As a result, the game is as fast as its predecessor. Constant 60 frames per second combat with very few hiccups at all. And when you consider the waves of enemy soldiers, weather effects, flare effects, etc., again the Call of Duty series excels in its visuals.
The sound excels as well, another Call of Duty tradition. Voice acting is led by Keifer Sutherland as Sgt. Roebuck and Gary Oldman as Sgt. Reznov, and they lead some high quality acting. One thing I noticed is that the language this time is much harsher than in the past. I never heard so many F-bombs in a Call of Duty game, as if the graphics didn’t make the game harsh enough. But then again, War is hell.
War may be hell, but World at War is heaven. While the storyline might not have as many "Holy S" moments as Modern Warfare (and its fictional storyline,) it still has its amazing moments, and is a worthy addition to the Call of Duty franchise.
Again, I do want to apologize to Treyarch. They made an amazing Call of Duty title, and if they decide to make one more World War II title for the franchise (hopefully after Infinity Ward does COD: Future Warfare,) I will be more than anxious to play it.