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“Call of Duty: World at War” Xbox 360 and Wii Review

Hey there, readers. Today we’ve got one massive post to reveal to you – it’s a double review of “Call of Duty: World at War”. First, I, Josh60502, will cover the Xbox 360 version of the game, and after that JustMattPwn3r will give his take on the Wii version of the same game. The end result is the biggest post ever on Frayed Wire, and we hope you’ll enjoy it.

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– Call of Duty: World at War – Xbox 360 –

By Josh60502

Let’s get this straight right now – there is nothing original about Call of Duty: World at War. But while the setting and gameplay will be immediately familiar to fans of the Call of Duty series, World at War is still an incredibly fun way to experience virtual World War II all over again.

There’s no use going into the story. If you’ve ever played any other World War II games, or stayed awake during History class, chances are I don’t need to refresh your knowledge of this massive war. The campaign switches between two different points of view – those of Private Miller, an American on the Pacific front, and Dimitri Petrenko, a Russian working to rid the Soviet Union of Nazis. Their stories are largely forgettable, but luckily the campaign is full of great, epic setpieces that will stay in your head for longer. I personally have not owned any Call of Duty or even any WWII game before this one, so I can’t relate to some people who claim that they’ve already seen everything this campaign has to offer in other games. Notable moments include wreaking havoc in a cornfield with a tank, shooting down ships and planes from the gunner’s seat of a fighter jet, clearing out Japanese trenches with a flamethrower, and sniping Nazis by the dozens while hiding inside of their headquarters.

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In the gunner’s seat of a fighter jet

One level has you wake up in a pile of dead bodies near a fountain while Nazis, who have clearly won whatever fight took place, are shooting randomly into the group to make sure everyone is dead. Eventually they leave, and you discover another surviving soldier, who hands you a sniper rifle. With a group of chatting Nazis ahead of you, you pick them off one by one, but only as airplane fleets fly overhead – in this way, the shots are not heard. It’s a great level, and I thought it was smart and original until I saw a movie called Enemy at the Gates a couple months later. In Enemy at the Gates (which was released long before this game), there is a scene so similar to that level to the point where the makers of the movie could probably sue Treyarch, the developer of CoDd:WaW. While this is definitely a fun game, it’s clear that Treyarch has used other games and movies as its foundation.

Take Call of Duty 4, for example. As one of last year’s best games, it innovated both in single-player and multiplayer. Infinity Ward was the developer of that game, so when the news that Treyarch would be developing CoD:WaW first surfaced, there was no small amount of groaning from fans of the game. Showing that they don’t have either the balls or the intelligence to top CoD4, Treyarch moved the setting from modern times back to WWII, relying on what Infinity Ward established in terms of gameplay, graphics, and controls to make CoD:WaW what it is. And as a result, CoD: WaW is a great game. That’s probably not what you expected me to say, but the truth is that when you use an excellent game as your foundation, you’ll probably end up with an excellent game… but not an entirely different one.

I said earlier that I have never owned a Call of Duty game before this one, but I have played Call of Duty 4 on a Playstation 3. That’s why I can tell you that the controls between the two games are identical, the graphics are powered by the same engine, and the multiplayer mode is as identical as it can be. If you own Call of Duty 4, you might want to re-think whether you really want to buy this game – for the most part, it’s more of the same. However, if you are like how I was, someone who didn’t own Call of Duty 4, this experience, modern-style or World War II-style, is something you must experience.

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Fights are always loud and intense

Being new to this series and sub-genre, I was impressed and interested in the campaign. It’s a little on the short side, but with the ability to play through each level on multiple difficulties, online or offline co-op (competitive scoring or cooperative scoring), and the task of finding every Death Card hidden in the missions (these are basically Halo 3 ‘s skulls – hidden objects that can enable cheats if you turn them on before beginning a level), there’s a good amount of room for replay value.

CoD: WaW can be surprisingly mature at times. Both the violence and the language have taken a step higher from CoD4 – most notably the violence. Finally, you can actually see blood spraying from people you shoot, and it remains on the walls and ground for a while after someone has been killed. The grenades and rockets bring something entirely new to the series: open body gore. If you’ve seen the movie Saving Private Ryan, you’ll know what to expect. If you haven’t, then keep little Timmy out of the room while the game’s on. On the language end of things, upon winning in a multiplayer match as the Marine Raiders, sometimes you’ll hear your sarge say “Outstanding marines! Out-f***ing-standing!” Fortunately for some, there is a feature in the options menu where you can “filter” the violence, making the game a bit more T-rated, although the quote from above is still intact while playing online.

One of the easiest ways to find violence in the game is to play the new “Nazi Zombies” mode, which is unlocked after beating the single player campaign. This can be played online or offline. Offline, it’s one of the best ways to play this game with friends who you can’t play with over Xbox Live for whatever reason. The only issue is how the splitscreen is handled. Instead of splitting the entire TV screen in two and having both player’s views (yes, only two players splitscreen) use one side each, the game gives you two abnormally tiny screens among a background. A background? What exactly were they thinking?

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The brutality of war

Anyway, here’s how Nazi Zombies works: you and however many other players are with you (up to four total) are all placed inside a halfway-ruined building for the duration of the game. There are windows all around the building with nothing to keep the zombies outside but a few wooden boards. Zombies appear in the foggy distance, and slowly move towards you. You can earn points by shooting them (headshots are worth more, of course), or you can earn points by replacing the wooden boards zombies have knocked off the windows. With the points you can either purchase weapons/ammo plastered to the wall, or open up new areas in the building, where new weapons (including a mystery box that chooses a gun for you randomly) are available, but also where more places for zombies to get in are revealed.

At first, this sounds like the most original aspect of CoD:WaW. Perhaps it is. The truth is though, it really isn’t that original when you compare it to other recently-released games. Four players working together to fight off zombies? Sounds a lot like Left 4 Dead to me. The Nazi Zombies come towards your fortress in waves, each one harder than the last. What other game involves progressively harder waves of enemies? Gears of War 2‘s Horde mode, of course. And let me tell you, Nazi Zombies is not nearly as awesome as either of those two previously-mentioned games. This is because of three main problems. They aren’t big enough to suck all the fun out of it, but they are big enough that this mode hasn’t really caught on with the general playerbase of CoD:WaW.

The first problem with this mode is that it starts off very slowly. The first three levels especially are pretty boring, because the few zombies that end up appearing take their sweet time appearing. During this time I usually just wander from window to window, looking way off in the distance for a zombie to shoot, and then getting angry remarks from the “gramers” (listen to our podcast if you don’t know what that means) who tell me to go back to “my window”. What could have fixed this problem is the option to start the mode on higher levels, and not have to slog through the early, boring portions to get to the good stuff.

zombie

Nazis + Zombies = The ultimate video game bad guy

The second problem is that this isn’t something you can just hop into and play a little bit – be prepared to be in it for the long haul when you start this mode. Each game lasts about 20+ minutes, and when you finally lose on that high level that took so long to get to, you really do feel disappointed. It’s the kind of feeling that will get you to play it again, for sure, but you still wish there was at least some way to “retry” or “continue”. The third problem is that you cannot earn XP on this mode. I really can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t get something for playing through this otherwise very fun mode.

Don’t know what XP is? It’s the core of the addicting and trademark quality of the game: the online multiplayer. Ever since Call of Duty 4 established the “level-up to unlock new perks and weapons” and “you can die almost instantly by every single gun” system, muliplayer games haven’t been the same since. I kind of knocked Treyarch earlier for copying this multiplayer mode along with the rest of the game, but I have to admit that unless they had developed something that was sure to be better, they’d be downright stupid not to keep this fully intact.

It’s as fun as ever, though it really isn’t too different. Teamwork can lead to success, but it isn’t encouraged, so most of the time you’re alone in your endless set of battles against the enemy. By getting three kills in one life, you can summon a recon plane for thirty seconds, allowing everyone on your team to see where the enemy players are located on their radar. Five kills rewards you with an artillery strike at whatever point on the map you choose, and the rare seven-kill combo unleashes a pack of vicious dogs on your enemies. Treyarch has been advertising the fact that there are vehicles in the game now, something absent from Call of Duty 4, but all of them are tanks. These tanks are powerful, yet slow. They really are balanced nicely, because they definitely give you an advantage, but can be knocked out by rockets or grenades without too much trouble.

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The new tanks don’t drastically change the multiplayer, but they do improve it

There are a variety of game types: Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch, War (a Team Fortress 2-style control point capturing mode), Capture the Flag, Headquarters (secure a base and defend it for as long as you can), Domination (three bases are always up for grabs… holding them means you regularly earn points), and the rewaring yet sometimes thoroughly frustrating Search and Destroy, where you have to find and destroy a base without getting killed once. “Hardcore” variations of most of these game types are available as well, which take away the radar and make you easier to kill (as if you didn’t already die fast enough).

Leveling up is the constant goal for every online player. Higher levels give you new, cooler weapons (flamethrower, anyone?) and perks. Perks give boosts to your character, such as the ability to carry more ammo, sprint for longer distances than normal, reload faster, or the automatic dropping of a live grenade on the ground whenever you die. Apart from earning weapons, you are also encouraged to use them a great deal, as special challenges (e.g. “get 75 kills with this gun”) devoted to each and every gun in the game give you extra XP and things to add to your gun, such as a scope or bipod. It’s great fun, and definitely gives you more than enough reason to keep coming back to the online muliplayer. Even when you reach the maximum level, you have the opportunity to go into “Prestige”, where your level drops all the way down to one, and it’s as if you are starting off for the first time again. The only real reward for doing this is a specialized icon and more custom weapon-loadout slots, but even without something like that, I’m sure Prestige mode would be just as popular as it is now.

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Using the flamethrower – the hardest weapon to achieve in multiplayer

Technically, Call of Duty: World at War is awesome. However, those who have played Call of Duty 4 have already experienced the core feeling of this game, and therefore you won’t be as impressed as someone who has never played CoD4. Still, this has to be one of the best World War II games around, and it’s definitely a solid purchase for anyone, mixing a fun and explosive single player with the unparalleled depth of the Call of Duty multiplayer we all know and love.

Pros: Great controls, detailed graphics, well-made campaign, interesting zombie mode, parental control options, amazing map design for the most part, excellent and long-lasting multiplayer, fun weapons and perks

Cons: Too similar to Call of Duty 4, campaign is a little short and you never really connect with/care about the characters, the screen is split weirdly during splitscreen matches, zombie mode could be better, nothing feels very original

Final Score: 9.2 out of 10

By Josh60502

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– Call of Duty: World at War – The Wii Difference –

By JustMattPwn3r

Now it’s time to hear what I thought about the weakest console version of the game (Not weakest overall because of the DS version). I would seriously recommend reading our other review of this game because I make many references. Like Josh said, it’s a good game, has some fun, and online play on the worthy of FTW. I disagree with Josh about the campaign. I feel that it was a good length, and the Wii doesn’t even have all of the levels. It was very similar all the way through, with only some missions like the mentioned sniper one and the cornfield tank hi jinks. The Wii doesn’t have the gunship level.

I also disagree with Josh on the story. He said it was typical, but he also said that he hasn’t played any WWII games. I have played the Wii Call of Duty 3 and compared to that it’s very brutally, though most likely historically, accurate of the cruelty of the Japanese and Nazi armies. He said that you’re pushing the Nazis out of the USSR but you’re technically pushing towards Berlin, the German capital. It’s all about revenge for the Soviets. During the Battle of Stalingrad, the Germans would attack women and children and burn the buildings down. When the Soviets eventually recover and are able to push back with an army about 4 times as big (I learned this from the game, not history class) they’re taking an eye for an eye. One of your party members doesn’t think it’s right, but he’s contradicted by the guy who gives you the sniper rifle. This gives the game legs and morality, making you think twice before you gun down those surrendering Nazis.

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This, and all following screenshots are from the Wii version of the game

In the Pacific Theatre, the story feels so much weaker, but the Japanese themselves make up for this. You’re just thrown into a battle and you’re being told “We can’t really make it past this one thing so can you capture it or blow it up?” Like I said, the Japs keep this from becoming a by-the-numbers affair. They’ll pop up from the grass with bayonets (knives on the end of a rifle) charging at you yelling “Banzai!” They’ll also be sniping from the trees. Quick science question: what would be an appropriate and efficient way of getting rid of grass and trees? Correct, fire. This is where the fun starts, the flamethrower. This one weapon of ultimate pwnage and the Japs make the Pacific Theatre from being a long jungle slog.

One of the biggest topics when talking about any Wii game is controls. They work very well in World at War. There are about 4-5 different control schemes, including one for the WiiZapper, but through research, I’ve learned it blows chunks and you can use the other methods with the Zapper. For me, the turn speed and such was fine on default, but there’s some room for change for those whom it concerns. There’s basically no waggling with the standard control set up, only a counter-clockwise twist and the grenade button for your secondary grenades, but you use those so sparsely it’s not really a problem. You can hold them for as long as you want, so it’s not a problem at all.

I’ve seen very little of COD4 in action and played less, but even the Wii version has a very similar look. I’m not sure I could pinpoint that they run off the same engine, but I could easily tell it looked and moved a lot like another first-person shooter. I don’t know if this is just me, but I seem to notice it most when you’re sprinting.

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Smoke creates an atmospheric effect

After you complete the single player campaign, there’s no death cards to spice it up next time you play. The only level I could see myself playing again is the sniper mission on a tougher difficulty level. The campaign is hard, not because of smart enemies but, it just feels cheap after you die again from a grenade from an enemy 100 yards away throwing it in your pocket. There’s only one way through each fire fight and it can take much trial and error to get through on the normal difficulty.

The brutality of the other versions is there, but slightly censored, possibly by technology. In the opening cinematic of the PC, PS3, and 360 versions, when Private Miller’s comrade’s throat is slashed, there’s a blood splatter on the wall. On the Wii, it’s exactly the same except for the splatter. I would tell you other differences, but that’s the only i was able to catch. Like the other versions, there is a censor for the campaign, but not the Marine victory proclamation when you go online.

There is absolutely no Nazi Zombies and I really don’t see why. They don’t have to do it over online, it would be fun just to play with you and your buddy boarding up the windows as the zombies are getting closer. The Wii version really has no special features to speak of. I think there’s some sort of co-op play but I wasn’t able to try it out. [Josh’s note: I have, and it’s pretty lame – the first player controls all movements and their view takes up the entire screen, but the second player gets to aim at the screen and shoot as well, making the experience for them more like an on-rails light-gun shooter.]

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Notice the yellow crosshair on the right side of the screen – this is Wii co-op in action

One thing the Wii version does have is awesome online play. Easily the best online experience for the system that smokes at the mouth of you playing with someone not next to you. 8 players, slugging it out in 5 modes, boot camp a version for n00bs only, team deathmatch and free for all speak for themselves, hardcore has no HUD and bullets pack a bigger punch, and I think there’s a similar mode for FFA but I’m not sure. One of the better things for the Wii, you can use your own name. It’s usually with strangers, but if you exchange a numerical handshake you can play with your friends and set up any rules you want. If any of you are feeling brave, my Friend Code is: 506986817459. Leave your’s as a comment and we can hook up sometime. It even has custom slots that let you choose what weapons and perks you want, which has already been addressed in the previous review. The XP system is pretty much the same, even with the prestige system which is surprising because the only part of that system they seemed to cut out is some challenges.

It can be really fun, but there are some bad things about it. There can be some dropped lobbies and lag every once in a blue moon. This might just be my internet – it’s not the strongest. Under that blue moon, spawn points can also be a problem. It just seems like in some games no matter what you do, you’ll fall into an endless stream of deaths. It feels good when you’re giving it out, but it’ll bring profanity to your lips when it happens to you.

The graphics as a whole are very mediocre. The campaign has some pretty good moments with lots of action onscreen and no frame rate change, but the online looks like a very early Gamecube game. I’m sure this is to help it run smoother, but it doesn’t have to have some PS1 level textures.

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Cliffside – a map from the multiplayer

This game is pretty much a must own for anyone that enjoys action games, FPS games, or fun. The mature themes may be a turnoff to 80% of the Wii’s owners, but the rest of them should buy this to show that the Wii owners will eat up more mature themed games.

Pros: A pretty good war story, brutality gives it realism, graphics pretty good, controls that don’t make you look retarded, online play is completed and not an afterthought

Cons: Cheaply hard campaign and multiplayer,  no Nazi zombies, sometimes too brutal, multiplayer visuals are much worse than the single-player visuals, some small net code issues

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10

By Justmattpwn3r

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  1. bubbley
    March 8, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I THINK COD WAW SHOULD HAVE SPIT SCREEN THT WOULD BE MUCH BETTER

  2. April 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Spit screen would be cool, but I think it would be cooler if the Wii version had split screen.

  3. Jake
    May 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    is there or is there not two player (aka co op) for the wii? On the box for the games that are two player it has a little remote and a 2 3 4 or more. If it’s one player it has a 1. This game has a 2.
    Help me out?
    Jake

  4. May 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Yes, there is two player co-op for the Wii, but it consists only of the second player aiming a reticule and shooting an invisible gun on the first player’s screen in the campaign. The second to last picture in the post is a screenshot from the Wii co-op mode.

  5. jake
    May 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    oh I see. They really should make that better!

    • jake
      May 5, 2009 at 4:26 pm

      455463787575 wanna play some time? 😉

  6. May 5, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I’ll ask Matt if he wants to – he’s the one with the Wii version of the game.

  7. john
    May 6, 2009 at 11:14 am

    hey my fc is 348086880278 add me please

  8. callthadogs
    May 6, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Hey john added mine is 4554-6378-7575. And josh , does he want to? And if he does, what’s his fc?

  9. jake (callthadogs)
    May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    john add me my fc is: 4554-6378-7575

  10. jake (callthadogs)
    May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    and josh does matt want to?

  11. justmattpwn3r
    May 9, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’ll play with you guys sometime, just add my fc 506986817459. My name’s n00bthepwn3s.

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  1. June 22, 2009 at 9:55 am
  2. August 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm
  3. August 3, 2009 at 12:51 am

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