Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Call of Duty: World at War (Playstation 3)

Taking the series back to it's WWII roots, Call of Duty: World at War is an immersive, exciting and visceral first-person shooter that delivers a cinematic and intense shooting experience. It's single-player mode doesn't stray too far from what players have come to expect, with slick visuals, good character design and acting plus intense action. It unfolds at a steady pace and takes you through a variety of locations including Japanese islands, bombed out Europe and other smoldering areas. The single player mode is intense, but World at War's brilliant multiplayer mode offers leveling up, perks and other incentives to help you keep playing. Overall, this is a highly polished and intense shooter that delivers an exciting and intense FPS experience.

Set in the waning days of World War II, the latest Call of Duty, World at War sets players up from the start for an intense, viscerally exciting experience. You begin as a POW captured in camp and watch as one of your comrades is cut down. This sets a kind of desperate tone to the game, at least on the part of your opponents who are watching themselves lose the war. As you rejoin your unit, you'll face an unprecedented assault from all sides as you try and guide them through these incredibly dangerous missions. As in the previous games, you play as a young soldier with a group of elite commandos, storming through the falling powers of the east. Each of your mission objectives are clearly laid out before each campaign and you can call them up at will during the game for quick reference. You have your basic array of guns including rifles, pistols and machine guns to use. You can switch weapons easily and collect additional ammo and weapons from fallen soldiers, so you need to be on the lookout for better and more powerful weapons. In addition, you can throw a standard hand grenade that you can use to attack from a distance. It's highly effective, and allows you to take out enemies hiding behind cover. Another good strategy is to save them for when you need to assault a distant section that's well-covered in enemy fire. Unfortunately, your opponents have grenades, too and they'll throw them right at you. In addition to fighting the enemies, you have to watch out for your fellow soldiers and not shoot them, since this friendly fire will cause instant mission failure if you aren't paying attention and take your own soldiers down. You need to keep an eye out for the grenade indicator nearby, which means you have to sprint away from the explosion. It's not always as simple as it sounds, especially during the heat of battle which means you can find yourself sitting on top of one unexpectedly.

During the missions, it's also important to find and use cover and be on guard for any enemies that break through your squad's defenses. If they catch you at close-range, you have to fight them using your knife and stab them, which isn't as easy as it sounds because surviving these attacks requires split-second reflexes. The aggression level of enemies depends on how high you set the AI, but they're relentless no matter what. As in the other Call of Duty games, you can run for cover when you get hurt and your health level will automatically regenerate, which makes the missions slightly easier to get through but not entirely realistic. One new element this time is the ability of the player to call in air-strikes that target enemy locations. This is especially useful if you find yourself pinned down under enemy fire or need to take out large weapons such as tanks. You need to first use your phone, target the location and wait for the heavy bombs to drop. This can only be used sporadically in each mission, but the bomber tells you how many seconds you have until it can be used again, which is quite and handy feature. Using these adds a new dimension to the game and helps to make the ground attacks more focused, while also allowing you to safely direct attacks from a distance. It's nicely implemented and fits in nicely with the game's existing interfaces. Overall, World at War's mission structure is fairly straightforward and helps to move things along at a good pace. There are plenty of checkpoints in each level, so you won't find yourself doing a lot of backtracking if you get fragged. This makes progression fairly rapid and seamless, while also helping to keep the game's cinematic storyline moving along. This is quite important to this particular series, which emphasizes the story nearly as much as the combat sequences. Each level unfolds as part of a larger picture, which helps to keep you motivated. It's a fantastic single player game, but Call of Duty: World at War offers an entirely separate, yet just as good experience online, too.

Call of Duty: World at War's excellent single player campaign is quite impressive from both a gameplay and aesthetic standpoint, but it's the game's multiplayer mode that really stands out from the pack. While it delivers the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch and other standard scenarios, there are also a number of co-op missions that can be played with up to 18 other players simultaneously. This is all wrapped around an impressive lobby system, where you can meet up with other players, chat and view leader-boards in the Barracks. You can select from a number of different mission types and styles and begin play almost instantly. The online modes are just as intense as the single player games, though the new additions of vehicle combat and infantry make the online component in World at War an even deeper experience. Players can also choose to host a local LAN event or play with a friend via split-screen mode, which gives the multiplayer plenty of variety in how you want to play. However, what really sets the game apart is its level system which has been carried over from previous Call of Duty titles. This is called a persistent stats system, where your achievements from one mission carry through to the next one. This means that as you play through the game online and win battles, you'll earn points for performing various tasks such as fragging opponents and completing missions. As your point levels increase, so do your character's abilities on the ground. You'll notice gradual improvements in your speed and movement, but there's another element to it. Leveling up is important online, because as your character levels up, you can earn some of COD's trademark Perks. These are special abilities that you can unlock once you've achieved a certain level that let you perform some fairly interesting maneuvers. For example, some of the perks give you an onscreen map, allow you to locate mines and give yourself extra ammo or add to your life-bar. More advanced perks let you stealthily eavesdrop on opponents as they chat, set off grenades when you die and generally cause more havoc than a regular player can. There are dozens of unlockable perks, which should keep you motivated throughout. Adding to your skills, leveling up and earning perks is a huge incentive to keep playing online, and helps to keep you motivated through many matches. It's also a lot of fun and adds a depth and challenge to World at War's online modes that many other titles lack. The perks system is definitely one of the franchise's signature elements, and it's well implemented this time around, making for an immersive online experience that's highly entertaining and will keep you coming back for more.

As you might have guessed from the various screenshots, Call of Duty: World at War retains the series' trademark cinematic flair. Each mission is accompanied by an extensive introductory cinema that outlines the action and once you get on the battlefields, you'll find a remarkable level of detail. World at War's environments feel very much alive with photorealistic attention to detail evident throughout. There's plenty going on and the game captures this chaos quite effectively, with many soldiers running and shooting throughout. It's character animations are fairly good and each character's facial expressions are good as well. The game moves at a fast, consistent frame rate throughout which makes for some pretty intense battles. With an excellent score adding drama, the game's production values are very high which adds to its dramatic battles and evocative missions. There are fantastic lighting effects with smoke, fog and water particularly impressive as are some of the larger scale night time set-pieces where you find yourself suddenly lit up by flash grenades. This gives the game quite an immediate impact that definitely puts you right into the center of battle. The game's sleek production values are superb, but are merely the icing on the cake. Call of Duty: World at War is another outstanding installment in this long running series. It has obviously been designed with a broad audience in mind and implements varying skill levels effectively. Call of Duty: World at War's initial easier levels of difficulty aren't too terribly difficult with most missions fairly easy to complete. This makes playing through the accessible to newcomers who won't find themselves frustrated. Experienced FPS players can ratchet this up to make for a much more challenging game that should satisfy them as well. It offers an exciting and immersive single player experience that takes you through many different battlefields while challenging you every step of the way. Add in the game's addictive online mode that allows you to build up a character and earn Perk abilities, and you have a well-rounded release that offers a satisfying mix of action along with a decent plot that makes for an appealing title.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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