A brutal vision of War
I’m a bit late on this one, ok so I am over a year late. But I think having played World at War after having finishing Modern Warfare 2 gave me a very unique perspective on the game, and its place in the series.
World War II is back, I know that a lot of people are sick and tired of games based on the last Great War, it is understandable; as a society we have long been obsessed with the war. Not only games but in virtually every form of media. There is no getting around it; World War II was the most significant event of the past thousand years. I have always been completely fascinated by it, from a very young age. I would consume every detail I could find.
I found my time in World at War to be very enjoyable, the action following the same solid formula that the series is known for; the shooting model is near perfect, the action as solid and fast as expected. The 2 campaigns offered a good variety of missions, but if there is a major vault to be levied here, it is lack of innovation in gameplay design. There simply is not much new here, the same tried and true gameplay, the constant need to make progress toward the enemy, even the weapons, while classic, have become like old friends, the iron sights of the M1 Garand brings back so many memories of games past. But in the 5 hours I spent completing the campaign, I contemplated if I liked it more than the single player offered in MW2. I believe in the end that I did, and I think I know why.
It is entirely to do with my fascination with the setting, and the different take that World at War provides; following the pacific front of war and the Soviet push into Berlin. Both campaigns provide a serious look at two of the most brutal fronts of World War II.
The Japanese suicidal defense; hiding in trees, in spider holes, waiting to ambush and slaughter, rushing the field in Banzai charges, baronets at the ready. The horrifying feelings of being surrounded cornered by a zealous foe, a foe believing themselves undefeatable, protected by their emperor’s divine right.
Likewise, the Nazis slashed and burned their way into the motherland, and now the Soviets having pushed back the invaders, are returning the favor. Both operations are very violent and ruthless, the use of torture and execution, the slaughter of prisoners, the surprising display of dismemberment and mutilation. I really valued this look at different aspect of the war, one rarely shown in modern media. The focus is always on America vs. the Nazis, D-day and the Battle of the Bulge. There are no SAS raids here, no paratroopers landing in Holland. As a serious WWII buff I loved this glimpse into the sheer madness of war, the blood rage.
World at War has some great set-pieces; particularly memorable for me was the Battle for Berlin; the rain of ash, Nazis fighting for every inch, against the blood starved Soviets. It is not the greatest WWII shooter, but it a great one.
This is not to say the World at War is superior to Modern Warfare 2. Even looking from a strictly single player view, MW2s production values and core gameplay shine, its campaign is explosive, highly entertaining, and unrelentingly in its bombastic approach. It’s a thrill ride, a great Hollywood action movie. I did become a tad exhausted with its content one-upmanship; as the action escalates into the stratosphere.
World at War won me over with its atmosphere, the thick pacific jungles, hiding suicidal warriors. The tattered wreckage of a burning Berlin, ash chocking the sky, as the red army marches for vengeance.
I am not sick of WW2; I don’t believe that it has been done to death. If anything I am getting a bit tired of the endless parade of modern shooters. Everyone and there mother is putting out a Modern Warfare clone, the same Tom Clancy inspired story being retold time and time again. With a historical setting, partially one as diverse and expansive as the last Great War, men fought these battles; men died, were tortured and mutilated. Stalingrad was under siege, tens of millions of innocent men and women perished. There is weight behind the action, more so than I felt in Modern Warfare 2.
I should probably explain why I was impacted by the events I witness in such a way. My Grandfather served in the war and I’m sure that there other gamers who have family who served. My Grandfather served in the German army. He was at Stalingrad; he took part in the exodus from Russia. And during the battle for Berlin my Grandfather was captured and taken as a POW by the very Soviet forces I was representing. You can see how I would be impacted by a group of Soviet troops killing surrendered Nazi soldiers. I am not attempting to find sympathy for the German forces, only to bring to light there humanity. The Nazi soldier has always been cast as evil, and rightly so. Unbelievable evil things were done at the hands of ordinary German men, but with my particular history I have always been able to see past the uniform, a uniform that is a representation of pure evil, behind the swastika is an ordinary young man, my Grandfather wore that uniform. He was not evil; in fact he may have been the most honestly good man I have even known. This is the true tragedy of war, it is always the individual soldier that suffers, not the General or the leaders of state. Behind every Nazi that I killed during my stay in berlin, is a man. They had families, wives and children. One of the men represented in this game could have been my Grandfather. So you can see how a simple mission set amongst the burning wreckage of Berlin can affect me so.
World at War is a great game, while it is not the best in the series, for the record I still believe the first Call of Duty is the greatest, I do believe it is the best of the bastard Call of Duty’s, those not fathered by Infinity Ward.