As I mentioned earlier, the developers have learned a thing or two about cutting up the action in a way where it doesn't feel like you're doing the same thing over and over. You won't notice this at first, but towards the end of the game you'll appreciate every time the game takes you out of the first-person perspective and makes you do something fresh. Sometimes this is nothing more than driving a tank. But there's one moment mid way through the game where you are a gunner on a small airplane. It's your job to rush from one side of the airplane to the other getting to the guns and taking out the Japanese merchant ships. Although this section doesn't last long enough, this is definitely a fun diversion from the standard run and gun action.
But not all of the diversity is that noticeable. One thing I noticed is that every time I got bored using my guns, the game would switch me over to the American side where I was expected to burn down the forests with my trusty flame thrower. You wouldn't think that a flame thrower would make that big of a difference, but it was just enough of a change to break up the gun play and make me appreciate the game's pacing. And just when I got sick of burning everything in sight? The game switches me back to the Russians where I'm sneaking, stabbing and gunning my way to victory.
The biggest change to this game isn't the flame thrower or the hot new graphics; instead it's the way the Japanese soldiers fight. After fighting nothing but Nazis, I was starting to feel like I could predict what the bad guys were going to do. But that's not the case with the Japanese warriors. Instead I was met by a brutal regime that wasn't afraid to run right at you and use every booby trap they can think of. From the get-go you know that these guys are serious (and vicious). The game definitely doesn't sugarcoat the Japanese actions, especially when it comes to how they treat their prisoners of war. All this was certainly eye opening, especially after so many games where the Nazis true nature isn't on show. I've gotten so used to mowing down witless Nazis that it's strange to see another side with a completely different agenda.
In all, the single player story is a bit longer than Call of Duty 4. The game sports more missions and quite a few different locations for you to shoot up. Unfortunately there aren't many moments as outright memorable as what we had in Call of Duty 4. That is, even though it's been a full year I can still think back to all of the amazing moments in Call of Duty 4 as if I just played the game yesterday. I have a hunch I'll never forget that opening with the assassination, or the flashback mission, or the moment that nuclear device goes off killing everybody. These are moments I will never forget. There aren't many moments like that in World at War, which ultimately gives it a throwaway quality. Sure the locations are nice and the story is interesting, but without those big memorable moments the game just doesn't feel like it's on the same level.
There is good news, though. Even though the game doesn't have a ton of those amazing sequences that will stick with you, you will probably want to go through the game more than once. Why? Because developers Treyarch (taking over for Infinity Ward) has added a fun co-op mode that improves the game in immeasurable ways. The game even gives you a few scenes where you can split up, helping each other from afar. Sadly there aren't enough scenes like that, but it's nice to see Activision adding co-op into their first-person shooters.
As much fun as the online (or split-screen) co-op is, it pales in comparison to the online multiplayer modes. Like Call of Duty 4, this is the thing that will give World at War legs long after people have grown tired of the so-so story mode. In truth the World at War multiplayer is almost exactly like that of Call of Duty 4, which certainly isn't a bad thing. There's a reason Call of Duty 4 was so popular, and that's because leveling up your character is awfully addictive. Leveling up your character isn't just for ranking purposes, it's the only way you can unlock new multiplayer game types, customize your weapons and even play as certain classes. The only real difference between World at War's multiplayer and Call of Duty 4 is the setting, which actually works as a strength in this year's installment. Throw in some cool new powers (like calling out the dogs on your enemies) and the ability to drive tanks, and you have a multiplayer mode that you'll be loading up well into the New Year. Heck, people are still playing Call of Duty 4's online multiplayer, so we could see people still fighting World War II long after the next Call of Duty hits store shelves.
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