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First Impressions: Call of Duty World at War multiplayer beta

Posted by: John at 10/15/2008 9:58 AM
I have to say I have moderately high expectations for Call of Duty World at War even though Infinity Ward is not producing it. I recently spent some hours with the multiplayer beta and walked away with a solid feeling about it. Now, multiplayer is but a small aspect of the game for me as I’m more into the single player campaign of the series. Don’t get me wrong. Call of Duty 4 multiplayer is a huge, huge hit and a blast to play but one of the things I look forward to in a Call of Duty game is the great fun had in going through the story. I’ll have to wait a little bit more to experience that but playing the multiplayer beta elicited some familiar memories.

Yes, the game’s set in World War II and yes it is a little tiring but the multiplayer action is fast and furious. Treyarch has really captured the chaos of battling it out in those days and the engine’s effects are put to good use providing intense visuals when the action gets hot. When there’s a bombing run called from an opponent, the screen shakes and ground debris fly up everywhere causing massive confusion and death. The smoke effects are effective in both presentation and giving you cover.

As with the previous game, you’ll earn experience points as you play which lead to new classes, abilities, and weapons. The beta is capped at level 11 and I found many players have hit that already. At level 4, you’ll unlock the create a class mode which can help you create a class that suits your playing styles more than the default ones presented to you. You’ll have access to three classes initially but leveling up seems pretty quick for the first few levels even if you’re a bad FPS console player like me.

In Call of Duty 4, you could call in a helicopter to help bring the rain down on your opponents after you got a good streak of kills going. In Call of Duty World at War, it’s big German shepherds that come after you this time. When you hear someone shout about releasing the dogs, you better be on the lookout for those canines to come rushing at you. And rush they will as they are ruthless and will go for your jugular without hesitation. You can dispatch them with a few rounds but they are quick and they do run in packs. I can’t say how many times I was walking through some broken down building only to see a few dogs come charging at me and me backing up as fast as I can while unloading my machine gun at them. It’s an adrenaline pumping experience that adds a new wrinkle to the game.

Getting into tanks was a lot of fun and having a gunner on top to help take down those with bazooka or satchel charges. The gunner though is exposed so even though I can quickly take down enemies, I was easily shot down by snipers or those with scoped guns. Driving a tank is also pretty fun and I was able to unleash a lot of destruction with my powerful but slow loading gun. Without a gunner, I was pretty vulnerable to satchel charge carrying soldiers so having another person in the tank is pretty important. I did have a lot of fun running over people though.

The maps presented showed off some impressive design and textures. There weren’t areas that you couldn’t get to from multiple spots so trying to hide can be fruitless as you’ll have a good chance of being flanked. The environments also had many places where you can leap over and take cover. Overall, I think Treyarch has done well in this area and I look forward to seeing how the single player maps look.

All told, the Call of Duty 4 World at War multiplayer beta delivered a nice experience and the various gameplay modes should keep everyone busy until the game’s released. So far I had a lot of fun even though I’m not really good at it although that’ll change when I get on the PC version. For me, the mouse and keyboard will never be replaced by the gamepad.