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December 3, 2008
Call of Duty: World At War - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Lighting effects are very impressive.
With Call of Duty 3 selling 4 million units around the globe, and 10 million units of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare which never made it to the PS2 or XBox expectations for Call of Duty: World at War were sky high to say the least. This game isn't being developed by Infinity Ward though, with development being handled by Treyarch, developers of Call of Duty 3. The good news is that this game actually uses an improved version of Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare game engine, so technically it should be polished. But can this game live up to the anticipation?

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Firing on the ship from the plane.
Call of Duty: World at War tells two separate stories, in two different theatres of war. The first is set in the Pacific with the US forces hitting back at the Japanese after Pearl Harbor while the second story revolves around a Russian soldier who advances into Germany to put an end to the Thrid Reich forever. The game doesn't push a heap of cut-scenes at you but rather gives you an overview of the upcoming mission with historical footage and maps. Storylines for the characters are told through in-game dialogue with fellow soldiers.

In terms of gameplay World At War play as a First Person Shooter. Your character can carry a couple of weapons at once, as well as items such as smoke and frag grenades. If you've played any previous games in the series then you shoudl slip right in here with controls copied directly from previous titles.

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Night time action should be intense.
Each of the weapons in the game are authentic to those that appeared in World War II. From pistols to rifles to shotguns to sniper rifles and machine guns to anti-tank rockets, each is available throughout the game. This though is exactly where World at War is different to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Reloading each weapon is painfully slow, as is their firing rate. I'm not saying that's a fault of the game, but rather a part of the era in which it's set. You will need to count your bullets, plan your reloads and make sure you are set before storming into enemy territory. Grenades and Molotov cocktails are still very powerful and smoke grenades can screen your advanced on hardened positions. Certainly in terms of the regular missions those taking place in the Pacific are quite a bit more entertaining then those in Russia - the the flame thrower being particularly entertaining.

While the vast majority of the game is a First Person Shooter the game does deviate on a couple of occasions. One mission will see you taking control of a tank. Responsive and fun (especially with the flame thrower attached) this is a great mission. Less exciting though is the turn as a gunner in an aircraft. It seems a little hit and miss in terms of fun, but remains a welcome diversion from the main game for a while.

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The flame thrower is brilliant.
As with the previous title multi-player is a key component of the franchise and this game is as equally well fleshed out as last years title, and then some. Let's start with something quite exciting - the split screen mode. World At War includes a 2-player offline split-screen co-op mode. The game runs quite smoothly in this mode and it is certainly a way to spend a couple of extra hours. If you online like to play online then you are sorted there to with a 4-player online co-op mode.

Naturally the game includes all your favourite online game modes including Free for All, Team Deathmatch, While the last game included a bombing run from planes for a 5-kill streak and an attack chopper for a 7-kill streak given the time period we now have a bombardment for a 5-kill streak or attack dogs for a 7-kill streak. The attack dogs really are special as they swarm through the levels hunting out the enemies, no matter their locations. If you're being attacked by dogs you can actually kill those dogs with weapons or melee attacks.

As with last years game players earn experience for online gameplay which can goes to leveling up your character, unlocking new weapons and items, or new challenges - many of which will be familiar (get a certain number of kills with each weapon) with plenty of new ones as well.

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Graphically this game is impressive.
There are a couple of slight disappointments. There isn't really much of a 'story' attached to this game. In fact jumping between the two storylines, at two different points in the war means that building a coherent storyline with characters you get to know and love never really takes place. In fact you'll be lucky to remember your colleagues names. It must be said that the single player game is quite short. We finished it in around 8 hours and that was with spending a bit of time looking around the levels for hidden objects. Needless to say we would have scored this game higher overall if it was longer Ė value wise, if you donít play this online you really arenít getting value for money.

Another of the disappointments is that of the online gameplay. Every single time we play an online game and return to the lobby it has closed down due to a timeout error. This shouldn't be happening. It can also take a while to get into matches, although this seems to have improved in recent days - perhaps with a drop in number of people playing online, or perhaps due to improvements to the servers. I was disappointed to see the leader boards change and require registration through the web which is something - to be honest - we haven't bothered with as yet.

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Running through the streets.
As we've previously mentioned World at War uses the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare engine which is a good thing, as that is brilliant. There have been several enhancements made to the engine for this game though, including a system handling the fire effects in the game with the flame thrower and it does look brilliant. The way the grass and trees burn is a little rough as they jump from lush green, to burning, to burnt in distinct steps.

Lighting has also been beefed up a bit with some great lighting off the flames and flame throwers, while darker jungle scenes also look delightful. The frame rate holds fairly solid, the character models look pretty good with solid animation and the backgrounds, particularly the lush jungles, look superb.

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Working with a fellow Russian sniper.
Sonically World at War also manages to impress on several levels, while missing on some others. The game has a great range of effects such as gunfire and explosions and their directional accuracy is impressive. With a surround sound setup you will be hearing gunfire from exactly the right direction to help you pinpoint enemies. A little less impressive though is the speech which wavers between strong dialogue and good accents, and something quite average.

While technically impressive one can't help but get the feeling that World War II shooters are a little stale, even if this is one of the best ones out there. The single player campaign is very short, but the multi-player will keep you playing for quite some time with plenty to unlock. Still, this isn't up there with the wonderful standards set by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but it's not too far off, and is certainly worth your time and effort.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSVisually World at War looks great with very occasional glitches.
SOUNDGreat directional sound, solid voiceovers but the music is misused.
GAMEPLAYPlenty of options, and an entertaining experience offline, or online.
VALUEIf you don't play this game online you're getting poor value for money.
OVERALLCall of Duty: World At War is a (too) short, but entertaining, game which is visually impressive and fairly solid online. One worth a purchase for FPS fans.

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