I know this may seem a little late to everyone who's been getting their attack dog fix for a while already, but I wanted to see if having an extended experience with World at War would change my opinions of it in any way.
Let me start off by saying that I'm a huge fan of CoD 4 and was looking forward immensely to the opportunity to get my grubby little mitts on this iteration in the series before it's official release. In essence World at War is CoD 4 in World War II, however there are a number of subtle tweaks that differentiate the two games, for both good and bad.
Lets Start off with the maps themselves, we have Castle, Roundhouse and Makin.
Castle is an asymmetric map and also the most enclosed of the three maps offering a large amount of internal cover and chances for close combat. The level design feels very tight and balanced in both deathmatch and objective games. The majority of combat takes place in the two large buildings at the top of a hill. Each Building has a sniper tower from which to rain down hell upon your opponents, but these sniper towers are positioned so that you are extremely exposed from many directions when using them. Castle feels like a map dedicated to whole team VS team combat rather than small one on one conflicts which creates a hectic speedy atmosphere which I love.
Roundhouse is the largest of the three maps and also the one with the now (I'm sure) infamous glitch where you can crawl under the map and obliterate the enemy from your cowardly rape nest. This is a shame because the map is a blast to play and many games are simply skipped or spent fighting an invisible enemy. When you do get a good group though, the open ground makes for great use of scoped weaponry, and the tanks boast a new challenge. For example I begin every single Roundhouse match the same, I break out my anti-tank class and gun straight for their tank. The map is based around an old train station, with a large central building surrounded by the various ruined buildings and carriages. There is also a catwalk running over the middle of the map that provides a much-welcome vantage point.
Makin is the only map of the three set at night. The map consists of a large beach area alongside the sea and a cluster of jungle pathway. All of the buildings on the map are simple wooden huts and many of these are on stilts giving a two-tiered feel to some sections. In a centre there is a large sniper tower to one side that you can see the majority of the map from, and directly opposite this is the section of pathway leading up to the edge of the jungle. Stealth is the way to go on Makin due to the night time conditions, medium level design and the fact that there are few obstructions from one side of the map to the other. Not to mention the fact that even without stopping power the wooden buildings are easy to kill fellow players through.
Overall I feel the level design has been done well with different combat styles shown in all three of the beta maps. Close, team based combat on Castle, series of small scale / one on one battles in Roundhouse and slower paced, stealth combat on Makin.
All the gametypes you know and love from CoD 4 are back but this time capture the flag makes a welcome return from CoD 3 and the new war mode is introduced. Capture the flag we all know but WAR is brand new in the series, but is similar to sabotage (or territories if Halo is more your thing).The difference being that only one capture point is up for grabs at any one time. This concentrates the fighting and allows some real all out battles. The more objectives you complete throughout the round the more momentum you and your team receive. Take a couple of enemy bases or kill opposing members of their team and you receive a momentum boost (aptly named Blitzkrieg) that allows you to capture points quicker.
One niggling problem is the fact that spawn points often seem to get mixed up, causing members of the opposing team to spawn directly in front of you or vice-versa. This can get quite frustrating at times and I hope Treyarch get this bug squashed before the full commercial release, but hey, finding these problems is the sort of thing betas are for, eh?
Weaponry includes bolt-action (read sniper) rifles, regular rifles, sub-machine guns, full-auto machine guns and shotguns. The number of explosive devices has also been upped on previous CoD games, with a choice of frag, anti-tank and Molotov cocktails for primary grenades, and gas, smoke or flares for the secondary variety. The M9 Bazooka, satchel charges and land mines also make a welcome return tot he game.
Before the raising of the level cap I was hugely biased towards the joy of the shotgun. The happiness that comes with blasting another human being in half is hard to match, however on any of the two larger levels I would constantly be killed off before reaching my intended target, and by someone on the opposite corner of the level to me nonetheless. As I watched the kill cams I came to realise that I was being sniped in maybe 2-3 shots from a sub-machine gun over a ridiculous and impossible distance. This is one of the few complaints I have about the beta, the power of the subs is far too high, making them the be-all and do-all of the weaponry. In 9/10 one on one fights even over great distance, if one party has the Thompson or other sub then it's pretty much a win and a kill for them.
The inclusion of vehicles has been done extremely well, the tank's turrets are sufficiently slow but powerful to keep them balanced with the rest of the equipment, and the fact that a couple of anti-tank grenades or other explosives destroy them relatively quickly prevents them for lasting too long in the firefight.
The new combo-kill rewards for three, five and seven kills are also done well. The 3 kill bonus is essentially the UAV from CoD 4. The airstrike is replaced with an artillery strike that lasts longer and also affects team mates. For seven kills, as I'm sure you've all heard a pack of attack dogs is unleashed upon your enemies. This is by far the most satisfying feeling in the entire time I have played. Seeing kill after kill rack up at the bottom of the screen thanks to these lovely little puppies is fantastic. Conversely, the second I hear enemy dogs barking I back into a corner, surround myself with bouncing betties (land mines) and take out my pistol to defend against the hellish-demons.
Many of the perks from CoD 4 return along with a few new or redesigned ones. Last Stand is back as Second Chance and has been significantly beefed up in its new guise. You can now revive downed team-mates so long as both of you have the perk, adding another level of survivability to the perk. The dreaded martyrdom and its younger, slightly less annoying brother juggernaut also return, but at last there is a perk designed to combat martyrdom as Stopping Power does to Juggernaut. The Flak jacket will lessen damage from all explosives, including grenades, rockets, tank shells and artillery. Toss-Back will reset the fuse on any enemy grenades you find the desire to pick up and Fireworks will increase the damage output of all explosives.
As you can see from the lovely picture above the flamethrower is making an appearance as a perk unlocked at the penultimate level of 64. A counter-perk is also introduced, Fire-Proof will give the user protection from the likes of both the flamethrower and Molotov cocktails.
Vehicle Perks are also introduced with three of the five being unlockable in the beta. These generally either allow you to move or shoot faster, longer or for a greater length of time.
At first I was sceptic of Treyarch, but after seeing how they have taken the CoD franchise back to its roots in such a fantastic way. So long as none of the identified bugs slip through the net I'm sure that World at War will be a welcome member to the Call of Duty franchise. I am very impressed with the multiplayer experience and can only hope that the single player and co-op campaign will be as good.
I'm not into the whole scoring a game out of ten thing so I'll just say that CoD:WaW is seems like a great game from the impressions I've gotten and I'll be getting it soon after launch. read