Review: Call of Duty: World at War (Wii/DS)

Are you actively looking for that special kind of typical World War II shooter with a shiny coat of paint? Then look no further, as Activision’s new Call of Duty World at War recently hit the shelves on both the Wii and the DS. Not only does this game feature some dramatic scenes that would even make the “Geneva Convention treaties” cry, but it will also make some of us shout profanities at our screen, blaming the shoddy controls. If you are up for some war action, soldier, hit the jump on the double for my full review!

I have to say World at War fits pretty well on the Wii due to the system’s point-and-shoot motion controls, which are pretty well mapped out on the WiiMote. “B” is shoot, “A” is a grenade, and depending on how you tilt the remote, it changes which grenade you throw. The Nunchuck is used for strafing and moving, “Z” is used for Running, and “C” is used for selecting if you want to crouch, go prone, or stand up.

You change your perspective on screen by pointing the Wii Remote at the sensor bar, and moving it from left to right, as well as up and down to pan around the area. This game also makes good use of the Wii Zapper, and plays pretty well with it, I have to say. However, I didn’t use it for the entire game, since it felt uncomfortable after a few hours.

Aside from the controls, the game is pretty straight forward. You start out as a private in the US military. You were apparently captured by the enemy (this case being Japanese) and you see that everyone who was once in your team is tied up being beaten and tortured for information.

As the game progresses you will unlock more story and new characters to play as. Each character has an opening that starts out like this, usually showing you a particularly gruesome scene of war. This is the only time you are not able to actively change the events that are happening on screen, but you can look around and see what is happening around you. This gives you a true feeling of what it was like to be captured, or gun downed lying among the bodies of your comrades while an enemy soldier searches the dead for survivors.

This is further added upon with the included archival footage that is mixed into the game, which are incredibly well designed, combining the footage with stylized graphics into a didactic mix of history lesson and shiny swirling colors and graphs. Not that this is a bad thing, it just mixes and switches from clip to clip quickly so you only really see about five seconds on one clip before it switches to some more story and shows another clip. It really just tries to keep it fast, entertaining, without being the history channel.

After these events and scenes is where the game play kicks off as you either break free or get rescued, and then grab a gun and start your mission. Missions range from “Storm and Kill”, to “Clear a bunker and hold out”, as the game is fast paced and you’re always on the move to kill. During which, it can be difficult to recognize your comrades from the enemy, especially during the thick of battle. Some of your troops provide cover, some perform pincer movements, and some just advance fearlessly, so the battleground can easily become all mixed up.

It becomes really easy to perform friendly fire, for which there seems to be no real problem with in the game. Unless you go on a killing spree or blow up one of your army’s tanks. I found it easy enough to shoot one of your members if you ran out of Ammo and needed a gun with no repercussions for doing so. However, the game seems to use grenades a lot more than actually using guns.

You would think that random Japanese soldiers jumping out of the bushes and charging at you would pose more of a threat than some random grenades. Sadly, it really is the random grenades that pose the most threat in World at War, as you are hardly able to see the indicator that shows that there is a grenade near you on screen. This causes the game to be way more difficult than it should be if you want to play it as a tactical war game.

However, the game seems to be made to reward a player for running up to a group of enemy infantry, guns a blazing. The character(s) that you play as in the game have no limit to their health. This instantly breaks the illusion that I am playing a solider in a real war. My goal now changes from stay alive and complete my mission to kill as many other enemy soldiers as I can while trying to see how many I can knife in a row.

The main storyline can prove to be boring at some points even with the poorly-done 2 player co-op, where your second player doesn’t even have a body but is just allowed to shoot people on screen as you progress through the level. The online multiplayer does a good job at keeping things fresh. Not only has the level system returned from Call of Duty 4, they have also improved upon it. Giving the system a full blow out and a very well done ranking system, it helps in matching up players with people who are evenly matched skill-wise.

Although the online uses friend codes, World at War actually tries to fix it to make it a little faster and simpler to use. If you receive a friend code from someone and input it into your game, it will send that person a notification that you want to be friends. It gives them an option to add you without having to input your friend code.

This is all nice and good, I just wish that the game proved to be more of a realistic challenge and gave me a health bar. Although, the way the game is currently set up, it allows you to pull off some gung-ho moves. You can just run up to four soldiers and knife them without dying, then just taking a few seconds to heal. It really just becomes plain and boring after a while.

If you’re looking for something new in this Call of Duty aside from Nazi zombies, you are not going to find it. Not to mention we have already seen Nazi zombies. That was so Wolfenstein back in the day. Oh wait, that’s right. The Nazi zombies were removed from the Wii version of World at War. However, Regardless of how many times you make a game based off World War II, you really can not add any new content, because as we all know war never changes.

I would have given the game three stars out of four if I did not encounter a few spawning glitches where I could not pan my view. When this happened during the game it caused me to die a few times. Although it eventually fixed itself, it was still very annoying. Overall two and half stars out of four, and a recommendation to rent it first.

You would think a company who releases a game on a console would actually manufacture their hand held port as well. Sadly this is not the case as the DS version of the World at War was developed by n-Space and hardly features any of the same single player and mutliplayer modes that the Wii version has.

If you are familiar with the previous Call of Duty on the DS you pretty much already know what to expect from World at War. You use the D-Pad or Buttons to move your character around, the shoulder buttons to fire your weapons, and the touch screen to aim and look around the screen. Pretty much just like the same set up that Metroid Prime Hunters featured on the DS.

However, this game falls to the same problems that most first person shooters have with touch controls. The farther you progress and the more weapons you have the harder it becomes to choose them on the fly. Say you wanted to throw a grenade, you would have to tap the bottom of left of your screen to switch to them. Then select a target with the touch controls, then press the button to throw it, then tap your gun to switch back.

The game has it’s own story mode that is vastly different from the console versions. Along with different types of Multiplayer modes which feature “Team Deathmatch” and of course “Capture the Flag”. However, Just like the main console versions it does keep the ranking and level system. Giving you different perks to select from and various custom classes to choose depending on your level.

Storyline wise the game follows the exploits of three young privates in both the English, Russian, and US Military. When you first start the game you start out in the US military and go through a boot camp like situation where you learn the basic controls of the game. However, compared to the console version you have a bit more variety in the missions you get. Instead of just storming a place you have some Navel and Arial fights.

Graphically speaking the game has a sort of has a Golden Eye feel to it, while having enough detail to be considered slightly better than most N64 games. If you are looking for variety in the in game models though you are not going to find much. Neither are you going to find much in the sound either. Although, have being fully voiced it’s sometimes hard to hear what your team is saying over the gun fire and explosions, let alone the tiny portable speakers in your DS.

Overall the game in a way is just like the console version just a different story, and while the multiplayer gives you some fun to have it isn’t the same as the console version. So if you looking for a decent first person shooter on your DS then you can’t go that wrong in getting this. Two out of four stars.

An artist from New York. Will has been writing, designing, and loving video games since he was young. He has traveled across the United States, and parts of Canada in order to learn more about the world of gaming. After visiting E3 for the first time in 2009, he has vowed to return there and show off a game of his own. In his spare time he tinkers with electronics, programming, and of course collecting video games.