Finally, what’s with the grenades? Not only is it a bit too easy to miss the famous indicator in the heat of battle, but there are times when your so-called allies crowd you so much that it’s practically impossible to escape the blast. I’m not a military historian, but if I were I’d wager that the majority of deaths endured in World War II were not the result of grenades. World at War says different. The only more irritating doom? Being run over by one of my own tanks that had, somehow, crept up behind me.
There’s no doubt that Call of Duty 4 did this sort of thing last year with more intelligence and panache, but only the most miserable curmudgeon would deny that World at War has its own dumb-assed appeal. The multiplayer options only add to it. Not only can four of you play through every campaign mission cooperatively, tutting at the ridiculous barriers and the pitiful AI lapses as you go, but the competitive online game is pretty much CoD4 in WWII with a few added knobs.
The system of ranks and unlocks carries over; the more points you get, the higher you go and the more perks, character classes and game modes you can enjoy. Sensibly, there’s also a Boot Camp team deathmatch mode, fenced off for beginners, where noobs can get their skills together before they go out and get humiliated in the other modes. Some of the additions in World at War are controversial – the attack dogs perk, where the damnable mutts seek and destroy rival players, is a serious irritation – but this is still one of the finest online games in town. It’s also never hard to find a game, and joining up is as painless and wait free as such things get.
Part of me still doesn’t want to like World at War, but I have to admit that, in the end, it’s brilliant in its own ‘special’ way. Were I only going to buy one big shooter this Christmas I’d probably save my cash for something else – probably Gears 2 on the 360 or Resistance 2 on PS3 – but were I buying two this would probably get my vote. It’s not that big and it’s even less clever, but is it a laugh? Yes indeed!
It’s dumb, it’s linear and the AI can be laughable, but there’s something oddly lovable about Treyarch’s brain-dead WWII shooter. Switch off your higher functions, pump up the volume and enjoy the ride.