Monday, July 27, 2009

Review: Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360)

I'll kick of my first review ever by reviewing a game I've been playing a lot lately- Call of Duty: World at War. You'll notice that my reviews usually will be pretty short; I'll basically just say what I feel about the game and then give it my score. WaW (World at War) is a good shooter with the usual solid and responsive controls and the strategic, realistic (for a game) feel that has become the trademark of the Call of Duty series. It doesn't propel the series to a whole new level and make huge strides in gameplay, but it takes the solid CoD gameplay and adds a few things, and does a nice job where it tries. The new Nazi Zombies mode is amazing, playing that online with friends is definitely the best experience that came out of the game to me. The online match-making is fine, it follows the same formula as previous CoD games, and adds a few new things like dogs and tanks. The dogs are a nice touch, but I absolutely hate the tanks online. I feel like they're overpowered, and if a team manages to get both tanks on a map, forget it. The ability to do the campaign co-op (something I wish Modern Warfare 2 was going to include) is also a great thing that was missing from most of the previous games. The campaign itself was good, the levels were well-designed and challenging. It got a little long and repetitive in some parts, but as a whole it was a decent experience.

So while the game overall is good (maybe even great if you think about Nazi Zombies), what keeps it from being excellent (5-stars) is the fact that whether it's fair to this game or not, it's always going to be compared to Call of Duty 4. Yes, this game adds some stuff, which is nice, but it doesn't do anything ground-breaking enough to earn it that fifth star. Nazi-Zombies is somewhat ground-breaking and I have had a ton of fun with that, but in the end it is basically a mini-game that you cant even unlock until you beat the story (or buy the map packs), and when the game shipped it only included one map for that mode (though now there are 2 more if you buy both map packs for an extra $20). In fact, even though I mentioned mostly good things above, there were some things that weren't as good as CoD 4. The story, while decent, didn't evoke the same feelings (in a good way) as CoD 4, and especially the ending (even though the two endings are fairly similar). The whole story itself and the characters all seemed kind of bland (yes, even the one Jack Bauer voiced). They were given no back-stories, and everything about them was largely forgettable. I cant even remember their names now, and I beat the game under a week ago. While a shooter with gameplay this solid would usually be forgiven for that, (like I said before) this game will always be compared to CoD4, whether or not it's fair to this game. Also, I already mentioned that I didn't like the tanks in multiplayer, and the guns in the game as a whole weren't as good as CoD4's. Maybe they're supposed to be that way since they are all WWII guns while CoD4 is modern (technology has grown a lot in the last 60 years), but even so I felt like most of the guns in the game were throw-aways while there were maybe 3 or 4 that I actually liked using and felt effective with.

As for the graphics and sound, they were both great. No complaints there.

In Summary:

Pros: NAZI ZOMBIES!!!, some new add-ons to matchmaking, gameplay/controls, graphics, audio.

Cons: weak story/characters, tanks in matchmaking, many of the guns in the game are worthless.

FINAL SCORE: 4 out of 5.

Note: All reviews on this site are solely the subjective opinion of the author. While I try to look at media objectively, this is pretty much impossible (everyone has bias whether they admit it or not), so if you disagree with my review please feel free to post in a polite manner and state your opinion. I welcome respectful discussion on my blog and would love to get feedback on my review and also read yours. Thanks!


I've decided that from now on I'm going to use this blog mainly for the purpose of reviewing different types of media that I experience. This could be anything, but will mostly consist of video games, movies, television shows, books, and maybe other forms of electronics occasionally. I dont know how often I'll actually want to sit down and write a review of something, but that seems like the best use I can find for this blog right now. I will also still rant about stuff once in a while if I feel the need.

For my reviews, I'm going to use a very basic 5 star system (much like the show X-Play does). 5 out 5 stars is basically perfect (or very close), while 1 out of 5 stars is a complete failure. I wont usually give half-stars, but I do reserve the right to do it in rare circumstances where something really does fall directly between two categories. For a bit more detailed description of my rating system, I'm going to cut and paste a section from the Wikipedia site of X-Play where they describe X-Play's rating system (source:

The video game reviews on X-Play use a five-point rating scale, based on such factors as graphics, sound, gameplay, and playability(i.e. replay value). On X-Play's original TechTV homepage,[10] the ratings system was broken down in the following way:

  • 1 - Hated it. Do not buy this game. Not even worth the bargain bin. Run from it. Escape!! Escape!!
  • 2 - Alright. These games are fun, with some good points, but nothing special. There's definitely a few specific things holding this game back. Wait until the price comes down or pick it up as [a] renter to check out some of the things it does right.
  • 3 - Good. Fun to play, pretty solid titles, with a few minor flaws. Most games will probably fall into this category. They're the games that if you like the genre, or liked other similar titles, you might consider giving it a good look. Otherwise, you might not be into it.
  • 4 - Very good. Games that are at the top of all our lists, but are missing that strange intangible aura of perfection, and unfortunately that's keeping them from getting in the realm of the almighty five.
  • 5 - Near perfect/perfect. If you're a true player, these games will undoubtedly be in your collection, or at the very least you'll have played them until the cartridges and CDs melted. If a game gets a 5, and you like the genre, you should buy.

In a 2007 episode billed as a "primer on our scoring system",[11] Adam and Morgan further elaborated on their ratings scale:

  • A score of 1 is a game that "has to produce true crappiness, [through] the full cooperation of an entire development team - level designers taking off early to attend their children's soccer games, animators getting so high during their lunchbreak that they can't operate their mouse, and of course money hungry execs who will release anything if they can dupe kids into begging their moms for it."
Example Given: 50 Cent: Bulletproof
  • A score of 2 "is such a difficult score to give, because it requires a game that fundamentally fails, but has a barely redeeming charm which makes it untenable to give a 1; it's that Suddenly Susan cocktail of technical competence floated atop a pile of dreck."
Example Given: Genji: Days of the Blade
  • There are different levels to a score of 3 - "there's the 3 that's a mix of very good and very bad elements (like Blood Will Tell) or 3's that have a great concept that's poorly executed (like Railroads!), and then there's those 3's that are just churned out because they know people will buy them even though there's nothing original in it (like every FIFA game ever)."
Example Given: Sid Meier's Railroads!
  • "There are really two kinds of games that get 4's regularly: these are great games with significant problems (like Dead Rising) and games that are amazing but just aren't suited for everyone (the Warhammer: Dark Crusade expansion or any of the Sims expansions are good examples)."
Example Given: Dead Rising
  • Titles that earn a perfect 5 out of 5 are "those magnificent games which, whatever minor flaws they may have, call out to us and say, 'Buy me, you must buy me' ... "
Example Given: Ōkami

During this episode, the hosts also explained why they use a 5-point ratings system, rather than a 10- or even 100-point scale:

Morgan: Our system is better because it recognizes that scores are broad generalizations.

Adam: For example, a popular web site gave Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire a score of 3.0 out of 10. They gave Torino 2006 a 3.9. What is the difference?

Morgan: Both games suck, all the score is gonna be able to communicate to you is that the game is bad. If you want more nuance on the suckage, you have to actually go and read the review. See, in a 10-point scale, everything under 5 just means 'this game ain't worth buying', so there's no real difference.

Adam: And there's no real nuance to a score difference of two- or three-tenths of a point. Our scores at least give sweeping generalizations for you to use as a guide.