For some reason, the internet collectively hated the Call of Duty franchise’s foray into the future. It’s strange, because entering the modern era with Modern Warfare was kind of cool and novel. I guess we should’ve seen that it was the beginning of a slippery slope that would have us end up with Infinite Warfare.
To be honest, I had stopped playing CoD after Black Ops II. After all, I’m not really what you would consider a “pro” when it comes to first-person shooters. But that all changed when I got to play a trial demo of WWII at the Montréal ComicCon this summer. I mean, killing Nazis never really gets old.
War is Hell, Obviously
Literally everyone has already said that WWII is the franchise’s back-to-roots moment. This is true, but not quite. This is not quite the first few Call of Duty games. It is, after all, a modern incarnation of the franchise, so the storytelling is more evolved. By that I mean that it feels like a feature film – something that we’ve grown accustomed to ever since Modern Warfare.
That being said, the story is also much tamer than before. The underlining theme for most Call of Duty games is “War is hell.” This is certainly the case for WWII as well, but it’s less in your face this time.
Think for instance to such iconic scenes as hiding amongst corpses in World at War or the nuclear explosion from Modern Warfare. WWII has its terrible moments, but most of the horrors of warfare remain implicit, which makes for a more immersive gameplay. The story trusts the player to understand what the hell is going on and hopes that you don’t just blindly go shooting through enemy lines.
I mean, I guess you can do that too. As always, there’s no penalty for not caring about the campaign.
The actual focus of the story is on the camarderie between the soldiers. The protagonist is Ronald “Red” Daniels, who is a farmer boy with an impossibly wide jaw. With him are his pals Robert Zussman, Frank Aiello, and Drew Stiles. Of the three pals, Aiello and Stiles are pushed to being side-characters, while Zussman becomes Daniels’ best pal.
Then there are also their superiors, William Pierson and Joseph Turner, who are constantly fighting over matters of authority and The Right Thing To Do(tm), because wartime and masculinity.
The characters “grow” as US miltary pushes further into Nazi occupied territory and the war takes its toll. (After all, war is hell, remember?) I won’t tell much else about the story, but suffice it to say that it was believable.
Except for the classic Call of Duty deus ex machina moments. But then again, it doesn’t make sense for the main character to die, right? (Ok fine it happens in other CoDs, whatever.)
Haven’t I Played This Before?
Remember how I said that Wolfenstein: The New Order reminded me of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault? Well, WWII did a bit more than just reminding me of it.
(Also, did you know that the first Call of Duty was made by people who worked on Medal of Honor and had called it The MoH Killer during development?)
The crowning moment of Allied Assault is the Normandy Assault. Everybody knows it. It’s an almost impossible level – especially if you’re a 12 year old who can barely speak English. But, having had to re-play that level multiple times, I remember it very, very well.
Well, WWII starts during D-Day and plays out almost exactly the same way as the Normandy level in Allied Assault. Except it’s gorier and in higher definition.
The whole, run from cover to cover, use a bangalore to blow up through barbed wire, and run to the bunkers thing feels exactly the way it did in Allied Assault. I even feel like the dialogue was pretty identical.
Then again, this makes sense, since both games are depicting an actual historic event. Maybe they are both based on the same account. I don’t know. But that’s not the only thing the two games have in common.
The other big similarity is the return of the health bar and health kits. Gone is waiting in cover for your bullet wounds to regenerate. You know actually have to use health kits to do that. And if you’re not careful, you might run out of health and health kits and the game might decide to create a checkpoint for you while you’re in a crossfire and then you’d have to try and run back to your allies but get killed like six times and get so frustrated that you almost break your controller.
Ah… Just like good old days.
A Question About the Multiplayer
Minimap in a game that takes place during World War II? What the hell?
Do YOU Need More World War II Games?
I guess I did – that’s why I bought the game. But still, you should ask yourself that same question. Does WWII do anything differently than the myriad of other World War II games out there? Not really. It’s still kind of more of the same.
Except this time it’s on the current generation of gaming machines, so it looks very pretty. And it’s a good FPS. There’s nothing quite satisfying like the thwmp thwmp sounds you hear when your shots land on your enemies.
So, if you want a good-looking, fun-playing, engaging first-person shooter, then WWII is your game.
But if World War II themed games leave you asking, “Ugh why isn’t anyone making a story about the other side?” then seriously, why are you still on my blog? Go away.