Review - Call of Duty: WWII (PS4)
Same game, different year. Call of Duty has once again reared its head this holiday season this time trying to recapture the magic of its progenitors by reverting to World War II. While the results of this venture are absolutely beautiful to look at, the Campaign, Multiplayer, and even the Zombies modes of Call of Duty: WWII leave a lot to be desired.
The campaign of Call of Duty: WWII is probably the most vanilla story for a Call of Duty game in recent memory with little to no innovations in gameplay. Black Ops 3 went far out in the left field with humanity assimilating with technology and Infinite Warfare brought Star Wars, quite literally, to the series and made it just as engaging. I can understand once you reach that point why a developer might want to regress a little bit, and with a little push from Battlefield 1 hogging the spotlight for a year by taking place during WWI, there’s no question how WWII came to be.
In WWII, the boots are back to the ground as the player takes the role of Texas farm boy Daniels whose story arc involves a kinship with his fellow soldiers and a strive to get back home to pregnant wife. That’s it, nothing more and nothing less. To make the story even more generic there’s a burned out lieutenant whose poor decisions and alcohol intake constantly endanger the lives of Daniels and crew. And this commander’s turn is just as predictable as you think it would be with no emotional impact. Surprisingly, there isn’t really a shocking moment that pushes the boundaries of what Call of Duty has done before. The nuclear attack in Modern Warfare, the airport sequence in Modern Warfare 2 were incredibly dark for blockbuster games and you could tell that the writers wanted to push where the franchise could go. WWII never attempts this and the holocaust is barely touched upon. Battlefield 1 at least tried to tell a story about the futility and horror of while CoD:WWII doesn’t say anything, at all.
There are some sights to behold in the campaign, however. There’s a mission where you play a French resistance leader infiltrating a Nazi stronghold disguised as the enemy, which becomes a fun little side mission but there’s nothing much else like it in the campaign save for some incredibly easy stealth sections that resemble Far Cry. Aside from the French resistance mission, the game primarily covers the American side of the war in the typical cover and shoot with a sprinkle of driving and rail shooting sequences. For a game called WWII, you’d think they’d try to cover all sides of the war and maybe include the Russians, the Pacific Theater, or even go all out and let you play as the Axis. Nope, they settled for making the bargain bin version of Band of Brothers.
Gone are the jetpacks and futuristic equipment of the last few entries and in is the M1 Garand, so much so that the level up sound is the ping the magazine makes once it's empty. While this attention to detail is a welcome surprise of nostalgia, it does feel a little bit like “Hey guys, remember Call of Duty?” Especially when the opening level is yet another depiction of the invasion of Normandy that we’ve seen a million times before. Saving Private Ryan already perfected it yet everyone keeps trying to emulate it.
A new introduction to the multiplayer experience is the Headquarters. Similar to that of the Tower in Destiny, the Headquarters is supposed to act as a social hub of sorts where players and their friends can meet other players around the world, squad up, and even view each other opening loot crates. Yes, there are loot crates in this game but the system is nowhere near as egregious as the one in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and mostly offer experience boosts and cosmetics. All guns and equipment can easily be earned just by playing the multiplayer. My only complaint is that the user interface of the Headquarters is awful as there are icons everywhere on the screen and any open objectives are displayed in the left hand corner of the screen, contributing to a clunky mess of text and colors.
In addition to the campaign, the multiplayer has reverted back to the simple run and gun of the earlier entries. There is no crouch slide, just full dolphin dives. The progression system relatively remains the same where the more you use specific weapons, the more unlocks you receive for that weapon. There are specific classes this time around:Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Expeditionary, and Mountain. The Infantry class provides your typical mid-range rifles and machine guns. Airborne has the submachine guns. Armored is mostly light machine guns. Expeditionary are more close quarters and Mountain is the sniper class. I mostly spent time with the Armored division since Call of Duty’s been really good lately in implementing the LMGs recently.
WWII is just as fluid as its brethren and the run and guns mechanics of old still hold up. The level design isn’t anywhere near as good Advanced Warfare or Black Ops 3’s, but definitely better than Infinite Warfare. The levels push you where you need to go to obtain kills and there’s rarely any breathing room to to camp or plot a defense, which is good and bad depending on the player. While quickscoping is still a staple and just as annoying as ever, snipers will find it difficult to stick to one spot to camp, which is great for me and others. The spawn positions are really bad though and most of the time, the enemy will respawn right on top of you, making point capture modes like Domination a hassle.
There's a new objective based mode called War, which is a fun tug of war where teams have to blow up bridges or assault a defending team with a tank. It's a fun mode except for certain parts where the entire enemy team switches to sniper rifles to prevent your team from taking the bridge, making Team Deathmatch the safe go-to if War isn't suiting your fancy.
Zombies isn’t anything to write home about. If you want to have a fun time with friends by mowing down legions of the undead while uncovering hidden secrets within the single level and playing as Ving Rhames or David Tennat, you’ll have a blast. Unlike the multiplayer, nothing’s been abandoned from the Zombies. The powerups and buffs from previous games are all here as are the traps and fun mysteries with added objectives.
Call of Duty:WWII is nothing new and that might be the problem. While yes, it is refreshing to return to World War II with a new gloss of paint, they didn’t really redesign the interior of the house to accommodate new and returning players. Call of Duty is as fun as it has always been, but it’s a big bucket of been there, done that.