Arts

“Call of Duty: WWII” Revitalizes the Franchise

Sledgehammer Games Returns to WWII to Recapture Fans

By: Steven Aiello

“WWII” is the first Call of Duty game to focus on World War II in nearly a decade. (credit: xbox.com)

The “Call of Duty” franchise is possibly the most well known first-person shooter of all- time, but much of that attention hasn’t been positive.

The series has received numerous complaints, most commonly about the shift from historical to futuristic warfare, something that Sledgehammer Games has attempted to rectify with “Call of Duty: World War II”.

The change in setting is a welcome design choice that allowed Sledgehammer Games to create a more plausible depiction of war, something that had been missing from previous titles due to the futuristic setting.

The campaign benefits the most from this change, telling a story that stays grounded in a very real and terrifying scenario. “WWII”s campaign focuses on the efforts of Donald “Red” Daniels and his platoon to stop the advance of Nazis throughout Europe.

The gameplay mechanics work well and remain unchanged, with the exception of non-regenerative health. Players must use health packs to recover health, which adds a new element of challenge not seen since the first game.

The level design was not as refined however, with a structure that is linear in a way that restricts how the player can progress through a mission. However, the graphical design more than makes up for it.

From Normandy to the Rhine, “COD: WWII” does a fine job of depicting the landscape and consequences of war. The environments range from abandoned villages, to war torn forests and battlefields, even including a devastated city.

It is very pleasing on the eyes, but it manages to do so in a way that shows just how destructive war can be.

Daniels’ supporting cast is also great, providing several characters that players can grow attached to throughout the story. From the banter between Aiello and Stiles, to the cold, yet tragic character of Pierson, “COD: WWII” provides some likeable and well-written personalities.

Daniels’ squadmates can help him in gameplay by providing him with health, ammo and other forms of support, making it more convincing that players are fighting a war with a team rather than just themselves.

The main story also benefits by focusing on Nazis as the sole enemy from start to finish, and the result is a more focused story that doesn’t contain any unnecessary or absurd plot twists.

However, the story does fall short in depicting just how horrifying something like the Holocaust was, with only a brief scene of an abandoned concentration camp at the end. It was a wasted opportunity to show one of the biggest atrocities in human history, and a better depiction could have reinforced the horrors of war.

The campaign, though somewhat short on story and design, is still an enjoyable experience on its own because of how it captures the consequences of war. It clocks in at roughly five hours, although the addition of hidden mementos and heroic actions can increase replay ability.

Multiplayer also falls into a similar vein as single player, with a largely unchanged formula that benefits from the new setting. Multiplayer includes the new headquarters, a hub similar to the one found in “Destiny”, with the structure being largely similar.

“Create a class” still serves as the way players select their load-out during a match and many game modes return, such as “Team Deathmatch” and “Domination”. New to multiplayer is “Gridiron”, where players try getting a ball into the enemy goal, and “War”, where players must assault or defend a series of objectives.

Both game modes are fine in their own right and can make for a hectic and fun experience if played correctly. There is also the chance that players can purposely play these modes incorrectly and with no penalty.

Ultimately multiplayer, though decently designed, can vary immensely in quality due to the players, and can range from an exhilarating and fast-paced game at its best to a frustrating and unfulfilling mess at its worst. It’s more or less the same as previous titles, just with a different setting and weapons.

“Nazi Zombies” also remains mostly unchanged from its predecessors, though it is arguably the best game mode because of what it does differently.

Sledgehammer’s “Nazi Zombies” still contains things like perks, the mystery box, and a nonlinear map, but it has a greater focus on horror than past iterations, be it the setting or the zombies’ appearances.

Zombies are more grotesque than ever, and a fair share of experimental zombies run throughout the main complex. This added variety can keep players on their toes, making zombies more engaging than previously.

There are also objectives to complete during the game, though they are not optional to unlocking the majority of the in-game content. It strikes a good balance between giving the game a purpose, in addition to creating a fun survival mode.

All three game modes have something that stands out, such as the campaign’s depiction of war to the unnervingly delightful feel of “Nazi Zombies”, creating a well-balanced product.

The game is still a “Call of Duty” title, and unmistakably so.

Although each game mode is enjoyable on its own, “Call of Duty” is best played as a multiplayer game above all else.

Thus, “Call of Duty: WWII” is a solid product that is best enjoyed with friends, as well as a good attempt to recapture the interest of fans.

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