Daniel has a bachelor's degree in history from CSUF. While loving all aspects of history, some moments makes him go WTF.
The Call of Duty franchise returns to its roots with the game revolving around ground combat in World War Two. This review will look at the three parts of the newest installment as well as some pros and cons and how well the game fares in today's gaming environment. And on the note of it being historically or militarily accurate, as a historian, soldier, and avid gamer, there wasn't anything too inaccurate that is worth mentioning. Of course it is going to be inaccurate, it's a video game, not a text book (although I do disagree with female infantry soldiers being included purely since it wasn't historically accurate, and the controversy about Nazi flags being removed isn't a big deal, they are still in the campaign, just not in multiplayer where they wouldn't even be noticed anyways). That being said I do appreciate that there were very noticeable efforts to make it as accurate a video game as the current audience would want.
Amazing Story in an Amazing Campaign
I have to argue that the campaign is the best mode of Call of Duty WWII. Not because multiplayer and Nazi Zombies are bad, but because the campaign is so rich with the story that you can actually relate to the other characters and feel like you are actually a part of the story rather than just someone controlling a character. The game begins with a level that is used by almost every single World War II game: Operation Overlord or D-Day. While I was very skeptical about how good this game can be since at this point any D-Day level in a video game is basically a remix of another game or of Saving Private Ryan, I wasn't actually disappointed with the opening level. You spend a majority of the level clearing out bunkers and trenches rather than spending 30 minutes making your way up the beach. This is where you really start to dive into the story as you have to work with Zussman. From there, the relationship you have with the characters develops immensely and with only be strengthened throughout the game.
My favorite aspect of the campaign was the fact that you had to actually work as a squad for the most part. While it is not as squad based as the Brothers in Arms games and you can still be Rambo like many other Call of Duty games encourage you to be, the missions in this game force you to take a step back and consider teamwork with your AI squad. Whether it be every member having sectors of fire for a defense too large for you to constantly run back and forth or simply providing an over watch or suppressing fire for a fellow soldier, or simply asking for extra ammo or a medical bag, you start to feel a sense of camaraderie with the other characters (and the cut scenes only reinforce this as you see how they interact with one another).
Lastly, from storming the beaches in Normandy to infiltrating a German base, and even going undercover with the French Resistance to sabotage the German Army, this Call of Duty takes a different approach from the usual run and gun campaign that is usually a repeat from the last installment. There is definitely something for everyone in this campaign, and with such a diverse mission set and mementos to collect (and don't forget the Achievements/Trophies), there are countless hours worth of replayability. Overall, I think that this campaign is among the best campaigns Call of Duty has yet to offer.
Nazi Zombies Are Back
The most popular Call of Duty mode since World at War is back with a new take on the fan favorite. While the original zombies modes didn't really have a story attached and the DLC maps felt like the story was being made up as each map was released rather than a completely planned story, WWII zombies hits you right away with a prologue that puts you into the story and gives you some context as to what is going on. As you play the Final Reich, the first zombie map available, you are confronted with multiple objectives to further the story as well as introduce you to some new aspects of the mode. Of course, you could always play the old school way and just see how long you can last against endless waves of terrifying zombies, however, this new objective-driven mode is a much needed addition that relieves some of the repetitiveness Nazi Zombies can have. Another way you can see that much effort went into reviving the Zombies mode is that the zombies are actually scary! They look more terrifying, their groaning and screaming dialogue is new and pretty creepy, and they can come at you from places you thought were completely safe! In my first time playing, I barely made it to round five due to the fact that I was completely taken by surprise on how fast, bold, and surprising some of the zombies can be. However, the biggest con I have seen so far is the inability to play solo while still earning rewards. You have to play on Xbox Live and the game actively searches for teammates until your team of four is full. However, you can play by yourself if no teammates are found before the timer runs out and the game starts. With the server problems that I'll talk about in the next section, this is no problem.
An Attempt at Revamping Multiplayer
The problem the Call of Duty franchise has always faced is that many claim its games are simply the same thing over and over, just with new looks and worse features (floating in space with robots wasn't as cool as it sounded). However, the promise with WWII was that it returned to the classic boots on the ground combat style that made COD what it is today, and to an extent they accomplished this. While multiplayer is back to ground combat set in WWII, personally, I was expecting it to be a little more like World at War. However, it still somewhat feels like recent Call of Duty games (more like the Black Ops series, not all the space crap). While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, many love it, I was just expecting a little more. The graphics are amazing and add that gritty feel I loved about World War II games, but the maps are incredibly small, or actually decent in overall size but force the players into close quarters. I know many are against the sniping craze with countless kids trying for new trick shots, but I would have appreciated a little more room for actual tactical sniping. Also, due to the size of the maps, sub machine guns have become the weapon of choice for most players, and like many saw in the beta, they can be a little overpowered. I think this will eventually get balanced out, however, maps are of course going to be paid DLC. Being the cheapskate I am, I’ll probably be stuck with these.
Another new introduction Call of Duty made to get away from the repetitive issue is the new mode War. In this mode, you have to complete different objectives to push your team to victory. This mode helps get players away from the highest kill streak mindset and pushes them to work as a team towards objectives. I think it is a great addition. The biggest addition is the headquarters, a social space for players to interact as well as test point streaks, try that new gun at the range, and accept orders for your next match. A great concept, but with the broken servers, you are left with your character standing alone wishing your friends could join you.
However, with all great things there are always some not so great things. The biggest thing I am going to talk about is the server issues at launch. I have experienced this and seen across forums everywhere so this is a game wide problem. Basically, you can’t play multiplayer, whether it's normal team deathmatch or a game of Nazi Zombies, nobody can connect. When you join a lobby, you are forced to sit there and watch your screen continuously “search for available games,” “widening search,” and “x amount of games available” until you decide enough is enough and just quit.