Call of Duty: World at War

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Recommended age: This may contain plenty of blood, gore, language (including the f-word), and intense violence--you are able to dismember enemies from the head, legs and arms with certain weapons--but all of the above can be turned off, and (although it's still intense) if the "Graphic Content" filter is enabled, then the content presented is no worse (in some ways more mild) than Call of Duty 3's. So, I recommend this game for ages 14+.

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list.

This might not be the most realistic looking or technically impressive game out there (it's inconsistent; many areas look better than others), but it uses the CoD4 engine well, and often builds upon it, with vast and sometimes gorgeous jungle views full of lush foliage and tall grass that sway in the wind and react to your movement; real-time fire propagation, huge scale explosions and dynamic smoke and water effects; sharp textures and character models; brief load times; and a smooth framerate--it's looks good.

The controls are smooth and responsive, with weapon sites for more accuracy and an aim assist, making it easy to shoot through the hundreds of enemy soldiers by quickly popping onto a target, shooting and then repeating--if you've played previous Call of Duty games, you'll immediately be at home with these controls. In the same vein, the overall gameplay is almost exact (especially in regards to CoD3), meaning you're getting the same action-packed run and gunner with linear levels and huge battles.

And as always, there's one tank level (this time with a built-in flamethrower), and a similar version of CoD4's sniper level, complete with attack dogs and an assassination target at the end. But, that's not to say there isn't anything new; the Pacific jungle setting (and electric guitar music) makes this feel more modern than the past WWII games; the flamethrower is a useful addition, and it's fun to torch everything in sight with the real-time fire propagation; a later on-rail plane level is not only gorgeous but thrilling, and very well made; and you feel pretty empowered with Gary Oldman cheering you on while you take down enemies.

However, this is where the new ends, and what's left is all too similar; for one, they should stop making WWII games, they've had their time, and we gamers are simply sick of it; second of all, if they insist on pursuing this war again, then they should stop splitting up the campaign into two or three viewpoints and concentrate on one--in this game's case they should have stuck to the far more interesting Pacific jungle setting only--but they still had to include the Russian levels, which are set in Europe (again), making it feel, for these certain levels, like I never took CoD2 out of my system.

This carries into the story, and although this game doesn't need a deep one to make gameplay fun--and the inclusion of Gary Oldman and Keifer Sutherland as voice actors adds a much needed sense of bravado to the overall story--it's still far too unfocused, uninvolving and vague. I guess the developers still haven't learned that you can tell a thousand WWII stories and it won't get old, so long as you have a focused story, unique characters and one group of men, not multiple; I didn't even know who I was playing as half the time.

The great sense of urgency often has you on the edge of your seat, but once you find out most of it's heavily scripted, the intensity is lessened--almost everything happens the same way twice; and the touted multiple paths through levels end up being a couple of small entrances into the same central areas. I also think that this series needs a cover system, and though I don't wish to see anything like that in Gears of War, I think it would give the next game some much needed strategy if they'd implement something closer to that of the upcoming Killzone 2.

The AI is a mixed bag; allies will often provide adequate cover-fire and toss grenades back at the enemy, but they'll sometimes block your shots, and more annoyingly, they won't go any further into enemy lines until you have gone in first, meaning you're almost always going into dangerous situations alone. Enemy AI is on the other spectrum, and not only are they incredible shots, but they'll constantly flank you, toss grenades at your positions with perfect accuracy, and then rush you while you're down. However, grenades don't work nearly as well for you; enemies dodge them with little effort, and then throw them back right as they explode in your face.

As for challenge, gameplay is moderately difficult on the default setting (as it should be), and although later areas can get pretty overwhelming and a bit frustrating, it's balanced by the fact that checkpoints are convenient and plentiful--if played on the easiest setting, newbies won't have a problem getting through it. And after beating it there's plenty of replay value, with a level select (you can go back and collect all the Death Cards scattered throughout), five difficulties (including Veteran mode); online multi-player; a full campaign co-op (online and split-screen); and the new, campy-fun Nazi zombie mode.

So overall, while this may not be as good as the second or fourth entry (the team that did this didn't do these, and it really does show--they're just not as good), it's on par with CoD3, in some ways surpassing it, with great, high profile voice acting; the addition of the very fun to use flamethrower and adjoining fire propagation; beautiful Pacific jungle scenery; and an overall solid, action filled campaign--if you're a fan of CoD3 or just this series, you'll probably like this game.

Blood and Gore: The blood bursts in thick and moderate to heavy amounts when you shoot an enemy; it spurts and then slowly trickles when you stab enemies in the chest with a bayonet or knife; and jets out of their necks when you block a rush attack and stick a knife in their jugulars. Blood does linger, splatters onto walls and floors, and there is static blood smeared on walls, bodies and floors throughout. Bodies do linger, you see many bloodied enemy and ally bodies throughout, and in a couple instances, half dead and dismembered soldiers crawling through the battlefield with their bloody and grotesquely detailed stumps exposed.

In addition, when you use the shotgun or certain machine guns, enemy legs, arms and heads will blow off with a squish, as blood jets from their bloody stumps--if you look closely you'll see what remains of their feet lying about, as well as detailed views of their stumps, beheaded necks and shredded torsos. However, you can disable all of this by going into the Options and then turning Graphic Content off; this will blur violent stock footage and remove all blood, gore and dismemberment for gameplay, cutscenes and all offline modes--bloody sounds and static blood on walls and floors will remain, and both filters do not apply to online multi-player.

Specific scenes of blood & gore:

(if "Graphic Content" is disabled, the scenes listed below would then be considered scenes of "Intense Violence" instead of "Blood and Gore")

  • The opening scene has your character slowly come to from first-person (through his eyes) in what appears to be a Japanese prison camp. While an enemy interrogator stands over your body, you watch, as in the background, a fellow American soldier with a heavily bloodied and cut face, is hit repeatedly with a sharp sword (viewed from his back), evident by moderate amounts of blood spurting from his face. The lead officer then goes over to the bloodied man and jams his lit cigarette into the man's face, causing the man's screams, and sparks to fly. He then orders the other enemy soldier to kill the man, who then pulls out his knife and slashes him in the throat, resulting in a slitting sound, his gurgles, and heavy blood splatter onto the wall. The enemy soldier is about to do the same to you when an allied soldier sneaks up and stabs him in the back (squishing sounds and moderate blood included).
  • After enemies ambush your squad, you see a Japanese soldier knock an ally onto the ground and use his bayonet to impale him through his middle, resulting in squishing sound effects and moderate blood splatter from the wound.
  • When you slowly turn around and fall after an enemy hits you from behind, an ally comes to the rescue as you see him shoot the enemy point blank in slow-motion, resulting in squishing sounds and moderate blood effects on impact.
  • While infiltrating the battlefield in a boat, it soon gets stuck on the coral. When one of the soldiers points this out and sticks his head over the side, he's shot in the head by a stray bullet, resulting in his helmet flying off, a squishing sound on impact, and a moderate amount of blood spurting from the wound as you briefly see what appears to be his brain before the boat is overturned by explosions.
  • As you hear your heartbeat, the screen fades in from black. From a lying position, you see several of your allies lying dead or half dead (slowly writhing in pain) in a ruined area, as birds eat at the corpses (no gratuitous detail seen). You soon see an enemy soldier approach and proceed to shoot the half dead men out of their misery (with moderate blood spurting and their convulsing), as you then slowly crawl through their dead bodies to escape.
  • After killing your assassination target (a German military leader), blood splatters heavily and in slow-mo as he falls.
  • While walking into a ruined room, you find an enemy soldier begging for his life in front of two allied Russian soldiers. The first man tells the other that he may be able to offer some valuable information, but the other doesn't think so and quickly shoots the enemy point blank in the forehead, resulting in moderate blood splatter, and a gapping hole in his head as blood slowly leaks from his body onto the floor, staining it red in a large puddle.
  • After defeating the Germans at their stronghold, your sergeant asks you to put up the Russian flag in a sign of victory. When you go to do this, an enemy soldier comes out of nowhere and shoots you down. You then watch from first-person as your leader pulls out a large machete, slashes the enemy left/right, props him from behind and then stabs him through the middle (moderate blood splatter included), and then runs towards you as blood slowly drips from his blade.

Intense violence: The game takes place in both the Pacific and Europe during World War II, and puts in you in the shoes of an American Marine named Miller--under command of Sergeant Roebuck (voiced by Keifer Sutherland)--fighting against the Japanese, and a Russian soldier named Dimitri--under command of Sergeant Reznov (voiced by Gary Oldman)--fighting against the German Nazis. Cutscenes between levels use modern graphic montages mixed with stock footage from WWII, and are narrated by both Roebuck and Reznov to tell the story--but beyond this, there really is no deep plot to convey; all that's needed to know is it's an all out World War, and they're fighting it...

The base gameplay consists of shooting your way through the battlefields from point A to B, while taking cover behind objects and allied tanks, throwing smoke grenades to conceal your presence, flanking and clearing out enemy bunkers; destroying enemy mounted machine guns, mortar teams, tanks, AA (anti air) guns, artillery guns, and weapon depots with your radio (for air strikes), the flamethrower (to burn them out), rocket launchers, and the enemies' own mounted guns to ultimately infiltrate, take over, and then hold your position until backup arrives. You'll also use a tank to destroy enemy tanks and buildings with your cannon, and the built-in flamethrower to torch on-foot soldiers; and switch between a plane's turrets as you gun down enemy boats and kamikaze planes.

Your enemy are Nazis, their attack dogs and Japanese soldiers, and you'll be fighting them with a variety of handguns, machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, a knife, bayonet, rocket launcher, grenades (frag, mortar shells, Molotov cocktails, and satchel charges), and the flamethrower. The combat system is quick, chaotic and very intense, with you using the varied arsenal to tear through enemies; your grenades, exploding barrels and flamethrowers strapped to some enemy backs to dispatch anyone nearby (causing dust, debris and bodies to fly); Molotov cocktails and the flamethrower to torch grass, burn down trees and set enemies ablaze; and your bayonet or knife to stab them in their chests or neck.

When shot, enemies will scream and contort in pain (attack dogs whine pathetically), while they stumble and their final reflexes make them fire shots into the air; when stabbed with a bayonet, they'll clutch their wound and slowly fall while gurgling; and when set on fire, they'll try to pat out the flames, only to flail about before dying. And because of the environments' destructive properties (vehicles and objects explode, glass shatters, wood breaks apart, bullets chip away at and imbed themselves in walls, enemies can be shot from behind thin cover, etc.), and their ruined appearance (everything is overturned, scorched and filled with ruble), combat has an appropriately destructive, war-torn feel.

The enemy will ambush you from their hiding places in overwhelming numbers, as they attack from all directions and in waves, while front runners charge, bayonets pointed toward your middle; they'll fling grenades your way, toss yours back, knock you over and try to stab you while you're down (attack dogs will rip your throat out). And even when you think you've killed an enemy, they'll often prop themselves up and fire off a few (accurate) shots with their pistol before finally dying, and since you can only take so many hits, the screen will start to blur and red-den around the edges as your heartbeat quickens and your ears ring, while explosions and enemy gunfire reign down on your position--you're always vulnerable.

In addition, there are a couple of tough choices you'll have to make later on; after defeating a group of Germans, you're told to finish off the enemy lying half dead on the floor. After putting them out of their misery, you're given the decision to leave the remaining healthy men who surrendered alive, or execute them where they stand. If you don't, your sergeant will order an ally to toss a Molotov cocktail at the group (which burns them alive), causing your sergeant to remark that if you'd killed them with your gun, they would have felt less pain; and near the very end, you're given the choice to either save your sergeant or another ally from the enemy--one will die. However, the decision of whether to kill your own men is taken out of your hands; if you try, it will auto reload to the last checkpoint--friendly fire is not tolerated.

After beating the single-player campaign, you'll unlock the single and multi-player "Nazi Zombie" mode, which places you in a dilapidated house set in a dark, eerie and foggy setting. You'll have to fend off waves of oncoming Nazi zombies, by buying more powerful weapons, rebuilding barricades and opening new areas of the house with kill points to survive the onslaught. They'll come moaning and staggering from outside with glowing eyes and a disheveled appearance, and proceed to break through the house--and although you will be shooting their limbs and heads off with a variety of weapons, with the "Graphic Content" off (which disables blood and gore, but not dismemberment for this mode), it's (still) casual, non-graphic and campy fun.

The cutscenes contain plenty of chaotic activity and huge explosions; stock footage between levels have brief, one to two second glimpses at dead bodies, a group of people hung together, a man's head being knocked into a wall, and a blindfolded man tied to a post being executed by gunshot; you frequently see allies shot down and blown away; and a couple of the main characters do die. And although this is full of blood, gore, language (including the f-word), and intense violence (you are able to dismember enemies from the head, legs and arms with powerful weapons) all of the above can be turned off with the "Graphic Content" filter, and with it enabled, this really isn't any worse (in some cases more mild) than Call of Duty 3; with this option in place, I see no problem with mid-teens playing this game.

Strong language: There are over two dozen uses of d*mn and sh*t, over a dozen uses of bastard, hell and the f-word, three uses of SoB, and one use of God. Other than the main script, American soldiers will lightly use hell and d*mn, and very rarely use sh*t, SoB and the f-word while fighting. However, if "Graphic Content" is disabled, all language (other than a few rare uses of hell/d*mn during gunfights), including sh*t and the f-word, will completely removed in gameplay and cutscenes.

© 2008-2010 All Rights Reserved. No part of this work, reviews or custom images, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted by the 1976 Copyright Act or in writing from the author, pertaining to the entire site, Requests for permission should be addressed in writing to Lindenville Publishing via the About page. The ESRB rating icons are registered trademarks of the Entertainment Software Association. All the original images are copyrighted by their respective owners.