September 20, 2009

World at... Hmmm, No Good Puns to Be Had

So, after a long time away, I started playing Call of Duty again this weekend- both Modern Warfare and World at War. It's been good times, to be certain. But one... definitely more than the other. You see, when World at War came out, I thought it was great. Obviously, not the big evolution that MW was for the series, but it took steps in the right direction, and was an excellent game. Coming back now... Modern Warfare still blows me away. WaW, however... does not. It is, in fact, a very troubled game. I'm going to talk about the multiplayer side of it- the single player is a whole different story, and maybe I'll talk about that some other time.

Let me explain. There are some things that World at War tried that I still agree were great. The dogs, as a killstreak reward, are just plain better than the chopper. Consider, if you will, that the chopper did not miss, headshotted people with frequency, and took a LOT of effort to shoot down. Also, on some maps it was god, some maps it was worthless. Badly designed. The dogs, on the other hand, while not perfect, are quite counterable by a skilled player, about equally good on all maps, and encourage people to work together to watch each other's backs. They also encourage conflict rather than camping- the side that summons the dogs nearly always will follow the dogs to reach the enemy. It keeps things fresh, and is relatively fair. I really like the dogs. Another thing it tried, and was right about, was bolt-action rifles. They just feel good. One shot, one kill on most enemies. They could have made them a BIT more powerful- every time I plug someone in the gut with my Mosin-Nagant at twenty yards and he doesn't drop, I die a little inside (and die a lot ingame, because he's usually brought his aperture sight MP40 martyrdom ass to bear on me with some from the hip spray and pray, oh I'm not bitter).

But it did some very, very stupid things, too. For one... it stuck to the formula in lazy ways. Making it familar to Modern Warfare fans is one thing. Giving it the exact same UI, not even recoloring it, and the exact same challenges, is lazy. And it's irritating. We bought the game hoping that it would be something new. Otherwise, we'd still be playing Modern Warfare (in fact, many went BACK to MW, and I can hardly blame them). Another thing, a lot of its new perks were just plain stupid. Toss Back is good. I like Toss Back. Shades and Gas Mask are perhaps the two worst perks in the game. They are both hard counters to underused special grenades... and that's it. They do nothing else, and yet you expect us to chose them, ever, over a perk that multiples our health or damage, or a perk that gives us two primary weapons? Those two are awful. The Bouncing Betties are even more annoying than the claymores of MW, not to mention historically inaccurate, and Second Chance misses the point entirely, being unbalancedly good.

Oh, and since we mentioned historical inaccuracy... suppressors and aperture sights? No. In fact, I don't know what kind of freak love child aperture sights are anyway- I don't think anywhere in history is there an army that had soldiers so mentally deficient that they had to buy glass lens the diameter of a grapefruit with a "shoot here" mark on them. The red dot was one thing, this is idiotic. If you couldn't figure out how to shoot with the effing iron sights in World War 2, your commissary shot you so that a more intelligent man could take your gun. There were a few silenced weapons- very few, since they were invented by the Americans in WW2. None of them were rifles, none of them were automatic, and CERTAINLY none of them were the modern screw-on silencer, they were built in. In short- Treyarch, stop being so stupid.

I get it, Treyarch. Those bastards that made weapons in World War 2, eh? They didn't make enough attachments for their weapons, and now your photocopying of Modern Warfare is at risk. But you know what? There are other things you could have done. Pretty much every gun used in WW2 went through several, visually distinct iterations. You could have had those be unlockable, with varied attributes from the base version of the gun. Heck, I would have loved to have been able to unlock the Thompson M1928, that's the one that looks awesome (look it up, it really does). But in the end, even this flaw falls behind the wayside. I mean, really, they just can't live up to the three hundred pound gorilla in the room.

Vehicles. Okay, Sequels 101: need to add something to make your game feel different than its predecessor? Add vehicles! No seriously. That must be what they tell developers, because Jesus Christ do they love to shove that shit in our faces. Okay Treyarch. Listen up. Call of Duty. Is not. About. Vehicles. Do you really think that Infinity Ward didn't think of adding vehicles? I promise you they did. And they realized it was a retarded idea. And you didn't.

Okay. Here are the facts. In real life, an infantry gets the shit kicked out of him by a tank. They're no freaking match for them. In Halo or whatever, you're a super soldier with awesome armor, that you can take on a tank and win is a little silly, but okay. In Call of Duty... you're a grunt. And just like a grunt, you die like a little bitch when you fight a tank. Over and over. And that is NOT fun. Hell, it's hardly fun for the guy in the tank, because there are a dozen guys popping out of nowhere like Whack-a-Moles to pop him once with their rocket launchers and then duck back into hiding. Oh, and another thing? The game is played in first person... but the tank has third person view. ...What? So climing into this lumbering hunk of steel, and staring out through a one foot steel slit in the front gives you BETTER perspective? Idiotic.

Basically, there really were a few good ideas at Treyarch when they made this game. But as it turns out... way, way too few. It's better than CoD3, that's for certain. Maybe next time they will produce something good? Who knows.

This bitter, after-the-fact review brought to you by Mountain Dew, the only reason this post is gonna be up before noon. Though, 4 am is pretty damn good, if you ask me. I'll start trying to post before noon now, maybe that'll keep me honest.

EDIT: Correction- the Sten had a few silenced versions, which were automatic. My mistake. Funny that they didn't see fit to put any British guns in the game, though, eh?

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