Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Release Date: 11/3/2017
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Am I 13 again? That’s the question I asked myself when I first loaded up WWII. World War II shooters dominated the gaming industry back in the late 90’s to early 2000’s with Medal of Honor and Call of Duty being at the frontline. With so many WWII games (check out my articles on nearly every WWII game ever made) everyone was done with them into the late 00’s. With Modern Warfare and Battlefield and other games jumping into modern combat, we quickly got sick of those in about the same amount of time.
Here we are full circle. It’s rather funny that a WWII shooter feels fresh when just 10 years ago we were begging for it to end. Call of Duty was always my favorite of the bunch as it’s slower more cinematic take on the war was memorable, and the gunplay was more realistic. There was always an interesting connection between teammates rather than the war as a whole. In Call of Duty, you always followed one squad, or a small few (Finest Hour), but it never created anything groundbreaking.
WWII follows this old trend again as you play as Private Daniels who follows his squad mates through theaters of war and discovers loses along the way. It’s enough to keep you moving forward, but never really amounts to anything. These are just generic soldiers that we have seen time and time again in these historical war shooters. What I was in for was the cinematic set pieces, weapons, and realism of WWII coming back with our current technology. Remember, these WWII shooters died in the middle of the last generation cycle.
I was very impressed with the storming of Normandy beach as the game opened up. It showed the visual prowess of the game with bullet shells flying everywhere, realistic and detailed characters and animations, and great water physics. What amazed me the most was when a soldier’s head was blown clean off and I said to myself, “Wow, so they finally took the hint from Brothers in Arms that there was gore in these wars”. It’s just a no-brainer. I don’t know if it was technical limitations, or just trying to get the Teen rating, but why was there no gore for all those years these shooters were out? Only Brothers in Arms did that I can remember.
As I played through the campaign I had a sense that I was the small man in the war, never really a true hero. There are “Heroic Moments” that allows you to pull someone to safety to save someone from a Nazi trying to kill them, but these felt like they were wasted and just got in the way. Same with trying to find hidden momentos everywhere. When you’re stuck in the middle to tank fire or being raided by bombs you aren’t going to go around hunting for stuff, it’s just plain silly.
That wasn’t the only silly thing in the campaign, some of the cinematic scripted events are too crazy and they feel like some sort of Indiana Jones thing like when Daniels is falling down a bell tower and the bell is chasing him. Don’t drag it out so long and make so many near misses that you start rolling your eyes. These things took me out of the experience. However, the game did change up the pace quite a bit by throwing in stealth missions, escort missions, one mission where you are flying a plane (which is horrible), and even some tank and driving sections. It’s all here and it feels like the culmination of Call of Duty from yesteryear, but in the end, it’s still missing something.
You can feel a bit of the Modern Warfare series in this game such as the hit counter, quick scoping, and grenade lobbing. I wanted this game to stand apart from those and have nothing familiar in it, but it gets even worse in multiplayer where it felt like Modern Warfare with a WWII skin attached.
After I finished the 8-hour campaign I was left wanting more which is always a good thing. I’m sure Activision will milk this again as will other developers, but let’s use this opportunity to create something unique and give us parts of the war we haven’t seen. How about through the eyes of the Jews or something a little more personable? It can happen, but WWII did what it was supposed to, for now.
I won’t get into multiplayer or Nazi Zombies much, but Zombies is completely evolved. The new story carries out and the map is much larger with little puzzles here and there. There are a lot of upgrades and Zombies is at its best yet, but you should probably already expect that. I never played Zombies much on CoD and probably won’t here either. Multiplayer is a little different and isn’t sure if it wants to be WWII, a Modern Warfare skin, or a Battlefield 1 clone. Multiplayer needs the most work in the next series, but I would love a larger campaign.
As it stands, WWII is a much-needed game in the series. Another Infinite Warfare and the series would have been done for good. A few more hours in the oven and Call of Duty could possibly cook up the best WWII shooter ever created next time around. With fantastic cinematic moments, a variety of gameplay, and a long campaign, amazing visuals, the added gore, and wholesome weapons, WWII is one of my favorite shooters to have come out in recent years.