Call of Duty WWII came out on Nov. 3, 2017. (Courtesy of Sledgehammer Games)
Plain and simple, “Call of Duty: WWII” is nothing new.
It is a standard approach. The tried and true “Call of Duty” homage to World War II. Anyone who sunk a couple hours of their childhood into completing any of the first three entries of the “Call of Duty” franchise has played a less technologically advanced version of Sledgehammer Games’ newest entry into the series.
“Call of Duty: WWII” includes the three staple game modes of any entry into the series: a single-player campaign experience, a competitive multiplayer experience and a cooperative Nazi Zombie horde-mode. This time, there are no jetpacks, no space ships and no robots. The firearms featured have names the audience is familiar with.
This year’s “Call of Duty” makes absolutely no attempt to reinvent the wheel. And that is without a doubt the most comforting and enjoyable part of this title. In fact, it happens to be what makes it the most anticipated, and possibly the most well received first-person shooter to be published by Activision in years.
For now, gone are the days when the series puts one in control of a cybernetic, superhuman future-soldier fighting waves of robot enemies, time traveling and blasting through space. This title is everything a “Call of Duty” game should be: a fun and balanced multiplayer experience, a short-and-sweet story that brilliantly places the player in the action of World War II and a horde-mode that is full of surprises and never gets old.
Beginning as many World War II stories have, with a jarring and emotional depiction of the storming of the beaches of Normandy, the single-player campaign follows the U.S. 1st Infantry Division from the Battle of the Bulge to the liberation of Paris and all the way down to the liberation of the German concentration camps.
Despite taking place over the course of only 10 missions, the storyline is dramatic and daring. Each and every mission and cinematic is well done. The voice acting is tremendous, the sound and level design had lofty goals, and met all of them. The experience was awe-inspiring and terrifying. Every moment built the tension, even when combat was not taking place. And to top it all off, the graphical display was bar none. Each and every scene was gritty, realistic and looking dramatically better than most modern gaming experiences.
Sledgehammer’s willingness to return the franchise to its roots paid dividends for the campaign experience. The campaign experience was tantamount to, and reminiscent of, Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” It was a riveting tribute to the valor and sacrifice of the American everyman in World War II. It encapsulated everything that made early entries into the franchise gaming classics with the benefits of modern gaming technology.
The competitive multiplayer remains as it always has. Two teams go head to head on a series of themed maps from the period and attempt to best each other in Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and various objective-based modes.
There are only a handful of additions worthy of note when it comes to multiplayer. A new game mode by the name of War, in which a team of Axis soldiers attempts to defend various objectives while an Allied team attempts to push forward and complete the objective to force the Axis to retreat to further objectives before eventual surrender. And a new social hub, in which the player can adventure around a military base in third-person and socialize with other players, shoot targets on a firing range, etc.
The multiplayer is fast paced, action packed and a joy to play. The mechanics are exactly the same as they have always been. The gunplay is balanced. And with the exception of several server issues at launch, this mode is exceptional.
Finally, there is the Nazi Zombies horde-mode. Much like the previous features, the Nazi Zombies experience is nearly identical to past installments. The player and up to three teammates take on endless hordes of zombies while attempt to solve the secrets of the map and achieve a high-score by dispatching zombies until all teammates are killed.
Despite a handful of menial changes, such as a name change for the currency system and the powerups that can be purchased, it is the same Nazi Zombies people know and love, complete with a new map and a graphical upgrade.
The common theme is that all three of the major experiences afforded the player in “Call of Duty: WWII” are nearly identical to those that players have had a chance to play in previous installments of the game. The only difference being that this title looks and sounds superior, as most successive videogame titles do, and it returns “Call of Duty” to its roots in World War II.
The game is no modern marvel. It is not a gaming masterpiece. In fact, it is a rehashing of everything “Call of Duty” and every other first-person shooter has done previously. Yet the thing that makes this game such a joy to play is that this is exactly what the fans have been requesting for multiple years now: a return to form.
For those who liked the last few “Call of Duty” games and did not have a taste for the originals, do not bother with this one. But for those who need a plainly enjoyable “Call of Duty” experience wrapped up in a nostalgic bow, buy this game immediately. It is everything a “Call of Duty” game is supposed to be and more.
Final Grade: A+