Published on November 24th, 2017 | by Chris Ramirez, Editor
Call of Duty WWII Campaign Review
Editor’s Note: The game was provided by Activision for the purpose of review
Surrounded by your battle brothers, you shit talk with one another to lighten the mood of the unspeakable horror that awaits you. The room soon fills with alarms and you rush to get into a boat to land on the coastal European shores. On the way to the shore, reality of the terror hits you and your squad. The sounds of whizzing bullets clanging against the metal boat get you more terrified as you get closer to the shore. Suddenly, a neighboring boat explodes and runs right into your boat capsizing you. Vulnerable to the gunfire, you are dazed and confused. No matter where you look, your friends are getting killed.
Above is a description of the opening scene of Call of Duty: WWII. Overlaid with the narrative of Private Danial, the player controlled character, the single player campaign’s presentation is similar to new WWII documentary. The care of subject Sludgehammer has given this year’s Call of Duty is unmatched to the pervious titles of trying to revamp the franchise.
The gameplay start as your familiar Call of Duty, fast passed movie action. In attempt to build better character development, squad members have “special” abilities. For example, one squad member can identify enemies on the battlefield, one can provide you ammo, and one can provide you health packs. Because of this feature, regenerating health is now gone. However, giving you the ability to control your health leads to quicker gameplay since you do not need to stop your momentum to find cover to regenerate health. Giving your squad distinguishable features is supposed to rise the tension of the game, but at no point did I feel my squad was in any type of danger or have to worry any of them dying.
In the beginning missions you are met with familiar formula of over the top action sequences and waves of enemies until you reach certain points in the level. However, after the first few missions, Sludgehammer’s storytelling shines. The mission “Liberation,” and the missions that follow, pulls the narrative from you being a cog in big battles to personal and moral driven missions. As a result, Call of Duty WWII is the best of the franchise.
What makes a great Call of Duty, in my opinion, is memorable levels or moments. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has a number of memorable moments including the wonderful pacing and tension in Charlie Don’t Surf to surviving in infamous Ferris wheel on One Shot, One Kill. Black Ops II mounted you on horses in a massive shootout.
Call of Duty WWII has a number of memorable moments. Moments include, but not limited to, disguising as a Nazi and infiltrate one of the strongholds, saving a little girl from a firefight, being tricked into an area to get air bombed, to escorting an solider to an enemy torrent to plant an explosive to take over a Nazi stronghold. The narrative is so well done that you feel the weight and tension every second of these moments. Sludgehammer does a wonderful job creating a personal connection in the beginning of some missions with little moments anyone can relate to. For example, missions will start with you looking at personal pictures or providing flashbacks of private Daniel’s life before being on the frontlines. Everybody has experienced missing the comforts of home and fully understand how Private Daniel’s feels before going into an horrific firefight.
These sweet and quiet moments stand out because of the game is realistically violent. There are a number of scripted scenes where soldiers die in front of you. Soldiers will be shot in the head, stabbed, or even blown in half; Call of Duty WWII isn’t for the faint of heart. SludgeHammer has spent so much attention to details in the environment and character models. The realistic violence is also seen on the enemies you kill as well. You will see your sniping bullet going through the enemy and having the helmet fly off or seeing the enemies react to the flamethrower as you start torching the area. I often looked around in the aftermath of a battle and I was reminded of actual World War II footage.
The gameplay is similar to past Call of Duty titles. The guns seemed to be unbalanced but once you get comfortable with the gun you like, you will stick with it. Enemies seemed to be bullet sponges with automatic weapons; it will typically take more than one clip to kill an enemy. I stuck with a single shot riffle that could easily kill enemies with a precision shot. The narrative does a wonderful of job of advancing the story of Daniels and his relationship with his platoon as well as letting you play other aspects of the war. For example as Daniels you need to call an airstrike to prevent an ambush. Once you call the airstrike, the narrative pulls you away from Daniels position and places you in the called planes to fight your way through enemy planes and flak to aid the ambush. The switch between platoons is done wonderfully by pulling out showing your position on a map to showing you the new position and pulling back in just like how you would see in a documentary.
Unlike the other Call of Duty titles, the campaign does not end with the big dramatic over the top battle. Instead you get a gritty realistic depiction of the consequences of war and how it affects soldiers and civilians.
The Final Truth:
The campaign depicts the reality and horror of war. It does not hold back. It shows how the horrors of war can ultimately change someone for better and worse through the different characters you meet. There are moments throughout the game where you can save down soldiers or decide the fate of captured POWs. These moments have no real effect on the story or the development of your character but they are nice addition that allows you to slow the pace of the game and look at the effects of war. By deciding to present the narrative through a documentary style allows Sledgehammer to easily transition between different parts of a battle to reinforce the darker side of war and the struggle of those on the battlefield.
Call of Duty World War II could have easily been overshadowed by all of the amazing games that were released this year, but it stands as one of my favorite games this year.