Saturday, November 04, 2017

"Call of Duty: WWII" Review

Activision's ongoing global offensive mission with the "Call of Duty" series is to keep introducing new facets to global combat. After years of pushing technology forward until it finally went full sci-fi last year with "Infinite Warfare," the publisher got the point that what was old became new again. Hence, back to the well with the suddenly refreshing concept of the World War II FPS with "Call of Duty: WWII."

The series built on combat in the European theater returns to its roots, and the campaign is a "Battlefield One"-inspired best-of hit list from World War II, starting with a hellacious take on D-Day. The combat is fluid and gritty, and all the more impactful because it holds back from gratuitously over-the-top set pieces, scaling down to an intimate look at one infantry man's scampering to survive the storming of Omaha Beach, a scramble to clear out five bunkers and eventually drag a wounded ally to safety under fire. Gritty, intense realism pulsates every note, making you feel as though you are genuinely experiencing the war in a way the early 2000s games never managed or even earnestly attempted.

Multiplayer remains the main draw for a colossal contingent of casual beer and energy drink chugging gamers, as well as e-sports participates in training. The biggest change of pace comes here, where standard wall-running, jetpack-aided double jumping and drone-hawking are gone in favor of old-school, cover-to-cover stop-and-pop hunting.

Whether the change-up maintains the interest of stream viewers and all-night players remains to be seen, but the mechanics are balanced and sound, with intricate, well-designed maps making the experience calibrated with precision and thought. A new, camp-based hub system adds some sense to the multiplayer oeuvre, adding some wandering downtime reminiscent of the "NBA 2K18" career mode hub world by allowing you to wander around to scout for upgrades, weaponry and other players you can squad up with.

The third facet of the three-in-one game -- the concept that continually makes "Call of Duty" games one of the better values in the annual release spectrum -- is Nazi Zombies, which continues to carry the spiritual torch of "Left for Dead." That mode always works best in cramped quarters, and the better maps here are the ones where you can hear the undead menace lurking around a corner and need to ration out your ammo in order to avoid getting into a melee struggle with multiple creatures. A refreshing palate cleanser that will never be the main draw, the mode continues to fulfill its orders dutifully.

Overall, the "Call of Duty: WWII" package feels like a bold, fresh move for the franchise by returning to basics and nailing them. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, but the state of the "Call of Duty" nation for now remains fierce.
Publisher provided review code.

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