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Joystiq hands-on: Call of Duty: World at War beta

Ross Miller

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This week, we had the chance to enlist into the Call of Duty: World at War beta for Xbox 360, which features a handful of online maps to play. What follows is a back-and-forth discussion of our initial impressions after playing the game for a few hours.

Alexander Sliwinski: Um, isn't it just Call of Duty 4 with a different setting?
Ross Miller: More or less, and I think that's a great way to describe the game: It's Call of Duty 4, with a few differences. For example, instead of helicopters, you've got dogs.

Evil killer dogs.
I don't know about you, but I'm not sure how I feel about the inclusion of dogs. You don't have a choice but to kill them when they come after you.

If the idea of a yelping German Shepherd being shot bothers you, then you can't play this game online. Or maybe at all.
If they were killer cats, give me a blender and I'll go to town. But not the poor puppies. In the developer's defense, though, Lara Croft killed endangered species ... like dinosaurs.
That's true. I think the worst part about the dogs is they seemed to have replaced the COD4 bonus of calling in a helicopter. Also missing: red laser sights. In its stead, bayonets and rifle grenade launchers.
Well, I'm fairly certain I saw artillery strikes getting called in. Not that I lived long enough to figure out what was really ever going on.
Heh, problems dying too much?
Oh, just a bit. Seriously, everyone is brown. Wait, that sounds racist. Like, everything is shades of brown and it's really hard to tell who you're supposed to shoot. Guess that's just a problem from years of Halo - actually, I totally acknowledge that's where that issue stems from. I'm so focused on looking for the green title over someone's head before I shoot and by that point I'm already dead. Shooting the first brown figure you see moving regardless of allegiance seems wrong somehow. I walked away from this thinking it's just COD4 revisited. The menu, the feel.
Now with more Kiefer! Why is Jack Bauer telling me there's an enemy recon plane overhead? The Jack Bauer I know would've found a way to destroy the recon plane as faster than he could announce it.
Well, dude did let LA get nuked, so he's not perfect.
Fair enough. So in summation, World at War is COD4 with more Kiefer, more dogs, new setting and less futuristic weaponry. To its credit, online play so far has been virtually lag-free, even when playing with a group of Europeans.

At first, I thought that was some cool voice filter. Turns out the German team was actually full of Germans.
It's a beautiful game and it's exactly the thing those who liked COD4 would probably want ... if they were looking to take their battles and weaponry back 50 years.
I just don't see what will compel COD4 players to switch over, at all, especially when Infinity Ward is still supporting the former.
That's where I get stuck. It's all about setting. Oh, and while we're on the subject, the maps are perfectly competent with plenty of nooks and crannies. If you prefer WWII it's World at War, if you prefer the present then you'd just stick with COD4.
Not only that, but COD4 is going to much cheaper when World at War comes out. I will say this about the game: It has tanks, which does give that specific map in the beta an added stress factor (in a somewhat good way) while being large enough that you can avoid it altogether if you want to.
HOW DO YOU DESTROY THEM THOUGH!?!?! It's totally not clear. You don't just run up and get a pop-up of what you're supposed to do like in Halo. For a COD4 expert that's cool, but it doesn't bring newbs into the fold.
You do if it's unoccupied or if its controlled by your team and there's a vacant seat. But no, getting that close, I think there's some conditioned from a game like Halo where you should be able to hijack it. I remember when Bungie first showed that off in a Halo 2 teaser, people were going nuts over it.
Yeah, and I don't want it to sound like I'm negative on the game. It does what it does really well. I just don't see why COD4 fans would give up what they've got and it's still too COD4 for Halo fans to recognize it as anything else.
Exactly. But hey, maybe a flamethrower does it for some people. Speaking of which, I haven't seen that yet in the beta, you?
Ah well, it's not like I have a burning desire to do so ...
Stop trying to start a flame war.

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