Call of Duty – World at War – I’m at War

For this week’s post, I ventured even further into previously unchartered territory, and played the increasingly popular (or it was when I stopped being cool 4 or 5 years ago), “Call of Duty, World at War.”

I once again went next door for Vernon’s Ginger Ale and cold pizza, because the neighbors know their video games far better than I ever could.  From what I am told, “World at War” is a game in the Call of Duty series, though this version features an increasingly more mature theme than its previous versions in the series. The game is what I’m told is “open-ended”, which gives the player multiple ways to complete objectives. Players fight alongside AI-controlled teammates. Friends, ‘teammates,’ or in my case, neighbors, are able to help during the game’s missions by providing cover fire, shooting down enemies, and clearing rooms for entry.

I’m told this is most similar to “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4.”

When I play the game single-player, I am able to control three different characters from a first-person perspective.  There are different types of characters and different abilities of each, but overall, I am of the belief that in any game of this sort (not just fighting / war games, but any in which the purpose is to teach a moral, ethical lesson, or prove a point, or in which the character could be somewhat believable – unlike a game like Pac Man), first-person is best. There are people who disagree with me, including those playing with me right now, but I like first-person.  I like it because in terms of mechanics and being realistic, it does the job; at least for me it works.

The plot, while complicated, taught me enough about history that I was inspired to start emailing history teachers from high school – in other words, it did its job.  When I noted ‘moral and ethical teachings’ above, half of you reading thought that was a joke, but there are lessons, including historical, and violent-leaning, to be learned.

The game story begins in Makin Island on the evening of August 17, 1942. Marine Private C. Miller watches the torture and execution of Private K. Pyle, a colleague in the Marines, by the Japanese. Within seconds (milliseconds appear on the television screen) before Miller’s execution, he is rescued by a squad of Marines, led by Corporal Roebuck and Sergeant Sullivan as they assault the island, replicating the Makin Island raid.

Through a variety of raids and series of battles, we are taken through the abovementioned controls and options, able to literally fight alongside members of this armed force. 

Overall, I think this game provides one of the best senses of reality across gaming, from what I’ve seen.  Again recognizing that I’m a novice, I would say that this provided me with even more realistic feelings than the sports games, such as FIFA, and some of the ‘free’ games that come with Wii (bowling, tennis, etc.) did.  I might be wrong, but the fact that you look around and are alongside not only ‘real people,’ but folks in an armed force we read about and discuss, worked.

If I was to be more talented, and I had taken the game design option for this class, this game would have taught me several key take-aways to implement in my own game: The first is that first-person perspective works.  The rest of the take-aways would have been that all ther mechanics and facets of game design should be tied to this perspective, allowing dialogue, visuals, options, player versions, and background music or noise to be tied to the fact that sitting in a living room playing a game like this one (assuming yours is similar or that realistic is what we’re aiming for) should be no different than putting three or four quarters in (does it still cost that?) at an arcade, in one of those actual simulators. 

Cheers to perspective shaping reality.


  1. prutting834 said:

    An interesting aspect to the Call of Duty series is the fact that two different game companies produce the games. Infinity Ward has produced Call of Duty 2 and CoD: Modern Warfare 1-3. On the other hand, Treyarch has produced Call of Duty 3, CoD: World at War, and CoD: Black Ops. The differences between the two companies are evident, particularly in how Infinity Ward has taken a more modern approach to warfare, where as Treyarch has stuck to classic time periods of war (WW2, Vietnam War, Cold War). There are also contrasts in the control mechanics and the focus of online multiplayer. Infinity Ward puts a heavy emphasis on the actual multiplayer games that focus on players killing each other. Treyarch has taken a different path. While they still provide the same type of killing games as Infinity Ward, they have put a large amount of emphasis on “Nazi” zombies. This game type involves 2-4 players teaming up to fight off waves of zombie hordes, as they improve their weapons and fortifications along the way. This game mode, beyond anything else, is the reason why World at War and Black Ops are so popular. Furthermore, the game type has paved the way for “zombie” game modes in other games, such as Gears of War. Zombie and horde game mode types are a growing trend in online multiplayer games, as they continue to increase in popularity.

  2. ultrapoulet said:

    You mention in this that first-person view is best for any game trying to teach a moral or ethical lesson, or one with a believable playable character. However, I don’t think this would always work. Even though it would create some interesting games, and it would be pretty effective in delivering the message, the effect is that, in some genres, the gameplay will end up suffering. For example, a first-person platforming game, like Mirror’s Edge, would be interesting, but I have seen complaints that the first-person perspective is confusing. Imagine if Mario games were done in first-person. They just wouldn’t be as good. First-person perspective can be good for some games, it isn’t meant for most.

  3. sgosain said:

    I’m not going to try and hide it, I picked this blog mainly because it had to do with Call of Duty which is one of the very few video games that I play during my free time anymore. So much, I started playing the game yesterday afternoon after I read this article, where I was able to jog my memory and regain my original opinion of the game. There isn’t much that I don’t love about this game. Whether it’s the graphics of the cities, which I thought looked brilliant in this game, or the historical part of the game, which as the blogger of this blog so states is perfect. I do find that that is a pet peeve of mine, that when a game has historical background in it and gets the history wrong. I do also like that the game has a lot more checkpoints that the previous one, which allows for a player to actually view and save his progress rather than starting a mission over as is so often in some war games, which causes a lack of interest. I do not however, think that first person mode is meant to teach the player a moral lesson, as I often found that the message is almost never delivered unless the message being delivered is blatantly obvious, or the player is known of the message beforehand.

  4. crhyde said:

    I’m interested in the fact that the historical context and multiplayer aspect are what made the game give you a more real experience. When you say this makes it more realistic then FIFA I can’t help but disagree. FIFA allows you to play alongside 3 other people, as well as pull you into real life characters. FIFA above all other games tries to make the players as close to their real life counterparts as possible. It gives you the same team they play alongside, in the same arenas, with the same appearances and stats. But back to WaW (world at war), I do remember feeling an immense amount of camaraderie when playing this game. I would join multiplayer games with my friends and we would be put in the same “squad” because the teams are broken up this way. We took our squad assignments so seriously, we would carry out elaborate flanking maneuvers with real strategy and tactics. I think you hit the nail on the head by saying this game pulls you into the action with great game play.

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