Call Of Duty is a franchise that gamers look forward to every year. The last few years, gamers were treated with futuristic versions of Call Of Duty with Infinite Warfare and Advanced Warfare. But this year, Sledgehammer Games has taken us back with the release of Call Of Duty WW2 – an echo from the Call Of Duty franchise began back in 2003.
Anyone that has invested any amount of time in the Call of Duty campaigns knows that there have been issues with length and level of challenge of some of the titles. Most would agree that earlier titles were far more difficult, and frustrating, to play on “regular” much less the hardened or veteran difficulty while newer titles offered little or no challenge on veteran and “regular” felt like playing on the easiest setting; recruit. Delightfully (or not depending on how masochistic you are), Call of Duty: WWII brings back a veteran difficulty that is, well, difficult.
The story pretty much follows US Army Private First Class “Red” Daniels’ experience during WWII starting with the storming of Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944 and concluding with the end of World War II. There is a brief mission where players control Rousseau as she infiltrates a German headquarters but the main focus is firmly on Daniels’ and his squad’s experiences through the war. While the story could not be called deep, it is not all fluff either. Players will get to experience a few of the famous battles of WWII as well as get general feel for what soldiers went through during WWII. The whole story has a very real “Band of Brothers” feel to it. Side note: if you have not watched that mini series, what are you waiting for? It’s glorious.
The cutscenes are gorgeous to be sure and even the gameplay graphics are impressive. Sound design is spot on and the voice acting is spectacular. However, the campaign is not without its issues. The AI is annoying. Okay, it’s more than annoying, it is one of most frustrating AI I have dealt with since Baird on the Gears of War campaign. I can not count how many times Baird stood up in front of me as I was shooting. Granted, I was playing the campaign on veteran and that will reduce the help a player could expect from AI but I swear the AI was out to undermine me. The AI characters would stand in my line of fire randomly, causing the ” no friendly fire” message to pop up thereby sending me back to the previous checkpoint or just be totally useless and let enemies walk right past them thus letting enemy AI come right up behind me and shoot me.
The enemy AI has super powers. It can hit you right between the eyes, through covering smoke, from across the playing field, with a pistol. It always knew where I was hiding and once managed to hit me through a small crack in a stack of sandbags. There was one mission I was stuck on for a good 90 minutes because of the uselessness of my team AI and the unreal accuracy of the enemy AI. I wanted to snap my controller in half and call it a day. The enemy AI will also continue to shoot and wound/kill you during animation sequences. You need to plant that bomb? Well you had better be damn sure everyone is dead because you cannot fight back once you enter the animation sequence and the AI will kill you sending you back to the last checkpoint.
The new healing and supply systems is interesting but can also be frustrating. As you play you will unlock squad perks. This means depending on which squad mates you have with you, you can get certain supplies from them like health packs, ammo, enemy spotting, grenades, or bomb run. Seems easy enough but there is a catch, there is a “wheel” that must be filled for each squad mate before you can get those supplies. The wheel is filled by killing enemy AI only. This means if there are not enough enemies in an area but you need to get health from Zussman you will be out of luck. Players are going to have to manage their supplies or face certain death.
Healing is a little different this time around as well. You can carry up to 4 health packs as a time, be sure to watch that counter especially on veteran, and you can get 1 at a time from Zussman each time you fill his wheel. When a player heals now there is an animation sequence involved rather than just instantly healing. This means you had better have a good hiding place while you heal or else the enemy is going to take you out while you are trying to keep yourself from dying. Personally, I liked it. It felt more realistic and the pouches were pretty spot on for what was used at the time. In fact, Sledgehammer did an amazing job of recreating the World War II experience down to the smallest details.
The campaign consists of 11 missions and an epilogue. The epilogue does have some player interaction but for the most part it is the end of an emotional journey for Daniels. While not as heartstrings pulling as some combat FPS stories (I am looking at you Medal of Honor Tier One and Warfighter) it really does convey what many men who fight in WWII went through. Honestly this is one of the top 3 Call of Duty campaigns I have played. I was engaged and invested in the story. It has been a long while since I felt like that playing a Call of Duty title.