Call of Duty: WWII – A Bridge too Beige or an epic masterpiece?
Call of Duty: WWII – The Standard
It is difficult to talk about Call of Duty: WWII without falling into an almost dream like state of idle reminiscence about ‘the way things were’ and why ‘it just isn’t the same anymore’. Much like my elderly father and his feelings towards multi-cultural Britain, my feelings towards the overall state of the Call of Duty franchise have become increasingly apathetic, even somewhat despairing.
To find a good first person shooter these days is rare. Second only to Donald Trump having a day off from his dick swinging contest with North Korea. Call of Duty: WWII isn’t inherently bad. It has all the dramatic set pieces you’d expect. Explosions, slow mo dives and blurred, ears ringing lying on the ground with a Nazi standing over you segments that you come to expect as standard. And, here in lies the inherent problem with Call of Duty: WWII. It is just standard.
My ongoing issue with these ‘big’ developers and publishers is the alarming stagnation and conservatism that currently grips them tighter than a monkey gripping a windshield wiper at the safari. What’s going on? The developers promised a return to the roots of what made Call of Duty the breathtaking story which redefined the meaning of first person shooter.
Yet here we are. In Western Europe…again! What about North Africa? What about Sicily or Italy? The Far East? There are so many untold stories that could be unleashed through the most powerful medium of entertainment today but alas, they remain untold for the time being.
The Story So Far…
The campaign places us in the boots of “Red” Daniels and a squad of infantry who fight their way off the landing beaches on D-Day to a final rescue mission in the heart of Germany. Additional characters are your best friend Zussman, some guy with glasses, a cliche Sergeant that had a tragic experience at the Kasserine Pass and your Lieutenant. They are forgettable characters with a serious lack of depth other than ‘the best friend’, ‘the one with glass’, and ‘the shouty sergeant’. None stand out for any particular reason other than Zussman and that’s only because he gets taken prisoner.
For some reason there is beef between the Sergeant and the Lieutenant and beef between everyone else and the Sergeant. Every cutscene has the Sergeant berate, threaten or bully Daniels and the squad – it literally starts within the opening cut-scene. It’s predictable and gets tiring very quickly. He’s irritating for no reason other than ‘what happened at Kasserine Pass’, which none of the characters are able to talk about, just because, and does nothing to further the character development or story.
The missions are lacklustre in terms of content, filled with in-game cut-scenes, the dreaded QTEs and not enough overall shooting of Nazis. I found myself frustrated at how the game robbed me of overall control at the very moment the missions seem to be gathering pace. You can find in game mementos which is kind of interesting, I guess. You can also perform heroic moments. Saving a fellow soldier grappling with a German or by dragging a wounded comrade to safety before he bleeds out. No old burnt out wreck or crumbling wall will do though. You have to drag the soldier to a specific spot and it’s never made clear where you have to put him. I’ve lost count how many times died trying to save ‘Private A.I’.
The highlight of the game, which I touched upon earlier, sees you play a French resistance agent who infiltrates the German headquarters in Paris shortly before the Allies arrive. Disguised as an attache, you have to memorise your story for when you are inevitably asked questions, locate a fellow spy and plant explosives.
For an infiltration piece, it’s pretty basic with its content and what you can physically do, but it’s a welcome change of pace that gives the player a chance to snoop around, even locating some bonus objectives if you are patient enough. Out of all the missions, this one stood out the most. Sadly, even this mission eventually falls back into the loud, obnoxious chaos that typifies this increasingly gimmicky franchise (cue the eye roll).
Despite the story failing to engross the player, and the missions a shade of beige, the graphic and sound artists are a credit to themselves. The set pieces are filled with amazing detail, the highlight being a breathtaking train crash, and I have come across absolutely zero visual bugs in my play through.
The ambient sound of men and metal clashing together in a maelstrom of violence is astounding, especially when you have a high quality sound system. The only let down is the weapon sounds, a problem that has been inherent throughout the series and continues into Call of Duty: WWII. Never do the guns sound ‘heavy’ or ‘chunky’ but more like cheap Poundland pop guns.
A word on the multiplayer
Okay, so I did play the multiplayer – the open beta anyway. I found it exactly how I expected it to be. Small teams and same old, same old game modes standing on parade with claustrophobic maps lining up in rank behind. Gun play swings clearly in favour of sub machine guns and shotguns. Rifles and machine guns are simply irrelevant.
Overall, Call of Duty: WWII is a standard World War II trope. Lacking in a decent story, irritating and forgettable characters, with only one or two memorable moments that really hold out against the onslaught of bland missions. Not even the visual effects, nor the sound effects, can stem that kind of tide. Give me the old Call of Duty games any day.
Wow, I really do sound like my Dad.