Aug 19, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: First gameplay videos, new screens, and hands-on impressions!

At this very moment, exhausted game journos are lurching across the globe to converge on Leipzig for a look at the industry’s latest. Tomorrow, when the show opens, this is what Activision will be showing the crowds of Call of Duty: World at War. Why wait for the delirious, hefeweisen-soaked updates to trickle in over slow-ass hotel internets, when we’ve got the gameplay videos and screens right here?

Our first video shows the flamethrower in action. The gushes of flame spewing forth not only look spectacular, but are tactically vital against bunkers teeming with dug-in enemies. It also makes short work of tall grass and trees, helping to fend off ambuscades.

Next, we have the bazooka. This gameplay clip captures the frantic chaos of an unfortunate infantryman caught in the midst of a tank battle. Luckily, some thoughtful person left a bazooka on the edge of the fray to help even the odds.

Finally, we have a segment of general gameplay during which the troop is advancing through enemy fortifications to stage a raid on a battery of anti-aircraft guns.

This marked our first, albeit all-too-brief opportunity to actually play World at War. While PR was keen to point out miniscule bits that weren’t finished yet, we probably wouldn’t have noticed as we were much too busy sprinting for cover and seeking out lines of fire on enemy positions. Because the game is built on the Call of Duty 4 engine, it already looks polished and plays fantastically. But it’s no mere reskin – the enemy’s ambush and suicide tactics force you to think and play differently. The weapons also have a different feel, more authentic to the era. And while the flamethrower is awesome fun, it’s also a giant bomb strapped to your back (which can fast turn into a major liability.)

Two-player co-op played silky smooth, and added another layer of strategic involvement. We played through a bit of the European portion of the game, as the Russians advancing into Berlin. While we definitely preferred the lush Pacific Island settings to the more typical bombed-out European cities, the map we played offered plenty of opportunity to strategize with our teammate as how best to clear a building or advance on fortified positions. There were plenty of rifles, SMGs, and shotguns littered around for us to try, and we were even able to turn an AA gun on some enemy reinforcements. The pace stayed consistently frantic and exciting until we ran out of time and had to end the demo.

If you’re in the camp that worries about Treyarch mucking about with Call of Duty, know that every time we see Call of Duty: World at War we get more excited about how it’s turning out. Treyarch has two years to develop this one, as opposed to the short one year cycle they were stuck with on Call of Duty 3, and they’re really making that extra time count. We’re eagerly anticipating the time when Activision lets us have at the multiplayer (which we saw up and running in May, but were not allowed to actually play.) Until then, enjoy the rest of our coverage here.


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