Call of Duty: WWII — a video game review

 

CODWWII

This is a review of the Call of Duty: WWII campaign, which I recently wrapped up.

I’m not a big multiplayer guy, and I haven’t tried the zombie Nazi mode (I will, at some point). I like campaigns. None of the Call of Duty campaigns have seemed very long to me, and this one continues that trend. It clocks in a five-to-six hours. That’s on the short side for many video game franchises. I think it’s about average for this one.

I enjoyed the campaign. The game looked amazing on the PS4, and anyone who’s played video games set during WWII will find many of the settings familiar. I myself have invaded Normandy on several occasions, and while this time did remind me of previous games, it seemed a bit more real, in a Saving Private Ryan kind of way. I played with the difficulty level dialed pretty low so I was able to take an inhuman amount of punishment, which wasn’t realistic at all, of course. I just pretended that I had been Steve Rogers’ understudy in the Super Soldier program. I wasn’t quite Captain America, but I definitely had enhanced abilities.

The cutscenes were cinematic and well-done. Several actors I recognized loaned their voices and images to the game. Josh Duhamel is at his dickish best as TSgt. William Pierson. Jonathan Tucker (who I’ve watched on Westworld this season) is Pfc. Robert Zussman. The main character, the one who is “you” throughout most of the game, is Pvt. Ronald “Red” Daniels, and is played by Brett Zimmerman. I’m not familiar with Zimmerman’s work at all, but he grew up one town over from where I grew up, and I recognized the South Carolina accent that they’re trying to pass off as Texan. I enjoyed the story presented in these cinematic scenes, but there’s not really a whole lot of depth to it. Daniels’ backstory is kind of dumped on the player all at once, but it doesn’t feel like the big reveal I think the writers on this game wanted it to be. Likewise, Duhamel’s Sgt. Pierce is a fairly one-dimensional character, hard drinking and abusive to his men, a man with a dark past. At some point in the narrative, I think we’re supposed to think a little more highly of this character, but I never quite made that turn around the corner. He was still a douchebag at the end of the game.

After the futuristic warfare presented in some of the previous Call of Duty games, the gameplay here sometimes feels slower and preordained. This isn’t an open world game. You are forced to go in certain directions like a cow in a chute, and, while there are some alternative choices available to you at certain points, mostly there’s just one right way to complete a mission.

While we are inside Daniels’ skin throughout most of the game, we do get to play as other characters during certain missions, as well as getting to operate a tank and fly an airplane. I would have liked more of that type of mission. Daniels gets to drive a jeep occasionally, and he crashes a lot.

In closing, I’ll just add that while this may not have been the most enjoyable combat game I’ve ever played, it was probably the best World War II game. Those Activision folks have never let me down yet, and they didn’t this time.

But, it also didn’t blow me away.

On a 1-to-10 scale, I’d give this one about a 7. One-and-a-half controller thumbs up.

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