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Call of Duty World at War on the Wii won me over. Although pretty stuck in my mouse and keyboard ways, the simplicity and directness of the Wii game combined with its fully fledged nature made it an experience hard to put down.
I would consider myself quite a Call of Duty veteran; that's not to say I'm all that good, but I have played almost all of the series from the originals on the PC, all the way through to Modern Warfare and World at War on the 360.
I also enjoy a four player Modern Warfare multiplayer session most lunchtimes at work (when I should be out enjoying what little sunshine there has been on offer this summer). So I come to the Wii version of the PS3 and 360 hit with some trepidation – can it hold its own alongside the glorious experience that is the revitalised Call of Duty franchise on the PC and next-gen platforms? Will the Wii's control system get in the way, or will it be sublimely matched to the rigours of war?
My first impressions were, I must admit, pretty negative. I prefer the mouse/keyboard for these sort of games but have become moderately proficient with the dual-stick controls on the 360 gamepad. On the Wii, the Wii-Mote is used in the predictable way; for choosing, aiming and firing the plethora of weapons that you wield during the game, while the Nun-chuck is used for movement, aiming down the sight and crouching.
I found the first level a nightmare of repeated death as I struggled to get to grips with the controls, never quite getting the cross-hairs on the target before I was killed. Slowly though it all started to gel, and although I still find it a bit quirky and at times down right awkward, I at least feel I am now mainly suffering from lack of skill rather than any problem with the controls. My youngest son however, who is a very capable online Call of Duty player on the 360, had one go and only managed about 15 minutes before giving up after multiple deaths. If you are coming to this having played it on another platform then you may be disappointed, but then, if you had you probably wouldn't be playing the Wii version anyway. If you're new to it then you really need to persevere and I promise you will get the hang of it.
There are a hatful of options for actually configuring the controls – setting various sensitivities and button layouts, as well as being able to enable or disable the motion sensitive options such as shaking the Wii-Mote to perform the melee attach, or the Nun-chuck to reload. The problem with shaking the remote is that it also naturally shifts your aim dramatically and this can be a bit disorientating. I also find the requirement to point the Wii-Mote at the TV all the time a little tiring and I can't slouch back while playing as I would prefer.
My youngest son however, who is a very capable online Call of Duty player on the 360, had one go and only managed about 15 minutes before giving up after multiple deaths.
The campaign is split into two threads, with you playing the part of an American marine or a Russian Private in the closing stages of Word War 2. The American missions take place in the Pacific as you battle to wrest control from the Japanese; these missions generally involve claustrophobic jungle warfare, with snipers hiding in trees and banzai raiders materialising from the long grass. The Russian levels involve the push on Berlin as the Germans retreat back towards the fatherland after the disastrous Operation Barbarossa. In between levels the immersion is maintained with actual wartime black and white footage and voiceover from in-game characters. The footage can be a bit grim at times, including scenes of executions and other atrocities carried out in the name of war. It serves as a reminder that war is not a game; but how modern day teenagers will see it is another matter and perhaps something for parents to bare in mind.
That aside however, the missions are great fun with a mix of styles from a sniper hunt of the German general, to torching enemies out of jungle trees using the flamethrower. I've always had a rather mixed feeling using this weapon; every time I kill an enemy with it I shudder a little at the thought of how people really were killed by setting them on fire; but there is no doubting it's a cool weapon to use. Make of that what you will! The Wii graphics limitations make it a little easier for me with the burning not being as realistic as the on the 360. But again some want to tread more carefully on the violence issue if playing with young offspring.
You can also enjoy a cut down version of the much lauded multiplayer experience.
In a really nice move, you can also enjoy a cut down version of the much lauded multiplayer experience. This follows the same line as the 360 version with perks gained as you play which enables you to use better weapons and accessories. Eight maps are provided, but there are only the two game modes of Free for All and Team Death match – no Domination or Headquarters modes here. Still, the online play works really well and gives the game the lasting appeal that it's ‘bigger brothers' have maintained.
I recommend Call of Duty: World at War to the Wii gamer. The campaign mode is really enjoyable, albeit with the odd frustration, and the controls, once mastered fit the game nicely. Add to that a great multiplayer implementation and you must have the finest game of this genre available on the Wii.
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