I haven’t really played a Call of Duty game since 2008’s World at War, and there’s a good reason for that: I just couldn’t keep up. When I tried COD: Black Ops III last year, my A.I. teammates all had bionic limbs and there were dudes casually running up and down walls.
I’m technically still a millennial, but I remember thinking at that moment: this game is not designed for me. Or anyone that believes in the laws of physics. I’m just going to chill over here with my retro, slower-paced games, while all you young guns with unnaturally-fast reflexes slaughter each other in milliseconds.
So when I heard Call of Duty was returning to its historic roots of the second world war, I was ready to give it a shot (HA!). Throw in a darker and grittier tone for the single-player campaign and a Dead Space-inspired zombie mode, and I was sold.
Does COD: WWII do enough to bring this former fan back into the fold? In a word: Yes.
Let’s start with the single-player offering. Though the single-player campaign is never the focus of any FPS, developer Sledgehammer has added enough innovation to the formula to make it a fun and emotional ride.
Playing mostly as Private Ronald “Red” Daniels of the 1st Infantry Division, you will fight alongside your squad mates who have more of an impact this time, as they now have abilities such as throwing you extra ammo or first-aid kits.
You will definitely need a lot of the latter, as gone is the traditional mechanic of automatically regenerating health after not taking damage for a set amount of time. This is a good change, as the whole game feels more realistic.
I also had a great time doing different things during the campaign. One minute I was hanging on for dear life on the back of a tank and the next I was driving a jeep in a race against time to reinforce another platoon.
I didn’t even mind when my artificial squad mate shouted desperately at me to “Turn right!” when there was basically no other way to turn, or when he complimented me on my great driving when I had driven right into a big ball of fire.
You’ll have a good time playing through the campaign. But that's not what most players buy a Call of Duty game for, is it? Just how good is the competitive multi-player?
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The answer is, it’s a very technically sound and satisfying first-person shooter. If you have the skills and reflexes for it, it will be very enjoyable for you. Presented with a choice of five Divisions (Infantry, Resistance, Airborne, Armoured, Mountain) that each have class-specific skills, you can choose the load out that suits your playstyle.
If you’re a marksmanship star, you’ll want the sniper perks of the Mountain division that let you hold your breath to steady your aim. Like to be more hands-on? Join the Infantry division and gain a special bayonet charge ability. There are a huge number of additional perks, weapons, and cosmetic features to unlock as you play, so the entire experience is going keep you busy for a long, long time.
In between firefights, you can now chill at Headquarters, a new addition that acts as a social hub for your online friends. Here you can purchase new gear, train on the shooting range, try out new killstreak abilities, and generally hang out if you need a break from all the action.
I haven’t even touched on the meaty zombie mode that has its own experience and levelling system, because then this review would be way too long. Suffice to say that it will be a party favourite, as you and three friends try to survive for as long as you can against infinite waves of zombie experiments gone wrong.
And no, as my colleague suggested when we were trying out this mode, the optimal strategy is not to "just let them in”.
All-in-all, I wouldn’t call this latest version of COD a return to form, because for some, 2016’s hyperkinetic twitch-fest Infinite Warfare was actually enjoyable. But I will say that for those shooter fans that are looking for a robust multi-player game with a slightly more manageable pace, COD: WWII will not disappoint.
Disclaimer: This review was written with a review copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment Hong Kong Limited