Call of Duty: World at War is a first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It was released for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii in November 2008. It is the fifth mainstream game of the Call of Dutyseries and returns the setting to World War II. The game is also the first title in the Black Ops story line. World at War received ports featuring different storyline versions, while remaining in the World War II setting, for the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2. A Windows Mobile version was also made available by Glu Mobile.
World at War features more mature themes than previous Call of Duty installments and is open-ended, giving the player multiple ways to complete objectives, but otherwise generally plays like previous iterations of the franchise. Players fight alongside AI-controlled teammates. They help during the game’s missions by providing cover fire, shooting down enemies, and clearing rooms for entry.
When playing the Wii version of the game, instead of using a normal controller, such as the ones used by the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, an optional gun-like expansion controller known as the Wii Zapper can be used. The Zapper, or Wii Remote and Nunchuk, can be used to aim at targets to fire at them and simulate marksmanship.
The game’s return to World War II-era warfare reintroduces weapons and technology. The player gains access to these over the course of the game, but may only carry up to two weapons in addition to hand grenades. Weapons and ammo from fallen foes or friendlies can be picked up to replace weapons in a player’s arsenal. Players can also find weapons with additional attachments, including guns equipped with rifle grenades, telescopic sights, and bayonets.
A character can be positioned in one of three stances: standing, crouching, or prone; each affecting the character’s rate of movement, accuracy, and stealth. Using cover helps the player avoid enemy fire or recover health after taking significant damage, as there are no armor or health powerups. When the character has taken damage, the edges of the screen glow red and the character’s heartbeat increases. If the character stays out of fire, the character can recover. When the character is within the blast radius of a live grenade, a marker indicates the direction of the grenade, helping the player in deciding whether to flee or throw it back at the enemy.
The single-player campaign includes thirteen hidden “death cards”, denoted by playing cards attached to makeshift war graves. There is one in each level (barring those that take place in vehicles); collecting them unlocks cheats for Co-op mode, such as reduced enemy endurance and “paintball mode”.
World at War’s multiplayer experience resembles the one established in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. All versions of the game use a similar perk and ranking system and feature six multiplayer modes, including team deathmatch and capture the flag. There are three “killstreak rewards” that can be used to turn the tide of battle: a recon plane, showing opposing players on the mini-map; an artillery strike upon an area; and attack dogs, which spawn and attack opposing players. These are gained with 3, 5, and 7 kills, respectively. They are available in all game modes, apart from team survival, and cannot be edited.
The game also features a cooperative gameplay mode with up to two players via split screen on consoles, or four players online, for the first time in the franchise. The Wii version of the game does not include online co-op, but two players can play through a “squadmate co-op” mode which allows both players to experience the game through the same screen and point of view.
All versions except the Wii feature the minigame Nazi Zombies. This is the first time Nazi Zombies ever appeared in any Call of Duty game. The mode consists of 1-4 players fighting an unlimited number of waves of Nazi zombies. Players can work together with other people to kill the zombies in a “co-op” (cooperative) mode either offline with two players or online with 2-4 players.
The players gain points by injuring or killing the zombies or repairing boarded-up windows, which are used to remove blockages inside the bunker and to gain access to more useful weapons than the starting M1911 pistol and unlock more rooms. Zombies continually break the windows to gain entrance and to find and beat the players; when all players are damaged enough to fall, the game is over. Three extra maps for the Nazi Zombie game mode were added with the World at War map packs. These maps, Shi No Numa, Verrückt and Der Riese added on to the Nacht Der Untoten map which came with the game.
During the single-player campaign, the player controls three characters from a first-person perspective. The player first assumes the role of Private C. Miller of the United States Marine Corps‘ 1st Marine Division in the Pacific campaign. He is captured by the Japanese, but is rescued by Corporal Roebuck (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) and his men from the Marine Raiders squad, during the Makin Island raid. Other notable non-playable characters of the Marine Raiders unit include Sergeant Tom Sullivan (voiced by Chris Fries) and Private Polonsky (voiced by Aaron Stanford).
Private Dimitri Petrenko, the second playable character, fights on the Eastern Front with Sergeant Viktor Reznov (voiced by Gary Oldman). They are joined by a third character, Private Chernov, Reznov’s subordinate, who serves as a voice of reason throughout the campaign and regularly voices shock and disapproval at the brutal slaughter he witnesses. They are all soldiers in the 3rd Shock Army under the command of Commissar Markhov. The third playable character in the campaign is Petty Officer Locke, a weapons operator on a PBY Catalina flying boat, who is only playable in the mission “Black Cats” during a solo campaign.
The story begins on Makin Island on August 17, 1942. U.S. Marine Private C. Miller watches the torture and execution of his team, and is about to be executed himself before being rescued by another squad of Marines, led by Corporal Roebuck and Sergeant Tom Sullivan. They assault the Japanese on the island, replicating the Makin Island raid. The Battle of Peleliu is then replicated.
After breaking through the Japanese lines on the Peleliu beach, Miller destroys two Type 97 Chi-Ha tanks with rocket strikes, allowing the American tanks to advance. At the end of the mission, Sullivan is killed by a Japanese officer with a katana. Roebuck is promoted to Sergeant and he and his squad make their way through the Peleliu swamps to launch an assault on a Japanese-held airfield to disable anti-aircraft guns. During the assault, Miller acquires a flamethrower to destroy a bunker and a bazooka to blow up the Chi-Has positioned at the airfield.
Meanwhile, the Battle of Stalingrad is held on the Eastern Front on September 17, 1942. Soviet Private Dimitri Petrenko regains consciousness in a blood-stained and body-filled fountain, just as German troops execute his comrades. When they leave, Dimitri meets injured Sergeant Viktor Reznov, another survivor, who tells him of his mission to kill German general Heinrich Amsel, who is responsible for the massacres and crimes. After killing German soldiers in their way and duelling an enemy sniper, Dimitri follows Reznov through buildings and streets and they meet up with the remainder of Dimitri’s unit, who are about to assault the General’s communication post.
During the assault, Dimitri provides overwatch with Reznov and aids the remaining Red Army soldiers as they recapture the post, managing to kill Amsel as he flees. Dimitri and Reznov jump into the Volga River and escape. The next mission takes place three years later, during the Battle of the Seelow Heights, near Berlin. Dimitri has been captured by German soldiers in an abandoned house, but is saved when the Red Army attacks the house; he is re-united with Reznov and introduced to his right-hand-man Pvt. Chernov. The Soviet troops advance through German lines and Dimitri aids them with a Panzerschreck until they reach and wipe out a German camp.
The story then shifts back to the Pacific Theater. After pushing further inland on Peleliu, Miller and his unit take out enemy mortar crews so their tanks can go inland. They then proceed through the Japanese underground tunnels to attack the artillery-filled Point, one of the major Japanese strongholds that had destroyed many landing boats when they first landed. This allows American ships to advance, and Peleliu finally falls into American hands.
Back in Germany, Dimitri and Reznov pilot a T-34 tank, pushing through the last Nazi lines so the Soviet troops can board a train to Berlin. Upon arrival, they engage German soldiers on the outskirts of Berlin, commencing the Battle of Berlin. They then advance through the streets, eventually reaching the entrance of a Berlin U-Bahn station, where three German soldiers are attempting to surrender. Reznov is unwilling to allow the men to live and gives Dimitri the choice of shooting them or burning them alive with molotov cocktails. They head into the underground and start fighting German soldiers around the platforms, until a sudden surge of water fills the tunnel. Dimitri, unable to avoid the oncoming tidal wave, almost drowns.
After America conquers Peleliu, the preparatory action for the Battle of Okinawa occurs in the Pacific Theater, during which Petty Officer Locke, in a PBY Catalina flying boat, takes part in a raid on three merchant ships. On their way back to base, another Catalina, codenamed Hammerhead, is destroyed by Japanese Zeroes, leaving Locke and his crew alone. Meanwhile, Task Force 58 of the US 5th Fleet is attacked, replicating Operation Ten-Go.
Locke’s PBY crew, the only one near enough to come to immediate aid, works to rescue as many American sailors as possible by fighting off Japanese PT boats and kamikaze planes. With the PBY almost completely destroyed and ammunition on Locke’s .50 cal running out, all hope seems lost, until a sudden attack from a squadron of Vought F4U-1Cs drives off the remaining Zeroes. In the following mission, Miller’s squad assaults a Japanese position on Okinawa, clearing out machine gun bunkers to allow American tanks to progress inland. With the battle almost won, the Americans storm Shuri Castle amidst mortar shelling and constant banzai charges.
Once inside, they encounter Japanese soldiers surrendering. However, when Sgt Roebuck and Pvt Polonsky search them, they reveal concealed grenades under their clothes, at which point Miller is presented with the choice of saving either Roebuck or Polonsky. The remaining American troops arrive to assist the squad and engage the remaining Japanese soldiers in the castle’s interior garden. After Miller calls in air strikes on two buildings, the Americans take Shuri Castle, crushing the last bastion of Japanese resistance on Okinawa.
Meanwhile back in Germany, Reznov drags Dimitri out of the U-Bahn to regroup with Soviet infantry. The Red Army then advances towards the Reichstag. During the assault at the Reichstag’s entrance, Chernov is severely burned by a flamethrower, and is implied to be killed. Reznov, Dimitri and the remaining Soviet soldiers enter the Reichstag, clearing it of its German defenders, and reaching the rooftop. After a final showdown on the top floor to reach the Nazi flag, Dimitri is shot by a dying German soldier, whom Reznov kills with a machete. Although wounded, Dimitri manages to plant the Soviet flag, signalling Soviet victory and ending the war in Europe.