All first-person shooters these days tend to suffer from the Call of Duty 4 factor. That game, developed by the fantastic Infinity Ward, set a new high for the FPS genre, and everything that has come out since has been compared to it and been found wanting. This is why Call of Duty 5 Call of Duty: World at War makes me nervous. How can it possibly be as good as CoD4, let alone surpass it?
It is to be set during World War II, again — how tired are you of shooting Nazis with an M1 that goes “pa-tang” when it reloads every 7 shots? CoD4 was great because the modern setting was so refreshing after a decade slogging through the trenches in 1940s Europe. What’s more, World of War is being developed by Treyarch, the team that gave us the distinctly underwhelming Call of Duty 3. All the evidence seems to point to another lackluster WWII cash-in.
I am pretty sure that Activision realizes all this themselves as well, which is why they’re making a fairly big effort to put our minds at rest — this weekend will see the release of the first footage of World at War, to be shown exclusively on Xbox LIVE.
As this game will be set around the famous battle for the island of Iwo Jima, Treyarch have promised a revamped AI system to more accurately reflect the tactics of the Imperial Japanese Army. That boils down to fewer trenches and flanking manoeuvres, and more head-on suicide sword charges. World at War will also be much more realistic and gritty than its older WWII brothers.
The best news as far as I am concerned is that Treyarch are using a version of the CoD4 engine with improved lighting and physics, as well as a fire propagation model which will allow you to go mental with the new flamethrower. World at War has also had a much longer development time than CoD3, which has given the developers enough time to turn out a better quality product.
But is all of this enough to persuade punters to buy another World War II game? Hell if I know. But Activision, and a few developers who will appear in the video, will have their first chance to convince the masses soon enough.