Wot I Think: Call Of Duty: WWII Single Player Campaign

Fully expecting another ghastly CoD campaign, I’ve been utterly surprised by the shooter I’ve just played. Be shocked – Call Of Duty: WWII is a decent single-player game. And there’s not a loot drop in sight. Here’s wot I think:

Call of Duty’s return to WW2 might have caused some eyes to roll, but for various reasons it didn’t mine. While once the industry was saturated by the conflict, those days were over ten years ago, and if there were ever a series that so desperately needed to go back to its roots, it’s Call Of Duty. While the multiplayer has proven enormously popular and inventive in each annual output, the single-player games have degraded to the point of sheer farce. By 2011 they had become so otherly, so laughably desperate to play the game for you, I coined the term “un-game” to ambiguously describe the experience. They were about spectacle – a six hour b-movie marathon of LOOK AT THIS! extravagance and bluster, with absolutely no interest in just letting the player play. And were crass and stupid on top.

On hearing the announcement I hoped that this series, so wayward and lost from its utterly wonderful origins, might perhaps be re-visiting not just the war in which its two great single-player games were set, but maybe – just maybe – the spirit, too.

I’m astonished to discover that, well, yes, it kind of has.

Opening with US soldiers at the Normandy beach landing is, I think, a little on the nose. Sledgehammer, they who co-developed Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 before taking the lead on Advance Warfare, are clearly tipping their hats to 1999’s original Medal Of Honor, almost moment-for-moment replicating the game that originated both major franchises’ astonishing opening. It’s perhaps a declaration of interests, and a declaration of intent. Because what is immediately apparent, once you’re on the sand and amidst the terror and panic and hideous death, is that you are actually playing.

It’s ludicrous that this is something to get excited about, but so dreadful have CoD’s campaigns been over the years that it definitely stands out. You’re not being asked to follow the NPCs who get to do all the cool stuff – you’re desperately, scrappily trying to stay alive while everyone around you is being torn to shreds. You can die! A lot! Dashing for cover is the answer, hiding while braver men are ripped apart by German fire, is what gets you to your goal. And then, rather than watching as the game incessantly snatches control from you to make you look at shit blowing up, you’re asked to clear out a series of bunkers to make the beaches safer for arriving boats. And, again, it feels like it’s letting you be a part of it. Not the hero, not the only man to save the day, but a soldier amongst soldiers, frantically surviving in a hideous war.

You’re playing as a member of the 1st Infantry, who previously appeared in Treyarch’s not-that-great PS2 exclusive Call Of Duty 2: Big Red One, following them through the defence of France, and into Germany, over the last couple of years of the war. And, like those much earlier games, it starts off feeling like it’s your game, not the computer’s.

It doesn’t last throughout. Once you’ve cleared those bunkers the game contradicts everything by stopping you from being able to shoot a soldier so he can attack you with a knife, and then forces you into a series of utterly bloody awful QTE sequences so horribly incongruous to everything that’s come before. “Hammer F, then drag your mouse a bit, then hit 1” doesn’t really have quite the same entertainment value nor grim impact as running, ducking, aiming, shooting, dashing for cover. It’s a festering infection in these games, that it seems Activision still can’t heal. But as soon as its spoilt things, it finds its feet again and throws you into a farmhouse battle where you’re trying to last long enough until the tanks roll in.

You’ll never find the sorts of broad, wide play areas that bolder FPSs have offered in recent years. But what is truly exciting about CoDWW2 is just how fantastically good it is at hiding its rails. This was what most aggrieved so many about that hateful era of FPS games around 2010 to 2013. Those wretched shooters like Medal Of Honor, COD:MW3 and Homefront, that dragged you along their shoulder-wide corridor, throwing a tantrum and killing you if you ever dared wander to the left or right, had their rails shine like they’d been polished for days. Some of the best FPS games always were in a corridor, but they knew how to hide that, how to give you the impression you were choosing which way to go, because the right way always looked the most interesting or fun. And that’s something I’m just so delighted to report Sledgehammer have figured out here, letting me feel like I’m picking routes through rabbit warrens, while actually skillfully directing me down the only path I could have taken.

Throughout a surprisingly long CoD campaign (as in, it’s closer to 10 hours than 5), it’ll still wrestle the controls away from you to show you SHIT BLOWING UP and BUILDINGS FALLING DOWN. The latter to a hilariously silly degree, with a train crash so hyperbolic that it would make Michael Bay blush, and just about everything more than two storeys high incredibly likely to collapse on top of you. If you’re lucky, you’ll be allowed to hammer at F for a moment in the midst of all this to opt out of a death. Oh, and that thing where a scripted nearby explosion causes a tinnitus ring and dizziness? Get ready to see it a lot. But oddly enough, it seems to get this out of its system by the halfway point, peculiarly calming down for the home straight, instead pushing its drama into rather boldly trying to convey some of the chilling truths of that miserable war.

The story, thankfully, takes a back seat to the bullets. ‘Thankfully’ because oh good gravy, when CoD has tried it the other way around the results have always been fist-gnawingly overwrought bathos of the worst degree, insultingly crass and embarrassing. Here, beyond the characterising bants between the group of US infantry you follow through France and Germany, the closest it nudges to a storyline outside of the chain of events is the soldiers’ fears and concerns over the somewhat imbalanced and cruel Sergeant Pierson (Josh Duhamel, seemingly reprieving his Transformers character). That’s welcomely understated and unobtrusive as it chugs along for the first two-thirds (it gets a little more ham-fisted toward the end), the game remembering that the complete madness and horror of war is actually enough of a story all on its own.

That banter, by the way, does seem a touch incongruous to the era. Perhaps my mind is blighted with too much Blighty, and all that jolly-good-showing and old-beaning, but I really do doubt that US soldiers were warning each other not to “puss out”. It all feels very modern, very contemporary. It’s probably not a bad thing.

And then, the game continues Call of Duty’s recent trend for allowing women in. A British female officer, and then in a larger role, a member of the French resistance. To the game’s credit, there’s barely any fanfare or fuss about this. The only disappointing part of it is that they’re the only two in the game, in a war where rather a lot of women took part.

The campaign is pleasingly varied, mixing things up with some not dreadful stealth and subterfuge sequences, and of course the tank battles and car chases you’d expect. However, its core is the shooting, and shooting it lets you do.

I realise I’m in danger here of, er, fainting with damned praise? This is incredibly good stuff bearing in mind how bad CoD campaigns have been. Does it hold up against the best FPSs of the year? No. But what’s really surprised me is that it comes reasonably close.

It’s not without problems. The drama of watching one Sgt. Pavey crawling his way along the Normandy beaches, his right leg ripped off at the thigh, was somewhat lessened by his hovering four inches above the ground. I’ve been entertained by some very silly ragdoll goofs, rather undermining the severity of the situation. And, despite the comparatively low-key offerings of bravado and morbidly blind patriotism that usually define this series, there are some god-awful lines and hoary old cliches. Someone genuinely utters, “No, leave me!” after being injured in battle, then bravely stays behind to hold off the enemy as his buddies retreat. But such groaners don’t define the overriding tone, which is – I’m so relieved to say – one of “Oh shit, war is really fucking awful.” Which is, of course, what the Call Of Duty games were originally about.

It’s easy to rather gloss over how incredibly good the game looks, because CoD games always look incredible. But that’s not fair. It’s a very pretty game (I finally discovered the cause of a terrible pixelly blurring problem was an anti-aliasing mode called “filmic”. Kill it the moment you start the game), and at last, long gone are the terrifying zombie faces that gruesomely haunted the series – the facial animations and details are the best I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned med packs! Goodness me, they’re back. No regenerating health – not even the last little bit – takes some real getting used to after all these years. This is an FPS that isn’t afraid to let you die. And the checkpointing is great throughout, meaning I didn’t miss a quicksave.

Less impressive, sadly, are the enemy bullet sponges. Headshots with machine gun rounds are useless, and Nazis can seemingly absorb bullets into their being to only make them stronger, up to a point. It’s very disappointing to watch the same stupid stumbling-but-getting-back-up animation after you’ve filled an enemy’s brain with lead, but get used to it.

I’m genuinely delighted by this game, albeit moderated by its shortcomings. The original Call Of Duty, and Medal Of Honor before it, is one of my favourite games, not just because it was a great shooter, but because it, more than school or grandparents or anything else ever managed, taught me about the Second World War. It taught me it wasn’t a backdrop to gunfights, or an excuse for a jolly old bunch of brave larks, but a monstrous and terrible era of humanity. It was a game where I’d play a couple of missions, then have to stop and do something else, because I was so affected by it. I allowed myself the small hope that returning to the same theme, abandoning all the AMERICA IS AMAZING AND ROBOTS! bullshit that’s been at the core of the series for so long, might allow a game with a glimmer of humility. And, blimey, it has.

This isn’t as powerful throughout, although maybe that’s partly because I’m 15 years older now. And maybe partly because it’s still too slick, too bombastic, and too willing to force in a QTE. But gosh, it’s powerful by the end. It’s brave, in fact. It goes somewhere I was becoming certain it was going to avoid in the name of broad entertainment, and it works.

It also has an idiotic cookie cutter Nazi maniac, twirling his Swastika-shaped moustache as he chews his way through the background assets. It’s also dumb. This isn’t the All Quiet On The Western Front of gaming (dear God, someone, please, let us one day have that). But given how bad it could have been – hell, was expected to be – it’s quite the pleasant, sometimes harrowing, surprise.

Call Of Duty: WWII is out now on Windows for £45/$60/60€ via Steam. We’ll have a review of the multiplayer soon.


  1. RLacey says:

    For the first time in years, I am actually interested in a CoD game.

    What has happened?

    • Grizzly says:

      It’s clearly that picture at the end implying that you get to fly a plane.

    • JasonofArgo says:

      You forgot this game has one of the most ridiculous and in your face lootbox systems ever put to a console.

      A “sort of okay, could have been worse” campaign is not worth 60$, and definitely not worth also implicitly supporting the growing lootbox insanity.

      • Rich says:

        Well, I for one can’t wait to snap it up.
        … once it drops below a tenner in three years time.

        • ezbez says:

          Unfortunately that’s not very likely to happen. Looking at steamprices.com, the newest CoD game I could find to have been on sale at $10 or under is World at War, published 9 years ago. And the regular non-sale price for even the original CoD or CoD 2 is $20. So unless prices are cheaper in your region, you could be in for a long wait.

          • Rich says:

            Infinite Warfare has apparently been down to £15, but can currently be had for £6… as long as you don’t mind buying from a CD-key re-seller.

    • Hans says:

      I don’t know, what HAS happened? Because behind all the Walker-ish dismissive internet crying about “wah I hate sci fi stuff except in all those other games where it’s fine for some reason”, the series has never actually stopped having great single player campaigns.

      • drewski says:

        Call of Duty has had terrible single player since they decided butt following was good gameplay, it has nothing to do with space.

      • John Walker says:

        If you read all the little words above, instead of your imaginary ones, you will find the answers you seek.

        • Ghostwise says:

          I’d have added “little grasshopper” at the end, me.

        • Seth says:

          John, what did you think of Infinite Warfare’s campaign? I found it pretty sharp on the dialogue level, with some likably ordinary characters — sort of a Battlestar Galactica/Expanse naturalistic space war.

          In spite of a dreadful antagonist, I thought it also returned to some of the series’ earlier thematic cohesion. CoD4 had a theme of war’s amoral cycles, with most of the cast dead by the end in the salvos of reprisal and counter-reprisal. Infinite Warfare made a very clear statement (complete with a character arc for the protagonist!) about war as an environment which commodifies human life — ol’ Reyes begins as a No Man Left Behind peacetime warrior, convinced he can always find a way, and by the end he’s grimly sacrificing his crew to finish the mission.

          If you skipped it, I recommend it. It’s also got some surprisingly open lite space sim missions which I enjoyed even as a fan of classics like TIE Fighter and FreeSpace.

      • SuicideKing says:

        CoD and Battlefield campaigns are mostly all bollocks, with varying degrees on how tolerable they are.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      it could be a 10 out of 10 must buy but in 8 months time no one will be playing it and the hype train will gearing up for the next one. Thats the trouble with these yearly franchises, there’s no point to any of them because they’ll be obsolete before you know it.

      TF2 & Warframe havent been off my hard drive for years and while I dont play them every week (hell, even every month), when I do dip back in I know all my progress (ok hats) are all still there and I can carry on from where I left off.

      If they stuck with Modern Warfare and just kept updating that Id still be playing it. But i guess that wouldnt have made them infinite money

  2. poliovaccine says:

    Typical John Walker hit piece!

    • Hogans heroes says:

      I know right! He did not even talk about the GAMEPLAY or the GRAPHICS. Just went on and on about the transformers movies. I WANT A PROPER REVIEW! WHAT IS THE GAMEPLAY AND GRAPHICS LIKE!!!

  3. Deekyfun says:

    Sorry for being ‘that’ guy, but I thought the famous Normandy Beach landing level was from Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. If I’m remembering right (might not be), the original Call of Duty had a Normandy level, but it was the paratroopers at Carentan-esque one.

    Pleased to hear it’s a good single player. Will probably take a look at it now.

    • Buuurr says:

      Multiplayer is good too. It is more like the first one. Even the maps. I like it and I haven’t liked a COD since the first and then with Modern Warfare. The rest are too spastic. This one seems more Battlefield 1 to me.

    • DasBilligeAlien says:

      link to youtube.com

      Call of Duty 2. I was totally blown away by that game back in the days.

      • Bull0 says:

        That’s pointe du hoc, they climb a big cliff under fire to try and take out some guns that would’ve been pounding the actual beaches if they hadn’t been moved inland

    • Bull0 says:

      Correct, call of duty 1 had a big focus on airborne. Cod 2 had the rangers at point du hoc. They’ve not done the beach landings before.

      • causticnl says:

        I think he got it confused with Medal of Honor.

        • John Walker says:

          I did. Will correct soon. I conflated the two series because I’m old and tired. And indeed because of the Russian campaign opening in CoD.

          • Bull0 says:

            I think anyone with a soul can forgive you for conflating MoHAA and CoD!

          • Grizzly says:

            IIRC, the makers of Allied Assault rebranded and went on to make Call of Duty, so you can get away with it being the spiritual prequel to CoD

          • John Walker says:

            Absolutely they did. A little schizm. The important thing is, I forgive me.

          • lancelot says:

            But your face wasn’t too tired to delete DukhaDave’s comment pointing out your mistake? Good sport.

          • John Walker says:

            I left the first two pointing out the mistake, and deleted the rest so the comments thread wasn’t filled with the same thing being said over and over after the issue had been fixed.

            But yes, sure, I left the first two but deleted another two to save face. That’s most likely it!

          • lancelot says:

            Not quite true. Chronologically the first two were from Deekyfun (22:35) and from DukhaDave (23:17). So I’d say you left the first one and the third one (from vand), not the first two. It gives a really bad impression of you deleting comments that you just don’t like. It’s not as if you have to reply to each one separately.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The Normandy missions in MoH:AA and CoD2 also weren’t near the beginning of either game.

    • toomanypuppies says:

      My guess is that the article is referring to Medal of Honor Frontline. Which did have a Normandy battle at the start that is quite similar to what is described here. Still one of my favorites for original xbox.

  4. Sunjammer says:

    This isn’t the All Quiet On The Western Front of gaming (dear God, someone, please, let us one day have that)

    as someone borderline obsessed with WW1 history: nnnnnooooooooooooooooppppee. Super no. Leave that shit ultra well alone.

    Everything about this sounds lame. I’m done with games trying to do real war, they can not.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Gotta say, that’s my current perspective on the topic. I can’t speak about war because I’ve never been a soldier, but I can say that even far lesser traumas and travesties are done an injustice by suggesting any kind of understanding through mere entertainment media, and I can only imagine how inadequate a medium videogames must be for expressing the reality of war… seeing as their primary impetus is *fun.*

      I don’t believe any amount of tooth-gritting, ass-clenching gameplay will ever give me a sense of what real warfare is like, because I happen to know certain lesser sufferings are only hyperbolized and yet simultaneously diminished by retelling in an entertaining format. Actual suffering is transformative, but it’s not fucking fun, and any sort of suffering which is even remotely fun is either inaccurate or, aherm, well, sexual.

      • Buuurr says:

        “Actual suffering is transformative, but it’s not fucking fun, and any sort of suffering which is even remotely fun is either inaccurate or, aherm, well, sexual.”

        That’s one persons opinion. Suffering is transformative AND it can be fun. I practiced/taught for eight years full contact self defense classes for just this reason. I found it fun. The thrill of being punched, rib heads being dislocated, elbows bent at odd angles, and noses turnt. Sure, it hurt and then overcoming it and winning or giving as good as got, put you on a plain/plateau that only those who love it could explain. There wasn’t anything sexual about it. There are rushes that are non-sexual in natural. There was pleasure for sure, but a pleasure brought about watching someone who looked down on you brought low by yourself with no one to hold responsibility for the effort but you. Yeah, ego. All ego. But ego that walks the talk is all that mattered in there. Today, I can confidently walk down any street and, aside from a gun fight, I’m good. I have fun.

        And no, I agree with you. They cannot capture the horrors of war. But, it is just entertainment. Let’s not forget that.

        • poliovaccine says:

          Well I was being more than a little facetious when I narrowed it down to sexual haha, though even that, and also your example, I would say are mayne not actually “suffering” if they’re any “fun.” By suffering I didn’t mean nerve endings going zow (as a fan of endorphins and exorphins myself, I very much get the relationship), but rather the aversion one feels as a result of that, which is distinct from adrenaline and euphoria (some times more than others of course), and if anything the suffering I was talking about was more along the lines of wartime trauma, psychological damage, than any specific physical pain. I get enjoying physical pain, as well as challenge and difficulty and even hardship. But I think some term needs to denote “not enjoying it,” and to me that was “suffering.” There may well be a better one.

          And I mean, it *is* just entertainment, yeah. As much as our little conversation may seem like too much effort expended on the topic, imagine how a veteran might feel if they found the thing exploitative, but it got a pass for being “just entertainment.” I’m basically saying, some things can’t be both entertaining and honest, and while I’ve never been to war, I know far lesser horrors which still reach that scale. Further, movies or novels can be “entertaining” in some abstract way alongside suffering. Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, these things are painful to watch or read, even just for a few hours. But they’re passive, they allow us to sit back in horror, they don’t need to find any way to make us somehow participants, which is the basic problem of games doing certain stuff as entertainment compared to other media. I even think games will get there one day, but now just isnt it yet. It’s just like how all twelve volumes of “Remembrance of Things Past” or whatever could never be a movie, it’s a story which can only exist in a certain medium. And remember how Orson Welles did a movie all in first person? I think it was Lady From Shanghai? It was a cool idea but in that movie it didnt quite work, even Orson Welles couldnt accomplish the naturalistic camera kinetics necessary to make the illusion come across. We got Hardcore Henry a couple years back which finally pulled it off for a whole feature-length, after some brief shorts or scene-long examples of the gimmick, but basically the medium was limited by both tech and its own stage of evolution, it was an idea ahead of its time, nobody could make it work til now. Just like nobody would dare try and design a “realistic” *anything* on the Amiga. But, like with graphics and facial animations, to me it seems like a technical limitation, which means it’s surpassable eventually. We definitely have achieved genuinely emotionally-affecting games, after all. I understand the ambition, at least.

          Anyway, didn’t mean to quibble, cus I dont think I disagree at all, only expand. I totally understand enjoying pain (in case my earlier comment didnt make that clear haha), that just isn’t what I meant by suffering… not exactly anyway haha.

          • Buuurr says:

            It’s all good. No need to apologize. I get what you meant now. You meant the difference of getting a rush from a momentary pain versus heading to the dentist for a six hour wisdom tooth pull/root canal combo. Yeah, trust me. It isn’t war, but it is life changing.

    • John Walker says:

      I don’t understand your logic here. I’m asking that someone one day make a game with the power and intelligence and reverence and controversy of AQOTWF. Not that someone do a bad job at it. Why would you not want that?

      • poliovaccine says:

        I mean, I venture to think I understand it, or at least my own logic runs parallel. It isn’t that I don’t want a game of that calibre (and I’m not a WWI buff so my objection isn’t specifically historical), rather it’s an issue with the medium. So long as games are under some obligation to be entertainment products, depicting the real-life horrors of war is just a little bit dissonant. I don’t doubt it can be done to some extent, because of games like This War of Mine, but it’s sort of like how Pulp Fiction wouldn’t really be the same as a novel, even if it’s sort of written that way. What it’s “about,” just as much as its story, is bright, vivid color, highly choreographed action, juicy-ass dialogue (which is, in turn, all about timing), and the special synchronicity of image and music. Its best portions work on the same level as a music video, it’s an audio-visual story, and putting it in a non-visual medium would make it something different entirely. Just like how games are an entertainment medium, and while more folks than ever are willing to experiment with narrative and “walking sims” and a number of other ways of testing the bounds of interactive entertainment, that experimentation is still in its infancy, and games still struggle to portray genuine pathos, or to do so without some element or another being laughable.

        It isn’t that I think it’s impossible, rather that, I specifically remember the pre-release press about this COD WWW2 game saying that gravity and rumination on the reality of war *was* its goal. I read that they wanted to sign on veterans as consultants, the vets had reservations about assisting on an entertainment project about their war, but in the end they were convinced of the devs’ honorable intentions. In other words, this was the industry’s best attempt at that All Quiet: The Game, and while it’s a measure of its success that it made you wonder after the possibility of All Quiet: The Game at all, this was also meant to *be* that already.

        Games have come a long way since I was new to them, and they keep coming. I think games are poised to go beyond “games” and into being “interactive narrative,” just like “comic books” legitimized themselves into “graphic novels.” But I think we are still a few embarrassingly failed experiments away from games as heavy and human as war movies. Celebration of your every headshot is just incongruous, celebration of gore is too – the problem is *fun* doesn’t exactly belong there. If a game manages to be about war in such a way that you feel horror at the prospect of shooting another human being, and the fun you have is actually in the camaraderie with your fellow troops in the fragile moments of peace between battles, that’ll be one hell of a game. But I think the overall expectations of the industry in general need more nudging in that direction before it’s a realistic goal.

        I do think it’s possible, and I believe games will be as legitimate an art media in the broad public view as movies and books are today, but games are far newer, we’re still working out their language. Where games are at now is about equivalent to the advent of talkies in motion pictures. We’re a few stages away from All Quiet on the Western Front.

        So I suppose I don’t share quite such an emphatic “nooooooo,” but I think I get the sentiment.

        • SuicideKing says:

          “In other words, this was the industry’s best attempt at that All Quiet: The Game”
          I don’t agree with this, specifically. They may have put in the research but couldn’t pull of the delivery – those are two different things. Don’t think it indicates what the industry is capable of (See Bohemia Interactive’s collaboration with the ICRC on Laws of War, for example).

          • poliovaccine says:

            That’s fair, I’m sure there have been more serious, academic attempts, actually. Probably by developers Tim Stone knows intimately. And I’d certainly concede that the industry is capable of more, no doubt. Though I would still say we havent had a successful “All Quiet: The Game” yet, simply because no unifying point exists in the public consciousness for us all to point to automatically. We got as far as “Saving Private Ryan: The Game,” and we can all point to that (even if sometimes we mix up which game that was, aherm, Senor Walker). And something with great academic, strategic and tactical depth can still exist without much of any emotional center, which is kind of a thing with All Quiet on the Western Front, after all.

            I could almost see it work with a narrowed focus, though. At least til games reach their next big evolutionary lurch forward. I don’t deny it’s possible, only saying it hasnt happened yet. Kinda like how Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim put down a blueprint rich with potential (and of course very accomplished on its own), but then The Witcher 3 came along and realized all that potential. Just took a minute, and a stronger engine. You could also say it’s like Morrowind realizing the potential of Outcast. But as of right now, I still hear a few scattered shots coming from the Western front.

            You do make a damn good point though… if anyone should do a game like that, it’s Bohemia. Goddamn that could be something.

        • equatorian says:

          There was an indie game a few years back that featured the player as a shellshocked soldier in WWI, shuffling around in the cold and trying to find little bits of warmth to stay alive. You find objects scattered around in the trench to give to other shellshocked soldiers to give them a bit of hope and energy and get them to follow you to shelter in a ruined church, where you sit beside a fire looking out into the night, everyone around you quiet or muttering softly among themselves.

          It wasn’t on the same caliber as All’s Quiet (kind of maudlin sometimes) and it wasn’t from the ‘industry’, but it was interesting/thought-provoking rather than fun (it really was rather miserable in that sense) and shows that we can really approach the subject someday if we want to put our efforts in it, I feel.

    • Fnord73 says:

      If they want to make a “Hooray, WW1 is tons of fun and action and the making of a man” they might rather do Ernst Jüngers “Storm of Steel”. But that would be awkward.

      • shde2e says:

        His values and morals don’t really go over well with most modern audiences.

        Apparently he did turn more towards the “war is hell” side later on, especially once his own son got killed during the invasion of Poland in 1939.

  5. vand says:

    I’m sooo confused. I’m pretty damn sure the original CoD did NOT depict the beaches of Normandy. I’m quite sure the beginning is you being paratrooped into a little city called St. Mer-Eglise or somesuch.

    • Mungrul says:

      I can understand John getting confused about that. MoHAA had the beach assault, and while it was EA, it was using the Quake 3 engine (as was the original CoD), and members of the team who made that game left to form Infinity Ward and create CoD.

      • John Walker says:

        Indeed, corrected. I am very old and confuse the wars I took part in.

      • GentleRealSailor says:

        Easy mistake to make. The Normandy mission fits more to Call of Duty than to the rest of Medal of Honor.

  6. CitizenX3639 says:

    This deal of Surprise from a good developer is asinine.

  7. latedave says:

    I always feel the Call of Duty games get a lot of leeway for some pretty average campaigns but it sounds like this might be worth a look, haven’t been this interested since Modern Warfare

    • waltC says:

      I’m a single-player guy, but to me the WWII stuff seems worn and hackneyed (Like Nazis on Mars, and that sort of thing)–but what kills it for me is the 10-hour campaign. I have seen too many games that simply end, surprisingly, right as I am warming up to them! No more…;)

      • shde2e says:

        You can totally have a good game in 10 hours though, especially if it is heavily focused on the narrative.

        I mean, that’s over seven times the lenght of an average blockbuster movie. You can cram a lot of story in that time.

        Of course, CoD isn’t exactly the posterchild for that, unless you count explosions and following sargy-man’s barks as narrative.

  8. Heimdall2061 says:

    Jesus Christ, these comments are negative. I appreciate the review, and it may make me pick this game up, though probably not until a sale. I’m very much in the same boat as you, John, in that I too really loved Call of Duty (and Medal of Honor, and Close Combat) when I was younger, and it had a profound impact on me. I loved Modern Warfare when it came out, and was disappointed by the direction it went- I hope that this is indicative of a turn back toward something good.

  9. brucethemoose says:

    Still US focused, eh? TBH, I’d love to see more focus on the Eastern front (which was likely the most unspeakably horrible front of any war, ever), as well as the smaller theatres around the globe.

    I understand asking this from a CoD is like asking for ice in hell, but still…

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Didn’t some CoDs aready do this? I seem to remember one that hopped around, and that had a Stalingrad beach storming bit where you only got to carry ammo for the other guy like in Enemy at the Gates. Then you got to be a Russian guy storming the Reichstag or something? This may have been Medal of Honor though.

      • Rich says:

        No, that was in every CoD up to CoD 4: Modern Warfare. CoD 4 had British bits though and World at War has Russian sections.

      • woodsey says:

        Both those scenes are from the first Call of Duty.

        The first was very effective, from what I remember. You get off a boat that’s just been ripped apart by aeroplane fire, some bloke shoves a rifle magazine with five bullets on it into your hand, and then you’re left to climb a hill and storm Red Square while being fired on by machine gun nests, trying to scrounge a rifle off the floor along the way.

      • PuttyGod says:

        Yeah, all of the World War 2 Call of Duty games (besides that one console Big Red One game) shared equal focus among the US, the British, and the Soviets (which were often the most memorable parts). CoD 3 also had a Polish campaign in there.
        They’ve always done a really good job at being diverse with the different nations AND the different theatres of the various fronts. In CoD 2, the majority of the British campaign took place in Egypt and other sections of North Africa, fighting the Afrika Korps and the American campaign started with the Point du Hoc beach/ cliff face climb (which, as far as I know, has never even been mentioned in a game before, let alone portrayed) and ends with the crossing of the Rhine. World at War also managed to make a pretty affecting, yet enjoyable, American campaign in the Pacific theatre.
        The Soviets have had missions in Stalingrad, Red Square, Kharkov, Kursk, Warsaw, Berlin, and many other parts of the conflict that games and movies usually avoid.
        Really, this is the first CoD game to go the cliche route of Americans on, and following, D-Day.

        • metalangel says:

          CoD3 was entirely within the Falaise Gap, there was no hopping around like 2 or World at War.

          You alternatively controlled Americans, Canadians, the SAS and Poles (a Sherman tank crew) in various parts of the battle until their stories all intermeshed for the finale.

    • shde2e says:

      I want a WW2 shooter focused around the Germans.
      I mean, just one of those isn’t too much to ask right? It was almost a century ago by now.

  10. lancelot says:

    Worst QTE mechanics ever. Plus, I have only one key of each pair of “Press to”/”Hold to” assigned, and then this happens: link to i.imgur.com.

    • waltC says:

      Agreed. I loathe QTE’s. Contrived, completely.

      • shde2e says:

        The holy Walker Commandements have explicitely denounced these vile creations, yet these heathens continue to ignore it’s salvation of good game design.

  11. Orazio Zorzotto says:

    But, wait, other than fanciar graphics is there any point to playing this over the original?

    • Rich says:

      Game play between this and the original are quite different. CoD 1 is generally a bit old fashioned, with health pack pickups and such.
      CoD 2 is probably my favourite of the series. The British sections in that one are really fun.

      • John Walker says:

        This game has health packs, as I said.

        • Rich says:

          Missed that bit, sorry. Also the bit about the enemies being bullet sponges; that’s something I hated about MoH: AA, back in the day.

  12. Thirith says:

    Is that Dale Dye on the screenshot before the last one? Dye was military advisor to a lot of war-themed films (e.g. Saving Private Ryan), TV series (e.g. Band of Brothers, The Pacific) and (I think) games, and he’s also done some acting. That guy looks a lot like him.

    • Deekyfun says:

      I thought that too. My first reaction was ‘That’s Colonel Sink!’

  13. Lord of Beer says:

    This review is overly generous. This game is a stinker. The levels are never longer than 5m wide, or 10m deep (unless you’re in the obligatory sniper belltower sections). Graphics look about 5 years old. Everything is on rails. You can play as a (privileged) white male, a woman, and an ethnic minority though. So I guess it has that going for it /s.

    I’m most looking forward to the ending so I can uninstall it.

    • Javier says:

      My experience playing games reviewed by John Walker is that he tends to be either overly generous or overly critical, plenty of times to a ridiculous extent. Not that I care, everyone has their own thoughts on stuff and he’s great at what he does, but I’m starting to suspect his reviews may just be a big sociological experiment.

      Also, I’m glad he’s a games journo and not a judge.

      • SuicideKing says:

        You’d probably be glad that judges aren’t games industry journalists either ;)

  14. Runty McTall says:

    Invinci-mations are really frustrating. Hate it when further bullets are pointless until the enemy exits an animation routine. Irritating and immersion breaking. :(

  15. Hyena Grin says:

    Never thought I’d be interested in a Call of Duty game again. Huh.

    Still going to avoid the multiplayer like the damn plague, but a ten hour single-player campaign that isn’t god-awful sounds like it might be worth a discounted purchase or something. Ahh well, something for the wishlist.

  16. Avus says:

    Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus > CoD WW2

  17. Neurotic says:

    Well I’m buying it, and it’ll be the first CoD I’ve bought since 2, so well done CoD people for making a good one again! Also, I have no interest in the multiplayer at all, so I care not about loot boxes.

  18. Rizlar says:

    You lost me at ‘puss out’. : /

    (Still sounds one thousand percent more interesting than the last ten years or so worth of CoDs.)

  19. B3tanTyronne says:

    After watching a few early levels being played out on youtube, it appears to have some of the most immersion breaking gameplay I have ever seen. Where as before you could control all the actions you did, this game will now take over for you and witness what they want you to see rather than what you want to see.
    And those QTE`s – come on what a croak of crap.
    This is one game I am going to avoid like the plague or until its under £3 – so about this time next year.
    One of the best reviews I have seen of this so far has been from Worthabuy on youtube and it`s no secret to say it ends up not being worthabuy for good reasons.

    • John Walker says:

      Then you can’t have seen any other CoD campaign in the last fifteen years! This does the crimes you list far, far less often.

  20. KwisatzHaderach says:

    Well, this comes as a surprise! The last bit I read on the new CoD was Brendan’s beta piece: link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Was rather negative to say the least.

  21. vorador says:

    Its sounds fairly better than previous instalments, but i deeply dislike QTEs shoved down your throat in the middle of the fight, the game taking control of you constantly and the enemies being Bullet Sponges.

    So better than before, but still not good enough. A shame, really.

  22. dripgrind says:

    It’s not really that CoD: WWII is tipping its hat to Medal Of Honor, it’s just that both of them are slavishly copying the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. It’s pretty sad how much of a rip-off it is, but the rest of the game at least comes up with more original scenarios, or at least does a better job of disguising what films it’s ripping off.

  23. bretfrag says:

    Rather than a piece of entertainment in a medium the reviewer’s presumably passionate about, this reads like a blog post about a less-shit-than-expected day at work doing a job he usually hates.

    Just look at the opening paragraph:

    “Fully expecting another ghastly CoD campaign, I’ve been utterly surprised by the shooter I’ve just played. Be shocked – Call Of Duty: WWII is a decent single-player game. And there’s not a loot drop in sight.”

    Where other reviews enthuse about the good qualities of a game, the best this guy seems to manage is a sigh of relief that it’s not quite as utterly shit as he’d expected. The only good things he says about the game in the introductory paragraph (in a review that’s overall favorable) are expressed in ways laden with negativity: ‘shockingly’ and contrary to his abysmally low, undefined expectations, it’s ‘decent’; and it doesn’t have a shit thing entirely incidental to the game play he thought it’d have. These were the two most salient things about the game he imagined someone interested in the COD would want to know.

    Honestly, if you hate the series so much you can’t resist turning a review of the latest installment that you like into an intermittent diatribe about the series you otherwise don’t, qualifying literally every positive remark about the game with a negative one about the series, as if reviews for you are foremost a form of catharsis for unloading the profound weariness with which reviewing games for a living has burdened you, maybe assign someone else to do the job??? Good gravy!

  24. PiiSmith says:

    So I played the multiplayer “beta” (demo). Multiplayer was the better part of all the latter CoDs and this beta was mediocre at best, showing the problem of P2P networking and really old feeling design.
    Now you are telling me that the Singleplayer of CoD might be worth. I was already writing this off.
    I am confused now.