BETWEEN MICHAEL BAY & HISTORIC ACCRUED
The future is old hat for Call of Duty fans. The critique of Advanced and Infinite Warfare took Publisher Activision to heart: too futuristic, too much science fiction and too “unrealistic”. As a consequence, Sledgehammer Games developed a “Back To The Roots” project from 2014 onwards.
It went back to the beginning. Since May we know that this project was Call of Duty: WW2. The series should focus on its origins: history instead of future. Real balls instead of lasers.
“Finally WWII again!”
The fascination of the Americans at the Second World War is unbroken. Especially the D-Day, the Normandy landing, seems to offer endless material for heroic moments. Already Steven Spielberg’s The Soldier James Ryan has prepared the landing of the Allies for the cinema audience in extreme hardship. A hardness that came very close to the historical truth.
Sledgehammer Games thus tries an impossible balancing act: On the one hand the creation of Call of Duty-Bombast, which the fans want. On the other hand, historical superficial work, which demands the topic. As video games are increasingly being produced on the same budget and scale as blockbuster movies, WW2 will have to compete unintentionally with a historic mammoth project such as Spielberg’s D-Day movie adaptation.
Almost scene-alike James Ryan launches landing in France. The water is colored red, body parts fly around, there are panic and disorientation. It is almost impossible to master violence and loudness. Paradoxically, the game brings with it a certain ease with it.
The landing in Normandy like in the game did not exist. Everything is too fast and too easy. The beach is stormed and the Germans either killed in their bunker or chased away. That the D-Day in a few hours and days has claimed thousands of victims until you could even think of victory, WW2 deliberately. There is no time in the game.
From here rushes the story with weekly breaks from one big battlefield to the next. Unfortunately, Call of Duty cannot reflect the necessary drama and duration of the fights.
Sledgehammer Games fails because of its own claim to outline as accurate as a possible retelling of the most important events on the way to Aachen. It remains a typical call of duty, although the studio had promised much more.
Just as the atmosphere gains in intensity, it gives way to the usual action bombast of derailed trains and explosions every second. This kind of variety is justified by the studio with the desire of the community for “real call of duty moments”. A wish that comes true at the expense of historical correctness and authenticity.
Rather, the campaign degenerates in favor of the action to a flat retelling of important moments in the history of the Second World War. Although the characters tell a personal story and seem very affected by the events, man succeeds as the main character but every time the symbolic jump to the finish and thus safe.
The problem with the story
The actual highlight is the reconquest of Paris. Although the mission suffers from the same time-pressure dilemma as the first D-Day mission, the gameplay mechanics are more varied and provide the right level of tension.
It is safe to assume that the historical-real victory of the resistance in France had nothing to do with stealth, but it is precisely through the Schleich passages one of the better moments of the campaign.
The same applies to the mission “Ardennes offensive”. That a battle was not always won and the men died partly by hunger or cold and not bullets can only be guessed.
The epilogue of the game shows a different call of duty. Spoil Warning – The slow walk through a labor camp in search of comrades represents a more immersive game, which would have to trust this kind of closeness to history within the campaign more often. Responsible for being a historical-educational medium, a Call of Duty: WW2 comes in 2017, despite the self-prescribed claim by developer Sledgehammer, only conditionally.
This is a pity because the Call of Duty series had the unique opportunity to create an extraordinary, overwhelming campaign with WW2, which comes with many unbearable moments. Unfortunately, a studio like Sledgehammer Games, the courage or the goodwill of the publisher does not have the resources and tools.
This hurdle had to overcome future scenarios such as in Advanced and Infinite Warfare. It was possible to design fictitious apocalypses and war conflicts at will, without there being any links to real events.
For multiplayer mode, friends are a must
Like in Destiny, Call of Duty now has its own social meeting point within the multiplayer lobby. Headquarters is the equivalent of Destiny’s tower and is used above all for the customization of your soldier, the setup of the loadout and the preparation for the multiplayer rounds.
You can try Killstreaks, watch your comrades, or be cheered if you increase your prestige rank for everyone to see.
Everything is more interactive and social. The new “war” mode builds on the same principle. As a team, you have to coordinate and coordinate exactly how you build, destroy or defend different stations. If you fail, the opposing team moves forward.
The ticking timer in the background increases the pressure. No gameplay revolution, but a very welcome addition to the standard modes.
Concentrating on the mission’s objectives rather than shooting down the enemy is paramount. The good agreement thus allows a quick overrun of the other team. Your kill-death ratio does not matter because the real goal is team play.
Hardpoint is also different from the rest of the standard modes due to the focus on team play. Constantly changing points must be held to defeat the opposing team in the end. Kills also play only a minor role here.
The same applies to the Gridiron a.k.a mode. Football, which is a mix of Rugby, King of the Hill and Guardian from Gears of War 4. Instead of shattering each other, a player must bring the ball into the opponent’s goal.
Sounds easier than the maps do. Each of the standard cards is so well balanced that it is almost impossible to wait and see. At the same time, solo attempts are mercilessly punished by immediate enemy firing.
The scoring is currently a bit confusing and not always clear enough. A fact that can be improved by small corrections.
In all three modes, the teamplay is clearly in the foreground. A necessary and welcome change in a Call of Duty in 2017.
The zombie mode as a highlight
The biggest surprise was the widely developed zombie mode. Michael Condrey revealed in the interview that the team had drawn a lot of inspiration from Visceral Games times and it has built Dead Space moments here and there.
Zombie mode actually takes this statement into account. Already the tutorial tells its own story. The entire campaign unfolds with every puzzle solved. As in the zombie modes before WW2, it is not about the survival beyond the waves, but the progress to the end boss.
The learning curve in zombies is steeper than in other modes, and as in many games before, the right team is critical to success. Even the alleged final battle offers different variations through Easter eggs and secrets. The studio team has done it with internal help up to wave 300.
The campaign of Call of Duty: WW2 is indeed told very personally by the main characters, but is also the weakest part of the new, old setting. The story is bombastic staged, with many necessary rough edges and especially for an entertainment product such as Call of Duty with coarse, historically-correct course suitable. But here is the problem: a brand like Call of Duty would have had to be more confident. The quiet moment at the end of the game is indeed a circular for the story of the characters, but unfortunately not more. For the first time, I remember the Zombies mode and the Multiplayer more positive than the campaign. Although Call of Duty has renounced superfluous scandals this year, it has also renounced the unique selling proposition that the campaign had taken over an ordinary wartime history.