The Call of Duty (COD) first person shooter (FPS) game franchise started in 2003 with the 20th century's greatest conflict - World War II - as its backdrop.
I have always had a soft spot for World War II (WWII) stuff and more so WWII FPS games, having played the original COD and its competitors like Medal of Honor. I remember the adrenaline rush as I "storm" the beach of Normandy with my M1 Garand rifle like in the movie Saving Private Ryan.
But in recent years, the COD franchise has deviated to more modern settings, with the likes of Modern Warfare, Advanced Warfare and Black Ops. I practically lost interest in the COD games thereafter.
This year, for the first time since 2006, COD is finally back to its WWII roots and aptly called Call of Duty: WWII. The game is made up of single-player campaign, multiplayer and Nazi Zombie modes.
In the single-player campaign mode, you play mostly as Private Ronald "Red" Daniels in the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, as he lands on Normandy and makes the final push through Europe to Germany. But in one of the missions, you get to play as a female French undercover agent and a US Army tank commander.
I enjoyed the 10hr-odd single-player campaign, as the missions are varied and give you a great feel of WWII without too much of the US propaganda. It explores more of the brotherhood among the fighting troops.
The characters are memorable with the voice actors - such as Josh Duhamel of Transformers movies and Jonathon Tucker of Kingdom TV series - doing a fabulous job of conveying the emotions. However, the storyline could have been better told as there are, I feel, some inconsistencies in the way characters develop.
However, this is the best-looking WWII game I have played. The graphics are superb from the realistically-recreated war-torn environments, ruined buildings and moonlit battlefields, down to the rifles you and your enemies carry.
Not only do the rifles look great, they sound great as well. In fact, when the shooting starts, you totally feel like you are in a war zone with distinctively different weapons firing. You can readily hear the difference between your own M1 Garand rifle and the German's MP40 submachine gun. It makes the whole experience that much more gratifying.
On the downside, there is no health-regeneration mechanics in this game unlike previously. In the past, you just duck for cover and wait for your health bar to go back to full. Now, you have to ask for health packs from your platoon mates and use them when your health bar is low. This is irritating, as you might be isolated or pinned down by enemy fire, with no platoon mate to throw you a health pack.
PRICE: $85 (PC), $79.90 (PS4, the version tested; Xbox One)
GENRE: First-person shooter
But the biggest issue I have with the single-player campaign is the use of Quick Time Event (QTE), whereby you have to press certain buttons upon on-screen prompts. I am not a real fan of QTE, especially in an FPS like COD. I feel it breaks the flow of an otherwise smooth gameplay.
I have hoped for a longer single-player campaign, and hopefully it will come in a form of downloadable content in the future. Meanwhile, most gamers will probably busy themselves in the multiplayer aspect of the game.
I like the way the multiplayer gameplay is crafted. It feels a bit like Destiny where you have an avatar that you can customise by choosing your division, tweaking the face,selecting the uniform's emblem, etc. There is a hub where your avatar hangs around before heading to multiplayer matches. When you play more, you get more experience points to level up to get more weapons, modifications and other perks.
There are plenty of options in the multiplayer mode. Apart from the usual deathmatch and capture-the-flag multiplayer matches, there is the new War Mode. This is an objective-based mode whereby you play as Allied or Axis forces in team-driven assault and defend missions within a time limit. Your kill count and streak does not matter much, as team victory is the most important goal.
The Nazi Zombie mode is an interesting addition. You and three other characters (played by the likes of David Tennant and Elodie Yung) will play in co-operation mode to fight against endless hordes of Nazi undead. It is a fun but nail-biting challenge.
That said, I would still prefer to have a much longer and more in-depth single-player campaign.
Verdict: Call of Duty: WWII is probably the best COD game to date with its great visuals, realistic sound effects, varied single-player campaign missions and multitude of multiplayer matches that will keep you occupied for a while.