So it’s here at last. Some 18 days after the beta for the XBOX was released we finally get the PC version. Not that it was simple to obtain. You had to be signed up at callofduty.com to get a code. Then the download was released to FilePlanet (needs a subscription to get fast and advert free downloads). Then there was some cock-up with that and FilePlanet released another file, then you had to wait until your beta activation code was released at callofduty.com. Easy eh ?
Well it’s been out less than 24 hours and I’ve spent a bit of time on it (ranked up to Corporal – level 7). I’ve had a play on some different gametypes, tried the 3 different maps (Makin, Roundhouse and Castle) and also had a look around some clan sites to see what the general “take” is.
Just a little background on some bits before the review.
Infinity Ward produced CoD4 Modern Warfare with a new game engine and it was generallyÂ well received. Activision, who own the franchise, have this policy of alternating software houses to produce each new version to CoD5 fell to Treyarch who had done the well received Call of Duty: United Offensive (CoDUO) and the not-so-well-received Call of Duty 3 (which was console only). Most hardened CoD players were looking forward to the release of CoD5 by Treyarch as it was hoped there would be a return to old-style CoD gameplay and feel overall. The game engine though is the same as that used by CoD4.
Well CoD5:WaW returns us to the WWII scenario though based in the Pacific Basin. The beta maps are Makin (sort of jungle/swamp on edge of some water), Castle (Japanese Pagoda type setting) and Roundhouse (ruined city around a train yard). In general, my view was that the maps recaptured something of the CoD2 feel though this may have been due more to the WWII setting than anything to do with design or gameplay.
Some PC gamer requests have been dealt with (you can now add a Clan tag) but many of the items that have been requested since CoD4 came out still appear to be lacking (no colours for in-game names). Irritatingly, it seems as if the PC version is trying to be converted to a console type game. Your player name must be unique on the worlwide master servers (which will undoubtedly irritate many CoD Clans) and they have added a setting to easily add friends ( a console type feature when most PC gamers will probably use things like Xfire). The server browser for the beta did, however, seem fast, well populated and allow for some decent filtering options.
As with any new release, wheter beta or full, there have been the usual complaints about installing not working, graphics not looking good, jerky movement etc. All I can say is that, apart from having to re-install DirectX 9.0c (specifically) the game plays fine on my Xp Pro, 8800gtx, quad coreÂ system. It runs smoothly and the graphics (to me) seem as comparable as with CoD4. The sound is a little disappointing and grenades definitely seem to sound muffled.
Â In terms of gameplay we have all the usual gametypes – team deathmatch, deathmatch, capture the flag, search and destroy etc. Vehicles are back (as per CoDUO) so you can drive around in tanks and there are also attacks by dogs. I’m not sure I like having to repeatedly shoot an animal in-game and listen to the yelping (but then I am an animal lover having had my own Labrador and several cats).
Comments I have seen are varied and are probably 50% for it and 50% against it. However, the most pertinent comment seems to be that it does, unfortunately, feel like a WWII mod for CoD4. Whether the full release can overcome this and give it it’s own true identity remains to be seen. Long-term CoD players may well respond well to the change back to WWII whilst the console type players will probably just run with it for a while and move on to whatever the next great new release happens to be.
For it to have longevity on the PC it remains to be seen what will happen about things like the release of mod tools, mapping tools and how these additions can be added to the game. After the fiasco of CoD4 in terms of how easy it was to add custom maps and mods, PC gamers will be looking for something a bit more like previous CoD incarnations in this respect. The folder structure of the beta on your hard drive alludes to this but we will have to see when the full game is released.
The game release is scheduled for mid November (11th or 14th depending on where you read it) and Treyarch have already said they will not be making any alterations to the beta. That seems to imply that patches will be released quite quickly once the game goes on sale and we can only hope also that files for Linux based servers are also available sooner than with CoD4 (which took around 3 weeks).
Â So after all this, will I buy it and play it ?
Yes, as I love the Call of Duty series. I’ll probably play it more than CoD4 as I prefer the WWII setting.
Will I ever still play CoD, CoDUO and CoD2 – you bet ! I don’t want or need the frilly ranks/perks of the more modern games and still think there is something to be said for the older versions – but then if you gave me the original Space Invaders to play I’d be happy too !