It really goes without saying that World War 2 was one of the most horrific periods in human history. Millions of men, women and children died, many horribly, in a conflict that saw action across four continents and in several countries. The entire of Eastern Europe was destroyed and a religion was brought close to extinction.
It really wasn’t a great period in human history. Yet, gamers pine for a game to be set in such a chaotic time.
Ok, that last statement was a bit unfair. Gamers are not masochists, who particularly enjoy watching historical people rendered in video game form perish. At least I think.
In actuality, players pine for the beaches of Europe or the jungles of South East Asia in 1944 because they tend to be the basis for very good games, and they have been scarce in recent years.
Well, to the delight of fans everywhere, Call Of Duty is returning to World War 2 in November this year.
“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”–Dwight Eisenhower.
For Sledgehammer, making COD WW2 as realistic as possible was an ambition and a must. Recreating soldiers experiences of the war was something that was the most difficult and most important part of the game.
As we play through the Flak Tower multiplayer map, we see their hard work has paid off. Dropping in, our senses are immediately bombarded (no pun intended). Our ears are peppered by the noises of war. The screams of our comrades, the screeches and thuds of the guns firing around us and the distant crashes of artillery–it is all very overwhelming.
This attention to the details of the war is what makes COD WW2 stand out. Being disorientated by noises and screams adds to the feeling of war that Sledgehammer is trying to produce. Make no bones about it, the war was not nice and Sledgehammer are looking to portray that in their multiplayer. Those artillery strikes cause vibrations, the screams of your dying comrades, or the enemies you have shot, create a sense of scale and fear. Killing someone feels like killing someone rather than just removing them from a game for 10 seconds.
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ “–Winston Churchill
The attention to detail goes further than just the ‘feeling’ of war. Studio co-founder Michael Condrey told the Official PlayStation magazine: “We got in touch with a military advisor and historian who got us access to a firing range so that we could actually feel [the guns], reload them, so we got the weight and the reload right”.
It’s an important detail. When you are designing near future guns (albeit ones based on real-life prototypes) it is easy to create the feel of the weapons. You can create the recoil, the clip size, the fire rate and the power.
When you are trying to create historically accurate replica’s, more intense detail and research is needed to recreate historically accurate weapons. That is what Sledgehammer has strived for. The guns feel great, they feel powerful, they feel like they could be real and they feel like they do actual damage. Whether it is an M1 Garand or a Luger pistol, they feel and look like they have been meticulously recreated.
Does all this mean COD WW2 will be the best the series has seen for a while? No, of course, it doesn’t. But it has a very good chance. For COD WW2 to be put on the same shelf as Modern Warfare, it will need to do more than capture the feeling of war in the multiplayer. That is where the campaign comes in. While we haven’t played it, it seems the feeling of war permeates that as well.
In the campaign, you play Private Roland “Red” Daniels of the Big Red One–the 1st Infantry Division of the United States. The game takes place throughout 1944 and focuses on Red and his platoon’s experience as the allies fight towards Berlin. From what we have seen in the trailers, it seems the campaign is going to be a deeply personal and thought-provoking journey, focusing on the camaraderie of the men that fought. Red and his platoon, including Private Zussman, Sergeant Pearson and Lieutenant Turner will each play a key role, and seemingly see character development throughout the game. It also seems like Sledgehammer will not shy away from the atrocities of the Holocaust, with it playing a key role in the most recent trailer. Red’s best friend, Zussman, is a Jew and his story factors into a further story highlighting discrimination across both sides of the war.
It also seems like Sledgehammer will not shy away from the atrocities of the Holocaust, with it playing a key role in the most recent trailer. Red’s best friend, Zussman, is a Jew and his story factors into a further story highlighting discrimination across both sides of the war.
Sledgehammer is not just dropping some characters into the war and watching them kick some Nazi ass. No, the war itself is a character, throwing up a litany of emotions as the player tries to survive. Nazi bashing was seemingly the last thing Sledgehammer was thinking about when creating this game. You only have to watch the ‘Brotherhood of Heroes’ documentary to understand what Sledgehammer have tried to craft with the story.
Call Of Duty is a game that is taking the horrors, the fighting, the camaraderie, the atrocities and the hope from World War 2 and is moulding them into a game that could be the best the series has ever seen. Not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, COD WWII could also be the most complete Second World War game to date.