Call of Duty: WW2 Review - Should Price Affect a Game's Score?
I'm a type of person who can't resist buying a game on sale, even if I know it will sit in my backlog of games for months. There are many games that I wouldn't buy at release but would pick up once it goes on sale. This had me thinking if reviews should or should not consider cost as part of a game's review score. This would also impact indie or free to play games and scoring them on the same playing field as triple-A games. There is an expectation of quality and value when buying a game at the traditional $60 full retail price. When those expectations are not met, review sites are automatically flooded with negative user reviews that are hard for the game to return from. Games that come to my mind are Diablo 3, Starwars Battlefront, and No Man's Sky. I personally believe that price should not be considered in the score of a game because within a year the game will probably be on sale for $20, and if the cost was the main argument in your review it would no longer be relevant. At the same time, I played a lot of indie games that were highly recommended at $20, that were nowhere as good as a mediocre reviewed game on sale. We could also consider the extremes to prove the point as well. Free to play games aren't given a higher score on average, compared to their full-priced counterparts.
This brings me to the game of this review, Call of Duty: WW2. As a disclaimer, Call of Duty: WW2 is the second COD game I've completed, with the first being COD: Modern Warfare way back when. The franchise has been getting a lot of flack with recent installments focusing on a futuristic setting, or superhuman abilities with high-tech exosuits. Call of Duty: WW2 is a return to the historical setting that made Call of Duty a household name. My favorite FPS I've played recently was Titanfall 2, so I don't have any problems when that style if done right. I heard some news about this recent COD prior to the release in Nov. 2017 about the controversy relating to the removal of Nazi swastikas, but I avoided reviews to not expose myself to any spoilers. This is something that I wouldn't have even noticed if it wasn't brought up to me.
Call of Duty is such a big franchise that has a lot of vocal fans. Looking on the review of Metacritic, there is a big disparity between critic and user reviews. This isn't uncommon, as many users gave the game a zero for absurd reasons. However, the average critic reviews are on par with what I would give the game. With that said, I really enjoyed this game and would give it a great 8.5/10. If you're like me and haven't played COD games in a while, this is a great place to get back into the franchise.
Going back to the idea of cost, this game would be more worth it at the $40 or under price. Some games like The Legend of Zelda: BotW, I would recommend at any full price because how incredibly innovative it is. Recent Call of Duty games is known for being more focused on the multiplayer experience. While the multiplayer component is stellar, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the single-player campaign. The campaign took me about 10 hours to complete, and that's playing on the hard difficulty. While the game is polished, has a great single player campaign and multiplayer, the game does take a few risks that don't pay off.
In the campaign, you follow the character of Ronald Daniels. He has a voice that narrates the intro and outro of each mission, and over the course of the story plays more of a significant role. At first, the story might seem cliche, like a mediocre movie, starring notable actors Josh Duhamel playing sergeant Peirson and Jonathon Tucker playing private Zussman, but their performances and their characters were one of the best parts of the game. I thought that this game was just going to be a testosterone filled adventure with Micheal Bay-like explosions. Other than one scene involving a train, everything else was grounded in realism. It was able to bring tension and excitement to each mission while developing deeper themes of war and brotherhood. While you have various squadmates and characters you meet along the way, only couple characters are fleshed out in the story which I see as a missed opportunity because the characters they do develop are great and make you feel invested in those characters as well as the overall story.
The game is well-paced and never felt like it dragged. During the campaign, you will have missions that have you accompanied by your squad mates, who provide special utility abilities that have a cool down. For example, Zussman will throw a health pack to you, or another squadmate Stiles will replenish your grenades. At certain points in the story, you will take control of other characters, none that are integral to the story. For example, there are missions where you pilot a tank, a fighter plane, and a resistance member infiltrating a Nazi stronghold. While these types of missions were a great way to change up the pace, I felt that some were hit or miss. For example where was one great stealth mission where you have to escape an area unarmed. But then there's another stealth mission that's not so great where I could get away with shooting all the enemies with a silencer without raising any alarms. Also, the mission involving the tank honestly felt broken on the PC version. There were a couple of days I couldn't play because I got stuck on this mission. The controls for the tank are so bad that I couldn't beat it on the easiest of settings. There was also an issue that I ran into once with the autosaving feature and a stealth mission, that required me to restart the entire chapter. Also playing through the game for the first time, you may find yourself stuck if you are low or out of health packs going into a tough fight. However, utilizing your squad mates you should be able to overcome these challenges instead of replaying a majority of the level.
However, the game excels at what the franchise is known for. The controls, variety of weapons, and environments are all amazing and build on the sense of immersion. When aiming down the sights and landing a headshot is immensely satisfying. I enjoyed the use of health packs to recover life instead of regenerating shields but essentially doesn’t affect gameplay. You stand behind cover for a couple of seconds and get health back. I also enjoyed the challenge of the hard difficulty, and never felt the A.I. was being unfairly difficult. The combat felt realistic and a couple of well-placed shots was enough to take down an enemy, but you could also be taken out just as easily. I've been accustomed to games with cover based mechanics and enemies being meat shields, so knowing that I was in danger whenever I left cover made each encounter challenging.
The single player game is on the short side but can be extended if you complete the game on the harder difficulties. There are collectibles that you can find in the different missions, that seems like ordinary objects like a compass or pocket watch, but they provide text and stories from both sides of the war. There are also heroic actions you will come across when playing each mission that will give you a reason to return. These heroic actions that you might not encounter your first playthrough could show up as saving an ally on the battlefield or dragging a wounded soldier to cover. There is limited replayability for the single player, but that's where the multiplayer comes in.
Because I haven't played other COD games I can't compare WW2's multiplayer with previous iterations, but I'm amazed how much there is to do for this part of the game. Each time I log in there seems to be an update, which is good to see that the game is being updated so frequently this far after release. The action is fast paced and gets you back into the action quickly after dying, respawning in random areas of the map to eliminate spawn camping. The quick respawns and back and forth nature of the mission objectives reminded me of games like Quake Arena. There is a great level of depth and a lot of content to keep players looking for the multiplayer experience to be entertained for dozens of hours. There are different classes (called divisions) that have different utility skills that unlock as you level up. You can also unlock different weapons and attachments that alter your play style. For those that go it alone, or want to queue with friends, there's so much to do even without touching the single player content. There are a variety of different game modes, and even more with the DLC content. At first, I was intimidated by jumping in with higher level players, but the game is definitely based on skill as opposed to what items your character has equipped. So you'll be able to compete with others regardless of your level. The Nazi zombie mode also provides a different style of multiplayer PvE content similar to Left for Dead games, pitting players against waves of zombies while trying to complete objectives.
I bought the game on Steam and had to play the game on the lowest of settings. If the settings were too high, my keyboard would stop responding for some reason. Even in these low settings, the game looks amazing, but in hindsight, I should have bought it on the PS4. If you're like me and are unsure about getting into Call of Duty: WW2, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Sure it's not the best game in the franchise, but it's a great game on any standard and definitely worth checking out.
I'm definitely excited to play the new Black Ops 4 coming out in October. Let me know in the comments below what your favorite Call of Duty game is, and how WW2 compares in your opinion.