Is Call of Duty: World at War better than Call of Duty 4?

Our editors pick sides and do battle. Which shooter will emerge victorious? You decide!

Settle down, internet! We, the ever vigilant diplomats of the Gamez Induztry, have arrived to put an end to the debate that is currently pitting brother against brother on message boards from coast to coast.

Which Call of Duty reigns supreme? Modern Warfare or World at War?

Master debaters Charlie Barratt and Chris Antista are picking their trenches and laying it all on the line to help you decide. Using a refined mix of gentlemanly discourse and juvenile name calling, these two brave editors will navigate a minefield of topics and controversies.

But first, let’s get the obvious one out of the way...

Why World at War is better: Control yourselves, naysayers. People have been fascinated by World War II for over half a century, so the era didn’t suddenly grow stale in 2006 because of some half-assed Medal of Honor games. Yes, killing Nazis became a bit tiresome when “killing Nazis” became its own genre, but we’ve all had a necessary break.

There’s no reason we can’t embrace a trip back to the 1940s, especially with the glorious next-gen overhaul provided by the silky-smooth Call of Duty 4 engine. Gamers have never seen the war done quite so finely, and with the switch to a South Pacific front, they’ll quickly realize that the Japanese soldiers are unlike any enemy they’ve ever faced. Bonzai, bitch!

- Chris Antista, Associate Features Editor

Why Modern Warfare is better: My argument can be summarized in just one word – a word that happens to be staring you in the face already. “Modern.”

Abandoning the tried and tired setting of the Second World War opened up so many opportunities for the Call of Duty franchise. Without the clichés of Ken Burns and Steven Spielberg to fall back on, the developers got incredibly creative with missions, objectives and locations. Without the weight and linearity of history, they also managed to make the game topical, relevant and even slightly controversial.

After raising the bar, why lower it again?

- Charlie Barratt, Xbox 360 Editor

Why World at War is better: What’s the argument here? If you loved the combat in Call of Duty 4, you’ll shit a brick over World at War (unless you still want to be a baby about the setting). The battles are every bit as fast, sweepingly cinematic and violently beautiful as last year’s offering, but with a rustic coat of “Greatest Generation” war paint.

And seriously, are we really suffering from a shortage of modern weaponry in games? World at War’s timeless arsenal is no less kill-inducing than your new fangled Carbines and MP5s. Personally, I prefer the rickety sounds of WWII weapons, like the clang of an empty clip or the whimsical snap of a bolt action rifle. The clinical and sterile sounds of Modern Warfare have a nastiness that drives home the fact that these are instruments of death.

Oh, and will the game with the face melting flamethrower please stand up?
- Chris

Why Modern Warfare is better: Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the return to World War II is the corresponding return to World War II weaponry. After a year of being spoiled by Call of Duty 4’s high-tech gadgetry, the arsenal in World at War feels like a collection of dusty museum relics.

I’m sorry, but I want guns that shoot accurately, reload quickly and kill effectively – historical accuracy be damned. I want a silenced sniper rifle with laser scope and digital camouflage, not the gas-powered, service-issue doohickey favored by grandfathers and great-grandfathers everywhere. I want a rocket launcher, not a “bazooka.”

Oh, and with regard to your flamethrower question, I believe that Halo 3, Gears of War 2, Dead Space and pretty much every other shooter in the past year arrived to the “face melting” party before World at War. And do modern soldiers even use those glorified leaf blowers anymore? – Charlie

Why World at War is better: I don’t think you’ve got a leg to stand on here, Mr. Barratt... if that’s even your real name. Any praise you dare to heap on Call of Duty 4 is instantly transferable to World at War. You’ll find the same epically linear experience that thrusts you from objective to objective before you can come up for air.

But the battle scenarios do differ vastly from one another, of course. World at War missions feel more heroic and more important, probably because they are based on and around events that actually occurred, while Call of Duty 4’s Estonian Incident was ripped straight out of one of Tom Clancy’s wet dreams. - Chris

Why Modern Warfare is better: Every mission in Call of Duty 4 is different from the last. One second, you’re infiltrating a boat in the dead of night as giant waves crash on top of your secret, special ops squad. A second later, you’re overwhelming a desert city in blinding bright daylight with the entire US military as your backup. One minute, you’re creeping through a 1980s nuclear wasteland, quietly sniping enemies from underneath cars. A minute later, you’re unapologetically raining death from miles above in a satellite-assisted gunship.

Every mission in World at War feels like a retread. You storm the beach of Normandy – er, we mean Peleliu. You assassinate an enemy leader with the wise guidance of an older soldier (hmm, sound familiar?) You drive a tank around. It’s one non-surprise after another. Not only have you played this stuff already, you’ve played it already in previous Call of Duty games.
- Charlie

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