Will the next Call of Duty suck?

Call of Duty: World at War is built on the CoD4 engine, so naturally it looks gorgeous. Four player co-op, flame throwers, vehicles and destructible environments are just a few of the cool new features Treyarch has added. They’ve also gone to great lengths to realistically recreate the tactics used in the Pacific theater. As such, fire is a crucial part of gameplay. In the demo we saw, the flamethrower was used unsparingly to clear out areas where guerilla fighters crouched in bushes or treetops. According to Dave King, the game’s technical director, fire spreads according to wind and vegetation type so an inattentive player could potentially paint himself into a flaming corner. King also demoed the destructible environs by shooting out a hole in the wall of a hut to create a covered firing position. Damage goes both ways, of course, so bullet penetration will be a factor in cover.

The single-player experience will be at least as long as Call of Duty 4’s campaign. The scene we saw started with the brutal torture and killing of a Marine comrade, followed by a frantic escape. The action was fast and tense, swinging wildly between firefights, taut battlefield vignettes, and moonlit jungles seething with tension. Japanese soldiers sprung out of the foliage swinging katanas, putting their no retreat, no surrender Bushido code into action. We were dying to know if katanas could be picked up and used. Alas, as of this writing, katanas are not equippable, but Treyarch indicated that the subject is still under consideration. Testing and balancing is in progress; currently bayonets and knives are the only blade weapons available to the player.

Next page: Multiplayer, now with tanks!