Call of Duty Beta: Hands-On

Call of Duty Beta: Hands-On

In anticipation of its November 11th release, Treyarch and Activision have opened the XBOX 360 Multiplayer Beta for their follow up to Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty: World at War.

Taking the game back to its original setting, World War 2, but including both the European and Pacific theaters of operation, players can be assigned to one of four armed forces: the Japanese Imperial Army, the Whermarcht, the Red Army and the United States Marines. Players consequently are yelled at by their commander in Japanese, German, English-accented Russian, or a particularly ticked-off sounding Kiefer Sutherland.

At press time, players can take for a spin five of the game’s six multiplayer modes across three of the eleven announced maps. The available modes include: War, a ‘Headquarters’ variant where command points must be captured in order, starting with a neutral site, which quickly turns into a bloodbath, then proceeding tug-of-war style through two more points on each side, and some stock modes: Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, a ‘pick-up’ Team Deathmatch with no pre-set teams allowed, and Free For All.

The available maps feature tons of detail and are spacious enough for two teams of eight without getting crowded. The first, Castle, takes place in and around an ancient Japanese fortress built on a hillside that features space to battle up and down a long gradient as well as narrow wooden hallways where creaking boards can either give your position away or cause you to keep turning around to check behind you. The second map, Makin, is set at a small fishing village at night and as is based on the atoll where two real battles took place during the war. Huts built on scaffolds surrounded by catwalks dominate the map, although a narrow winding path up a river and though the jungle is crucial for any objective-based mission.

The final beta map, Roundabout is a bombed out European rail yard/motor pool, and features one of the biggest additions from CoD4, tanks. Set up as first-come first serve, any player can jump aboard and rumble around the map lobbing shells at about one every six seconds. The armor is not for show either as the driver is well protected, but sticky grenades and bazooka rounds can damage the armor, exposing the vehicle to a kill shot. However, an ally can clamber aboard and wield a mounted .50 cal, providing support at the risk of exposure.

Fans of CoD4 should note that even though the weapons available are a generation (or three) behind the ones found in Modern Warfare, and items like night-vision goggles and Javelin guided missiles are absent, overall the game plays almost identically. A similar rank and perk system is in place, topping out at Level 65 and once you clear level four and unlock custom layouts and challenges you’ll be frantically customizing yourself in the seconds you have between battles. Key differences in-match include ‘team momentum’ that rewards squads on a kill streak with the power to capture flags and CPs at double or triple speed ending a stalemated match really quickly. Planes can still provide recon at three consecutive kills, while five-kills allows for a targeted artillery barrage much like the air strikes of CoD4. Lastly, the seven-kill reward is now the loosing of a squad of attack dogs (with a nice "RELEASE THE HOUNDS!") who sniff out and maul to death your enemies.

In all, CoD: World at War’s multiplayer isn’t taking many risks with a good thing, and new modes, maps and weapons are all just icing on the cake.

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