DS Review: Call of Duty World at War

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Kudos to N-Space for at least trying. They’ve crammed an enormous amount of content into the DS version of Call of Duty World at War. Content isn’t king though, and this portable renditions gameplay doesn’t quite work as planned.

The heart of the games problems are the sloppy controls. Using the touch screen to aim is admittedly accurate, but an absolute pain to execute. Using the d-pad to move, left trigger to shoot, and then aim with the screen is, literally, painful. It’s horribly uncomfortable, the DS never feels stable in your hands, and aiming then feels too fast.

Generous hit detection can’t make up for the problem. Aiming down the sights is activated by tapping a spot on the screen. Given how critical this is to the gameplay, taking your eyes off the screen, not to mention messing up your aim, is completely counter-intuitive. A control configuration in which the buttons aim and right trigger sights would have been wonderful. There are no other control choices other than left and right handed.

A stack of mini-games are included, from disarming mines, to shooting mortars, firing off anti-air guns, to sending Morse code. These are actually fun, breaking up the monotony of wandering through linear levels waiting for enemies to pop out and get shot. There is little to no enemy AI. They simply hide and then pop out when you walk past a trigger point. Your allies do some of the heavy lifting, eliminating a number of foes, lessening the feel of the action.

The campaign is varied, following the multiple country path of its console brethren. The variety is appreciated, even if the gameplay isn’t up to par. Visually, the blocky polygons and textures are expected, yet it still presents a solid looking portable title. Enemies are clearly defined regardless of the backdrop.

Online multi-player is a surprise, although with only four players and tiny maps, it’s doubtful this will be a long-standing hit on Nintendo Wi-Fi. Local multi-player is also an option, with the same modes and maps as the online feature.

There’s little question this DS adaptation is ambitious, but that ambition is too much for the DS to handle. The lack of alternate control options, dumb AI, and sloppy aiming are too much for this game to handle. It’s a small experiment worth forgetting.