Games: Call of Duty returns to the well with recreation of WWII's greatest battles

Call od Duty: WWII spins the yarn of US army recruit Ronald 'Red' Daniels as he first tastes combat on D-Day
Call od Duty: WWII spins the yarn of US army recruit Ronald 'Red' Daniels as he first tastes combat on D-Day

Call of Duty: WWII (Multi)

By: EA

THE Second World War, eh? That was a barrel of laughs. After going to space, the perennial Call of Duty series takes on a more sombre mantle with this boots-on-the-ground recreation of WWII's greatest battles, marking an end to the techno-shenanigans of recent games.

It's hardly a new direction, though – before 2007's Modern Warfare, the muddy trenches of the 1940s were a playground for every shooter, including the very first Call of Duty.

Returning to the well, EA spins the yarn of Southern recruit Ronald 'Red' Daniels, a soldier with the 1st Infantry Division as he first tastes combat with the D-Day landing. Kicking off on Omaha, Red storms beaches, helps liberate France and shoot waves of Nazi soldiers in a five-hour blitzkrieg of heroic stereotypes and war story cliches.

Like a greatest hits of war movies, doffing its helmet in particular to Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, Cod: WWII shows just how far the genre has come since the series' early days, with a wide variety of weapons, the ability to call in support from AI partners and white-knuckle vehicle sections.

In its best mission, players guide a resistance leader through a Parisian Nazi garrison using her wits rather than guns. But despite the best CoD campaign in years, players will spend most of their time online with its celebrated multiplayer. Offering up more of the usual run-and-gun action with the usual fan favourites, new additions include War – a multi-objective series of stages tasking two teams of six with various objectives.

And instead of waiting in a lobby, the game lets players roam its social hub, picking up challenges, testing weapons in the firing range or even playing classic Atari games. Alas, while players can use in-game credits, EA is also eyeing that bulge in your pocket with loot boxes.

While not as nefarious as other recent games, the sheer absurdity of watching a crate of goodies dropping on to WWII battlegrounds is akin to seeing a Casino on the beach. But if raining gambling boxes raises an eye in what is a fairly serious take on the horrors of war, it's nothing compared to seeing Nazi Zombies on the menu screen.

Yes, the much-loved goofy side dish returns as four players navigate a spooky European village, fighting off undead Reich. There's only one map available and progression can be frustratingly slow, but there is the added bonus of celeb voices, including David Tennant and Ving Rhames.

Its microtransactions may be rotten to the corps, but with more refined gameplay, balanced maps and its new War mode, Call of Duty: WWII is a return to the past and a return to form for the series, dragging players back to the trenches for a top bit of Boche-bashing.