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Call of Duty: World at War is a first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch and published by Activision for PC, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. It is the fifth installment in the Call of Duty series, excluding expansion packs. It returns the setting to World War II, after the previous title, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was set in present day. The game was released in North America on November 11, 2008 and in Europe on November 14, 2008. A Windows Mobile version was also made available by Glu Mobile and different storyline versions for the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 were made, but remain in the World War II setting. The game is based on an enhanced version of the Call of Duty 4 game engine developed by Infinity Ward with increased development on audio and visual effects.

The narrative for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 versions focuses on the Pacificmarker and Eastern Front theatres of World War II, involving the United Statesmarker, the Empire of Japanmarker, the Soviet Unionmarker, and Nazi Germany. It is told from the perspectives of Marine Raider Private Miller and Red Army soldier Private Dimitri Petrenko and is based on several historical battles. The multiplayer component of the game contains various game modes and a leveling system that allows the player to unlock additional weapons and rewards as they progress, similar to Call of Duty 4. A new feature to the series is the addition of a cooperative mode, which supports up to two players locally and four players online.

The game was the second best-selling game for November 2008 in the United States, selling over 1.41 million units. In the UK, it sold twice as many units as Call of Duty 4 in its first week after release, becoming the third fastest-selling video game. It received positive reviews, with praise for its portrayal of the gritty, dark side of war and multiple game modes. However, it was criticized for not building on the success of Call of Duty 4. World at War currently holds an 85% aggregate score on Game Rankings and Metacritic.



During the single-player campaign of the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions, the player controls three different characters from a first-person perspective. Only two characters, Private Miller and Private Dimitri Petrenko are available on the Wii version. The player assumes the role of Private Miller of the United States Marine Corps' 1st Division and Private Dimitri Petrenko of the 3rd Shock Army. Private Miller's campaign takes place in the Pacific campaign and starts as he is captured by the Japanese while scouting Makin Islandmarker and is rescued by Corporal Roebuck (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) and his men from the Marine Raiders squad, during the Makin Island raid. Much of the campaign takes place two years later in the Battle of Peleliu and the campaign ends at Shuri Castlemarker in the Battle of Okinawa. There are several non-playable characters, such as Roebuck, Sergeant Sullivan and Private Polonsky (voiced by Aaron Stanford), members of Miller's Marine Raiders unit. Sullivan is killed early on in the Battle of Peleliu and either Polonsky or Roebuck is killed in the Battle of Okinawa depending on the player's actions.

Private Petrenko's campaign takes place on the Eastern Front and starts with The Battle of Stalingradmarker, where Petrenko is part of the 62nd Army and meets with an injured comrade, Sergeant Reznov (voiced by Gary Oldman). Three years later, they meet again during the Battle of the Seelow Heights, alongside a third character, Private Chernov, Reznov's subordinate, and they join the 3rd Shock Army under the command of Commissar Markov. Petrenko's campaign finishes during the Battle of Berlin where Dimitri's squadron take the Reichstagmarker and plant the Soviet flag to signal the end of the war in Germany. Chernov is believed to have been killed after being wounded by a German flamethrower, while Dimitri is injured at the end after being shot by a wounded German soldier.

The third playable character in the campaign is Petty Officer Locke, a weapons operator on a PBY Catalina flying boat, who is only playable in the mission "Black Cats" during a solo campaign. This character is not available in the Wii version. Locke's squadron makes a raid on a Japanese merchant fleet in the Pacific Ocean and later rescues the survivors of a destroyed U.S. fleet.


The opening scene of the campaign
The game starts in Makin Islandmarker at night on August 17, 1942. Private Miller watches the torture and execution of a fellow marine by Japanese soldiers. As they turn towards Miller, he is rescued by Corporal Roebuck (Kiefer Sutherland) and his crew assault the island, replicating the Makin Island raid. The following mission then starts two years later, where the Americans assault the Japanese-held island of Peleliumarker. Miller calls in rocket strikes to take out Japanese Ha-Gō tanks. At the end of the mission, Sergeant Sullivan is fatally impaled through the stomach by a Japanese soldier who bursts through a door wielding a katana. The next mission starts in a swamp area of Peleliu, with Corporal Roebuck (now promoted to Sergeant after the death of Sullivan), as they travel to the Japanese-held airfield. Miller acquires a flamethrower, Rifle grenade launcher, and bazooka during the mission.

The game then jumps to the Soviet campaign on September 17, 1942, during the Battle of Stalingradmarker. Dimitri Petrenko wakes up amongst dead bodies of his fellow soldiers in the city's fountain, as the Germans shoot them. After they have gone, he meets Sergeant Reznov (Gary Oldman), a soldier from another unit. Reznov tells Dimitri that he wants to kill General Amsel, the man behind the Soviet casualties. After eliminating some German soldiers, Dimitri follows Reznov through buildings and streets as they kill Germans on their way, using sniper rifles and machine guns, until Dimitri kills Amsel; at which point they run away and jump into a river while being pursued by German soldiers. The following mission starts three years later at the Battle of Seelow Heights, near Berlin, where Dimitri has been captured and is in an abandoned barn with three German soldiers. He attempts to steal a fallen comrade's rifle, only to be kicked in the face by a German soldier. At that moment, the Red Army attacks the barn. One of the men who bursts in is none other than Sergeant Reznov, along with his subordinate, Private Chernov. Reznov is elated that his old friend is still very much alive and speaks of him as a hero. Together the Soviet troops advance through German lines, showing no mercy to their enemies and Dimitri aids them with a Panzerschrek, as they reach a German camp.

The game returns back to Peleliu, where the Americans are pushing further inland through the island. Miller and his unit take out enemy mortar crews so their tanks can go inland. They capture the last Japanese stronghold, "The Point," and the Island of Peleliu falls into the hands of the Americans.

A firefight in the streets of Berlin
The following mission campaign returns to the Battle of Seelow Heights. Dimitri is at the controls of a OT-34-85 tank as he helps the Soviet Army to reach the train station by destroying German tanks. He, along with Reznov and the Soviet troops, board a train to Berlin. Upon arrival, they engage German soldiers in buildings and around the streets, as the Germans are retreating. The following day, Dimitri watches a fellow Soviet execute a surrendering German soldier, much to the shock of Chernov. They then move through buildings and streets clearing out Germans, until they reach the entrance to the Berlin U-Bahn. At the entrance, some German soldiers are encountered trying to surrender. However, Reznov is reluctant to deny his comrades their revenge and allows Dimitri to choose their method of death - he can kill them quickly and painlessly with his gun or let the other Red Army soldiers burn them alive them with Molotov cocktails. They head into the U-Bahn and start fighting German resistance around the platforms. When the station starts to collapse, the group try to escape by prying through a side door in the tunnel. As they are doing this, a massive surge of water shoots through the tunnel and Dimitri, who was unable to avoid the oncoming surge of water, almost drowns.

After the battle of Peleliu, where the player takes control of Petty Officer Locke, in a PBY Catalina flying boat. He destroys Japanese PT Boats and merchant ships from the aircraft and then, on the way back to base, aids a U.S. fleet under attack. They rescue American sailors in the sea, while Locke shoots at Japanese PT boats and kamikaze planes, until more U.S. aircraft arrive. The game shifts back to Miller as he and his squad make a ground assault on Okinawamarker after the aircraft mission. They clear out Imperial soldiers from machine gun bunkers, allowing American tanks to progress. In the following mission, they are ambushed while retrieving ammunition before starting their assault on Shuri Castlemarker. Miller kills Japanese crew around mortars and the courtyards. The Americans then storm Shuri Castle and clear most of it out. However, they then encounter some Japanese soldiers who pretend to surrender. When Polonsky and Roebuck go to disarm them, they attack them and pull out grenades. The player is given the choice of which of the two to save, with the other Marine being killed. The surviving Americans fight off a final Japanese counterattack and take Shuri Castle, capturing Okinawa. Miller is then given the dog tags of the fallen marine from his squad by the survivor.

The last mission starts with Reznov pulling Dimitri safely out of the flooded U-Bahn to regroup with Soviet infantry and snaps at Chernov, giving him the Soviet flag to plant when they take the Reichstagmarker. They clear out buildings along a street to proceed towards the plaza outside the Reichstag, where Dimitri destroys 88mm guns and they take out the remaining German infantry defending the entrance to the Reichstag. As they are advancing up the stairs, however, Chernov is badly burned by a German with a flamethrower. Reznov is devastated by the attack, blaming himself. They enter and clear the Reichstag of German soldiers. After that, they clear out remaining German infantry on the roof of the building. Dimitri then moves up to plant the Soviet flag, which has been dropped after its second bearer was killed in the gun battle. Before he can do so, a wounded German soldier rises up and shoots Dimitri with a pistol. Reznov comes to Dimitri's aid and kills the German with his machete. He helps Dimitri up and cuts the swastika off the flagpole at the top of the Reichstag. Dimitri then plants the flag, signaling Soviet victory over Germany. A final cutscene details the end of the war in Europe, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the peace accord signed as a result.


World at War was announced on June 23, 2008 by Activision, who confirmed that the game was to be released in fall 2008, and that the series would revert back to its customary World War II setting.

The game had an approximately two-year long development cycle, double that of Treyarch's previous entry to the series, Call of Duty 3. The game is powered by an enhanced version of the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare engine, with several improvements made to the physics model. Environments are more destructible and can be set on fire with the flamethrower, which features propagating fire. Not long after, Treyarch released the modding tools for Call of Duty: World at War. These tools were the same ones used to create all the other Call of Duty series games, but with slight changes version to version, which can be downloaded online. Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman were cast as voice actors for the game. Sutherland voices the narrator and squad leader of the American campaign, Sergeant Roebuck, while Oldman voices that of the Soviet campaign, Sergeant Reznov. A full-sized replica PBY Catalina was constructed for motion capture use.


The music for Call of Duty: World at War was composed by Sean Murray. He was hired after Brian Tuey, Treyarch's audio director, approached Murray. Murray stated that they had worked together earlier on True Crime: New York City, the sequel to the first True Crime: Streets of LA, and that "he [Tuey] knew I would bring a fresh approach to Call of Duty: World at War". This also led to Adam Levenson, the audio director of Activision, being called in to help them. Murray also said that he wanted to make the music more fun and intense, but also "a specific musical path that follows the psyche of the gameplay". The soundtrack mixes both old and contemporary techniques for a unique audio presentation that contrasts preceding World War II games.

The new technology of occlusion, which changes the sound made by nearby object depending on objects blocking its path e.g. walls, has been added to World at War. The game has various levels of "muffled" sound depending on the objects it travels though e.g. a more muffled sound through a thick wall compared to a slightly muffled sound through a thin short wall. For the first time in a Call of Duty game, the player is able to tell the difference between someone walking next to the player and someone walking above or below the player, as well as telling the difference between a shot fired in the distance and a shot fired close by, but behind a solid object.

The other technology of Flux was also developed using field recording systems. The World at War crew traveled to a desert with mountains on both side of the range to test the frequencies of sounds made by World War II weapons. Microphones were placed behind and 60 yards in front of the gun to test the echoes. This was later replicated and developed in the studio for the game software. It means that players will be able to pinpoint a sniper rifle shot, as it reflects off them, as well as hearing the initial 'pop' of a hand grenade blowing up and then the grenade's loud "whoosh" sound that begins where the grenade blew up, and ends behind the player. The flux system also combines with the occlusion system.


The first trailer for the game premiered on Xbox Live on June 21, 2008, and arrived on PlayStation Network five days later. A beta of the game's online multiplayer mode was released for the Xbox 360 on October 10, 2008. A PC version of the beta was later released on October 28, 2008. Those who pre-ordered the game at GameStop, GAME and EB Games in Australia or North America or who are members of the Call of Duty official website were given codes which allowed them to download both beta versions of the game.

Coinciding with the release of the game, McFarlane Toys produced four action figures. Three are different varieties of US Marine Corps infantry, and the fourth is a British Special Ops soldier.

A collector's edition of World at War was released on November 11, 2008 in North America and November 14, 2008 in Europe. It includes several bonus items, among them a stainless steel canteen imprinted with the Call of Duty series logo and a metal storage tin. The collector's edition also gives the player access to an unlockable weapon and the opportunity to earn double experience points in the online multiplayer mode, as well as a specially colored clan tag to denote the player's VIP status. This edition of the game is only available for the Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms.

Downloadable content

On February 26, 2009, an update was made available to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, as well as the addition of a new multiplayer map, Makin Day. The update included several bug fixes which removed glitches in several multiplayer maps and player movements, and provided more information in the stats display. The Makin Day map was released for Microsoft Windows on February 6, 2009 in the downloadable patch 1.2. Makin Day has a similar layout as the existing Makin map, but includes subtle changes such as daylight, reflected in the tide being out along the shoreline as well as some reworked areas of the map.

Screenshot of the gameplay in Verruckt
On February 10, 2009, Activision and Treyarch announced that downloadable content (DLC) was under development for World at War, titled Map Pack 1. This first installment of DLC includes four new multiplayer maps: Nightfire takes place in the ravaged streets of Berlin, Knee Deep involves several destructible Japanesemarker fortifications, and Station consists of the damaged remnants of a U-Bahn. The fourth map, Verrückt (German: 'crazy'), is an additional map to the Nazi Zombies mode, and includes new weapons and power-ups intended to expand the experience. In Verrückt, the four players are separated into pairs. The pairs must then unlock more rooms to turn on the power, moving the door separating the players. Electric barriers, perk machines, and bouncing betties were objects and traps added to the map. Perk machines were included to give players a multiplayer perk.

Map Pack 1 was released on March 19, 2009 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, while the Windows version received the DLC along with an update on April 9, 2009. Reports stated that Map Pack 1 sold over 1 million copies in the first week of availability, setting an Xbox Live record for the number of downloads in a week.

On April 30, 2009, Activision and Treyarch announced Map Pack 2, which was released on June 11. This DLC contains an additional four multiplayer maps: Banzai takes place deep in enemy territory, Corrosion involves a dilapidated Russian train yard, and Sub Pens features a bombed-out submarine pen. The fourth map, Shi No Numa (Japanese: "死の沼" 'marsh of death'), is an additional Nazi Zombies map and features a Red Army soldier, a Wehrmacht soldier, an Imperial Army soldier, and a Marine Raider, fighting against undead Japanese soldiers. The map introduced "Hellhounds" as new enemies. Map Pack 2 added ten new achievements or trophies.

On July 20, 2009, Activision and Treyarch announced Map Pack 3, which was released August 6, 2009. This DLC also consists of three new multiplayer maps and a new Nazi Zombies map. The three multiplayer maps are Battery, which takes place on an fortified island; Breach, which is set in the overcrowded streets of Berlin, Germany near the Brandenburg Gate; and Revolution, which is based on an industrialized city in Russia. The new Nazi Zombies map, Der Riese (German: the giant), is based in a factory where Element 115 is being processed and used to build teleporters and other mysterious devices, such as the "Pack-a-Punch Machine", which upgrades guns. As with the previous pack, Map Pack 3 adds another ten achievements or trophies.

Other versions

Nintendo DS

Call of Duty: World at War was released for the Nintendo DS on November 11 2008 in North America, and on November 14 in Europe. It was published by Activision and developed by n-Space, who used the same game engine as their previous title, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The game's scenarios are also based on World War II's Pacific theater and Eastern front with Americanmarker, Britishmarker and Soviet campaigns. Up to four players can be supported online with four different types of game, as well as perks and rank-ups. Compared to Modern Warfare, it has improved in-level geometry, has more responsive sprints and crouches and 3D-modeled guns instead of 2D sprites. However the flamethrower, which is new to the game series, is rendered with 2D sprites. The framerate is just under 30 and has lots of voice-over during the missions. Players are able to defuse mines and send Morse code with the touch screen, as well as using mortar rounds, an anti-air gun from a battleship, parachuting and using mounted guns. There is also a tank mode which allows the player to turn the main gun and fire machine gun rounds at the same time.

PlayStation 2

The PlayStation 2 version, titled Call of Duty: World at War: Final Fronts, differs significantly from the main versions. Developed by Rebellion Developments, Final Fronts features 13 missions set near the end of World War II and provides a "companion experience" to World at War. Aside from the two U.S. campaigns in the Pacific and Eastern Europe, Final Fronts also includes a third campaign involving the British advance on the Rhine Rivermarker. The U.S. campaign follows Pvt. Miller and the squad from World at War, but here Miller is of the 2nd Marines Division, instead of the 1st. It goes in and around his missions from World at War. The Western Europe campaign is from the perspective of Lucas Gibson, of the American 80th Infantry Division. His missions are in Luxembourgmarker and Austriamarker. Most of the Europe campaign, the player controls Pte. Tom Sharpe of the British 6th Airborne. The PlayStation 2 version, however, does not feature Nazi Zombies. The melee attack is not a knife slash or stab, but simply a hit from the butt of the gun. Like other versions, the game includes a flamethrower and a tank mission, but the latter is on-rails rather than free roaming. The tank mission is from the perspective of a tank gunner named Alex.


Call of Duty: World at War has received generally positive reviews. The game currently holds an 84% aggregate score for the Xbox 360 version and an 85% aggregate score for the PlayStation 3 version on Metacritic.

IGN applauded the developer Treyarch for its decision to stage World at War in the Pacific theater of World War II, but also noted that the scope of the campaign hurt the continuity of the plot, with some missions taking place several years after others and disrupting the flow of the narrative. The addition of a co-op mode was also complimented as helping to increase the game's replayability, and the multiplayer mode was described as "definitely an area where World at War shines." IGN concluded that World at War was a "solid, confident shooter with plenty to offer the casual and hardcore alike."

Official Xbox Magazine's main criticism was that Treyarch had not expanded upon the success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but had instead created a "play-it-safe sequel" that used elements of Call of Duty 4 but added "nothing noteworthy of its own." Other flaws pointed out by the reviewer included the lack of excitement in the campaign storyline and the few differences between the Pacific theater missions and European theater missions, stating "you could just be marching through another European town with a lot more trees." Overall, the game was described as being more like an expansion pack in the Call of Duty series rather than a full game.

GameSpot praised the darker, grittier portrayal of the World War II settings, but at the same time noted that the game used "well-worn source material." Some positive points noted by the reviewer include the "well-acted dialogue" of the characters Sgt. Roebuck and Sgt. Reznov, as well as the solid and fast-paced single player/co-op campaign. Describing the game as a whole, the reviewer stated that by returning to the World War II setting, "World at War achieves greatness but falls short of excellence." noted the significantly increased graphic violence and gore (even over the M-rated Call of Duty 4) as a positive improvement in realism saying, "While enemies died en masse in previous installments, dismemberment and gore were essentially nonexistent. That's no longer the case - here, legs are severed, men cry out in agony as they reach for lost body parts, and gouts of blood fly as bullets pierce flesh." and that "World at War portrays the horror of WWII more accurately than ever before, and it even comes across as almost too much at times...until you remember that real servicemen actually witnessed similar events."


Call of Duty: World at War was the second best-selling game for November 2008 in the United States, selling over 1.41 million units. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions were the second and ninth best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, selling in excess of 1.33 million and 533,000 copies respectively. The Xbox 360 version was the sixth best-selling game of 2008, selling in excess of 2.75 million copies. The Wii version ranked as the 19th best-selling game and the seventh best-selling Wii game of December 2008 in the United States. It received particular interest in the United Kingdom, where it doubled the amount of first-week sales compared to Modern Warfare on the PS3 and Xbox 360. It also became the third fastest-selling video game in the UK behind Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. As of June 2009, Call of Duty: World at War has sold over 11 million copies.


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