Gadling's resident pilot explains what life in the cockpit is like

Call of Duty: World at War beta impressions

Jack Bauer yelled at me last night. Well, technically it wasn't really him but the commander's voice who calls in artillery strikes and rabid dogs for the Americans as portrayed by Canadian television superhero Keifer Sutherland in the multiplayer beta for Call of Duty: World at War. After releasing last week we decided to spend some extra time to develop our thoughts on the highs and lows of Treyarch's upcoming shooter. Jump in for more footage and our thoughts on the beta version of the multiplayer experience.

Gallery: Call of Duty: World at War

Call of Duty: World at War is the upcoming shooter from Treyarch that brings of the series back to its World War II roots. Utilizing the engine that debuted with the successful Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, World at War hopes to capture some of the multiplayer magic found in the modern Infinity Ward developed title.

World at War looks similar to, and in some cases better than, Modern Warfare with different map environments that showcase solid lighting effects. The major difference between World at War and Modern Warfare is gameplay.

Yes, both titles have the same control scheme and abilities – sprinting and knife kills included – but the era changes the way the game performs. The core difference if the feel of battle due to the authentic World War II weaponry. Many of the weapons of the era were both low capacity and slow firing and this detail is not lost on World at War. In the beginning this adds to the strategy of battle but soon unlocking attachments bring a sense of familiarity as many feel specifically included to bring players a nearly identical experience to Modern Warfare.

World at War feels a lot like Modern Warfare; it isn't a problem but it leaves us feeling that World at War is being developed as a copy rather than its own experience. Certain aspects of the online experience are different in World at War but are showing early stages of frustration. Located on Roundhouse, one of the three maps in the online beta, two players can jump into a tank and bring the opposition to its knees. It looks as though the map was designed with enough peaks and valleys to offset a tank-killing spree but the vehicle feels extremely overpowered. While weaponry exists to rid the map of the treaded menace they either force a long set up time (multiple rockets) or getting too close (anti-tank designed grenade) and often result in multiple deaths. It also doesn't help that Roundhouse has already been glitched by players who have discovered a way to go under the map undetected and have the ability to kill anyone and never be killed.

Jumping into the experience we wanted to check out the highly touted weapon that set the game apart from its Modern Warfare brethren, the M2 Flamethrower. Unfortunately for us – but probably for the best of the experience – the weapon has been assigned as a Level 65 perk. Other perks in the game are essentially renamed perks from Modern Warfare with a few original items; again leaving us feeling we're playing a Modern Warfare expansion rather than its own game.

The beta includes three maps: Roundhouse, Castle and Makin. As mentioned above, Roundhouse includes a pair of tanks – one per side – and takes place at a train yard that appears to have seen the wrong end of an artillery strike. Castle is a large area map with a bombed out building in the southern region and Makin takes place on the waterfront at night. The majority of our time was spent on Makin and while it became our favorite of the three maps other players almost always vetoed it.

Special bonuses are still available in the game for multiple kills. The most interesting of the additions is a pack of rabid dogs that hunt the opposition has replaced the lurking helicopter from Modern Warfare. The dogs may sound like a strange addition and while they are less powerful than the helicopter they include the added bonus of leading players to the enemy if followed which balances out the ability – on the flip side defenders are able to kill the wave of dogs who usually take 2-3 bites out of a soldier before they fall for good. Hearing a group of angry dogs barking for your blood in the distance as the fight rages on works and it adds a much needed unique twist to the experience.

From our short time with the beta we were left thinking there are some good ideas with the multiplayer mode of World at War but we hope that Treyarch can find a way to differentiate itself from its successful modern cousin. The game attempts to feel as familiar as possible in so many ways that some of the additions or differences feel difficult to grasp in the beginning when it shouldn't be so easily compared to begin with.

In the end we're willing to agree the era and weaponry warrant a solid multiplayer experience but as it stands we've walked away feeling Treyarch wanted to stick so closely to Modern Warfare the game may have a difficult time setting itself apart as the unique experience as we'd hoped it would. Sticking closely to Modern Warfare may not be a bad idea considering the experience was so well developed but the problem with that is we're already playing that game and it's already sitting on our shelf.

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