The WW2 theme has been explored in numerous video games, and we could hardly expect Call of Duty: World at War to be truly original. However, it is a well-made sequel to a popular series, which makes up for the lack of originality. The single-player mode is exciting and diverse thanks to its two main plotlines describing the Pacific campaign and the Eastern Front events, but the cooperative mode available in the PC version of the game is even more fun to play as you can fight shoulder to shoulder with four friends of yours. We guess the main drawback of the single-player mode is the console-like system of saves with control points. You cannot save anywhere when you want to. On the other hand, some gamers appreciate this system for keeping the player under constant stress because you cannot easily replay a difficult stretch. The death match mode is almost the same as in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and includes the same character upgrade system which allows to develop your skills, acquire new weapons, and open new game modes.
CoD: World at War is not a breakthrough when it comes to the visuals, either. It uses the same rendering engine as CoD: Modern Warfare, but looks good enough even for the year of 2009 thanks to support for dynamic lighting, HDR, depth-of-field effects, relief maps, etc. Additionally, the engine features the ability to calculate the piercing strength of bullets for specific materials, increasing the realism and making the gamer search for really solid shelters. You may regret your trying to hide from enemy fire behind a thin wall, just like in the real world. The game looks nice at the highest graphics quality settings, especially together with full-screen antialiasing, but the modest settings of our High profiles do not spoil the picture much. It is when you turn off the special effects that the visuals degenerate greatly, making the game downright ugly. We don’t recommend you doing that if you’ve got a Radeon HD 4670 or better card.
As for the game’s preferences regarding graphics hardware, it runs the fastest on the GeForce GTX 295 which ensures superb results even at 2560x1600 with 4x MSAA. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 and Radeon HD 4850 X2 are not that impressive. However, the latter is appealing because costs less but delivers almost the same speed as the senior model. The GeForce GTX 280 is very good at resolutions up to 1920x1200 inclusive. It is no worse than the Radeon HD 4870 X2/4850 X2 in the total of its consumer properties considering its lower level of noise and power consumption.
Nvidia’s solutions are superior in the mainstream class, the GeForce GTX 260 being especially good. Although this graphics card is not much better than the GeForce 9800 GTX+ in sheer speed, its 55nm GPU boasts excellent electrical and thermal characteristics, surpassing the hotter and less economical Radeon HD 4870 1GB. The latter ensures a comfortable frame rate at every resolution typically used by owners of mainstream graphics cards, though. The Radeon HD 4850 was slow in our test. We guess its low results are due to the low core frequency. Besides, the game engine may be not optimized well for the superscalar design of the RV770’s execution subunits. The memory subsystem is not at fault here as is indicated by the results of the GeForce 9800 GTX+.
The GeForce 9800 GT is the best inexpensive graphics card that can be used for gaming. Unlike the Radeon HD 4830, it not only provided a good bottom speed at 1680x1050 with full-screen antialiasing but also ensured a generous reserve of average frame rate. The bottom-mainstream products were limited to 1280x1024 at the same graphics quality settings, and Nvidia’s solutions are superior again. However, Call of Duty: World at War is not the only game available for play, so we’d recommend you to consider the Radeon HD 4830. As our tests suggest this card is competitive even to the GeForce 9800 GT, let alone GeForce 9600 GT.
Our additional CPU-focused test did not reveal any difference between the two models of Intel Core i7 processors: the senior i7 965 Extreme Edition with a clock rate of 3.2GHz and the junior i7 920 with a clock rate of 2.66GHz and a cut-down QPI. Thus, there is no point in paying $900 more for the CPU when it comes to playing Call of Duty: World at War. Moreover, we recommend the Core i7 920 processor for a modern and high-performance gaming platform as a CPU with all the features of Intel’s new CPU series and at a modest price of below $300.
We hope Call of Duty: World at War will run fast on your computer. Being a well-made WW2-focused shooter, it is, perhaps, not free from certain drawbacks such as the control point based system of saves, but it will surely be appreciated by CoD fans and everyone who is interested in WW2-inspired video games.