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Forums > Submission Feedback > hmd's Call of Duty: World at War review

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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 30, 2009 (09:45 AM)
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Well, this review is interesting, to say the least.

I'm sure you're aware that this review makes no actual criticisms of World at War's gameplay, and your apparent stance (that the gameplay is irrelevant, because it was the excessive racism that repelled you) is one that I'd support had you pulled it off well, but I'm not sure you did. To be fair, I haven't played World at War (not the single-player mode, at least) so I'm only going by your descriptions of this game's racist content, but it seems a mixed bag. Exaggerated Japanese accents would certainly seem out of place (though could be credited to poorly cast voice actors, I suppose), but are you seriously at a loss to believe that Americans were using terms like "Jap" and "Tojo" during that period? Hell, there were movie serials using such racial slurs at the time.

You seemed to be put off by the fact that WWII was simply, in essence, a very ugly war during a very ugly time period in recent history. (If sixty years ago can be considered "recent.") If this was your breaking point for World at War, to the point that you didn't even give the gameplay a chance, then I accept that. But I question how many people will be turned by this review's persuasion. This is the line that got me:

Imagine playing Modern Warfare and having Sergeant Griggs stop every five seconds, turn to you and say something like, "Man, these fuckin' stinky towel-heads, man! They seem better at driving cabs than tanks, ha ha!"

Whoa, hold up there, sport. There's a difference. You admit yourself that America was much more racially divided during WWII than today, so why draw a comparison to modern times? Given the already racist mindset of young Americans in the 1940s, coupled with the fact that Japan dragged us into the war by bombing one of our naval bases, it's not a stretch to portray WWII soldiers as such. It seems to me that you're just bugged by Treyarch's attempts to instill historical accuracy into this title, and if so, I must ask: Why were you playing it in the first place, then?

This review had a couple of other "double take" moments:

Ever since the creation of their fantastic Call of Duty series, they've had to deal with a horrific publisher in Activision, helmed by Noah Keller, the next Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Do most people even know who Hiroshi Yamauchi is? I can't even figure out what you're trying to imply through this comparison.

Their games, which take the concepts Valve made famous with their Half-Life series and run with it

Another comparison that confuses me. Yes, Call of Duty and Half-Life are both first-person shooters, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. I suppose Half-Life was one of the games that popularized the genre in the first place, but it was hardly the genre's foundation.

Big Red One, which sounds more like a Japanese Hentai game than an American World War II game

Seems a little contradictory for you to make such a joke given the content of this review, and since the game isn't called Big Yellow One, the joke doesn't make sense, anyway. (Yeah, I'm serious.)

Just because someone is a racist does not necessarily mean that I want to play as them (which is reason one why I stopped playing Mass Effect).

...Wait, what?

I'll be interested to see how the Challange judges respond to this. Even putting aside the elements that will inevitably divide people on this review, I can point out a major structural flaw: Too much stalling. You spend about half of the review explaining how unfortunate Infinity Ward is to have to witness its series being defiled again and again, but then only spend one legitimate paragraph explaining why World at War falls into that category. Props for your unusual approach and for being so open about it in the review itself, but for me, this just did not work at all.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: Halon
Posted: January 30, 2009 (10:53 AM)
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I agree with Suskie's complaints and actually originally began making a topic of my own when the review was first written but got distracted by something and never went back to it.

Also, about the "fuckin' stinky towel-heads" bit the difference is Modern Warfare is based on fictional events, so an attack on Muslims would be completely uncalled for. World at War just gives an accurate portrayal of what it like back then. Unfortunately not everything was pleasant and there was plenty of bitter racism and hatred (not like the Japanese were any better but still).

Even though I disagree 100% these reviews are interesting reads (see: Zig's RapeLay though I agree a lot more with that one) but personally suggest switching it up . Maybe it will sit better with the judges than with me and Suskie but it's a HUGE gamble.


IF YOU WANT MORE BEATS FOR YOUR BUCK THERE'S NO LUCK.


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Author: Lewis
Posted: January 30, 2009 (11:42 AM)
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Very interesting indeed. So:

- Just another FPS. Fair enough.
- Developer has only made kids' games before. Not true, as proven by YOUR OWN LINK.
- Tasteless intro. Fair enough; I thought it was hard-hitting and appropriate, but each to their own.
- Stereotypical depiction of races. Which lends itself to a very interesting discussion, and one that you start to edge towards, before going "RUBBISH! 1/10!"

In other words, this would make a brilliant basis for some sort of editorial or opinion piece. But it doesn't work as a review. All you mention is thematic stuff. I love intelligent discussions like this. But the reviews section probably ain't the best place...

Incidentally, I wasn't confused by the Half-Life reference at all. There was a dead big gap between Half-Life and - well, Medal of Honor: AA, actually, not CoD - where FPS-es really didn't pick up on how brilliant set-pieces could be. Call of Duty really picked up on this... but now that *everyone*'s doing it, I wonder if it's less relevant.


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Author: pickhut
Posted: January 30, 2009 (12:51 PM)
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Reviews aren't opinion pieces? When did this happen?

Huh, I guess I'll be the first to say I actually liked the review.

You know, I didn't even realize he didn't mention gameplay at all the first time I read the review; it was only until I came into this topic where it was pointed out, that I reread the review and noticed. But that's the thing: it wouldn't matter in this particular review. The main focus of the review was how HMD was so putoff by real footage of people being killed and the abundance of racism, that he couldn't even enjoy the game as a whole even if he tried. So, after talking about the biggest, most distracting aspect of the game that makes it basically unplayable for him, it'll be weird for him to just suddenly say "The gameplay is okay, something something something" in a following paragraph. It's like if I started playing a game that has a giant middle finger in the middle of the screen, blocking the rest of the game, so I gave up after the first stage and wrote a review about my awful experience, only to get ragged on just because I didn't explain how the game actually plays despite the distraction.


I head spaceshit noises


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Author: drella
Posted: February 01, 2009 (09:03 AM)
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I like this review for opening the discussion. That's what it does, if nothing else.

I think the point Sportsman misses is that yes, World War II was an ugly. war. This type of stereotyping and racism and jingoism was abound. It's all true.

Is it entertainment, though, to relive it? Is it appropriate for this medium? What would your reaction be to Schindler's List: The Game? Does this really need to be depicted in this form of medium, with its current target audience and focus on profits, and by people that aren't necessarily motivated by historical accuracy so much as getting a reaction? Does it open an interactive propaganda can of worms, where companies are focused on depicting the "enemy" as more and more merciless?

I have no idea. But it's worth asking.

So while abrupt and more could have been done with the review, it at least raises those questions. I liked it.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: February 01, 2009 (09:53 AM)
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This whole "objectivity" argument came up recently in a different post and you might think I'm eating my words and applying it to this review, but one thing a bash review shouldn't do is make me curious as to why the reviewer was playing the game in the first place. In a series that has already been established as a WWII shooter, and in a gaming culture with an increasing emphasis on the all-important realism... well, what was HMD expecting? And on that note, if he finds the content objectionable, can he really blame Treyarch for that? If I were to write a WaW review that attacked the game's excessive gore and awarded it a 1/10 as a result, people would probably scoff at me. I don't see how this is any different.

Like I said, I might support such a review if it were convincing, if its arguments were more clearly delivered. But it's not a well written review anyway, with the structural issues I criticized in my first post added with the overall juvenile tone that I neglected to mention. Inspiring a discussion topic as this is worthy of some kind of praise, but let's be blunt: It's the ideas you're praising, not the review itself.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: Felix_Arabia
Posted: February 01, 2009 (10:34 AM)
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I've played and reviewed World at War. I think HMD's point on racism in the game, while it is present, is somewhat exaggerated. As far as I can remember, it's relegated to American GIs shouting "Tojo's behind those trees!" and "There's another Jap down!" as they fight across islands. It's unfortunate that things were like that back then, but that's how they were. Interestingly enough, Treyarch decided not to have any Japanese utter the equally racist term "white devil," but maybe that's because there wasn't enough time spent conversing with the enemy during the course of the campaign for one of them to insult an American GI that way.

Also, to take note, in previous WW2-based Call of Duty games, the British and Americans always called the Germans "krauts" or "jerries." Is that not racist to an extent, too? Or is it only racist when it's Caucasian people putting down non-Caucasians?

No one would even think to complain about that!

Anyway, the most brutal part of World at War stems around the Russian campaign, where the Red Army goes on a murderous rampage across Germany. They have a very good reason to be upset, though. The Germans destroyed their homes and spilled Russian blood. Now they just want revenge, so they execute unarmed prisoners, tell the citizens of Berlin to get out of Germany, and act with cruelty in every which way. I think that's way worse than any slur uttered by an American GI over the course of the game.

No mention of that was made in the review, though.

If someone wants to make a big deal out of nothing, then that is their right. But I don't find World at War to be any worse than any other FPS in terms of brutality and gore. There are occasional utterances of racial slurs, and while it would be heinous for them to be used in real life today, I think HMD is forgetting that this is meant to portray how the war was. Even then, some of the action is over the top, and all of the characters are fictional.

Should this kind of subject matter be made into entertainment? Look at the counter-question. If all video games were devoid of questionable subject matter, would there be any video games? Dig deep enough, and you can make outrageous claims about anything. And I feel that's what happened in this review.


I don't have to boost my review resume because I have a real resume.


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Author: Halon
Posted: February 01, 2009 (10:42 AM)
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I think the point Sportsman misses is that yes, World War II was an ugly. war. This type of stereotyping and racism and jingoism was abound. It's all true.

I got that point which is why the review didn't click with me. Anyone who has somewhat looked into the game would know that it is the most brutal CoD in the series and Treyarch's goal was to create a dark, brutal and realistic portrayal of the war. It wasn't a pleasant time and unfortunately much racism and hatred did exist back then. Also shouldn't the Russians - who also are not portrayed in the most positive manner and playable for half of the campaign - also be mentioned?

The game clearly isn't an attack on the Japanese culture. Offensive or not, it doesn't go out of the way to attack a certain group and just tries to be realistic and show the horrors of the time. Also this is not the first historic game to ever be released that is negative towards a group of people. As Felix pointed out Call of Duty 1 & 2 both had this as well as some games in the Medal of Honor series, Brothers in Arms, Company of Heroes and much more.

I think this would've been much more effective as a blog entry or editorial of some sort. These moral reviews (this one, Zig's RapeLay, etc) just don't do much for me.


IF YOU WANT MORE BEATS FOR YOUR BUCK THERE'S NO LUCK.


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Author: JANUS2
Posted: February 01, 2009 (01:06 PM)
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On the question of whether racist slurs should make their way into entertainment, I think that it's a danger to subdue or ignore racism when representing an historical period where it was very pervasive. Obviously games should be careful not to glorify these attitudes, but nor should we forget how racially divided the world was. Otherwise historic movement against this (Civil Rights, etc.) start to lose their impact.


"fuck yeah oblivion" - Jihad


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: February 01, 2009 (01:04 PM)
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People have been making similar arguments about entertainment since the days of "Huckleberry Finn," and that will never end. A lot of folks--though certainly not all--are now quick to justify that novel as above reproach, but remember that when it was written it was written to sell copies and make money. Similarly, Call of Duty: World at War is an entertainment product that was created to make money but may eventually be remembered within the video game industry for its other achievements (or lack thereof).

I don't find myself in agreement with the conclusions that HMD reached. I'm in favor of historical fiction (of any form) that doesn't go out of its way to whitewash things. This sort of racism was common and pretending otherwise would cheapen things tremendously. American troops calling the Japanese soldiers by that full name would have been historically inaccurate and good reason to deduct points from the score. As long as the game isn't condoning that behavior, I don't see it as racist. It's just a reflection of historical reality.

From the standpoint of someone who is hoping for quality content for the site, I'm pleased with HMD's submission. Felix has already penned an excellent review that covers the game in a comprehensive manner. A supplemental selection of reader reviews that delves deeper into specific areas--such as the racism, in this case--is a valuable addition to the coverage we provide and I'm pleased to host it.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


This message was deleted at the request of JANUS2, the person who originally posted it.

This message was deleted at the request of JANUS2, the person who originally posted it.

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Author: bluberry
Posted: February 05, 2009 (07:50 PM)
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i like how you left in a huff but actually had nothing better to do then keep popping in anyway. way to stick to your principles there buddy boy.


Oh no, it's a Goomba!


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Author: Suskie
Posted: February 05, 2009 (08:27 PM)
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Aw, Boo thinks he intimidates me. That's cute.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: February 06, 2009 (02:39 AM)
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I like that Suskie's back... he adds a lot to a discussion.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: Lewis
Posted: February 06, 2009 (03:03 AM)
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What an entirely unnecessary comment, Bluberry.


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Author: WilltheGreat
Posted: February 07, 2009 (12:13 PM)
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I like how boo has nothing better to do than heckle people on the forums. Way to contribute to the site there buddy boy.


"Either, sir, you're an ass or masquerading as one."
- Nero Wolfe


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Author: hmd
Posted: March 15, 2009 (11:59 PM)
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best post of the thread


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Author: Lewis
Posted: March 16, 2009 (02:34 AM)
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Aw it's gone. I wanna know what it said!


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Author: Suskie
Posted: March 16, 2009 (03:02 AM)
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It was just a remarkably long spam.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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