“We can play zombies for hours, Girlfriend!” they said.
“You’ve got to get Call of Duty: World at War so we can play zombies,” they said.
“Hey, Girlfriend, you got World at War yet? It’s soooo much better than Horde,” they said.
So, I got it.
…And let me tell you, those Nazi zombies have got NOTHING on Gears of War II’s Horde Mode.
There’s a regular group of people I play with on xbox live. I met them through the online multiplayer matches of Gears of War II, and we’ve since tackled a wide variety of other games–including competitive UNO. They’re all guys, naturally, and a lively bunch at that. One of them dubbed me “Girlfriend” the first time we played, earning a spot on my friends list by shouting “RUUUUN, girl, RUN!” in his crackling, gravelly voice when I was the last one alive out of our 5-person team and up to my hips in blood-thirsty Horde with no prayer of making it out alive.
They’re good players–some REALLY good, some fantastically good–but most of all, they are zany and fun and we work together well as a team… and die quite epically/comically just as often as we succeed.
When the crew bought Call of Duty 4, I had to wait several months before I could splurge and buy it for myself. I spent months trudging through rounds of its buggy and incredibly imbalanced multiplayer matches–players who have had the game longer and played more rounds get an automatic aiming & damage bonus, thus eliminating actual skill from mattering in the match-ups–all so I could play with “my boys” and keep up with their achievement hunting. One shot from a “veteran” player would kill me–regardless of how accurate or inaccurately their aim–where it would take me 2-3 shots (even if I hit them in the head!) to slow them down.
Eventually I leveled up enough that my shots started to count, but it was a long slow process involving a lot of swearing and grumbling on my part.
So when they all got Call of Duty: World at War, I couldn’t possibly justify spending nearly $50 on a game that was a rehash of the same game that had frustrated me so deeply–even if it did come with a zombie mode that was supposed to rival GoW2’s Horde mode. I listened to them whine for months about how I needed to get it and how much fun they were having playing Nazi Zombies together and how I was missing out and how each new map pack made it more fun than before.
I admit it bothered me at first, but then I realized I could continue to lure them back to Gears of War 2 and Halo if I alternated pouting or remarked that I’d found some new xbox live friends to play with. (Girls are a rare thing on xbox live, and I’m not above working that advantage whenever necessary to get what I want.)
…But then Gamestop had to go and run a sale on used copies of the game and I was looking for something different to play… so I snagged a copy.
Ugh. The game is riddled with sloppy coding–rocks you can’t jump over right next to larger rocks you CAN jump over, branches and twigs that keep you from advancing with your team, AI team members that stand there and watch while you’re alternately gutted and shot point-blank by the swarm of Japanese soldiers they ignored when they ran past, etc. I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to throw an enemy grenade back (like the prompts on the screen tell me to!) only to have the klutzy programming throw one of my own grenades instead and KABOOM! I’m down.
Another gripe is the priority order for what the action key does. For instance: my teammate goes down (probably from a grenade he couldn’t throw back), and I run to him to revive him. I hit the x-button to start the revival process, but instead of reviving him like the indicators on the screen said it would, the x-button promptly exchanges my assault rifle for the pistol that was laying on the ground near my downed teammate. I hit x again to try and get my gun back OR revive the teammate, but instead it swaps for the flame-thrower that was laying on his other side. Now not only is my teammate yelling at me that they’re “about to expire, please hurry” (read: “DAMMIT! I’m gonna DIE, Girlfriend! Stop f’ing around with your guns!”), but the few seconds in which neither of us was shooting at the enemy has allowed them to run past our fellow computer-driven soldiers (see my comment above about the horrific AI) and bayonet me. So, there we lay together… waiting for the next teammate to come exchange guns/accidentally reload/possibly revive us.
And I haven’t even gotten to the zombies yet…
Fine, I thought, the co-op and solo campaign have issues–the zombie levels will be worth it! Yeah, right. I haven’t found them worthwhile yet.
My first experience with them was boring as hell. I stood and rebuilt a window (which you get points for!) by facing it and holding in that beloved x-button. The zombies come to the window and tear the boards off, but because I’m standing there holding the x-button in, every board they tear off magically flies back up and reattaches itself to the window again. You can stand there and do that forever.
I know because I stood there and held my x button for at least 20 minutes while my 3 other teammates alternately revived/downed each other with grenades so they could exploit a glitch that would allow them to get a third gun. …not that you’d need a third gun through the first 20 “waves” of mindless zombies when you can just hold x at the window and shoot them through the boards while rebuilding the window barricades at the same time. It was a real yawner.
I’ve played a couple more times, and we ran a bit more after we got past wave 20, but it gets so monotonous. Run to some spot in the map, shoot-shoot-shoot, teleport to the other side of the map. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Overall, the game sucks, but I will push through the solo missions and rack up my achievements there–mostly because it’s the least glitchy mode (no gun-swapping-instead-of-reviving fiascos to end my missions prematurely) and will give me some gamer points.
If I want to play something with intense shoot-outs, increasingly challenging waves of bad guys, and fun team work, I’m putting in Gears of War II or Left for Dead (especially with it’s new survival mode!).
CoD: WaW just doesn’t even come close to measuring up to either of those and certainly isn’t worth the $40+ price tag.