After a wildly successful tour of duty in the modern era, Activision's Call of Duty series heads back to the 1940s with World at War, a WWII-focused shooter that attempts to do many of the same things that the previous game did, but in a different time period. It's interesting to watch those different facets of a modern game as they're molded to fit into an earlier conflict, and it works better than you'd probably think. At times, though, it still feels like a knockoff of a better game.
The game's campaign splits time between two different fronts. For half the game, you'll play as an American Marine taking on Japanese forces as you push from their forward island bases all the way back to Okinawa. The other half puts you in Russian boots as you strike back against the Germans, pushing them out of the motherland and sieging Berlin. You know, just like the real thing! Like the previous game, the campaign jumps back and forth between the two perspectives. So you'll play a level or two as one guy, swap to the other for a bit, then swap back. This keeps up over the course of the game's 13 missions.
The campaign provides a good amount of first-person shooter variety, but it excels when the levels are wide open and all hell is breaking loose around you. There are more than a few moments where you're charging against an entrenched enemy, and the game does a good job of making these moments feel appropriately chaotic. You'll also see the requisite vehicle sequence and some up-close indoor battles. Overall, there really aren't any surprises coming out of the single-player--it's a quality single-player campaign from beginning to end.
Of course, these are all pretty minor points in the grand scheme of things. Call of Duty: World at War is a perfectly competent game with exciting multiplayer options and a campaign that's worth playing. But in most of the ways that actually count, last year's game was better.