It’s weird to think that, not long ago, we were living at a time when we’d get a World War II game a week. There was Battlefield 1942. There was the original Call of Duty. Medal of Honor was all the rage. Then there was Day of Defeat, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and many others. No wonder we all got fed up of games set in that era, but I’m actually glad they’re making a comeback after nearly a decade dedicated to either modern day shooters set in the Middle East or futuristic ones. While Call of Duty: World War II isn’t out yet, Swedish publisher Starbreeze Studios is standing in as the official opening act for the WW2 revival with their newest title, the aptly named Raid: World War II.
If anything, Raid is masterful in causing one heck of a good first impression with both its intro video and tutorial FMV. The former sells the idea of the game being the videogame equivalent of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (my favorite movie from the director, by the way), while the FMV features the good old John Cleese in a hilarious video telling you about the game’s plot, setting and mission. Both videos make the game look like a humorous take on World War II, but you’ll need more or less 2 minutes after the game begins to realize things aren’t going to be like that.
If the game did a good job in making good first and second impressions, the same can’t be said about third impressions, a.k.a. when the real game actually begins. To state it pretty simple, Raid is Pay Day 2 with a WW2 skin. A very ugly skin. This is one of the least visually appealing games I’ve played during this whole generation, not counting abysmal Unity asset flips. The game looks and feels like a title from the Playstation 2 era, complete with bad character models, bad textures, nearly nonexistent lighting effects and, somehow, the inability to even maintain a borderline passable 30 frames per second. My oh my, what happened here? I know the game had a decent budget (John Cleese ain’t cheap!), so what the heck happened? Why does it look this icky?
Another main issue here is the gameplay. Despite the apparent WW2 setting, the gameplay is basically what you’ve already seen in Pay Day 2. If you liked that type of cooperative gameplay, you’re in for a treat as it’s basically more of the same. Move from point A to point B, hack something, blow up a wall, destroy three structures, steal gold, etc. The problem here isn’t exactly the gameplay itself, even if it’s definitely not exciting; the problem here is the AI. Keeping up with the “looks like it’s from the PS2 era” vibe, everybody in this game is a complete imbecile, be it your enemies or your allies. If you want to have proper fun with this game, you’ll need to play it online. Playing it with friends was a much more enjoyable experience than playing it solo. That I can guarantee.
Did I sound harsh so far? Well, the game does feature a few somewhat positive aspects, mainly when it comes to the controls and sound design. Despite the fact the game does not feature crosshairs, controlling and aiming isn’t exactly bad. Sure, you’ll need a bit of time to get used to this more, let’s say, “realistic” point of view, but once you get past the first half hour or so, you’ll be good to go. It won’t be as fluid as, say, Battlefield 1, but it gets the job done. The sound department is also decent. The voice acting is okay, and the soundtrack is also just okay. Sadly, there is an issue with the fact your characters keep on repeating their lines over and over through the levels, but given the rest of the game’s aspects, I can still assert this is one of its highlights. John Cleese’s voice acting, on the other hand, is as great as it can be.
Despite the great impression its introductory videos may give, Raid: World War II was just a mediocre at best experience, pretty bad when playing alone and passable when playing with other people. I can’t believe I’m actually saying those words, but if you’re craving for a current gen World War II experience, then just wait for the new Call of Duty. Yup, I said it.
Also available on: PC, Xbox One
Copy of Raid: World War II provided by publisher.