Early game impressions: Call of Duty World at War.

It’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of the CoD franchise so it should probably go without saying that I loaded up Call of Duty: World at War with high expectations. At the same time I had my doubts as this is the first CoD by the folks at Treyarch I’ve played. I never played CoD 3 because it was console only so my only experiences have been with the Infinity Ward produced versions all of which I’ve loved.

The good news is that they used the same engine as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare so it’s got a solid foundation to begin with. The bad news, for me at least, is that it’s taking full advantage of the engine with some very lush environments full of detail and foliage. With CoD4 the game wanted to run at 800×600 resolution with most of the effects turned off, but I could squeak it up to my monitor’s native resolution of 1680×1050 and it would play OK on most maps, but chug a little on the maps with lots of vegetation. In comparison CoD:WaW just kills my video card. It’s unplayable at any resolution higher than the 800×600 with almost all the effects turned off as suggested by the “optimal settings” option. This isn’t the fault of the software so much as my hardware.

I last did a major upgrade on my PC in early 2006 while I was working in-house at my previous contract house. I was trying to keep the cost down so I only bought a new motherboard, processor, and what was a mid-rang video card at the time which was a GeForce 7600GT. I went with the cheaper card with the intention of buying a second one before too long and setting them up in a SLI configuration, but never got around to it. Since then I’ve bumped my RAM up to 2GB and switched up to a dual-core AMD 4200+ processor, but I’m still running the same video card and it’s starting to show its age. I believe my processor and RAM is still more than adequate to run most of today’s games outside of Crysis—most of my specs exceed the recommended minimums for CoD:WaW—but the video card remains a weak point. Alas I don’t have the funds at the moment to buy anything newer so I’m stuck with it. With a little luck I’ll get some money for Christmas that I could put towards a new card. There are several mid-range (less than $150) cards these days that should be more than adequate for the games I’m playing to choose from if I do.

That said, the game so far still looks pretty great considering most of the effects are turned off and the resolution is so low. I’ve only got a little way into the solo game and a couple of hours with the multiplayer, but what I’ve seen so far I’ve liked. I still have to try out the co-op mode and the Zombie Nazi survival mode and I’d like to get through the whole solo game before writing a full on review, but I’m enjoying it so far. Well, other than the deaths in multiplayer due to my poor video card choking at a critical moment, but otherwise it’s been a lot of fun. Expect a full review once I get some more time in with the game.

8 thoughts on “Early game impressions: Call of Duty World at War.

  1. I remember posting a long while back about GTA IV, hoping it would come to the PC. It did. It is awful. I can play it for some period of time but still it has it’s issues (I have an 8800GT).

    I was considering getting this new COD but this might turn me off to it. It seems like games are starting to get much more CPU intensive. The GPU seems to be able to handle the load fine in most situations but the brand-spanking-new games are putting tremendous strain on the CPU (even quad-core). It sounds like COD is another one of those games. 

    I would be interested to see what the CPU usage is when it starts stuttering. Ahh well, I am just a bitter man that does not have the money to buy a great processor hah. I worry about the future of PC gaming. All bloated DRM and crappy ports. Who the hell enjoys aiming with a controller. It makes me want to punch babies. Mouse and Keyboard any day of the week I say.

  2. David, from what I’ve been reading a lot of the issues with GTA IV are due to it being a badly bug-filled port. The issue I’m having with CoD:WaW is entirely due to my video card being old.

  3. You can pick up an 8800GT or even a 9800GT fairly cheaply these days. For whatever reason I am still getting better performance out of my 8800GT though. I can even play that steaming pile of a game GTA IV at my native resolution (1680×1050) at respectable rates until my CPU gives out.

    But do not read to much into it, just my personal observations. I have noticed games are increasingly eating my CPU cycles by large amounts (new games anyway). Rendering never seems to factor into it as far as I can tell from looking into it. Interesting that it would run at all on a +4200 though. At least that is something.

  4. It’s very costly to be a gamer these days. I haven’t updated my video card since 2006 too. I thinks it’s also a 7600 GT variant. But I really only play Age of Empires 3 on the computer so I’m in luck there.

  5. You can pick up an 8800GT or even a 9800GT fairly cheaply these days.

    Also got a 8800GT, sad to say although it may be good enough for most games out there when it’s put up against something like X3 Terran Conflict it starts to struggle, although as DavidM said even the CPU power is put to the test; running Intel Core Duo E6850 @3GHz at present.

  6. Actually I think it’s cheaper than ever to be a gamer. The deals on hardware these days are great, but it helps if you have the money to spend. grin

  7. Yea a 7600gt video card is a very low end card in this day and age. Les you should be able to get a 4850 radeon card with 512mb for like $150 or a 4870 512mb for around $200. I would recommend this gen video card not last gen. CPU can matter a lot in some games like GTA 4 or RTS type games. A low end CPU can slow down a powerful video card. It used to be a rule of thumb to match the price of your CPU with your GPU. $200 CPU = $200 card. I would update it to $200 CPU = $400 card. Oh I do have a 4870 512mb card sitting on my desk not being used. I could sell you the card for $100 if you like. My 4870 card wasn’t powerful enough for me so I’m running a 280gtx in my computer right now with intel core 2 quad core @2.66ghz playing at 3840X1024 rez on 3 19” monitors.

    DavidM: Most people play GTA 4 with too high of settings. It’s recommended to use only medium settings and to turn off that recording game play video program running in the background that’s built into the game in the settings. GTA has alot of processing going on in the game. A fast CPU is also recommended. Turning off non esential programs like anti virus programs would also help. Rockstar admitted to only testing GTA 4 on “clean” gaming PC’s not with 10 to 15 programs running in the background. A mistake on their part. Nvidia has beta drivers for GTA 4 performance improvements. Give it some time and GTA 4 will run better.

  8. Les you should be able to get a 4850 radeon card with 512mb for like $150 or a 4870 512mb for around $200. I would recommend this gen video card not last gen.

    I agree with xav0971 on this. I had the 4850 and it ran the latest games really well. Have now gone to a 4870 x2 with 2Gb GDDR5. I’m running GTA IV at 1920 x 1200 on high settings, and getting 37 fps average. The new Catalyst 8.12 drivers have made a huge difference. Also thanks for thee tip on turning off the recording video program, I’m sure that will help too grin

    I’ve ordered CoD5 now and can’t wait to play it!

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