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Video Game / Call of Duty: World at War

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"60 million lives were lost as a result of World War II. It was the most destructive and deadly conflict in human history."
The game's ending text

The one that emphasised that War Is Hell. Alternatively, the one with Nazi Zombies.

Call of Duty: World at War is the fifth entry in the Call of Duty series, developed by Treyarch and released in November 2008 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii.

Unlike its predecessor, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, World at War brings the series back to World War II. And unlike previous Call of Duty titles set in World War II, this one features only two campaigns: one American, and one Russian, set in the Asia-Pacific Theater from 1942-45 and Stalingrad and Berlin in 1942 and 1945, respectively. For the American campaign, players go as Private C. Miller, a US Marine fighting in Peleliu and later, Okinawa, as well as for one level, Petty Officer Locke, a machine gunner on board a US Navy PBY Catalina. Meanwhile, the Russian campaign stars Pvt. Dimitri Petrenko, a veteran of the Battle of Stalingrad who later fights in the Battle of Berlin.

Of special note is that this is the first Treyarch Call of Duty game to feature the Zombies mode, which while originally conceived as bonus content, would go on to become a staple of the series.

World at War provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Break from Reality:
    • We're not sure how Japanese soldiers get ahold of Russian machine guns and prototype Nazi rifles in the multiplayer mode, but hey, Rule of Fun.
    • The Japanese Empire, depending on your source, only managed to make anywhere between 8,500 to 24,000 Type 100 submachine guns, yet at least a quarter of all Japanese soldiers you encounter in-game have one. Given that it's an entry in a popular FPS franchise, having access to submachine guns was a must.
  • Achievement Mockery: The Purple Heart achievement/trophy is unlocked by dying twenty times in a single level.
  • Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time Gary Oldman was an Allied soldier involved in assaulting Berlin, albeit in that case he was an OSS agent. Also this is not the first time Oldman was a Russian combatant who was called out that his actions are not war, but murder.
  • Alliterative List: Commissar Markhov's Rousing Speech before the assault in the "Ring Of Steel" mission.
    On the Führer's birthday... A barrage of Katyushka rockets will tear Berlin to pieces. With your bullets... With your bayonets... With your bare hands... Do the same to their wretched soldiers!
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted. The game presents the American Marine Raiders as dying constantly and being ground down by the Japanese troops' tactics despite the eventual progress of their forces. Miller and his battle group are eventually sent home after taking a castle — but the war is not presented as being over by their hands; the Russians' have the final missions in the game and take the Reichstag. However, the missions are presented in Anachronic Order: the Reichstag fell a month before the events of the final Marine missions, meaning the war technically really did end with the Marine Campaign — especially that the final cutscene after "Downfall" moves fluently from Harry S. Truman's announcement of the surrender of Germany from May the 8th, 1945 to the nuclear bombing on Japan, followed by General MacArthur's speech from the Japanese surrender ceremony from September the 2nd, 1945, after which the credits are rolled and the campaign is finished.
  • Anachronic Order: The campaign is guilty of this, especially the final missions, where "Heart of the Reich" and "Downfall", set during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945, take place after "Breaking Point", set during the Battle of Okinawa in May 1945.
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite the more-or-less accurate depiction of the battles, a few mistakes pop up:
    • Wrecked King Tigers are shown in Stalingrad, which was a year before they were put into production, and two years before they were even put into service. This is presumably due to the lack of a destroyed model for the Panzer IV showing its turret.
    • Another downplayed example is the B-17s shown bombing Peleliu. At this point in the war, they were already in the process of being phased out in favor of the B-24 Liberator, due to the Army High Command deeming the B-17 as inadequate for the Pacific.
    • According to IMFDB, the 1911 is a blend of period-accurate and highly-anachronistic parts, featuring the slide and trigger of a proper M1911A1, but mated to the frame of the Mk IV Series 80 and with a capacity indicating use of 8-round flush-fit Wilson Combat magazines - neither of which existed until The '80s.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Soldiers will often lose their legs when hit by explosives, machine guns, or tank shells, and bleed to death because of it. You even get rewarded for doing so in multiplayer.
  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: Complimenting the Second World War setting is a soundtrack that takes inspiration from a number of modern genres such as Trance ("Black Cats"), Post-Rock ("Eviction"), Techno and Doom Metal ("Downfall"). Even songs that are a bit more classically-oriented throw in a subtle modern touch: "Ring of Steel" opens with a Synthwave motif before the orchestra takes over, and Industrial music is a clear influence on just about every track.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: "Black Cats", in contrast to the rest of the American campaign, has you as Pvt. Locke, a gunner on board a US Navy PBY Catalina Flying Boat, moving between several guns as your Catalina and its wingmate fight against the Imperial Japanese Navy and IJN Air Arm — which seems to be an homage to both the "Death from Above" mission from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the "Bomber" mission from Call of Duty: United Offensive.
  • Anti-Air: The Japanese Type 96 anti-aicraft gun. Becomes an objective to be taken out in "Hard Landing", due to the fact that US planes are being shot down on a regular basis.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Played with in "Semper Fi", when Miller can choose to help a fellow Marine in combat or not.
    Sgt. Roebuck: Help Ryan! Save him!
    • Played straight or double subverted in the campaign plot, as many of the main or recurring characters die, including: Sgt. Sullivan, Sgt. Roebuck/Pvt. Polonsky (the decision up to the player), Pvt. Chernov, while the controllable Russian soldier, Pvt. Petrenko, gets critically wounded. Compared to the first iterations of the Call of Duty franchise, it happens a lot.
  • Artistic License – History: Despite efforts to be as historically accurate as possible while preserving drama, there are occasional times where this happens:
    • Downplayed in the Peleliu missions which feature a rather sizeable number of Japanese soldiers performing suicidal Banzai attacks. By then the Japanese military had already began to frown on the use of banzai charges in the wake of the disastrous defeat at Saipan, opting instead to apply delaying actions within bunkers and natural caves in order to blunt the American offensives into a costly battle of attrition.
    • Zigzagged in "Breaking Point". While Shuri Castle was destroyed by both artillery and air raids during the actual battle, the castle itself was mostly abandoned by the Japanese, with only sporadic resistance from Japanese stragglers. Most of the heavy fighting depicted in the level actually happened around the castle, rather than in the castle itself.
    • Technically, the Pacific campaign in general is full of this:
      • For starters, the historical Makin raid did not involve an advance reconnaissance party prior to the main attack. Also the raid itself, as well as the Raider's eventual evacuation from the island seems to have occurred in the same night whereas in real life the raid itself was a bungled operation that saw the Marines stranded until the next day. Also the Raiders in the mission use motor boats both in their assault and escape from the island, whereas in reality the Raiders made use of rubber boats instead.
      • In real life, many of the disbanded Raider units were reconstituted to form the 4th Marine Regiment, which would go on to liberate the island of Guam rather than Peleliu, as depicted in the game. Then again, this could be Downplayed as the 4th Marine Regiment did fight in Okinawa, but as part of the 6th Marine Division rather than the 1st Marine Division.
    • During the final USSR mission in Berlin, the Soviet troops battle in the Reichstag as they try to get to the top and plant their flag, to signal their victory. While the event itself is accurate, the condition of the Reichstag looks almost pristine, with most of the damage coming from the gunfight that takes place in it; in reality, the building was almost completely gutted by a fire in 1933, and the war effort stalled repairs, resulting in it spending the entire war abandoned and burned-out, with the Nazis using the Kroll Opera House across the street for government meetings, and it was not fully restored until the 1990s.
  • Artistic License – Ships: Zig-Zagged here. It's averted in the campaign and multiplayer levels themselves, where the ships shown are appropriate for the time period. It's played straight though in the loading cutscenes of "Little Resistance" and "Blowtorch and Corkscrew", where modern US Navy ships (namely Nimitz-class carriers and Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers) are shown instead of their World War II-era counterparts (say, the way more appropriate Essex-class carriers or Cleveland-class cruisers).
  • Badass Boast:
    • Commissar Markhov makes one over a loudspeaker in "Ring of Steel":
      Citizens of Berlin! A ring of steel surrounds your rotten city! We will crush all who dare resist the will of the Red Army! Abandon your posts! Abandon your homes! Abandon all hope! URA!!!
    • Sgt. Reznov has his moment, too, in "Their Land, Their Blood":
      From this moment on... Every step we take brings us closer to Berlin. Closer to victory! Closer to revenge! URA!!!
  • Bayonet Ya:
    • A favorite tactic of Japanese Banzai Chargers is to bayonet you. Miller himself can do this to them provided he has access to a rifle with an attached bayonet, which mostly consists of having to steal an Arisaka with one, though he starts a mission or two with a bayonet on his Garand.
    • Bayonets are also an attachment in multiplayer for the M1 Garand, Type 99, M1A1 Carbine, M1897 Trench Gun and all bolt-action rifles.
  • BFG: Practically all of the machine guns and the PTRS-41, the latter of which is an anti-tank rifle reconfigured for snipers.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The US Marine campaign ends with either Roebuck or Polonsky dead, depending on the player's actions, but with Okinawa effectively secured, the surviving Marines finally earn their ticket home.
    • The Russian campaign ends with Chernov mortally wounded and likely dead, and Dimitri wounded, but Reznov has finally gotten his revenge on the Germans by raising the Soviet flag over the Reichstag. Unfortunately, this gets overriden later on thanks to the ideas of their superiors.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality:
    • The Soviet Campaign puts your teammates (and by choice, yourself) in a gray territory. Granted, the Germans did rape their way through Russia, but it is shown that many of the soldiers you capture and kill are human beings.
      • In addition, during the capture of Berlin, the narration points out that many of the soldiers you're fighting against, though identical in appearance, are old men, young boys and the mentally ill forced into battle at gunpoint.
    • The brutality of the Imperial Japanese Army knows no limits. Of the four factions in-game, the flamethrower-wielding Marine Corps is perhaps the most moral.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Quite possibly the bloodiest and goriest Call of Duty entry to date, as limbs are regularly shredded by machine guns, explosives, etc. And this happens both in campaign and multiplayer.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • The flamethrower never runs out of fuel, though it can overheat. This also applies to mounted machine guns and vehicular weapons. Even regular machine guns with the bipod attachment get a downplayed form of this, where their magazines or belts last noticeably longer when mounted.
    • Subverted in "Black Cats", where the mounted machine guns on the PBY run out of ammo at the last minute of the level.
  • Capital Offensive: All but one of the Soviet campaign levels take place during the Battle of Berlin or battles that immediately preceded it, where Soviet forces attack the last few German strongholds in order to take the city and exact revenge for 4 years of war.
  • Captain Obvious: Private Chernov: "But sir, these men are already bleeding to death!" "Sergeant Reznov! You seem to relish in the slaughter!" "Our rockets are tearing the city apart!"
  • Cool Boat:
    • The Fletcher-class destroyers shown in "Black Cats" count, as they're shown defending the rest of the fleet from attacks by Kamikazes.
    • On a lesser note are the Iowa-class battleships supporting the Marines off Peleliu.
  • Crew of One:
    • Miller can man Type 96 25mm Anti-Air guns all by himself, when normally it takes a crew of 3 to man one.
    • In multiplayer, tanks are manned only by 1 player, with another having the option of hitching a ride and manning the turret MG. In gameplay terms, the singleplayer level with a tank works the same, even though it's made apparent that you have several other soldiers helping you control the tank.
    • "Black Cats" has you placed in the shoes of a crew member on a PBY Catalina that's running with half the people it should, requiring you to regularly clamber about to change guns because two of the four gunners that should be there are missing. Amusingly, one NPC crewmate is almost literally a crew of one, as he's apparently forced to take on the roles of flight engineer, navigator, and radar and radio operators all by himself.
  • Cutscene Incompetence:
    • Zig-zagged in the ending of the Russian campaign: your character, an invincible, all-powerful Russian god of war who more or less wiped out the German Army by himself is severely and seemingly mortally wounded by a single 9mm bullet fired from an injured German soldier's pistol. That said, that same pistol in his hands will do the same to any enemy with one bullet if you shoot them from that close. On the other hand, he also has an alarming habit of starting missions lying in a heap.
    • Averted in the US Marine campaign, where save for starting the first mission captive, Miller is shown to be as competent in cutscenes as he is when playable.
  • Darker and Edgier: To both its immediate predecessor, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and all previous World War II- Call of Duty titles.
    • While Call of Duty 4 was already pessimistic and dark, the game manages to take it up a notch by having the first level show torture and summary execution of POWs, not to mention upping the blown-off limbs by a hundred. The only silver lining is that no player characters die.
    • Previous World War II-era Call of Duty games, while showing how destructive war is, still had an upbeat and positive feeling, complete with the protagonists ending their fighting on a good note. Here, it has none of that positiveness, while amping up the destructive part, ending with a Bittersweet Ending at best for all protagonists.
  • Defiant to the End: Several cases.
    • One of Miller's squadmates, K. Pyle, constantly defies his Japanese captors, even as his left eye is burned and throat is slashed. He even tells Miller not to say anything to them.
    • A captured Russian soldier in "Eviction" boldly states that even if he's killed, his comrades will never show the Germans mercy.
    • Pretty much all Japanese soldiers' MO, as they preferred death before surrender. With the best example of this being the Banzai chargers, whose bayonet chargers almost always end with them killed.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Nazi Zombies maps, but especially the ones released in the follow-up Downloadable Content.
  • Downloadable Content: Treyarch released several Map Packs in 2009, containing new Multiplayer Maps, as well as three new Nazi Zombies maps.
    • Prior to this, Treyarch released a free map, Makin Day, in one of the early patches.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: World at War is the last game in the Call of Duty series to do anything particularly odd in multiplayer before the series' gameplay style settled into the now-familiar style with Modern Warfare 2:
    • Most of these are carried over from Call of Duty 4 since Treyarch was at the time still just a "side" developer without much room to innovate the series, like the first perk always granting players extra equipment, with a few being attempts to innovate made by bringing back concepts that had been abandoned since the first game's expansion United Offensive, like the multiplayer mode including drivable vehicles (including a fourth perk dedicated to improving some aspect of their functionality) and eschewing pre-placed machine guns in favor of a bipod attachment to mount your handheld machine gun where you need it.
    • In addition to the now-famous Nazi Zombies mode, it also featured full campaign co-op - something which only ever returned for Black Ops III, because when given the option between campaign co-op and Zombies, everyone only ever picked Zombies. Later attempts at co-op in the series would either take the form of repurposing singleplayer maps for almost-contextless instant action with Modern Warfare 2 and 3's Spec Ops mode, or just getting Treyarch to do another Zombies mode from Ghosts onward. As a result there are also far less scripted sequences that railroad the player, in order to compensate for co-op functionality, and even then two levels are unavailable in co-op because of the heavy amount of scripted sequences.
  • The Empire: Unlike previous World War II Call of Duty campaigns, the American campaign has Imperial Japan as the enemy faction, due to focusing on the US Marines in the Pacific theatre instead of the Army on the Western front.
  • Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: "Blood and Iron", where Dimitri and Reznov are assigned as impromptu tank crew (presumably radio operator and commander) and tasked with breaking through German lines as part of the Berlin offensive. And throughout the level, they're forced to deal with several German tanks, including a number of Panther Medium tanks, and a handful of King Tigers.
  • Final Battle: Okinawa counts as this for the US Marine campaign. Most of the Russian campaign counts, as it's a detailed depiction of the Battle of Berlin, but the cake undoubtedly goes to the assault on the Reichstag in the last two levels.
  • Flamethrower Backfire:
    • Dimitri can do this to Flammenwerfer 35-wielding German troops in "Vendetta" and "Downfall". Certain scripted sequences in the American campaign also have this happen to M2 Flamethrower-wielding Marines.
    • Averted with Pvt. Miller and in multiplayer, where this never happens to the Flamethrowers carried by either the former or any players using one.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: In typical Call of Duty fashion, applies in campaign gameplay to allied troops important to the plot. Also in now-typical Call of Duty fashion, this stops applying to important allied troops after set sequences, such as when Chernov gets roasted by a flamethrower in the last moments of "Heart of the Reich".
  • Grenade Spam: Perhaps the thing the Campaign is most infamous for gameplay-wise. As soon as you spend more than a few seconds behind cover, every enemy on the map seems happy to throw implausible quantities of grenades your way until you either move or die.
  • Guide Dang It!: Chernov describes Dimitri in his diary (a passage from which is read aloud at the beginning of "Downfall") as either a merciful hero, a merciless savage, or an enigma depending on how you've behaved during the Russian campaign. "Their Land, Their Blood" and "Eviction" contain obvious opportunities to show mercy to German soldiers (by refraining from shooting them at the beginning of the former stage, and by shooting them rather than burning them with Molotovs in the latter stage), but you'll almost certainly miss the first moral choice without a guide, because it doesn't involve showing mercy to enemies at all. It takes place near the end of "Vendetta" just before General Amsel emerges from his headquarters; if you disregard Reznov's instructions to stay hidden while Russian soldiers are being massacred in the streets below, and instead shoot at the Germans to try and help them, the game flags it as a "good" decision, which will be critical to determining Chernov's opinion of Dimitri later (even though Chernov isn't there to witness the action, Reznov justifiably chews out Dimitri for jeopardizing their mission for a futile cause, and there's no indication that opening fire will have any effect at all other than possibly getting yourself inevitably killed and failing the mission, which is what happens if you deviate from the script at any other point in the level).
  • Gunship Rescue: The second half of "Black Cats" has them rescue American sailors in the water from strafing Japanese Zeroes and PT boats, in the process having to direct their guns against these threats. If that wasn't enough, just as Mantaray, one of the titular "Black Cats", runs out of ammo and are about to be blown to be bits by strafing Zeroes, they're rescued by a flight of Marine Corsairs. An example of a gunship rescue within a gunship rescue.
  • Guy in Back: Mantaray, the PBY featured in "Black Cats", has Locke (the Player Character), Laughlin, and Landry, who are the gunners and radioman, respectively.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: In addition to the same names used in Call of Duty 4, the game includes a picture of a soldier's face giving an overall indication of the difficulty.
    • Recruit: "For players who are new to first person action games." - A fresh-faced soldier without a helmet is shown.
    • Regular: "Your abilities in combat will be tested." - The soldier is wearing a helmet and has gained a five-o-clock shadow and a single scar on his cheek.
    • Hardened: "Your skills will be strained." - The soldier and his helmet appear much more damaged as he's giving his best war face.
    • Veteran: "You will not survive." - The soldier's face is reduced to a skull.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Some of the Japanese troops at certain points will seemingly do this, only to then do a suicide attack on the characters attempting to shake them down for intel.
  • Jungle Warfare: Most of the Marine campaign has Miller and his squad fighting against the Japanese deep in the jungle or tropical rainforest, where they battle the former, the elements, the weather, and eventually, supply problems.
  • Justified Tutorial: Averted here. Unlike previous Call Of Duty titles, this one hops straight into the action following the first cutscene.
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • In the opening depicting the start of the Pacific War, Zeroes are shown on an attack run dropping their external fuel tanks, with said fuel tanks exploding like bombs. A more appropriate plane for the occasion would be either the "Kate" torpedo bomber or "Val" dive bomber.
    • In the Stalingrad stage, huge numbers of four-engined Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors are seen flying overhead. Only 272 were built in total, with hardly any of these being present at Stalingrad, certainly not in the numbers shown (only nine were shot down over Stalingrad). Moreover, they're presented as heavy bombers conducting a Blitz-style saturation bombing raid over the city; even ignoring that at that point in the battle, with their own soldiers in the city, the Germans would not be indiscriminately bombing the place, Condors had small bomb bays, and were only present at Stalingrad as transport craft making up part of Hermann Goering's "air bridge"; their main function during the war was as "patrol bombers" over the Atlantic Ocean, performing reconnaissance on Allied convoys for U-boats and occasionally harassing lone ships they happened across.
    • The PBY Catalina the player controls the guns in for one mission has both Oerlikon 20mm cannons and Browning M1919 machine guns in the bow turret. Real Catalinas in the Pacific were sometimes armed with the cannons, but the Brownings would have to be removed to make room for them, and they were on fixed mounts rather than the flexible ones slaved to the front turret as depicted in-game. The Catalina is also running at half crew for no particular reason other than preemptively making room for the half-dozen people you can rescue across the mission, with two of the four gunners missing and the apparent radio operator also forced to handle the roles of flight engineer, navigator, and radar operator all at once.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • American and German troops are shown using flamethrowers in Peleliu and Stalingrad, respectively.
    • In "Hard Landing", Marine Corsair fighter-bombers are shown dropping napalm bombs on Japanese troops at the end of the level.
    • Soviet troops are shown using Molotov cocktails to burn German troops out of wheat fields, and later, to execute surrendering German troops.
  • Last Stand: Quite a number, given that most levels are set late in World War II.
    • "Relentless" has Japanese forces cornered into defending a mountainous cavern called The Point, complete with anti-tank defenses and hidden Anti-Air positions. This one is a subversion though, as Roebuck states in the loading screen of "Black Cats" that fighting continued for two more months afterward despite The Point falling.
    • "Breaking Point" is the last major stronghold for Japanese forces stationed in Okinawa.
    • "Heart of the Reich" and "Downfall" as a whole, where SS Algemeine troops have holed themselves up, attempting to deny the Red Army from raising their banner over the Reichstag.
  • Left the Background Music On: In a scene in the mission "Eviction", "Dies Irae" is playing in the background. If you follow the sound of the music, you will eventually find a running gramophone. Destroying it will stop the music.
  • Magikarp Power: The M1 Garand rifle in the multiplayer. Compared to the other semi-automatic rifles in multiplayer, it requires one less shot to kill a basic player and reloads quickly when empty... at the cost of a smaller magazine, much lower maximum fire-rate, a slower mid-magazine reload, and heavy recoil, which all generally make other basic semi-automatic rifles much more appealing to use. Thus the Garand's real benefit lies in unlocking its scope attachment at 100 kills with the weapon, which when equipped causes it to kill enemies with one shot in the head like other scoped sniper rifles. Combined with the Stopping Power perk, the scoped Garand will also kill with any shot to the chest or head and has the additional benefit of a much higher fire-rate, larger magazine and starting ammo reserve than the other bolt-action scoped sniper rifles to potentially make it a truly terrifying sniper rifle.
  • Man on Fire: The direct result of using a Molotov Cocktail or Flamethrower on an enemy soldier, Chernov being one such victim of the latter late in the campaign.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The standard alternate grenade for Soviet troops in campaign, and one of three standard grenade options in multiplayer.
  • Multiple Endings: Downplayed Trope here that happens in both campaigns. While the missions and gameplay themselves have no change whatsoever, certain events and dialogue entries in the storyline will change, notably who Miller saves from suicidal Japanese and whether Chernov regards Dimitri as a hero or not.
  • Necessary Drawback: Again, the M1 Garand in multiplayer. While the addition of the sniper scope attachment makes it the fastest firing sniper rifle in-game, thanks to being a regular rifle, the player's character model doesn't come with a camouflage suit, making them comparatively more visible as opposed to snipers using bolt-action rifles.
  • Nerf: For better or worse, the (in)famous MP40 is noticeably weaker on the PC version of the game compared to the console version, dealing the same damage as the Thompson (instead of significantly more), while retaining its lower rate of fire. Why they did this in the PC version only instead of implementing it in the console version as well via a patch is anyone's guess.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Who hasn't spent hours trying to kill that German sniper in "Vendetta"? He can kill you before you can even blink, and to add insult to injury he does it all with no scope, arguably the best shot in the whole game.
    • Who hasn't died repeatedly during trying to make it past the Type 99-wielding Japanese soldiers in "Burn 'em Out"? It's almost a guarantee that they will kill you in one burst, especially on higher difficulties.
    • This game will truly test your mettle on veteran difficulty. Even with Regenerating Health and a very generous amount of checkpoints, it becomes a truly grueling experience. Especially the last levels of the Soviet campaign where the German soldiers seem pretty savvy about throwing potato mashers in your general direction. By the time you take cover and throw back a live grenade back at the enemy, two or three more will fall at your feet.
  • No Swastikas: Played straight in a few instances. One example is the multiplayer map "Breach", which features the Brandenburg Gate adorned with red flags with white circles in the middle, and, you guessed it, Iron Crosses. Particularly interesting when you consider the Nazi Zombies map included in the same map pack has several neon blue swastikas.
  • Outfit Decoy: In "Vendetta", Private Petrenko engages in a Sniper Duel with a German sharpshooter in which each is trying to figure out where the other is shooting from. At one point he tries to trick you by seeming to expose himself—though he's actually just presenting a helmet on a stick—and if you fall for the trap by shooting his decoy he will spring up and shoot you dead before you have a chance to chamber your next round or duck behind cover.
  • Playing Possum:
    • One favorite tactic of Banzai Chargers is to lay down and pretend to be corpses, then ambush any unsuspecting Marines from behind.
    • Especially notable in "Semper Fi", where an entire platoon of Japanese soldiers do this and catch the Marines off guard.
  • The Political Officer: Commissar Markhov, who is often seen giving encouraging speeches when he's not commanding soldiers to battle.
  • Rank Up:
    • As with Call of Duty 4's Create-a-Class system, the multiplayer has this as a feature.
    • In the campaign, Roebuck himself is promoted to Sergeant in the wake of Sullivan's death.
  • Reverse Grip:
    • As with Call of Duty 3 and 4, in normal gameplay knives are always used in this manner, except when it's attached to a gun.
    • If you die during the American Marine campaign by a Banzai charger, you'll see yourself holding your knife in a normal grip. Since succeeding to press the knife button before they stab you has your character push away their bayonet and stab the charger in the neck in a reverse grip, it can be interpreted that your character attempting to draw the knife in a normal grip to fight the charger was an incorrect action that cost him his life.
  • Satchel Charge: Satchel charges are issued to Pvt. Miller during "Blowtorch and Corkscrew", which he must use to blow up a number of Japanese gun emplacements. These are of the detonator-triggered variety, which are thrown and then detonated from a safe distance. They're also available in multiplayer mode, which limits their capacity to 2 from the campaign mode's 5.
  • Semper Fi: Miller, Roebuck, and Polonsky are Marines from Makin all the way to Okinawa, and fight tooth and nail to secure each island. It's even the name of the first level.
  • Sergeant Rock: Sgts. Sullivan, Roebuck, and Reznov, though Reznov sometimes shows some Neidermeyer-y tendencies toward the unfortunate Pvt. Chernov. This is until the poor private gets fried by a German flamethrower, after which Reznov seems to recant his negative opinion of Chernov's journal.
  • Scenery Gorn:
    • Practically all of the levels show destroyed environments of different types at one point or another. The biggest examples are pretty much all of Berlin itself from the outskirts of the city, to the Reichstag.
    • In the Pacific, the Peleliu airfield is nothing but a barren mess of destroyed airplanes, destroyed tanks, and abandoned husks of buildings scattered throughout. And then there's Shuri Castle, where the courtyard is pretty much leveled by air attack at the end of "Breaking Point".
  • Shown Their Work: Quite a few.
    • As shown in this image, the weapons used by the Marine Raiders during the Makin Island raid in "Semper Fi", namely the large number of M1 Garands and Thompsons, is actually correct, as they were the standard issue weapons for units of this type in 1942.
    • The Zeroes shown in "Black Cats" and the multiplayer map Hangar are the late war A6M5 Model 52, distinguished by their green paintjob, as well as their improved engines and armament, which is appropriate for the late-war time period most of the American campaign is set in.
    • VPB-54, the unit Mantaray and Hammerhead are a part of, is an actual "Black Cat" squadron that existed in Real Life.
    • Most of the Fletcher-class destroyers shown in Black Cats are actual ships of the class, and were in Okinawa at the time the level is set in.
    • According to this Youtuber, most of the battles depicted in-game, such as the Battle of Berlin and Peleliu, with a few exceptions, are fairly accurate representations of the time period, save for the occasional anachronism or piece of Artistic License in favor of Rule of Cool. note 
  • Shout-Out: Several examples.
    • The Japanese snipers and Banzai Chargers hiding in trees and spider holes may be a reference to Windtalkers, where they were seen doing this on occasion. Type 99 LMG-using Japanese soldiers even hold their machine guns the same way some Japanese in the film did.
    • One achievement requires Miller to save a Private named Ryan.
    • Pretty much all of "Vendetta" is a reference to Enemy at the Gates, from the fountain portion, to the sniping of a high-ranking enemy officer.
    • The final level, "Downfall", is a blatant reference to another famous work set during the Battle of Berlin.
  • Sniper Duel: In "Vendetta" there is a tense one-on-one sniping duel between Petrenko and a crafty German sharpshooter.
  • Sniper Scope Glint: The German sniper fought in "Vendetta" has a rifle that produces a momentary glint that gives away his current position. He knows about this, however, and exploits this against the player by having an elaborate Outfit Decoy with a flashlight that produces a similar glint to bait the player into firing.
  • Sniping Mission: "Vendetta", where your starting weapon is a Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle, and from then on has you fight an enemy sniper, support other Soviet soldiers in a counterattack, and finally assassinate a high-ranking German officer.
  • Sticky Bomb: The sticky grenade in Multiplayer.
  • Storming the Beaches: Miller, Roebuck, Sullivan and Polonsky do this at the start of "Little Resistance", meeting tremendous opposition from defending Japanese soldiers, and are forced to clear them out before reinforcements can make it ashore.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Some Japanese troops will simply attempt to rush you with a banzai charge, especially if they're down to just a few soldiers. Needless to say, this often goes badly for them, unless they catch you from behind. Truth in Television however, as some Japanese soldiers did in fact attempt these during the war, and it also didn't go very well for them either.
  • Suicide Attack:
    • Pretty much the end result of all Banzai Charges, as the Japanese preferred death before surrender.
    • In Black Cats, several of the Japanese planes attacking the US Fleet off Okinawa are kamikazes, bomb-laden aircraft intent on ramming and hopefully sinking any American ship they hit.
  • Tank Goodness:
    • Shermans, T-34 medium tanks, and several German Panzer types are all shown in combat.
    • "Blood and Iron" is this trope incarnate, where you and a platoon of T-34s break through the German lines at Seelow.
    • Certain multiplayer maps with the Red Army and Wehrmacht as factions have usable tanks in them (T-34s and Panzer IVs, respectively). There are even multiplayer achievements for invoking this trope.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Happens several times, most notably in "Their Land, Their Blood", where a company of King Tiger tanks is destroyed by Dimitri before they can do lasting damage, and "Hard Landing", where Shermans are forced to stop advancing due to Japanese tanks and obstacles on the airfield.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Miller can do this to Japanese positions during "Little Resistance" by calling in a rocket strike from the US Navy ships offshore.
    • In "Downfall", just as the last German defenders are driven to the roof of the Reichstag, Dimitri, Reznov, and the other Red Army soldiers are then Pinned Down by said last pocket of resistance. Just as this happens, a barrage of Katyushas rain down on the Germans, virtually wiping them out in one fell swoop.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Unlike many other World War II games, the usual use of the trope is both eventually subverted and deconstructed here. Because of the atrocities the German Army have committed, the Russian Army vows to do worse by dehumanizing them into feral animals who know only violence, and slaughter them like them, too. Chernov will salute the player if he never kills any Germans that are surrendering or flailing around hopelessly.
  • Time Skip: Both campaigns start with a mission in August or September of 1942, only to then jump ahead several years, to the battle of Peleliu in September 1944 for the Marines and the push on Seelow Heights in April 1945 for the Red Army.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: Being set in the Pacific Theater of World War II, most missions on the American side of the campaign are set on tropical islands, particularly Kiribati, Palau, and Okinawa.
  • Urban Warfare: Most levels of the Russian campaign take place in urban environments, involving a lot of sniper duels, close-quarter fighting, and Flamethrowers.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Shuri Castle and the Reichstag. Both are iconic structures located in the capital of their respective area (Okinawa and Berlin, respectively), heavily defended and fortified by the last remaining Axis troops, and a few named characters are killed trying to assault it.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Heavily averted. The flamethrower has infinite ammo and some fairly decent range (and some darkly cathartic effects on enemies). It's only drawback being that it overheats and temporarily unusable if you spray it for too long.
  • Voice of Reason: Chernov. Unfortunately, like in real life, he is of the minority and no one listens to him.
    Chernov: This is not war. This is murder.
    Reznov: THIS is how you end a war, Chernov.
    Chernov: This is madness! Our rockets are tearing the city apart!
  • War Is Hell: Very much so. In contrast to previous World War II-era Call of Duty titles which had a somewhat upbeat and optimistic theme, this one has none of that, and depicts war in a very negative, dark, and brutal image.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The mission "Eviction" explicitly requires you to finish off wounded German soldiers lying on the ground. Then you must kill a group of unarmed soldiers attempting to surrender while Reznov implores you to show them no mercy. If you don't do that, they get burned to death while Reznov scolds Chernov... for being cruel to animals by prolonging their suffering. If you do kill them, though, you get a You Bastard! moment before the last mission, though just how harsh it is depends on whether you killed them quickly with your guns or if you made them suffer by tossing a molotov.
  • Yellow Peril: As a first in the series, the Japanese are featured in a WWII Call of Duty game as one of the two main antagonists (the others being the Germans), and act similarly to how they did in real life during the war. Given their tendency to Banzai Charge you and kill you in one hit, the player will absolutely feel this trope in play.
  • You Bastard!: If you mercilessly slaughter soldiers left and right in the Russian campaign, Chernov's diary will talk about how you are no hero. If you play more compassionately, Chernov will praise you for having some morals. Do a mix of both, and he'll simply label you an enigma.

Everyone, on me!


Video Example(s):


Semper Fi

In "World at War's" unforgettable first level, we're treated to just how the Imperial Japanese Army treated Allied Prisoners-of-War firsthand, with beatings and summary execution.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / WarCrimeSubvertsHeroism

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