We'd actually enjoy World at War less without Kiefer Sutherland. Who wouldn't go to war with Jack Bauer?
And it's probably quite fitting that the Bauer actor's in the fifth game, because like 24, Call of Duty's always been about persistent, balls-to-the-wall action that when you look back at it looks a bit Rambo-excessive and unrealistic. But you don't care because you're having such a bloody good time.
World at War starts off with a bloke getting his throat slit, and the gritty, brutal violence doesn't end there. This is the most 'real' Call of Duty yet, and as the introductory warning says, "player discretion is advised".
See the series' trademark grenade-o-meter for too long and you're legs will get blown clean off. Instead of a swift swipe with a knife and soldier collapsing to the floor, World at War will have you gruesomely bayoneting the Japanese Banzai, and then watching them clutch their wounds in pain as the fall to the floor.
Modern Warfare carried a constant theme of vulnerability (one of the player characters does die half way through, after all) and WaW makes the bullets zipping past your head feel even more dangerous, making for more intense battles than anything in the first three WWII CoDs.
Impressively, Treyarch is able to ramp up the brutal violence to limb-flinging levels while maintaining a sensible narrative, as usual backed up with proper video footage from the era - even if the mission briefing videos could do with some more explanation.
WaW focuses on the two lesser told stories of the second World War; the American invasion of Japan and the Soviets' advance to Berlin.
There's been some controversy surrounding the backtrack to the 1940s, but World at War genuinely feels like a different side to WWII, and we've got no complaints at all on the look and feel of the new game's theatre.
Both campaigns are stories of revenge, as both sides counter-attack the Axis of evil after years of bloody conflict. Nowhere is this shown more than in the Soviet campaign, where the odd scripted fire-bombing of a Nazi-occupied building is commonplace.
The American side lacks the grit and totally epic-scale of the Russian missions, but it too throws something else into the mix in the way of the Japanese and their sneaky ambush tactics.
The Banzai soldiers will hide in the trees, charge from the tall grass and generally shake you up like a contestant in Ghost Hunters. It also introduces the flame thrower, which delivers screaming, fiery death in a pack but eventually leaves you craving the satisfying accuracy of World at War's ramped-up guns.
As you'd expect coming from a game where you're using M16s and laser sights, Treyarch's taken some liberties in beefing up the Thompsons and Garands of the WWII arsenal to live up to expectations.
World at War's FPS mechanics cannot be faulted; Infinity Ward's engine is fast and fluid, and Treyarch's bolstered the bangs with some particularly beefy and satisfying sound effects.
The auto iron-sight lock-on is still there, you'll take out a Kamikaze soldier in two shots. World at War basically feels like Modern Warfare, which is exactly what we were looking for, basically.
The campaign certainly doesn't reinvent Call of Duty 4's formula (did we want it to?), and it's also a little on the short side at around six hours.
Like Modern Warfare the scripting in set-pieces is still quite blatant - like Japanese soldiers that run from their hiding place and then navigate a squad of US squaddies to come straight towards you - but the campaign's complete balls-to-the-wall Hollywood action makes it forgiveable.