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The Whole World In Your LAN

Feature: Is Nintendo's Wi-Fi service worth the bandwidth it's written on?

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What's there
Although the single-player campaign lacks the online co-op of its HD brethren (Wii owners will have to make do with split-screen support), Treyarch - bless 'em - have worked their little cotton socks off to bring the famous multiplayer segment of Call Of Duty to Wii, and with quite some success too. Popular modes such as Capture The Flag are conspicuous by their absence, but the core of the game is present and correct, and there's even a primitive party system. Because there ain't no party like an Allied forces party.

Accessibility
Very good. World At War's online modes are logically and cleanly laid out, and are sensibly segregated to keep players of differing experience levels apart as much as possible. To begin with, much of the content is locked - you can only chose from a small number of weapons, and there are just two match types: Free-For-All and the lowest tier of Team Deathmatch.

You can work your way up the ranking pretty quickly (we levelled up twice during our inaugural Free-For-All match), ultimately unlocking two more tiers of Deathmatch (which feature friendly fire and additional bullet damage) and the ability to customise your arsenal to infinity. This smart segregation allows new players to dip their toes in at the shallow end safe in the knowledge they're not going to get instantly destroyed, while satisfying more, erm, competitive gamers (and there's a handful of very competitive people on the servers) by showering them with a succession of objectives. Structurally, World At War is a big success.

Does it work?
Matches are generally lag-free, although we experienced some problems connecting to the servers during peak times (this is around 2am UK time, so it shouldn't prove a massive concern for anyone who, unlike us, has better things to do than play shooting games all night). Melee attacks are initiated by shaking the remote and, considering the remote also controls the camera, are predictably messy, so most players don't bother with them. Good news for dumbos like us, who invariably take two minutes to line up a shot, only to be coshed in the back of the head with a rifle butt.

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Community
The general standard of play seems to be slightly lower than on your average Xbox shooter, even on the higher difficulty settings. So if the experience of having your face chain sawed off every three minutes in Gears Of War has put you off the idea of online gaming, this might be a good title to rehabilitate yourself with.

As is to be expected, there's no support for Wii Speak, but the anonymity this brings seems to discourage bad behaviour rather than encourage it, albeit at the expense of any hope of tactical planning during Team Deathmatches. (They quickly degenerate into a round of 'rush the opposing dots', but at least this time you won't have to be scolded by someone half your age when you spanner things up.)

There can only be eight players on the map at any one time (hence four versus four in team matches), so players more used to 32-men scrambles on the PS3 might begin to feel a bit lonely. For us, unused to much online play, it made little difference. There are only so many people you can point a gun at at any one time, you know?

Fun Factor
Despite a dearth of game modes and the strict eight-player limit, Call Of Duty: World At War is a runaway success on Wii - it's easily the best third-party Wi-Fi game on the system. Although there are only a limited number of maps, each one is expertly designed - large enough not to be over-familiar, but small enough to ensure that you're never far away from someone's crosshairs.

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