Raid: World War II is a disaster. Even with some of its more redeemable qualities, it’s hard to recommend over other phenomenal World War II shooters this year like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Call of Duty: World War II. The game seems like a culmination of too many ideas that never come together.
Developer Lion game Lion clearly wants Raid: World War II to be their own cooperative Payday type game. Considering the team has had experience creating content for that series in the past, this should’ve been so much better than what they’ve delivered. But it’s not. In fact, Raid drops the ball in just about every way you can probably imagine.
It’s very clear from the start, Raid: World War II is a mess. The animated scene that plays when you start stutters on PS4. The game is still loading behind the opening cutscene. You can’t skip the scene while it’s loading, meaning it plays every single time you start the game..
Now, to be fair, you can eventually skip it once you’re finally finished loading, it’s just strange that it takes some time to get there. Going back and playing Raid over and over became so annoying every time I remembered I had to sit through the same opening cutscene over and over again. If the game were fun in any capacity, this might be a little less frustrating.
The introduction is a clear final warning before you hop into the main game. But you really don’t need to learn much, as most of Raid: World War II’s missions consist of either planting things or picking things up with the long push of a single button. Pickups will include treasures, documents, gold, bodies, dog tags and more. Sometimes slowly move them from point A to point B. Everything is done through a simple button prompt. It’s all so numbingly repetitive and unoriginal.
There’s no vehicle sequences or truly intense moments in sight. The tougher enemies are just bullet sponges who can’t really do much to you until they get close. Nothing about Raid’s missions feel like they’re taking advantage of having a squad of four at all. Games like Left 4 Dead and Payday have maintained a much stronger gameplay hook for years and they’re much more worthy of your time if you’re looking for a cooperative shooter.
There’s actually a relatively interesting hub world in Raid. Unfortunately, you can’t really actually do much in it — it’s pretty much just four tables that’ll let you access your character, missions, skills, and loadout. And the experience in it would also be better if the frame rate didn’t fluctuate so much on PS4. This problem persists across pretty much everything in the game but it’s even stranger in an area where nothing is really happening. I’m not sure if this is as much of an issue on PC but it’s a very bad problem on the console.
Of course, the first mission I played was quite an experience. My objective was to break into a fortress and assassinate allied generals who were captured by Germans. It was quite honestly one of the worst introductions to these characters I could’ve had. As they so calmy apologize to the allies they’re assassinating and sometimes crack lame jokes. I was unclear why they went for this uneven tone trying to have serious situations while the characters also cracked cheesy lines. World War II can be done authentically, and it can be done comically as we’ve seen so many times in other games and media. But uneven and pandering tones feel like a lack of commitment to even trying to fit into one of these camps.
The maps all throughout the game feel very small and the only reason your progress is ever slowed down is that the game consistently throws lots of enemies at you. In that vein, you’re frequently going to have to look around for ammo and health packs. Raid: World War II takes this health/ammo pack mechanic and manages it to do it so much worse than so many games before it. You also can’t pick up a dead enemy’s gun, you’re stuck with the two weapons you pick for the entirety of every mission. There are just simple things you expect out of a modern shooter that Raid does not deliver on in any part of the game.
There was one mission in Raid where I had to take out some guards who were sitting at a tunnel. I decided to toss a grenade near a bunch of them, and aiming grenade lobs is not easy in Raid: World War II. Low and behold the grenade worked. In fact, it worked so well that when the next objective popped up, I couldn’t complete the mission. The next step required me to hide all the bodies in the area in two conveniently placed garbage dumps on both sides of the tunnel.
The problem? My grenade had totally destroyed a guard’s entire body that I needed. I frantically checked everywhere for it as I kept asking myself, “Did I actually just blow up the body?”
During another mission, I had jumped over a ledge to get to an objective faster and a relatively short fall downed me. My AI partners at the top of the ledge couldn’t seem to find their way down before I bled out. When you lose missions you have to restart them from the very beginning, making this even more annoying and monotonous. I’m not sure why you can’t just take control of your allied AI when playing alone.
Something that really weirded me out about Raid: World War II was the abundance of live action cutscenes starring a ridiculous looking Hitler. If you beat a mission he usually does something stupid to himself or screams in anger. In one scene his mustache falls off and he freaks out. It’s just so awkward seeing these lame scenes between long sequences of gameplay. Again, I’m incredibly unsure as to why they ever considered including this when the game itself is so bad already.
They could’ve refocused their efforts to add more cutscenes starring the main characters since they’re absolutely god-awful during actual gameplay. You’ve got your incredibly generic heroes: the German, an Englishman, an American, and a Russian who wears a gas mask during every mission for some untold reason. Each one of them is completely devoid of any original personality. You can customize the characters a bit but it all feels kind of pointless as the models are pretty bland.
Whether the game is more realistic or more arcade-like, if developers can’t make their game’s shooting mechanics work you’ll lose me (and a big chunk of your audience) quick. To that note, I never felt like I really had control over whether my shots hit or not — even when I took my time with them. The difficulty in the game comes more from hitting a shot rather than the actual enemy AI themselves. There are great shooters where the shooting is a lot more difficult, like in the Red Orchestra series for example or Arma. But in those games, there’s a more level playing field and it ends up feeling more rewarding because of it. I’m positive that if I could land every shot I’d just mow every Nazi down faster than the load time during the opening cutscene.
That’s pretty much it for Raid: World War II. You get a list filled with some missions and you level up slowly to unlock upgrades for your characters as well as new weapons. The process felt incredibly slow and you’ll probably be burned out after a couple of hours — if you were ever actually planning on playing this game, that is. I’d like to think the game can be made better through updates but I’m afraid Raid: World War II will probably be forgotten about and abandoned pretty quickly. If you’re itching to kill some Nazis this holiday season, stick to Wolfenstein 2: The New Order or Call of Duty: WWII instead.