Developer: Lion Games Lion
Publisher: Starbreeze Studios, 505 Games
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
We’ve all seen plenty of different movies, books, and even video games where a mismatched group of men work together to overcome the odds to pull off some elaborate plan or scheme. It was a formula that has been used in both the Payday series and even Grand Theft Auto successfully, with the heists proving to be popular amongst gamers.
Imagine those heists taking place in World War II though and being done against Hitler. That’s exactly what you get in RAID: World War II, the four player co-operative shooter from developer Lion Game Lion and publisher Starbreeze Studios. Unfortunately though, whilst the idea sounds amazing on paper, the execution itself isn’t quite there.
RAID: World War II sees you take part in a number of missions that involve… well… taking down Nazis. There’s no surprise there, given the title of the game. However, it does something a little different to the norm and throws the rulebook out of the window; rather than taking the role of a decorated and brave Solider, you’re instead part of a ragtag group made up of thieves and ex-soldiers that one of Churchill’s advisors (cleverly played by the brilliant John Cleese) has put together, and have to use every little trick up your sleeve to help take down the evil Nazi scum in a variety of elaborate ways.
As you can probably tell, RAID: World War II isn’t a game that takes itself too seriously, with it taking what is traditionally a dark subject matter and adding a light-hearted feel to it. It’s actually a good thing – if you want your fix of dreary war action there are titles like Call of Duty: WWII to look forward to, but having a more comical take on the dreaded period is a lot more refreshing. The game also features a little cutscene involving ‘Hitler’ at the end of each mission that can be pretty comical and really shows that RAID: World War II isn’t taking itself seriously. The narrative presentation of the game absolutely on point; it’s just a shame most other aspects of the game aren’t…
RAID: World War II is class-based, with the player able to choose from four different classes that can all be customised, be it through their appearance, weapons, or the perks they’re equipped with. The four classes are: the ‘Recon’ class that focuses on fighting from a distance, the ‘Assault’ class that prefers to get up close and personal, the ‘Insurgents’ who are a stealth-focused jack of all trades, and the ‘Demolitions’ who aren’t afraid to bring explosives to the battlefield.
Each of the classes offer something different, though for the most part they can play quite similarly when you’re actually in-game. It’s through their perks that you’ll really notice which one might suit your playstyle, though in fairness they’re all flexible enough to suit just about any player anyway. You can upgrade them and unlock new stuff by earning experience points from completing missions or by completing the weapon challenges (you know, ‘kill x amount of enemies with this weapon’) so character progression comes naturally from just playing the game. Whilst there a decent amount of customisation options in place though, your motivation to actually unlock them all might be quelled by some naff gameplay.
RAID: World War II follows a similar formula to the aforementioned Payday series, with the game sending you on missions that focus on a set goal and always end in a daring escape. Most of the missions simply consist of foiling some elaborate Nazi plan or stealing some of their gold, but there’s a good variety in place that makes each one feel different in their own unique way.
Each mission should only take players around thirty minutes each to complete, with an assortment of different objectives on offer as you go through each phase of the operation. That time will slowly get lower and lower the longer you spend with the game though; you get to a point where you know exactly what you need to do and what enemies to be aware of, so it can start to feel like more of a routine when you’re simply grinding for those experience points.
As mentioned, there’s a decent variety of missions in place though and from a design standpoint they’re all pretty neat to complete, especially on the first attempt. However, there’s a big focus on taking down a lot of enemies in each mission, which is unfortunate seeing as the game’s shooting mechanics just aren’t that enjoyable.
You can utilise both stealth mechanics and all-out shooting skills when playing through RAID: World War II, though the former never seems to be useful for long thanks to the fact that enemies are incredibly switched on when it comes to noticing players treading through the shadows. This means that nine time out of ten, each mission you take part in is going to end up as an all guns blazing showdown between the player’s team and the Nazis.
This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except the game’s shooting mechanics just aren’t that great. Weapons lack a satisfying punch (which could be put down to a lack of a reaction from enemy soldiers whilst you pummel them with bullets) whilst the fact that it’s quite tricky to line up that perfect accurate shot means that the best way to approach enemies is to simply blindfire at the spot they’re coming from. It’s quite effective too, seeing as most enemies lack the brains to move out of the way of incoming fire and instead come streaming in your way without thinking – they’re relentless and certainly come at you thick and fast, though they’re also pretty stupid. It all comes together though to make for a shooting experience that just isn’t that much fun.
RAID: World War II can be played both online with three other players or with AI allies, though it’s pretty difficult to recommend the single player mode. The AI of your allies is poor and they never really feel like they’re there to support you, but rather just to simply shoot at enemies.
Online mode on the other hand can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re all in communication or when you’re playing with friends. It’s a lot easier to look past some of the game’s flaws when you’re playing with friends, whilst the light-hearted tone of the experience works well with the multiplayer aspect. The only problem is that RAID: World War II already has a very low player count. Whilst it’s possible to find games online at the moment, they’re all typically just made up of one other human player. There were a few occasions when I found no active online games at all, leaving me in a situation where I was forced to play with the dumb AI bots by my side.
The future doesn’t look bright for RAID: World War II’s online mode, which is a shame seeing as it’s where the meat and bones of the experience is. If you can actually get into a match with three other players though, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
As if the poor gunplay and lacking online community wasn’t enough, RAID: World War II is also a visually unattractive game with some character models and environments that wouldn’t look out of place on last-gen consoles. With AAA titles like the aforementioned Call of Duty: WWII and its stunning representation of World War II battles just around the corner, seeing RAID: World War II’s almost lifeless visuals was a little disappointing. Now it’s easy to say that RAID: World War II is more of a low-key release so naturally it might not pack the same visual clout that you’d expect from a big bucks title, but it has actually got a high price tag of its own, making the underwhelming gameplay and visuals all the more unforgivable.
RAID: World War II had a lot of potential to offer a comically thrilling co-operative shooting experience, but it simply falls short with its boring shooting mechanics, its poor presentation, and a lacking online community. There’s just nothing about the game that stands out as feeling particularly special.
It’s a shame too because there’s some neat level design in place and when playing with three other players it can be easier to look past some its flaws. There’s just no consistency there though, with instances of actually finding an active match online few and far between. It’s just difficult to recommend giving RAID: World War II a purchase, especially with so many better co-operative shooters available right now.