Welcome to RAID: World War II, a four-player team-based FPS that takes place across the second World War.
You are part of the RAID Operation, a group of sanctioned assaults against the Third Reich, doing anything you can to hurt Hitler and his operations. You play as one of four characters, each of their own nationality, that are tasked with completing some very ungentlemanly things as you compete in what can only be described as the smartest use of the Payday formula!
Or rather, that’s what I thought, at first.
The game starts out with a live cinematic of Control, this game’s Bain, talking about the state of the war. The cool thing about this is that Raid World War II has live-footage for the cinematics, so you get to watch as John Cleese runs down the state of the second World War, and what you’re going to do about it. He’s witty, charismatic, and the best thing about the game.
When I started to play through things for the purpose of this review, I was quite shocked at the state of the visuals. The graphics are quite possibly even worse looking than those found in PAYDAY 2 for the 360. The textures of the guns are very patchy and lack the well-developed feel that many of the guns need, and the environmental textures are just as bad, if not worse. Everything is flat and undefined, lacking any real clarity or even remarkable designs that would help give a sense of variety to the world. You can actually count the times the same foliage is used in a map, and you’ll usually be able to tell because that foliage is going to be floating around two feet off of the ground.
With as much as I have been talking about the graphics being subpar, you’d think I’d have something great to say about the performance of the game. Well, the game runs like a dream. And by that, I mean one of those dreams where you are trying to run down an infinitely long hallway, never making any real progress, and everything around you is moving as if it were part of the b-roll for a stop action film. If you’re not closer than a few feet, everything moves in that jittery motion that is used when a game can’t have a large enough load distance to keep everything in full motion. Usually when you see this system being used, you’ll find a fantastically large world with no loading screens that justifies this system. Games similar to installments in the Dark Souls series, or even occasionally in the Grand Theft Auto series.
However, Raid World War II isn’t fitting into that category. The maps are tiny, not really scaling up to anything that warrants such a system to not keeping everything loaded, and it certainly doesn’t justify the lack of frames per second that you need to play a first-person shooter. It’s a nauseating sea of fluctuating views that makes for both a sickening and frustrating experience. You’ll have to constantly put down the game and play something else, otherwise you’ll find yourself diving for the closest receptacle to be sick in. Games shouldn’t do that to you, and playing such a game for enjoyment will be sullied by such fluctuations.
Unfortunately, we haven’t ridden this negativity storm out. We still have to take a moment to talk about the weapons and their classes, the A.I. (both allied and enemy), the challenge cards, and the overall loot system, which ties in to the level system. All of these are going to be negative points, so if you’re looking for the positive section of this review, search for the name John Cleese, and you’ll read some praise. But for now, we’ll end this intermission and get on with it.
The weapons are linked to classes that you select when you make your character. This determines what your warcry will be; an ultimate ability that does something unique for each class, whether it be giving you massive aim-assist, or ensuring the damage you take is next to nothing for a short amount of time. Classes also determine what your starting set of weapons will be, whether they be rifles, close-quarters weapons, or somewhere in between, with each revealed in the description for each class. The issue here is that you will be quite screwed over in the beginning if you try to do any operations that have any snipers that show up, and you chose the close-combat class. It isn’t until you get to your third level that the game gives you a carbine, but they seem to have neglected the need for magnifications on any of the weapons. You can’t get a scope for just any weapon, which makes some sense, but when it’s a carbine that is used for long range assaults, it’s a near necessity.
I would like to mention that the system for getting weapon upgrades is a very nice one indeed, and it has taken inspiration from many other games. You have to complete challenges to unlock the upgrades – anywhere from picking up x amount of ammo for a gun to increase its clip size, all the way to getting hip fire kills to increase stability – which is a wonderful system that I really enjoyed from Sniper Elite 4. Yeah, one of the only game mechanics that I like comes from another development series entirely, and a significantly better one, at that.
Unfortunately, they seem to have fumbled this system right at the end. You see, you have to use gold to purchase upgrades and cosmetics, and I have still yet to get any gold from missions. You probably have a higher chance of getting gold from missions that involve stealing it from the Nazis, but those missions run so poorly you’ll be lucky if you ever finish one of them without ramming your head through a wall.
The thing that makes most of those missions beyond frustrating is the fact that the A.I. comes with the same useless style as that found in the Payday series. They won’t pick anything up, they won’t assist with objectives, and they’re just as likely to run straight at the flamethrower enemies as they are to hide behind cover. It’s like the developers thought that making suicidal A.I. would make the game more entertaining, whilst the true outcome is that it makes the game near impossible to play as a solo individual. RAID is made even more difficult when you try to sneak up on your enemy during certain missions and learn that Hitler made all of his soldiers omnipotent, except for that one guy at the start of the tutorial. You can’t sneak kill enemies, and most of them must be cloned from the world’s greatest marksman. They almost never miss, even with automatic weaponry, which gets really annoying when they’re peppering you with their standing turrets.
Next up, and if you do happen to finish a mission, you might get a pack of challenge cards. Challenge cards work like modifiers, except that you can earn achievements and experience boosts from activating them. There are cards that remove your primary weapon, restrict movement to only moving like a crab, and even some normal boosts that don’t give experience bonuses, but will make life easier. The big issue here is that they are consumable, and pretty damn rare. I farmed the Last Orders mission, and never got one. I completed it a few times, and finally gave up after I realized that it’s unlikely I’ll ever get anything above a few hundred in experience boosts. The loot is decided by how many dog tags and bonus loot you pick up, but I found it near impossible to find more than a few dog tags on this mission, simply because there’s so much cluttered foliage, and the textures make it even harder to find the dog tags.
Hey, look, I was right about it tying right into the experience system, for you should be getting bonus experience from the loot at the end of the mission, right? Well, from what it was showing me, that’s hardly the case. It tells me I got bonus experience, but I only ever seem to go up by 1000 points at the end of every run. Even when I played with a challenge card that I had got from another mission that wasn’t my farming map, I only got a crisp thousand to go with my growing desire to uninstall the game. Heck, it even says there is a bonus for having a higher difficult on, so I whacked the game up to Hard for a run, and I still got no difficulty bonus.
Overall then, and RAID World War II feels broken. Nothing really seems to work, and everything that is in it looks like it has seen better days. The developers have a lot of work that they need to action in order to fix this game, or at least make more of it work before asking for people to fork over some cash!
I have significantly more gripes with this game, but they all fall under these overall issues, and I don’t particularly feel like writing a novel length review. Just know for now that the game isn’t coded for enjoyment, and to say it was coded for anything other than a prototype would be a questionable statement. If you’ve weathered this negativity storm and want to know whether or not I recommend this game, let me put it to you this way. When it’s night time outside in RAID World War II, and the snipers have lens flare that looks like a thousand-thousand LEDs are activated on them, I’m going to have to take a pass on recommending the game. Throw in all of the other issues, and I don’t think this game deserves to have a rating higher than a star and a half. And that is earned by John Cleese, the only saving grace of the whole game.
His live action cinematics are the only part of RAID World War II that I can say are without fault, but they’re unfortunately few and far between. He earned this game a star and a bit, and for that, I say, well done!