Raid: World War II is described as an adrenaline-fuelled four player co-op shooter that revolves around four prisoners of war that have been granted an opportunity to escape the madness of the German war machine. Fans of the Payday series will be all too familiar with the structure of the game, which may be because the game is developed by Lion Game Lion – known for their work on Payday 2. The premise is a promising one, I mean who doesn’t like the idea of four players working together to steal Nazi loot and fight back their fierce forces? Exactly! However with the likes of Call of Duty: WWII and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on the horizon, does Raid: World War II have enough going for it to convince you to invest mere weeks before those comparison titles? No sadly it doesn’t.
The structure of the game is as straight forward as you would expect it to be, maybe even a little bit too straight forward. Players select from a range of missions that can be run over multiple times in return for new weapon and outfit unlocks, whilst of course levelling up their character. There’s little (to no) story outside of the dialogue that’s exchanged between the otherwise likeable leading cast, which if anything adds a layer of comedy to the mix rather than fleshing out their motivations and throwing in some explanations to their dire circumstances. Once you find your boots on the ground the game slowly becomes a chaotic mashup of firefights, looting and light puzzle solving. It’s precisely here where the true colours of Raid: World War II begins to rear its ugly head.
The A.I. is laughable, being that swarms of German enemies will invade whatever map / mission you and your team have decided to take to, and do very little to challenge you to a decent fight. They’ll fall from the skies in daft parachutes, they’ll emerge from poorly rendered trucks and they’ll even pop out of nowhere, yes nowhere. Once on the map they will charge at you as you and your team scramble to complete a series of tedious objectives that lack any depth. Enemies will slide on the floor whilst running, walk through environmental structures and conveniently file into a single line, ready and waiting for you to play duck hunt with them. How the hell this made it through QA is beyond me. Did I miss something or are the hordes of German troops truly allowed to let me stop off for a coffee and a danish before I restock my supplies, casually turn around and bowl them all over with ease? Raid: World War II is a prime example of sloppy design.
Make no mistake about it, Raid: World War II is better played with your nearest and dearest, assuming you can convince three other people to pick this up instead of holding out for the aforementioned games. That’s not to say that you cant play this alone because you can, but your teammates will be swapped out for A.I. controlled characters which only makes you focus more on the faults. You’re given a command menu to work with that will dish out orders to the A.I. and whilst they do tend to do a good job at falling to command, there are more than enough instances within that will irritate you sooner than please you, take for example being left to die as my A.I. teammates stood merely five feet away casually bullet sponging the opposition, or my personal favourite, getting stuck against an object and not having the sense to run around it. Mercifully these issues are few and far between, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least make a note about it.
The actual combat is as boring as sin too. Ramping up the difficulty wont make the A.I. smarter (I really wish that it did) but instead just adds to the pool of available foes. Your weaponry doesn’t feel very effective at all but still manages to get the job done nevertheless, this again is due to how awkward the enemy A.I. behaviour is. German troops will stand in plain sight as they struggle to work out where you are and then out of nowhere, voila, they’ll magically activate their X-ray vision to locate you and then go on to repeat the daft steps laid out above. It’s as though there’s only really ever a challenge when there’s countless enemies on screen at any given time, because as soon as you start to thin the herd, these issues are unavoidable. Picture the A.I. from the original GoldenEye 007 being used in modern day gaming and you’ll have a good idea as to what to expect.
Map design is another issue that I have with Raid: World War II. There’s no incentive whatsoever to explore each of the environments within, mostly due to the fact that each map has been designed in such a way that you feel on-rails. Access points to your objectives are typically served via forced pathways, disallowing you to gain any advantage by sneaking in a window or entering through a hidden door. It makes every single play-through almost exactly the same and doesn’t do much at all to entice you to replay the same level twice, despite Raid: World War II being a game that rests so heavily on repeat runs. The areas that you are allowed to access are well structured and interesting to say the least, but there’s nothing outside of that that will encourage you to walk off the beaten path.
The same can be said about what play-style you choose to adopt, because it appears as though the devs only allow for run-and-gun tactics. Stealth has been thrown out of the window thanks to the wonky A.I. and there’s no room for error to counter that. Why? Because the enemies’ line of sight is as confusing as it is annoying. I did rather enjoy the full-motion videos prior to each mission simply due to being a fan of the iconic John Cleese, who takes on the role of a special forces operative in this game. The writing during these FMV sections is questionable, but Cleese does manage to put his skills as an actor to good use regardless, saving them in the process. Other FMV clips include a pissed off Adolf Hitler, who will periodically gob-off at you for one reason or another. These segments to help to give the game some identity and personality, but it’s not enough to save the overall experience from everything that it gets wrong.
The ability to spend your hard earned gold on customisation options and equipment is probably the only form of replay value that I can get behind supporting. There’s just enough on offer to keep you engaged for several hours on end, but the downside is that you’re going to have to endure all of the torment that I’ve alluded to above. Upgrading your weapons runs on a separate progression path, being that you’ll need to complete challenges to buff up you tools of destruction. Hell you can even beef up your characters with new abilities once you level up, which does prove sufficient in the grand scheme of things. It’s a solid upgrade system and certainly one of the highlights of Raid: World War II. It’s just a shame that this experience suffers from that many faults that the bad largely outweighs the good.
Raid: World War II is a valiant effort to capture gamers’ attention before the likes of Call of Duty: WWII and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus arrives, but on the shores of such highly anticipated shooters, this game does very little to excite. The A.I. is as wonky as the tower of Giza and as daft as Ernest P. Worrell. The maps within (despite being well designed) are structured in such a way that you feel forced onto specific pathways, removing any incentive to explore. Combat is about as exciting as a watching paint dry and equally almost as annoying and unimaginative. Nevertheless I did rather enjoy the comedy filled FMV sections featuring the iconic John Cleese and a pissed off Adolf Hitler. The upgrade and customisation system is solid enough and does prove to be quite a robust and lengthy process, but for everything that Raid: World War II gets right, there’s ten things that it gets wrong. There’s no shortage of shooters on Xbox One, and with more on the horizon before the year is out, you would be better holding out for something with more depth and innovation.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.