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Call Of Duty: World At War Hit Different On The Nintendo DS

What was the first Call of Duty game that you ever played? Modern Warfare 2? Blops? Maybe you’re an OG CoD fan and started with the original. Maybe you’re so young your first was Vanguard or Warzone. If that’s the case, please never mention it to me or I will crumble into dust and retreat from this mortal coil.

My first Call of Duty game was World At War. It’s a historical classic, but my experience was different from most. I didn’t load up Activision’s WW2 title on an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 – hell, I didn’t own a home console other than the Wii – I played on my Nintendo DS.

While you weren’t shooting by tapping the stylus – the DS has perfectly good bumper buttons thank you very much – the lack of a second joystick meant that you did aim using your stylus. The touchscreen played a big part in the mechanics. There were minigames that involved firing artillery, moving the mechanical parts with stylus swipes and firing with aggressive taps. I tapped Morse Code messages, pulled on parachute strings, and sat in gun emplacements using the DS’s touchscreen, and loved every second. Defusing mines was particularly stressful, but I remember the sense of satisfaction being unparalleled if you pulled it off. Or tapped it off, I guess.

After all, I didn’t know any different. Having a DS as my primary console and only having owned a Wii and a Game Boy Advance before, I’d never played a first-person shooter before. Those consoles do have shooters, but I was happy whiling away the hours with Pikachu, Mario, and the cast of the Harry Potter licensed games. This was just what shooters were like, to my mind. Levels of blasting baddies followed by Morse Code minigames. I’ve never played the console version of World at War, so maybe that does have Morse Code tapping as a core mechanic.

But the minigames weren’t the worst part of World at War on the DS. That would be the shooting. The guns didn’t have any feeling to them, recoil was practically nonexistent, and the AI had the brainpower of a particularly idiotic ant. I distinctly remember finishing one level with 92 percent headshots as Nazis lined up in front of my rifle. Maybe if I’d played online opponents would have called me a camper (or likely worse), but I didn’t know shooter etiquette. Besides, I wouldn’t have heard them, as I was playing World at War on a Nintendo DS, and therefore there was no way to communicate with teammates in online modes.

I never went online or experienced the joy of Nazi Zombies. I can’t remember if I wasn’t aware or wasn’t allowed, but likely a mixture of both. At that point the only multiplayer I’d ever played involved a link cable between my Advance and my brother’s SP for Pokemon trading. I always beat him in battles, so we didn’t do them often. World at War was a strictly single-player experience for me, as were all my shooters until I got an Xbox 360 with Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3. Talk about an upgrade.

I can’t emphasise enough how unshootery World at War was on the DS. Movement wasn’t important so long as you stuck to cover, and aiming with the touchscreen was indescribable – not to mention, clearly broken. You could sit behind a crate, spend a minute lining up your shot, and then insta-kill an enemy. Nobody else would notice, it seemed. New crate, new enemy, new shot. That may not sound like fun, but with nothing to compare it to, this opened my eyes to a whole world of games that weren’t RPGs. Now look at me. A man who nearly cried when he opened some Heirloom Shards in Apex Legends. Some of my favourite games are shooters, Apex is my most played game of all time (other than Pokemon Go, which probably surpasses it but thankfully doesn’t keep count). And it all started here. I’ve come a long way, and I’m thankful first-person shooters have too.

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