Reviews

Raid: World War II Review – Chasing That Nazi Gold

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Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Reviewed On: PC
Developer: Lion Game Lion
Publisher: Starbreeze
Singleplayer: Yes
Multiplayer: No

Review code supplied free of charge by the publisher.

On paper, Raid: World War II sounds like a good idea: four players work together to attack German forces while snagging any Nazi gold they come across, their secret work sanctioned by the army who will quietly ignore any missing loot provided the squad does some serious damage along the way. Toss in comedic scenes FMV of Hitler in a rage and the legend that is John Cleese and you have something that shouldn’t fail. Right? Wrong.

You and three other people step into the shoes of the Raid squad which is composed of an extremely polite British marksman, a Russian wearing a gas mask, a brash American and a former SS soldier, all of whom are now out to earn themselves a health paycheck in gold. Mid-mission dialogue tries to imbue them with some personality and to a degree it succeeds with a couple of reasonably funny back and forths, but for the most part they’re just cardboard characters whose differences boil down to a special skill each and the weapons they can equip.

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There’s no story running throughout the game, instead you go on a series of missions. Here’s what missions boil down to: comically infinite hordes of German soldiers who are often capable of phasing through seemingly solid parts of the environment and who are controlled by iffy A.I. come charging toward your team while you complete a series of mundane objectives that amount to holding a button numerous times, defending the thing that needed the button holding and eventually lugging your loot toward the exit. Rinse and repeat until the end of the war, presumably. Occasionally the game throws a few other ideas at you like just killing some people, and bits of loot randomly scattered around give you a bit of a reason to scout the area, but for the most part the game’s missions feel tedious as you gun down enemy after enemy after enemy after enemy. Ramping up the difficulty doesn’t make the German soldiers smarter, it just means that the number of them goes up from bloody loads to JESUS CHRIST, WOULD YOU STOP ALREADY!

It’d be fine if the combat was exciting, but it’s the very definition of mediocre. Guns pack as much wallop as an anaemic koala bear trying to throw a heavy stick at you and the enemy are only a threat due to sheer numbers. Not only will the often phase straight through objects but they’ll also stand dumbly in place for a few seconds before swivelling around to fire at you, run around like idiots or just charge in like Lemmings. An attempt to spice things up comes in the form of each of the character’s sole special ability, like how the British recon bloke can use a “warcry” that briefly activates a heavy layer of aim assist. It’s not enough to make things exciting, though, even if the missions occasionally give half-hearted attempts at variety, like the downright infuriating airport mission where you have to rescue spies who insist on WALKING through a heated battle.

Map design is a problem, too, as the developers have chosen to only craft restrictive areas that leave no room for experimentation, making replaying missions, which is the whole point of the game, feel a lot less interesting. There are no multiple entries into the bank, for example. You’re just funneled into specific points. Areas get reused for different missions a lot, too, with only minor differences. That’s now how you make me want to replay the same mission over and over.

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Operations are a touch more interesting in that they’re a series of missions with progress saved between each one. These tell mini-stories, albeit very simple ones, and contain some of the games more interesting moments.

Stealth is technically a choice, and to the game’s credit it doesn’t make things easy here with patrols and layouts requiring great timing to sneak by. The problem is guard’s vision is a hard thing to judge, especially since they often seem capable of peering through solid objects which makes trying to get out of their line of sight a bit tricky. It’s like trying to play hide and seek with Superman. Sure, you might win every now and then but that’s only because he forgot to use his X-Ray vision. Cheating bastard. Other glitches can affect the stealth, too, like guards going wonky on a piece of scenery or suddenly spinning around on the spot. Being caught because of these is frustrating. It’s also disappointing to see that for the most part missions don’t play out differently even if you do manage to sneak through it all. In other words stealth might be an option, but it rarely feels worth the effort and as such most online players will go in guns blazing.

Between missions, you’re dumped back into a tiny hideout where you can view your slowly growing pile of gold. Things to spend that gold on, though, are somewhat thin on the ground. There are some customization options for your characters, and more can be unlocked from loot boxes that you get for picking up dog tags. There are also expensive “upgrades” to the hideout which do nothing more than display wealth to other players. And damn does it take a while to actually earn enough gold to do anything with. I can’t help but feel microtransactions are going to be introduced at some point. I hope I’m wrong.

In your wee hideout you can also upgrade your guns, which doesn’t actually cost gold. Rather all you have to do is complete challenges, like killing X amount of enemies, in order to increase damage or maybe bump up the magazine size. Your character can also be trained in new proficiencies as they level up, helping them move quicker while holding loot or improving their special skill.

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If a lot of this sounds vaguely familiar then that’s because Raid is essentially Payday 2 in disguise, having been constructed using the same engine and indeed even outright copying some things over. Sadly as we’ve discovered throughout this review that also means a lot of Payday 2’s flaws have transferred over, like the strange ability for German soldiers to walk through things. And some random crashes.

The old engine also means old graphics. This is not a pretty game thanks to low-quality textures, a general lack of detail, poor lighting that makes the environments seem flat and lifeless, and stiff animations. Annoyingly you don’t get great performance as a tradeoff as I noted a number of framerate drops.

If playing with friends and strangers isn’t doing it for you then the game can be played in offline mode with the A.I. taking control of your team mates. This can lead to some stupid glitches where your “team” ambles in front of guards who completely ignore them because you’re in stealth mode on the other side of the map, but they are surprisingly decent at gunning down the enemy, though real players are still much more effective.The biggest issue is that your A.I. comrades won’t gather up gold or paintings or other objectives of that ilk, leaving you to wander back and forth between the gold boxes and the escape car, for example. They can’t help with stealth either, remaining at the start of the map until you trip an alarm at which point they magically teleport to your location. Considering many of the levels need people to pull off time stealth attacks this is a problem.

The thing is Raid isn’t a bad game. It has moments of genuine enjoyment like when you and some friends or random folk successfully pull off a stealthy heist of paintings or when you work together to grab gold off of a train and throw it over the edge of a bridge down toward the waiting boat. During these moments it feels like you’re pulling off a daring heist. The rest of the time, though, Raid feels like a slog as you deal with the constant stream of enemies in order to complete boring objectives located in uninspired maps. It aims to be Payday 2 in World War II, but fails miserably by providing less content, not improving on any of the mechanics and making the theme feel completely tacked on. The German soldiers you mow down by the hundreds may as well be generic Nazi zombies. At least the FMV sequences of Hitler being angry are kind of funny.

So let’s bring this review to a close. If you’re a mega-fan of Payday 2 and really, really want more Payday 2 but are actually kind of sick of Payday 2 then this might just be palatable if it goes on sale, because the £30 asking price is idiotic. But otherwise just don’t bother. There’s not much content, it looks visually outdated, has dull missions and the combat is entirely meh. Maybe down the road updates and DLC will round Raid out a little, but that’s a pretty big maybe.

At least the FMV sequences with Hitler are kind of funny. And John Cleese is awesome, even if he’s barely in it.

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