Having played The Conduit right before my hands on time with Call of Duty: World at War on the Wii, I had the sudden and intense conviction that all shooters on the Wii had to be pretty, crisp and intuitive.
World at War doesn't fail on all these fronts, but it is far from pretty. World War II (or whatever conflict we're fighting - does anyone keep track anymore?) isn't supposed to be pretty, but I'm pretty sure the world has more colours in it than green, brown and grey. I'm also pretty sure World at War on PS3 and 360 is going to look loads better because developer Treyarch subscribes to the notion that the Wii is a bastard stepchild console to be shunned.
I grabbed the Wii Zapper and went co-op with the demo handler to get a better look the level. If left to my own devices, I would have shot all my squad mates by mistake (it took me a while to figure out that the bad guys had shrubberies taped to their heads and that the targeting reticule turned red when it was pointed at them) and failed the mission.
As the second player, my gameplay experience was more like an on rails shooter. My yellow reticule hovered on screen right next to player one's grey reticule. Player one did all the driving, decided where to go and who to shoot at. Because it wasn't split screen, I got the impression that player two was like that guy from Total Recall. You know who I'm talking about.
Our team was out to destroy a bunker by flinging a grenade into the narrow slit - which meant we had to get close enough to be within flinging distance. This meant trekking up and down grassy hills and past lines of Nazis (at least I think they were Nazis), all wearing shrubbery camouflage. The level seemed pretty bare bones - and normally, I'd chalk this up to it being an early build. But... this game is supposed to come out in November and I know they didn't build a new version of the engine for the Wii. So, basically, I was looking at Call of Duty 3 all over again - and unless something drastic changes during the polish phase, you will be too, poor Wii owner.
DS owners are getting a better deal all around. World at War on DS is being developed by n-Space, so it's got more in common with Call of Duty 4 than its Wii cousin. Gameplay is made up of action parts where you walk through linear levels and shoot at Nazis, broken up by mini-game portions like the bomb diffusions and lock-breaking stuff we saw in Call of Duty 4 on DS. There are also mini-games with Morse code and other WW II-specific technologies.
This level was also about blowing up a bunker - but instead of having to get right up on it and fling a grenade into a building, we had to take a mortal gun from some Nazis and point it at the bunker. This went fairly well up until aiming the the mortar. I missed a few times before managing to land the shell where it needed to be and then - on my way to the next mortar location to blow up the next tower, we ran into some tougher Nazis I couldn't kill fast enough.
At the end of my demo time, I felt like I'd had more fun on the DS than on the Wii. Part of it was I felt like there was more to do on the DS than on Wii; and part of it was a sneaking suspicion that n-Space's game is a true evolved form of Call of Duty 4 whereas Treyarch's game felt more like Call of Duty 3.5.
Both games are out November 11 - just in time for Veteran's Day.