UPDATE:  For those of you Xbox Live Gold Members with 890MB of space to kill on your hard drive, the beta is now availble for you all to enjoy with no need for a beta code.  Just go to the Games section of the market place and it should show up under the New release section of the Demos tab.  Enjoy.

The following entry is my impression of the Call of Duty:  World at War BETA.  Things can definitely change from now to final retail code, that's what a BETA is for.  Lag during online play, balancing of weapons, perks, etc are ALWAYS tweaked, I repeat THAT'S WHAT A BETA IS FOR.

So I've had about a week with Treyarch's Call of Duty: World at War Beta or as I like to call it, Not Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  Not that it's a bad game by any means, it's just not Call of Duty 4, and anyone of the 9 million plus people who have basked in it's brilliance will probably think the exact same thing.  There's a reason why it's still one of the top played games on Xbox Live.

Not only does World at War use the exact same engine as Infinity Ward's masterpiece, it also carries Call of Duty in the title, so it's kind of hard to not compare the two.  If we were talking about 007:  Quantum of Solace, which also uses the Call of Duty 4 engine, though a completely different developer, that would be a different story since they are different games. 

Back to the beta.  This is an online only multiplayer beta.  Anyone who has played Call of Duty 4 online will immediately be in familiar territory.  The lobbies are the same, the controller layout is mapped out exactly the same, perks, leveling up, etc.  The obvious difference is the setting and in my opinion, it suffers from it.  You'll find yourself yearning for that M4 Carbine with red dot sight within the first pull of the trigger of any of the weapons in World at War.  Granted I've only leveled up to 16, the beta is capped at 20 (Editor's Note, it's now capped at 44), but from all of the weapons I've tried none have that same kick that any of the weapons in Modern Warfare do.  I also love setting up claymores in Modern Warfare, and have yet to find anything equivalent to it in this beta, again I'm only a Level 16.  Were claymores even around during WWII? 

There are three maps available in the beta, Makin, Castle, and RoundHouse.  Makin gave me the hardest time of them all, I don't care what anyone says, an outdated 17" Widescreen monitor with 500:1 contrast ratio is not the way to play this game.  The game looks washed out, fault my monitor not the game, and the repsonse time is horrendous, so button presses are not entirely 1 to 1.  Yes it makes a difference to play in HD.  If I wasn't busy collecting bullets between the eyes, I was getting my nuts chewed on by the dogs.  Yes the dogs, see  Treyarch still uses the kill streak perks of Modern Warfare however, with a twist.  After a 3 Kill streak you still get the equivalent of a UAV, after a 5 kill streak you get to call in an Artillery Strike, as opposed to an Air Strike in MW, and after a 7 kill streak you get to call in a pack of wild dogs, in place of the Helicopter in MW.  The dogs are somewhat easy to kill if you happen to be on the receiving side, and you still earn XP points per kill, 3 to be exact.  If you happen to be the on the dog weece-perer whisperer side of things,  then you should follow where the dogs take you as that will definitely help you rack up even more kills.  Don't be surprised if you find some guys have 40 to 50 kills in the after game lobby,  get used to it.  It's pretty neat to have some jackass shooting at you, then suddenly see them fighting off the pack of dogs which will bring his ass down in a heart beat.  I have a feeling we'll be hearing plenty of greifing going on.  I went off on a tangent, but Makin is a really dark map with plenty of hiding spots, however no claymores, so that brings a tear to my eye. 

Castle is a completely different story.  It's full blown daylight, bright colors, with tight corridors.  I've noticed most players stick to the high ground, but with some teamwork anyone can be taken down.  This map also includes plenty of explosive barrels, which if timed correctly and used efficiently can be very gratifying.  Throwing a molotov cocktail into the flames only makes it that much better. 

Roundhouse is the only map of the 3, in the beta, that includes vehicles.  Well a vehicle.  More like a tank.  Two tanks actually.  On on each side.  It changes up gameplay strategies a bit but not drastically and depending on how you see things, maybe not for the best.  The tanks take two direct hits in the same place with a rocket launcher to go down.  I don't see that necessarily as a bad thing, however what I don't like is that you only get 10 XP points, the same as if you take down the typical opponent, which makes the work involved in taking down a tank not really worth the effort.  I find that the speed at which the tanks move it's best to avoid them all together and go about your usual route of mowin down anything that moves instead, besides try concetraiting on a tank, foot soldiers, and a pack of rabid dogs at the same time.  Yeah it's that crazy, and it's fun as hell.  I refuse to play this on my Not-52-inch-HDTV so until then, I'll playing the Resistance 2 Beta on PS3 or LittleBigPlanet. 

One last thing, it may sound like I'm not too fond of World at War, at least the multiplayer portion of it, and it's true, I may not be, however I've really been debating picking it up mostly because I love online co-op and World at War will be the first in the series to do so.  Infinity Ward unfortunatley wasn't able to follow through with Call of Duty 4, but to be fair they never really promised co-op, they just casually mentioned it may be patched in post release.  Co-op in World at War should be a fucking blast, plus as Gametrailers revealed recently, once you finish the single player campaign you unlock ZOMBIE MODE.  Nazi Zombies FTW!!  Watch the first video and you'll see why.