Review: Day of Infamy

World War II is a conflict that inspired many a video game. How could it have not? It was the biggest conflict in human history, covering the largest geographical area and involving a lot of brutal, intense fighting in a relatively short amount of it time. And while we tend to sometimes be critical of the games set in WWII, we can’t deny their attraction. That’s why the developers of War on Terror-inspired Insurgency decided to tackle the much older conflict in Day of Infamy.

There is no plot, as multiplayer FPS games rarely have the need for one. It’s World War II! The Western front (and its less glamorous cousin, the Mediterranean theatre) is yours to fight over. Only three factions are present in the game: the American army, the Commonwealth forces and the Wehrmacht. Unfortunately, neither Soviets, nor anyone else made it into the game. Maybe they will appear one day.

This game entered Steam’s Early Access Program on July 28th, 2016.

Day of Infamy is a class based shooter. However, considering that it’s a relatively realistic game, most classes serve only to limit access to certain classes of weapons – there are no medics or jump pack troops in this game. It’s a first come – first serve system, but it works well. Being a rifleman is a perfectly acceptable choice because of the long-range accuracy of their guns and the ample grenades they can carry. It’s even better for Americans, since they have the semi-automatic Garands.

Each class has a slightly customizable set of weapons and an additional ability/specialism: for example, Riflemen have more stamina, which is important for running around the map. The Radioman enables faster capture of points on the battlefield, but also serves as one of half of the Officer-Radioman symbiosis. The Officer – limited one per team – can not only dole out orders and enjoy SMGs, but also call in smoke, artillery and more. But for that, he needs a radioman to be nearby. The later has his diligence rewarded with an assist for every kill that the officer inflicts with call-ins.

Despite this, most players choose to run around like headless chickens so having an officer/radioman combo is a rare treat. They’re invaluable in the more open maps and cooperative game modes, as another boon is being able to call in vital ammo drops.

While the game features jumping, thankfully bunny-hopping isn’t really a thing and guns behave in what can be approximately called “realism”. Hip-firing an MG42 does wonders for aim, and aiming in general is harder when there are no cross hairs. That’s why corner camping is so effective: you either have a rifle that can slay anyone who barges into the room in one hit, or you have an SMG, which is effective at close ranges.

Of course, it’s not all about falling to the superior camping skills of other players. The cooperative mode, which was implemented pretty early in the beta, is great for getting stuck in with a couple of friends or for improving your skills and shooting some bots to feel better about yourself. It’s a lot of fun, even if victory is nowhere near guaranteed. The bots might be slower on the draw and a lot less willing to camp in wait for you, but their shots are no less deadly and you can easily be blindsided by one. However, there’s no better place to be a machine gunner than in the defensive modes against bots. They’re not exactly snipers, so you will likely live long enough to have to reload!

All in all Day of Infamy has many game-modes, some of which are coop or PVP-only. I have yet to encounter simple Battlefield-like respawn ticket countdown matches. Sometimes, the checkpoints only unlock in a linear fashion, so the skirmish line might be moving back and forth. Other times, they can be captured freely, but also be arranged in a line, with the middle one being situated in what can be considered “neutral ground”, and the other two being closer to the base of either team. At any rate, respawns are usually bundled in waves, and most game modes count waves instead of tickets.

The maps themselves revisit a bunch of familiar locales of WWII. Dog Red is the required Normandy landing level (where German bunker machine gunners have lifespan measured in seconds – at least in player matches). You will also fight through bombed out French towns, wintery locales that scream of Battle of the Bulge and more. There are several maps set in the Mediterranean, but I have to constantly remind myself that Crete isn’t Sicily – they’re both urban maps with similar architecture. It’s a pity we don’t have some more variety in locations.

As Day of Infamy neared launch, it gave me several surprises. One of them was adding some variation to the factions. For example, some battles will let you chose between going into the field as a generic British soldier – or as a Gordon Highlander, or a Canadian. The variations not only have their own uniforms, but also unique soundbites! And it seems that the creators are aiming to add more down the road.

The other surprise is what must have been some sort of visual touch up, because when I fired the game up the last time, it was gorgeous. The guns look better than ever, something that is apparent even when looking down iron sights or cycling bolt action. The environments are still non-interactive, but the overall visual feel is amazing, even if doesn’t match the grandeur of AAA releases. The only criticism I would have is for the actual skin of the soldiers, as it looks unrealistically dirty and matte.

I have nothing bad to say about the sound design either; The German soldiers even speak German (which might not be useful for the people playing on the team)! The gun rapport is great, and the creators consciously chose to make Allied and Axis artillery sound different. The music isn’t repetitive either, which is great.

Day of Infamy is a solid game with a developer that is showing a lot of love for their work. They haven’t wasted their time in Early Access, and while it’s sticking to more traditional FPS design I think this is probably the best overall WWII game around. Heroes and Generals doesn’t feel that polished and usually involves quite a bit of cycling before you get shot by unseen enemies, while Red Orchestra 2 is both showing its age and can be a bit too realistic for the masses. Day of Infamy is both good by itself and a great way to scratch that WW2 while you wait for something with more of a budget behind it.


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