Imagine an Inglorious Bastards-themed version of the highly popular Payday series, however, instead of robbing banks or delivering arms or drugs to dealers you’re plundering Adolf Hitler’s gold stashes and slaying copious amounts of Nazi soldiers in the process. That’s what Raid: World War II is all about, sounds good on paper right? Unfortunately, the game’s concept is by far its strongest asset, as the game is weighed down by repetitive and grindy gameplay and tawdry production values.
Developed by Lion Game Lion (which features ex-Payday developers), Raid is an up to four-player online first-person shooter, just like Payday. The back story goes like this: four prisoners held captive by the Third Reich have been freed by a secret British Intelligence Officer. In exchange for their freedom they must assist in the efforts to take down Hitler and the Nazi regime, and if freedom wasn’t a big enough incentive, they also get to keep as much Nazi gold as they can take.
Burn it to the ground
These four ragtag specialists are the four playable characters in your band of multicultural Nazi treasure hunters. Each one has their own unique abilities, loadout options and personality traits, culminating in four equally annoying individuals. Their constant one-liners (while causing a wry smile at first) become tiresome quickly and it gets to the point where you wish they didn’t engage in repartee at all.
Missions play out mostly the same way: infiltrate the mission area, kill a bunch of Nazis, complete mission objectives such as locating gold stashes on a train or destroying communication antennas, then annihilate waves of Nazi cannon fodder attempting to put an end to your heist. The problem is that the enemy AI is terrible and barely offers a challenge; the only time the game is remotely difficult is when the sheer number of Third Reich soldiers is overwhelmingly greater than the amount of ammo at your disposal. Much like in Payday, there are different variants of enemies, each a little harder to take down than the other. The biggest bullet sponges are the flamethrower-wielding SS soldiers. Despite the repetitive nature of the missions there’s a good amount of content included, let’s just hope that updates and additional content doesn’t take eons to release on consoles.
Take all of Hitler’s gold
Players can roll with AI-controlled raiders if they are unable to find a squad of humans to raid with, however the game is best enjoyed with mates or human-controlled players as the AI is inept in most cases. There’s an offline mode if you want to play off the grid but once again playing with mates is highly recommended.
There’s an upgrade system but it’s a fairly humdrum affair. There are several skills to unlock for multiple tiers, which unlock as you continue to level up, however you can only have a select number equipped at any given time and levelling up is a grindy and drudgery modus operandi (if you’ve ever played Payday then you know how grindy levelling up can be). You can also customise your character’s look with different outfits that are acquired by completing missions. Moreover, you can purchase sundry items for your hideout such as a luxury toilet or an oil painting. These items do come at a cost and probably reserved for the most dedicated and affluent players.
The gunplay is fairly generic and none of the guns feel overly satisfying to use. You can upgrade your weapon and grab new weapons but you’ll need to work hard to get them. The hit detection also seems generous too but that could be to compensate the fact that even infantry take multiple rounds before they are put down.
The game is also a technical hot mess, with regular framerate drops and lag making it a visually jarring experience. There is a fair amount of clipping going on with Nazi soldiers often walking through one another, furthermore I discovered that Nazis didn’t believe in walls with soldiers frequently walking between rooms as if they were ghosts. On one instance during a mission our band of bandits were trying to pillage every bag of gold up for grabs (there was probably over 50). It had taken ages to move bags from one point to another and eventually I ran out of ammo. While attempting to scavenge more I was cornered by a flamethrower soldier and as a result he fried me crispier than KFC’s famous chicken. He then waltzed through the wall to the next room where my teammates were and cooked up a storm. Mission over. No gold, no rewards, just death. I am okay with the odd glitch here and there, but not those that have an adverse effect on the experience.
You crazy German!
Visually the game looks dated – as if it is a straight re-skin of Payday 2 – and while graphics aren’t a huge issue when a game is fun to play, the fact that the game is a lacklustre affair on the gameplay front means that its graphical shortcomings are accentuated. The developers also try their hand at Monty Python-esque comedy at the end of a mission. If you succeed then you will see Hitler being informed by one of his cohorts and subsequently cracking the shits. If you fail you will be subjected to Hitler celebrating the news of your death. The best part of the live-action videos is the inclusion of John Cleese, even though his scenes appear rather half-arsed.
The live-action scenes don’t add much to the game
As an avid Payday fan I had high hopes for Raid, however to say Raid: World War II is a disappointment is an understatement. It fails on pretty much every level; the only solace here is playing with your mates can be enjoyable and can mitigate the game’s repetitive and grind-focused gameplay, the slew of technical issues and dated visuals. Retailers are asking for $69 AUD when it plays like a $20 title, and unless you’re a fervent fan of the Payday style you should probably get your Nazi slaughtering fix elsewhere.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro