World War Two Thumbs Up
Day of Infamy is a first person, team-oriented shooter from the makers of Insurgency. The player can take on the role of different soldiers from different armies recreating various iconic WWII battles. The visceral action and audio ques are intense, and most levels or scenarios involve close-quarters fighting that can quickly shift from tense silence to explosive gunfire and death.
Released in July as an a Early Access title on Steam, the game has a small but involved community of players. It also suffers from a few bugs that can range from the amusing never-ending machine gun clip to the less amusing breaks where your character is cemented to the ground, requiring a full game restart to resolve the issue. In the 15 hours I spent playing the game, these bugs were infrequent and new patches for the title continue to fix common issues.
When I first booted Day of Infamy, I trialed the first scenario, expecting a slower, easier level with which to become accustomed to the gameplay. I was very, very wrong. The first scenario drops you on a beach in Sicily, with a small cohort of AI teammates. As I watched my fellow American soldiers get mowed down by gun emplacements and snipers, I traipsed around a hill, picking off Nazis here and there. I had killed about 8 of the enemies when I was dropped by a flamethrower from behind. The game ended. I was stunned. I died once and had lost the game.
What I quickly learned from playing that first level a few times was that Day of Infamy is about completing objectives, and it pushes you to be aggressive. Sniping from a distance can be helpful, but the rest of your AI teammates will quickly die and leave you all alone. In many of the game modes, you need to take the next capture point, defend a location for a certain amount of time, or retreat to safety before your teammates can spawn again. When I first started playing Day of Infamy, I mainly chose weapons bolt-action rifles or snipers, hating the bounciness of the machine guns and SMGs. Today, I almost exclusively use weapons like the BAR, flamethrowers, and those recoil-filled machine guns to rush objectives.
To give a taste of the gameplay, I recorded one of my solo-sessions:
The controls are pretty similar to most PC shooters. You can walk, run, jump, crouch, go prone, etc. Much like Insurgency, there’s an option to lean around corners which comes in handy. The weapons in the game are all modelled after real WWII weapons and provide real-feeling amounts of heft as you wield them. Action in Day of Infamy is intense. As you take objectives and send enemies to their digital graves, your death will follow shortly after die. A jarring flop to the dirt while you hear your teammates screaming around you, then you respawn in the body of another soldier, possibly one that just watched your last take a sniper round to the head. There are two difficulty settings that be changed on the fly through a voting system. This was great when playing a scenario with others but we found it too easy or difficult. It also helped when playing with newer players as the harder difficulty setting allows for friendly fire and doesn’t give you a prompt to let you know when you’ve killed an enemy.
Speaking of playing with others, this game is meant for multiplayer. While you can play the scenarios on your own, you’ll quickly find yourself becoming frustrated at the ineptitude of your AI teammates. Even on the easier difficulty setting, I regularly found myself getting 30-40 kills, taking objectives on my own, but then dying for the first time and losing the entire match. My entire squad had died yet again, leaving me to take on unending waves of Nazis. That being said, there are a fair amount of people playing the game, and scenarios are much more fun and fast paced. I never ran into an issue where I couldn’t find at least one game of 10-30 people to join.
The visual qualities of this game will not set any new standards. The developers used the somewhat-older Source Engine, which means you won’t be seeing anything close to the graphical quality of upcoming releases like Battlefield 1. Using that engine, the developers have still made an incredible game with an impressive aesthetic. The weapons and soldiers are painstakingly detailed, and look like WWII photos come to life. Levels are well designed, allowing for challenging bottlenecks, open ground, and other interesting interactions. Locations for the different scenarios were also real-life battles were obviously researched to great lengths. You will experience firefights in Italian streets, storming the beaches of Normany, forests in Belgium, and so on. The varied environments are all distinct, and you won’t feel like you’re just being dropped into a re-skinned setting. Each level allows for strategy, giving you options to go high or low, rush an objective or draw the enemy out.
The audio and voice-acting are powerful. Rushing wind signalling a flamethrower’s arc, the ping then dull thud of a round ending the life of someone standing next to you, and the haunting plunk and thump of your character catching a round going through their helmet and then hitting the dirt… I regularly found myself surprised and astounded at my own death thanks to the auditory signals. The game contains a full-range arsenal including bolt-action rifles, pistols, revolvers, sub-machine guns, heavy machine guns, grenades, and flamethrowers. Each one has its own distinct noises as you reload, fire a round, and so on. The pep-talks that start most missions, spoken by a commanding officer in your squad, makes each scenario feel like a real life-or-death situation. It also helps to set the atmosphere as men yell warnings for grenades and panic when they reload. Hearing a teammate’s character say “I’m moving ahead, ENEMY SPOT-” followed by a barrage of gunfire and then silence is an awesome scene to behold.
Day of Infamy is an immersive, detailed shooter that recreates the feel of historic WWII battles and armies. If you’re a fan of war history, this is a game you need to pick up. The visual elements of the game are a mixed bag, but the controls are smooth, and the gameplay is blast. If you’re still unconvinced, watch the release trailer below. It really captures the ambience of the game, despite the heavy Scottish accents throughout. Day of Infamy is a work in progress so it will be interesting to see how the final product turns out.
Tyler Davis a gaming writer and contributor to PN2. Go say hi on Twitter @TDavis179