What happens when you take four prisoners of war and set them loose on the Nazi war machine, which just so happens to be winning the war? For the betterment of all humanity, these unlucky heroes must form an alliance to battle the unstoppable Third Reich and put an end to the vile Adolf Hitler. If a bit of Nazi gold goes missing during the missions that require you to commit sabotage, assassinate high-ranking officers, and perform daring heists, well, it’s better in your hands than in the enemies. Using the gameplay loop from the Payday series, which developer Lion Game Lion has some experience with creating downloadable content for it in the past, RAID: World War II falls flat due to poor AI implementation and an overall buggy online experience.
After creating your initial character from the four different character and class options, you’ll set up your base camp behind enemy lines inside a destroyed church. This area serves as both an online and offline lobby, letting you prepare for any of the dozen or so missions in the game, make improvements, upgrade your weapons, and more. As the name implies, you’ll be performing various objective-based missions or raids as they are called in the game, including stealing gold from a Nazi treasury, blowing up a massive concrete fortress, or derailing a train and stealing the contents. Your objectives may change over the course of the mission, providing an exciting change of pace, especially if you are running the same level multiple times. It’s only slight variations, but it is a step in the right direction to help alleviate the mundane feeling of grinding. Your crew is always comprised of four characters, whether human or AI, this way, you get to experience the crunchy dialogue and one-liners said between the characters ad nauseum.
While confiscated gold is used to improve your dwelling, you earn experience by completing missions that go towards that specific characters kill trees. The setup is quite similar to Payday, as you gain levels, you select a single new proficiency from the ones presented. These may provide stat bonuses, such as increased weapon damage when using mounted weapons, or decreased damage while attempting to open a lock or working on an objective. Thankfully there is one that increases movement speed while carrying heavy objects, such as transporting AA gun shells or crates of gold bars. Playing offline should be a last resort in RAID: World War II or downright avoided at all costs. The AI cannot be relied upon to do anything besides wander around your character and shoot at enemies soldiers. At times it seems they get confused and fail to engage enemies, but for the most part, they hold their own. If you are downed, they will make their way over to revive you, but tend to ignore incoming fire first, which can get them killed in the process. However, they will not help under any circumstance help with completing objectives. This means that you must carry the gold crates and load AA shells yourself. Unless you have a full squad of four human players, this will prolong missions at points leading to many frustrating experiences.
Although you’ll be swarmed by countless Nazi soldiers, coming from every possible opening, from open doorways to broken skylights, their actual intelligence is quite questionable. Most of the time, they charge blindly towards you firing at your general position. Considering the poor support from your AI squad, you’ll often turn around and see them and enemies standing side-by-side attempting to slaughter each other in close range. Most times you can begin each mission undetected, letting you try a stealth approach, I’ve had missions start in the midst of a firefight. I’m not sure if that is supposed to happen or if the mission began before the game even loaded. The primary infantry foes don’t put up much of a fight, but the tougher soldiers can do some severe damage. The heavy armor clad flamethrower wielding foes frequently appear, with an almost incredible range. If you see a red flare appear, you should try and take cover, as enemy mortars or heavy equipment, such as a tank, will be showing up.
The game’s premise is marred by how poorly the game runs, both offline and online. With four players running around, I’ve had game’s with frequent slowdown, in fact, the game hangs when someone joins mid-mission. There have been random crashes back to the PlayStation 4 main menu, as well as the end-game completion screen taking upwards of five minutes to appear. Along with the technical shortcomings, the gunplay in the game is lackluster. It feels like the game chugs every time you aim down the sights to shoot, and it's hard to tell if you are even making contact with your weapons. On the gold heist raid, I’ve died from dropping only a couple feet from a ledge, locking my character out from being revived in the process.
RAID: World War II failed to capture the magic that makes the Payday franchise so popular. Although Lion Game Lion has worked on the franchise, this game features disappointing AI, costly technical issues, and other glaring issues. It’s not beyond repair, however, if they wish to continue supporting the game long-term, as the gist of running raids with friends online and stealing Naxi treasures is something that is quite appealing. There are basic customization options for characters, but the amount of time it will take to grind proficiencies is disappointing. It is such as shame that I couldn't be more positive on a game that includes FMV sequences with John Cleese.
Note: RAID: World War II was reviewed based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.