This version of Call of Duty: World at War is very different from its counterparts. Aside from the graphics engine, the violence is toned down, resembling its predecessor and it features different storylines, locations and missions from the other versions.
The story is divided into four campaigns. The first takes place at the beginning of the war in the South Pacific as the player takes control of Pvt. Joe Miller serving with the American 2nd Marine Division as they start out in basic training in North Carolina. This level lets the player learn the controls of the game and then fastforwards to the Guadalcanal (as though the training mission was a flashback) where the player must survive with his company. There are four more missions, two on the island of Betio and two on the island of Saipan.
The second part takes place in Europe after D-Day with four missions divided by two different experiences. The first two has the player take command of Pvt. Lucas Gibson of the American 80th Infantry Division as he and his squad make their way through Luxembourg and finally through Bastone mounted on a Sherman tank, trying to break through Nazi lines. The last two missions let the player take control of Pvt. Tom Sharpe of the British 6th Airbone Division, battling through the ruins of Bastone and the town of Bure.
The third part only consists of two missions that are divided between Pvt. Sharpe and Pvt. Gibson and is set in the closing days of the war in Europe. The first mission takes place in Wesel where Pvt. Sharpe and his division must find a way across the Rhine. The second has Pvt. Gibson and his division battle through the town of Braunau am Inn, the birthplace of Adolph Hitler, as they need to stop a V2 rocket from being launched.
The last campaign reverts back to Pvt. Joe Miller at the end of the Pacific Theatre, this time with two missions on the island of Okinawa, with the last mission having the player take Castle Shuri in an attempt to capture Okinawa and open the gate to the Japanese mainland.
The gameplay is of the first-person shooter kind and is told through in game cutscenes as well as stock footage of World War II, both black & white and color. The controls are basic, with a main weapon and secondary along with two grenades (smoke and frag). Movement is done through the left analog stick with aiming through the right one. Players can fire their weapon using the "R1" button and switch between using "Triangle", manually reloading them using the "Square" button and aim down the sight using the "L1" button. Jumping and hurling obstacles (when prompted) is done through the "X" button, a melee attack can be obtained through the "R3" button and sprinting through the "L3" button. The "O" button is used for crouching while holding the button down will let the player's character prone.
Players can obtain ammo through fallen comrades and new weapons by standing over top of the weapon and holding the "Square" button. Likewise, fallen enemy weapons can be obtained this way. There is no number of preset lives and once a player is killed he can restart from a previous checkpoint. There is no health bar system, instead it resembles Medal of Honor: Vanguard where once the player starts to sustain an considerable amount of damage, the view will start to become red. This can be stopped by taking cover away from enemy fire which will allow the players health to replenish.