I have to admit I was very skeptical about Call of Duty: World at War upon learning it wasn't being developed by Infinity Ward, the original creators of the series and developers of all previous PC releases. However, as it turns out, World at War is a lot of fun and the single player action is good enough to have me constantly coming back for more. The multiplayer aspect of the game also looks very good, although I've yet to delve into it deep enough to give a final verdict.
The other piece of great news concerns the game's system requirements which are surprisingly hardware friendly, just like we discovered when playing Call of Duty 4 for the first time last year.
Running the game at a high resolution (1920x1200) with 4xAA/16xAF enabled along with maximum graphics quality settings, the performance results were still impressive for much of the current mid-range and high-end cards.
Take the old GeForce 8800 GTX as an example, which is now two years old (or about half a zillion in graphics card years). Even with this kind of settings we were able to play the game smoothly, averaging around 38fps. More modern high-end cards did deliver better results like the 512MB version of the Radeon HD 4870 that scored above 45fps.
It should be noted that among the current high-end crop, the Radeon-based cards struggled to match their respective GeForce competitors. The GeForce 9800 GTX+ was usually faster than the Radeon HD 4850. The GeForce GTX 260 was also ~13% faster than the Radeon HD 4870. Making matters worse was the newer 216 core version, which was 20% faster than the Radeon HD 4870.
In fact, it took a pair of Radeon HD 4870 cores working together on the Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card to overcome the GeForce GTX 260 (216SP) graphics card by an 11% margin, matching the performance of the GeForce GTX 280. The unexpected winner that took all leads was the dual-GPU powered GeForce 9800 GX2 which averaged an impressive 71fps, making it 16% faster than the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and the GeForce GTX 280.
In other words, the Radeon HD 4800 series graphics cards do provide good performance in Call of Duty: World at War, however in relative terms the GeForce fared considerably better in this title. Furthermore, we don't expect this to change with updated Catalyst drivers as the game engine has been around for some time now. Crossfire and SLI already appear to be working at their maximum capacity, so again updated drivers should not help much here either.
If anything you should stop reading now and seriously consider to grab a copy of CoD: World at War if you are into action-packed shooters.