M (Mature) Players:
November 5, 2007Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Since the release of the original Call of Duty back in 2003, the Call of Duty series has been one of the most popular franchises in gaming with new installments coming out each year. Call of Duty 2 marked the series spectacular debut on the next-gen consoles and after the disappointing Call of Duty 3 from Treyarch, Infinity Ward is back at the helm of the series. However for the first time, the series has moved away from a World War II setting and into the modern age. With new weapons and new technology, is Call of Duty 4 the bold, new direction the series needed?
Call of Duty 4 tells the story of a global conflict over the course of several days. An extremist Khaled Al-Asad has overthrown an unnamed Middle Eastern country and the United States Marines are sent in to capture him. In the midst of the war, a covert British SAS team battles Russian ultranationalist to uncover to true story behind the Middle Eastern coup. From there it’s everything you would expect from a military shooter; stolen nukes, terrorists, communists, it’s all here but presented in a way that’s interesting. Call of Duty 4 doesn’t take place in a real war like its predecessors, but handles the story maturely and plays out in ways you’d never expect from a videogame.
You’ll all the aspects of the story through the eyes of a British SAS officer, a US Marine, an AC-130 gunner, a British sniper 15 years in the past, and even the president of the Middle Eastern country. Normally switching between this many characters would be confusing but Call of Duty 4 succeeds in making the multiple viewpoints essential to the story. You’ll be accompanied by a large casts of characters who may seem like obligatory soldiers aiding you in combat but by the end of the game, you’ll feel that they are your companions who have suffered through battles along with you.
Call of Duty 4’s gameplay is essentially divided into three parts: the large scale battles, the covert operations, and the gunship level. The gunplay remains largely the same as previous Call of Duty games. It’s all about holding down your iron sights. This gives you the accuracy you need. You can fire from the hip but you shots are less likely to hit. The American missions are where most of your biggest battles take place. You’ll be fighting alongside dozens of other soldiers against dozens of enemies. In the British levels, you’ll be sneaking around a bit more and will have smaller engagements. Regardless of which side you’re playing as, the battles you’ll get into are intense. Enemies are relentless and because of smarter AI, they’ll flank your positions and you keep you pinned down. Taking cover is essential. It only takes a few shots to kill you. Call of Duty 4 offers some of the best engagements you’ll ever experience in a game.
The newest addition to the gameplay is the AC-130 segment which takes the place of the bombing missions in other Call of Duty games. For anyone that has seen videos of the AC-130 in action, they’ll understand how eerily the game simulates these. You’ll be looking through a black and white screen. Soldiers are represented by small glowing figures and it is your job to rain death upon them. You’ll man bombs and machine guns as you take down enemy combatants and vehicles alike. The mission is short but oddly calming and empowering.
Obviously since the game is set in modern times, you’ll be using modern weapons and gadgets. No longer will you using bolt action rifles and fiddling with Thompson machine guns. Most weapons in this game are automatic or semi-automatic. That means there’s 10 times the bullets and nearly every weapon can be fired with some accuracy from a distance. You’ll be planting C4, calling in air support, using night vision, everything you’d expect a modern military soldier to be able to do. You also have the ability to shoot through walls. The bullets are weaker and move slower but this means your enemies are less safe in cover and so are you.
The game’s presentation is outstanding. The graphics are the best seen on the consoles yet. Everything from the lighting, to the textures to the animations seems real. The graphics almost just as good in multiplayer as in single player and there’s no drops in frame rate at all. This game is slick. What’s even more impressive is the sound. You’ll hear gunfire in the distance, jets hovering overhead and explosions going off. All the guns sound like their real world counterparts. Infinity Ward put in a lot of effort to make the game as authentic as possible.
Multiplayer has gotten an upgrade. Call of Duty 4’s multiplayer for the most part is class based. You’ll begin with a few basic classes and a small number of weapons to choose from but as you level up, you’ll gain more weapons and the ability to create your own class. You create your own class by attaching perks to your online character. Perks give you the abilities such as extra stopping power and more health to more interesting abilities such as last stand which lets you fire your pistol from the ground when you die for one last attempt to take out your opponent. 16 maps and tons of game modes are offered. This is a lot of options to be had here and it’s one of the deepest online experiences on the market today.
There are a few problems. The save system is broken in a few areas. You’ll be playing for long periods of time, only to die and have to start back from a checkpoint far away. This can get really irritating in some levels where enemies are endless and may even seem impossible at times. Like Call of Duty 2, grenades get annoying. The grenade indicator tells you that there’s a grenade nearby but you never know if you’re far enough away so it won’t kill you. The number of grenades flying should be toned down. It will be your most frequent cause of death in this game.
Call of Duty 4 is an amazing package. The single player is a bit short and I would have loved to play more American missions and the lack of Russian missions is a disappointment but regardless, this is one of the best campaigns I’ve played all year. After you beat the main game, you’ll unlock cheats and an arcade mode which lets you play through the single player again for a high score. Combine this all with an amazing multiplayer mode; you’re looking at one of the best first-person shooters of the year, second only to the Orange Box. Regardless of whether you own a PS3, Xbox 360 or PC, Call of Duty 4 is a most own. I can not recommend it enough. 9.6/
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