Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Developer: Infinity Ward
North American Release Date: November 5, 2007
European Release Date: January 1, 2008
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a reboot of the Call of Duty franchise, which up to this point has focused entirely on World War 2. Infinity Ward instead decided to take inspiration from modern military and set it in an alternate universe where they are able to write a truly original work. It features a new and innovative multiplayer and one of the best singleplayer campaigns on the market for FPSs.
The gameplay of Call of Duty centers around a "tactical" approach to shooters rather than an "arcade" approach. To those who don't know or don't use those terms the primary difference is that in an Arcade shooter the general idea is you are Arnold from the movie Commando. Enemies aren't so much challenges as toys for your amusement, and in a one-on-one fight none of them stand a chance unless they are a boss. You can carry dozens of weapons and ungodly amounts of ammo.
A tactical shooter is more "realistic," while the physics and true implementation might not be real its rooted more in how actual soldiers would behave or would have to behave on a battlefield. Cover is important, you carry a truly limited amount of ammo (sometimes), and you can't carry an entire arsenal of weapons.
Call of Duty 4 is a tactical shooter in that sense, you are allowed to carry a primary and secondary weapon and have a stash of flashbang and frag grendaes at your disposal. Engagements require cover as you can only take so many hits before needing to find cover to "heal," and firing from the hip or wildly is never recommended. To quote Hicks from Aliens: "Remember, short, controlled bursts."
Its a formula that has worked well for IW in the past, and they only tweaked it to make it better in terms of control. Everything is placed logically with one button to switch weapons, the shoulder buttons to throw each grenade type or aim or fire and all the special capabilities you have (night vision, etc) easily available by tapping a directional button. Its a formula that works because the gameplay never gets in the way of the action, the controls are extremely intuitive and quickly become second nature, and everything about the gameplay is tight and responsive.
Although many will disagree with me, the real reason Call of Duty 4 is such a great game is its Singleplayer campaign. Infinity Ward broke boundaries by steering away from World War 2 and taking the series to an "alternative-reality" where it can write a truly original story. The end result is sold gold.
The story follows a typical Call of Duty format where the player bounces between various characters over the course of a conflict. In this case it is the USMC and the SAS, the USMC are engaged in a military conflict in the middle east seeking a war criminal "Al-Asad," while the SAS are seeking to uncover the true criminal behind the plot who is selling Al-Asad weapons. The game starts off as the SAS uncover information on a boat of where the terrorists are buying their nukes and they seek to get their informant out, while the USMC 1st Team Recon is invading a fictional Iraq to capture Al-Asad.
Over the course of the story we encounter twist after twist, including the detonation of a nuclear bomb the player gets to experience, as we find out the true culprit: Imran Zhakev, and the SAS seek to stop his ultimate plan to seek retribution on the US. The characters are brilliantly crafted in FPS terms, with Zhakev and Price being the diamonds of the story as their history is uncovered and it becomes a seeming personal vendetta as opposed to saving the free world.
To be completely frank, the single player campaign for Call of Duty 4 is not only the hands-down best in the series, but is one of the best in the genre. It represents everything a good action story should be: a nice helping of adrenaline and action with a pinch of compelling characters to keep you motivated. Anybody can blow up a tank, it takes true genius to make you want to blow up the tank because you want to get the bastard behind it all. IW has done the latter here.
Most people who play Call of Duty will find the Multiplayer as the primary draw, and it is understandable why. If you are a fan of FPS Multiplayer this game represents the foundation for what all tactical shooters have done in mutliplayer this generation. Its frantic, its rewarding, and its ripe with room for both skill and luck.
The general concept of Modern Warfare's MP is team-based deathmatch, objective-based deathmatch, and traditional deathmath. Objective-based deathmatch including modes such as your traditional capture-the-flag. As you progress in Modern Warfare's MP you attain levels which have associated unlocks and the ability to unlock/equip perks which vary from the mundane (such as being able to carry more C4) to the exotic (such as Deep Impact which allows your bullets to penetrate cover).
The levels measure 55 in total excluding prestige levels, and you work your way through these levels by completeing challenges and various actions in Multiplayer, again ranging in both complexity and difficulty. As an added bonus the game also has temporary boosts associated with kill-streaks which allow you to scan the area for enemies or call in helicopters for close-infantry support, this is something that (up to this point) really has not been seen often and it represented another fresh innovation brought to FPS by Infinity Ward. It allows even less-experienced players to gain kills and ground on the veterans if they are able to get "on a roll."
The end result is this all combines with a well done and tight multiplayer system that echoes the well-designed gameplay of the singleplayer to create a deep multiplayer experience that you still see people playing years later.
Call of Duty, graphically, is hard to beat given the time it was released. Everything was rendered wonderfully and the attention to detail on many of the weapons is borderline meticulous. There is the occasional animation problem, but this is hardly a detractor from an otherwise crisp presentation.
A similar attention to detail can be found in the environments, where it is always very clear what area of the world you are in and the feeling of that area is always captured. The war-torn Iraq always feels as such, and the bleak and lifeless pipyrat is captured beyond question. It is truly immersive and brilliantly done in terms of driving the story consistently. The audio-presentation, as always of IW games, is beyond compare. The game is carried by its great composition in both music and sound-effects.
- Gameplay is staple tactical shooter, controls are tight, responsive, and intuitive.
- A perfect action story. Not only does it keep moving, but it makes you want to keep moving with it.
- A truly deep and engaging multiplayer that still should be played even years later.
- As always, IW represents the best of what the FPS genre is in terms of presentation.
Overall: 9.5/10 Brilliant
- Call of Duty 4 is the best the series has to offer in my opinion, the best singleplayer available in the genre and a rock solid multiplayer experience all wrapped in a nice package of clean, no-bullshit gameplay and wonderfully executed presentation.