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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Review
developer: Infinity Ward
PIV 2.4Ghz, 512MB RAM, 8GB HDD, GeForce 6600
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 05, 07
|» All About Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on ActionTrip|
Right now, I am the luckiest man in the world. Is it because I am so charming? Is it because I always exude a pleasing aroma? Or perhaps it's because the courts have finally granted my restraining order against 2Lions (This means his 'wardrobe malfunctions' around the office should be a thing of the past). Now even though all those are completely true points, the reason I feel so lucky is because I get to review Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the PC. However, now that I think about it, the memory of the Whack-A-Nazi mini game in COD3 last year, the real question may be: Does this assignment mean my luck is still holding out or has it run out?
Let's cut to the chase: If you have played past Call of Duty titles and enjoyed them, go buy Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (COD4) now. Be it for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or my system of choice, the PC; it doesn't matter, go buy a copy. Developer Infinity Ward and Publisher Activision have done a stellar job with COD4 (with a few minor exceptions) and you'll have a great time with the single-player story, followed by much more fun with the multiplayer component.
If you've been living under a rock, and have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to know that COD4 is a first-person shooter that has the player controlling one of several soldiers operating around the world in a tense, modern day Tom Clancy-style action adventure. The comparison to Clancy is not just lip service as the entire single-player experience seems more like you are playing a big budget Hollywood movie rather than just playing a game.
The Call of Duty series has finally moved beyond World War II, Hitler and the Nazi hordes, and a modern day story with plausible current political enemies had to be provided. COD4 centers around a coup in the Middle East by a militant named Al-Asad. At the same time a Soviet ultranationalist, named Zahkaev, who would love to somehow bring back the 'glory days' of Russia when Stalin was in charge, is also causing problems. Without spoiling the plot, you will eventually discover all is not what it seems as you shoot enemy soldiers and lob grenades through your missions. As you progress, you will have to find a solution to the problem without generating too much fallout.
In what is typical for a Call of Duty game, each mission will jump between different locations around the world where you drive the story forward with one of the three main characters. The first is a green SAS recruit, "Soap" McTavish. The second playable character is one of Soap's present day SAS leaders, Captain Price (although you will be running him behind enemy lines in missions that occurred 15 years in the past when he was a Lieutenant). The third character is a U.S. Marine Private named Paul Jackson. There are also a number of teammates who will fight by your side throughout the game, which helps cement the feeling that you are part of a close knit squad.
While most of the missions consist of squad-based combat, the game breaks things up a bit so you don't get tired of sighting down your rifle all the time. For example, there are a few stealth missions where you move a sniper into position to eliminate a target or one that has you manning the guns on an AC-130 gunship that presented in startling realistic night vision, gun turret fashion. There are plot points that explain these diversions from the normal run-and-gun missions, which helps eliminate the feeling that they are not just there for a change of pace. It is fun, however, to see things from another perspective than just that of the ground pounder. I found myself going back and playing these missions once the game was over just to experience a different challenge. Not to mention that blowing stuff up with a 105 mm cannon, while you circle the battlefield, is a whole lot of fun.
Call of Duty 4 uses a propriety game engine that features dynamic lighting, depth of field, rag doll and environmental physics and just about every other whistle and bell you can think of. Everything is incredibly detailed; vehicles, weapons, uniforms, buildings, all of it is modeled so realistically that I found myself in the midst of several intense fire fights, either failing my objective or getting killed because I was looking in wonder at all the detail. Characters have the most realistically implemented motion capture I have ever seen in a game, period. Graphically, the game is the top of the heap. There is none better.
The audio in COD4 holds its own against the stunning graphics. Voice over work is preformed with actors that can deliver dialog (that is well written, even) with feeling and authentic sounding accents. Explosions and gun fire bark realistically and engine noise from tanks and helicopters or the mechanical operations of your equipment sound spot on. From the tinkle of glass of a shattering window to the crunch of wood splintering as bullets tear through it, everything is very convincing and helps you feel the danger of the chaos around you. The music is perfectly implemented, well for each situation. The music was preformed by a full orchestra and was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, who scored films like Armageddon and Shrek, as well as several Metal Gear games. The music punctuates the on screen action perfectly, moving from stirring Russian songs to rousing orchestrations as the situation dictates, so that, again, you get the impression that Infinity Ward was trying to create a movie that you play rather than a game.
Rounding everything off is the multiplayer component that could be packaged as a stand-alone product. There is the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch and free-for-all games, but also included are other options like Headquarters, Domination, Search and Destroy and Sabotage. If that is not enough then join a server running in Hardcore mode, where the bullets hit harder and you don't have the added benefit of the on screen radar or are notified when a grenade lands nearby. For players looking to engage in simpler forms of combat you can join an Old School Mode server where everyone starts with the same weapon and gameplay is reminiscent of multiplayer matches from the original Call of Duty. Players who want to run their own server can tailor every detail of the match and the governing rules. It's a very comprehensive list of features that should keep players engaged for a long while after they complete the single-player story.
Amazing graphics, fantastic music and voice overs, exciting gameplay, big budget Hollywood movie-like experience, extensive multiplayer options will extend the value of the game for a long time to come;
Like other Call of Duty titles missions are linear and rely on the player to move things forward, console-like checkpoint save system.