Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Review

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Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon 64 2800+, 512 MB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6600 or ATI Radeon 9800 Pro or better

Lay your fears aside concerning developer Infinity Ward's decision to go with a modern setting. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (COD4) is everything you'd expect from the acclaimed developer, and a few new things you may not expect but will definitely appreciate. While the single player campaign can be beaten in 6 to 8 hours, it's very replayable. The biggest addition, though, is persistent tracking of statistics and the enormous amount of challenges and unlockables in the multiplayer mode. Add to that a graphics engine that rivals anything out there today, fantastic sound, and "just one more round" addictiveness, and you've got a recipe for yet another Game of the Year award for this franchise.

Kevin Rice

Fall In!

For all the concerns many gamers had concerning the COD series' move in to modern times, Infinity Ward seems to have all the right answers. COD4 is a masterpiece of intense play, gorgeous graphics, and unnervingly plausible plotlines. A Russian ultranationalist has had it "up to here" with Western influence, and he's got the nukes to prove it. You have to make sure that doesn't happen. While this may sound hackneyed (at least there aren't any zombies or Nazis and you don't suffer from amnesia), Infinity Ward once again proves that they are talented story tellers. Just don't let them tell your children bedtime stories.

The single player campaign has you following three different people: "Soap" McTavish, Lt. Price and Pvt. Paul Jackson. Instead of being set in three different areas, story segments are contiguous, just from three different points of view. All three soldiers are working toward the same objective, and each battle aids the others. While there are still plenty of scripted events and the whole thing is fairly linear, there are enough wide open areas to convey what it must feel like to actually do some of this stuff, and it turns out the old saying is true: War is hell.

Like the previous entry in this series, the game has no health meter, instead opting for a "get your ass to cover" method of keeping you alive. Your teammates, once again controlled by very capable AI, shout out tons of pertinent information to push you in the right direction. You also have a vast array of modern day weapons at hand, including an AK-47, a P90, an M203, claymores and the oh-so-fun C4 remote detonation explosives.

While the opening mission is as fierce and theatrical as you could hope for, missions deeper into the single player campaign are even more intense, including a gunner in a C-130 (the ice cold chatter in there is creepy in a good way), a stealth-like mission in Ghillie camoflauge (nothing like having an enemy tank roll by you, five feet away), and a terrifying sniper setpiece where a shot down helicopter literally tries to crash into you. It's great, great stuff, and the entire campaign will keep your heart pumping to the surprisingly good ending. Stick around after the credits, as well, for an extra mission. But, wait! There's more!

Killing Your Friends

Going online is where you'll find the legs that will keep COD4 running for a long, long time. The usual suspects are here: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Headquarters, and Search and Destroy. Add to that mix Domination and Sabotage. The prior plays just like Domination in UT, where you have several areas to capture and then hold for points. The latter plays like Ball Run in UT. For those unfamiliar with Ball Run, it's basically a football game. There's one bomb, and each team needs to get that one bomb and plant it in the enemy's base. There's more back and forth here than in a game of hot potato with a live grenade (by the way, you can still throw back live grenades).

The multiplayer play in COD4 is unmatched. While some may complain that there are no vehicles, the constant virtual mayhem and the fact that nearly everyone is running around with a custom loadout more than makes up for it. The level design, many based on single-player maps, is top notch (save for Shipment, the bastard child of someone in a hurry). Killcam is back as well, so you can figure out from where a killing shot came from. And, did I mention that you can shoot through many materials, like wood and concrete? Add the Deep Impact perk, and you can shoot through materials with greater accuracy. I could easily go on and on about the multiplayer experience, but the point is made. This is fantastic, intense stuff.

Find Yourself

It all sounds like fairly bread-and-butter-type stuff until you begin to get into the Create-A-Class system. Wherever you play, you earn experience points, and those stay with you on any server. As you gain more experience points, you unlock new weapons, new abilities, and new add-ons, and all of them are called perks. Mix and match perks as you please.

Using Create-A-Class, you can make your own custom load-out, designed by you to exactly fit your style of play. Are you a camper that snipes from half a mile away? Get yourself a .50mm sniper rifle, a UAV jammer, and the Dead Silence perk. Do you run and gun? Grab a P90, the Juggernaut, and Bandolier perks. The variations here are tremendous, given the number of perks available, and it adds immensely to the online experience. It's also the main source of the aforementioned "one more round" addictiveness. "I only need 200 more XP and I get the scope!"

Because that's not enough, there is also a Challenge system in place that provides even more experience points and a few specialized perks. Get 150 headshots with your favorite gun, for example, and you'll get a specially colored gun. Kill three people at once with a grenade and get 250 XP. Kill one person with a grenade without the grenade exploding (basically, throw a rock at their head), and get 300 XP. And so on. Each weapon has its own set of challenges, and several dozen challenges are universal. Run for 26 total miles (the "Marathon" challenge), melee 10 people – these apply to everyone.

Stay alive long enough to get multiple kills, and you get even more goodies. After three kills, you can call in a UAV, which shows enemy positions on your radar. After five consecutive kills, call in an air strike. A map of the entire level comes up. Point and click, and the jets will follow. Get seven consecutive kills, and you get your own personal helicopter attack. You can't control the helicopter and it can be shot down, but this thing is deadly, accurate, and airborne. And you get all the credit for whatever kills it gets. Besides, who doesn't want their own personal attack helicopter?

Back and Forth

Of course, you may not want to play multiplayer all the time. Thankfully, the single player is very replayable and after you complete it once, you unlock Arcade Mode. Here, you can replay any level you want, or you can try the entire campaign again. The difference is that you have limited lives, and a score is kept. Like an old-school shooter, you can go for high scores. Additionally, intel is strewn about most levels. Collect enough and you can unlock more modes, such as Ragtime Warfare, which turns the game black and white, speeds it up by 70%, and adds a jangly piano music track, or A Bad Year, whereby all enemies explode into tires when killed. And yes, those tires bounce and roll around.

The Complete Package

I feel as though I've barely touched on the depth of this game. Yes, it's just an FPS and it will probably feel familiar to any fan of the genre, but it just does everything so right. I didn't get a chance to mention the multiplayer Hardcore mode (no HUD, no radar), I didn't mention the Old School mode (everyone starts with the same weapons, and other weapons are scattered around the map along with perks),I barely touched on the beautiful graphics and rib-shaking sound. Infinity Ward has gone out of its way to spit-shine every last detail in this game, and they've added just enough new content to satisfy even a jaded gamer like me, especially in a year with so many excellent FPS games. For fans and newcomers alike, Call of Duty 4 is not a game to be missed.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 13, 2007 10:49 AM.

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