Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfareESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer - Infinity Ward
Publisher - Activision
System Link: 2-24
4 MB to Save Game
Online Multiplayer 2-18
In-Game Dolby Digital
I still recall getting that phone call just following the Microsoft press conference from our Editor-in-Chief, Kirby Y, who was attending E307 at the time. He was ecstatic and raving about the video preview of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the Xbox 360 he had just seen. He told me to get my butt online ASAP and watch the video. After only a few seconds I understood what he was so excited about. After a disappointing COD 3, the sneak peak of COD4 certainly looked like the franchise was getting a shot in the arm and some much needed new life. A few months later the COD4 Multiplayer Beta arrived and I was fortunate enough to get a token for a chance to play the game online. The beta was lots of fun and only added to the anticipation. Well the wait is over and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the Xbox 360 has arrived. Does it live up to the hype? It not only met my expectations but it shattered them as well.
Simply put the visuals in Call of Duty 4 for the Xbox 360 are stellar. I distinctly recall playing Call of Duty 2 during the Xbox 360 launch and I was impressed with the visuals at that time and they were what I used to demo the Xbox 360 to others. Call of Duty 3 was pretty impressive as well, but didn’t blow me away like COD 2 did. Call of Duty 4 on the other hand is not only impressive but they are almost non paralleled. The developers truly did a masterful job at perfecting not only the visuals but the overall presentation of the game.
Aside from the gameplay the graphics are arguably the best selling feature of the game. From the moment you first give the game a spin everything is eye-popping and simply stunning. Advertised as running at 60 frames per second, Call of Duty 4 is a smooth ride and runs without a hitch. Even during the most chaotic moments with enemies everywhere, bullets whizzing by from all angles and explosions giving your subwoofer the workout of it’s life, the game runs like a Ferrari; smooth and fast. Rarely do I play a game and have absolutely no concerns with the visuals. Call of Duty 4 is one of those rare games with zero issues in the graphics department.
Similar to COD2 and COD3, the environments in Call of Duty 4 are incredibly detailed and look very good. The detail that went into such things as the war-torn buildings, the blades of grass, cracks on the pavement, terrorist symbols on the walls, bullets holes, blood splatter, broken down cars, and everything else is just incredible. I could go on and on for days with how good everything looks. Visually, Call of Duty 4’s environments are on par, and are arguably better, than those found in Halo 3 or Gears of War.
As with the environments, the lighting effects in the game are superb. There are occasions during the game where you are momentarily blinded by either a flash-bang or from the sun as you walk outside from a dark building. The effect is very cool and incredibly realistic. I was also impressed with the night time battle sequences and the use of your night vision. At one point during the single player campaign you and your squadmates are searching for a hostage in a dark house. The image of your red dot laser shining through the air is visible through your night vision and it really shows the detail in the game. It almost feels real and it’s an effect I do not believe I have ever seen or at least not with that kind of precision.
In terms of the character models, Call of Duty 4 features stunning character models. They not only look good but they move realistically. Take a real-life snap shot of any typical combat soldier shuffling along with a machine gun in hand and throw them in to Call of Duty 4, that is the level of detail you get in this game. My only concern (editor’s note: I thought you didn’t have any concern?) is that you cannot customize your characters as you can in Rainbow Six Vegas. There is a degree of customizing as far as your weapons are concerned but you cannot alter your player’s appearance, shape, or gear. Not a big deal but a notable omission nonetheless.
To say the battle combat is intense in Call of Duty 4 is an understatement. From the explosions, smoke effects and gun effects all add to the intensive modern day war based atmosphere. From the shoot-out that takes place inside the TV Studio to the unbelievably intense battle on the “War Pig” level, Call of Duty 4’s combat looks real and is comparable to something out of Hollywood movie. I was especially impressed with the smoke trails from the RPG’s and the trails from the helicopters spinning out of control. As I suggested above, I could go on and on, so in summary, I give the visuals a perfect score.
The games sound is an excellent compliment to the fantastic visuals. The Call of Duty franchise has always been strong in the audio department and Call of Duty 4 is no exception. From the solid soundtrack to the soldier chatter, COD4 features a terrific audio which should only be experienced in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. COD4 features life-like weapons sounds and explosions which will have your cat scrambling for the nearest hiding spot. The character voices are clear, and the game features a musical score which will have you feeling like you back in the movie Black Hawk Down.
Call of Duty 4 features some of the most realistic weapons sounds I have ever heard. The different shotguns, pistols, machine guns and grenades all have very unique sound effects. They definitely all pack a punch and sound phenomenal. Even the sounds you hear when reloading your weapon and the recoil from unloading your M60 on the enemy is all impressive. Many times, I was simply startled by the some of the bullets whistling by and the grenades setting off near my vicinity. The explosions were thundering as they were coming from my 10” subwoofer and often rattled my floor.
The voice acting, battle chatter, and the communicating which takes place between you and your squadmates, similar to previous versions of the franchise, is once again bang-on. I was most impressed with the chatter which occurs in the stage where you are manning the guns in the AC-130 Gunship. The communication from your fellow soldiers in the plane was not only impressive, but informative as well. They were able to give me the heads up on the enemy and comment perfectly on some of my kills. Having watched some real life footage of an AC-130 Gunship on You Tube I was stunned with not only the detail which went into virtual AC-130 COD4 battle scenes but the audio as well. Overall, I enjoyed the near-constant communication from my allies.
The music in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is good and does the job. It’s not going to have you screaming for an audio CD of the game’s music but it matches very well with the scenarios which take place on screen. The music effectively ‘amps-up’ as the action becomes more intense. The action is so intense in the game you likely won’t notice the music too much but it’s a solid soundtrack for this instalment in the COD franchise.
As the name of the game would suggest; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is set in present day. It is the first time the franchise has made a departure from the confines of World War II. Frankly, it is a breath of fresh air. It is not that COD3 is necessarily a bad game, in fact it came out of the gate strong but eventually fell flat as the replayability factor was not there. Call of Duty 4 not only comes out of the gate strong, but the online component will have many playing this one well into Summer 2008. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the gameplay, let me give you a bit of information with regards to the premise and storyline.
Storywise COD4 is pretty straightforward. Similar to previous games in the franchise, you play with multiple characters. This time around you play as a soldier from the U.S. Marines and another from the British S.A.S. However, as I suggested above, it is not only set in modern day but it has a different twist from previous COD’s. The characters now intertwine with each other and revolve around the same battles with a common goal in mind. U.S. and British forces are sent in to stop a radical terrorist known as Kahled Al-Asad on suspicion of nuclear activity. Obviously, there is much more to it than that but in order to really experience this game to its fullest I won’t give anything else away.
As far as the basic premise is concerned, we have all heard similar storylines before. What is different this time around is the way Call of Duty 4’s story is told in a way that you are left captivated and exhilarated. The way the missions (approximately 18 in all) are all laid out with lots of variety is fantastic. You almost get the feeling you are either watching a movie or some Iraq war footage on CNN. From targeting the enemy from an AC-130 Gunship to silently stalking your way through a farm field, the experience is great ride. The many locations and weapons you will use in the game is mind-blowing. Even the opening tutorial is compelling and is the best tutorial I have experienced in quite some time. If anything, my only concern with the single player campaign is the length. It will only take you about 6 hours to complete on normal. Obviously, if you amp-up the difficulty it will take you longer to complete. This is not surprising considering how much we get in the way of eye-candy and the depth of the online play which I will discuss further below. Even if the game is short, there are still plenty of achievements and collecting enemy intel objectives to keep you coming back for more. Once you finish the game, you get an “Arcade mode” where you need to take out as many soldiers as possible and gain points to succeed. It is fun, but I will have to admit it did seem a little out of place and unnecessary.
Just when you think the multiplayer component of the game could not possibly be any better than the single player, Infinity Ward delivers arguably the deepest and most captivating online multiplayer we have seen on the Xbox 360 to date. Multiplayer has always been the staple of the franchise and Call of Duty 4 is no different. In fact, it’s much better. The depth is amazing and after having played over 12 hours online I feel I have only scratched the surface.
First of all, there are 16 maps available which is fantastic considering your typical shooter has considerably less at the launch of a game. Secondly, there are thirteen game types at your disposal. Third, there is an addictive rank and class system which very much reminds me of Halo 3 rank system but it goes so much deeper. The rank and class system will have you playing for hours on end as the more you play the more you rank up. Obviously, the more players you ‘mow down’, the more experience points you gain which all counts towards you rank. With each rank you achieve new weapons, attachments for said weapons, challenges, and/or perks which become available to you. The challenges are small tasks you complete while playing online. Half of the challenges are specific to the different weapon classes, while the other half is just random tasks. For instance, getting 25 kills with a M4 would net you approximately 100 experience points and unlock the red dot sight for your weapon. It may all sound complicated at this point but it is not. Once you get into the online game, you quickly become to understand the rank system.
The ‘perks’ is something that is not only new to the franchise but is something I have not seen to date on any shooter. Perks are exactly as they sound; small bonuses that help strengthen your character online and ultimately add to the entertainment value of the game. Some of the perks include extra ammo, faster reload times, extended sprint, and faster bullets to name a few. Your character is generally allowed three perks per weapon, and the perks are divided into those slots according to the actual ability. For instance, if you choose extra ammo, the game will not let you also pick faster reloads. It is clear a considerable amount of time was spent by the development team balancing out the different sets of perks. Another great aspect of the perks is that you can customize your perks according to your play style, or according to what game type you're playing. For instance, if you are playing a small map you will likely want to use the double tap feature where you are unloading twice the ammunition. On a personal note, my favourite perks included the Last Stand and Martyrdom. In Last Stand, you are given one last chance to fire off some shots from your handgun before you bite the dust. There is nothing more satisfying then getting a Last Stand kill right before you die. Martyrdom is also a great little perk that can frustrate the heck out of your opponent. This one drops a grenade at your feet after you die. So if the player kills you and decides to run over top of your dead carcass, bang, he dies as well. Overall, the perk system is great little addition to the online play and will ultimately have fans coming back for more. As I write this I can’t help but get the itch to go online and play some more.
Overall, the multiplayer aspect of the game is worth the purchase price alone. My only concern is the fact there is no co-op mode. It would have been a nice feature. A co-op mode would have made Call of Duty 4 a lock for game of the year. That being said, it may already be a lock.
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