Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Review

I keep my small change in a metal tin, y'know, pennies, 2c, 5c, 10c etc., the ones that are too small to be going carting about with you on a daily basis. When the tin is full I count them and bring them to the bank and they give me about €40. Well I was counting today and I accidentally knocked the empty tin off the table. It landed with a clunk and rolled under the desk. "Grenade!" I thought, "There's no way I can reach it in time to throw it back!, I've got to get out of here now!" and I dived out the doorway. When I regained my composure; I realised that my instincts had been honed a little too well by Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a game where during every enemy confrontation, you have about a dozen grenades thrown at you. You have a split second to pick it up and throw it back if you can reach it in like 1 second or you can dive for cover in the opposite direction. As I had just come off an intense 4 hour session with the game: my adrenaline level hadn't returned to normal yet- thank goodness I didn't go outside into civilisation where I would have grabbed a dogs neck and twisted it until it snapped- something else you're forced to do in almost every level unless you shoot the mutt before it pounces.

If you remember the Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault Normandy beach landings, easily one of the greatest moments in modern gaming, then you know the quality and attention to detail that Infinity Ward is known for. Twenty-two of the best developers from 2015, Inc. formed Infinity Ward in 2002 and released a better WWII game than anything in the Medal Of Honor franchise: Call Of Duty. It was followed 2 years later by one of the greatest sequels in gaming history. It was bizarre that IW made quite a gamble to break from the comfort zone of Nazi-occupied Europe and leap into present day warfare for their third crack at it, but it paid off. Call of Duty 4 rivals even the games that carry the Tom Clancy label like Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon, previously the clear leaders of this sub-genre.

The meticulous care IW took to faithfully recreate WWII-era weaponry was also lent to bringing modern armaments to life. Many of the incredible tools of war used today come into play in COD4. You'll man the weapons of the AC-130 Gunship, which flies above the battlefield and fires 105mm rounds that decimate the enemy; make big explosions with Javelin missiles, which drop straight down to hit the thinner top armor of tanks; and cycle through a small arsenal of both light and heavy personal weapons featuring a variety of scopes and augmentations. With an astonishing number of enemies in the field, you are going to need every last bit of modern tech to survive.

Unlike the previous Call of Duty's, Modern Warfare presents one continuous story. You will hop between perspectives of a British S.A.S. soldier and a U.S. Marine 1st Force Recon operator. These leaps continue the progression of the story. It's a very effective tool. The story itself is hardly Tom Clancy but it's a good as a better 24 outing, and it revolves around stolen Russian nukes and Middle-Eastern terrorists. IW finds ways to make you care for every last one of your teammates (even though they can absorb several hundred enemy rounds and are never in much harm).

If you played the original COD's, then there'll be no problem controlling COD4. There is no revolution of game controls, (it is a basic FPS when all is said and done). The new graphics engine still retains some of the game mechanics of the older games such as sight aiming. You have standard iron sights on some weapons, red-dot scopes on others and full magnification on sniper rifles - you'll hit people more than firing from the hip. Throwing grenades back at the enemy if you can reach them in time (or duck and cover if you don't).

The real change in COD4 is in the combat. The action here is intense and seriously fast-paced. There are so many enemies, everywhere, to the point where it seems slightly ridiculous. They are smarter too thanks to some refined AI. Although this is a linear shooter that essentially funnels you through corridors, there are quite a number of side-paths that lead you to flanking positions that'll pay off when you appear off to the side of the enemy taking cover from your buddies but completely and utterly exposed to you. And if you do not flank the enemy, be assured they will flank you- Enemies usually know to stay in cover. And they also know that you, being a well-trained soldier, aren't going to fight in the open, so the bastards throw dozens of grenades and fire RPGs at you. They are trying to flush you out. Most cars explode and will kill you if you are standing beside them so MOVE! Stay still and you die; Movement is life.

Fortunately, good AI is not confined to your enemies, your squadmates have also benefited from some audacious programing. COD4 doesn't employ squad commands, because as this is realistic and as you're not in command, you must do the following, you're treated like a grunt, from the start (watch out for Craig Fairbrass as Gaz) but you're a link in a chain and a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, so don't the be weak link! Your comrades look, move, act, and react like their true military counterparts. In fact, were you to have the ability to issue commands, you'd likely end up doing more harm than good.

Final Verdict: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the best First-Person-Shooters on the market. While it's easily Infinity Wards greatest work, it's nothing too revolutionary.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2

Some info sourced from IGN

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