|Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation3, PC
Here we go again, another five-star rated game. Something’s got to be wrong, right? Perhaps not. Holiday season 2007 is definitely a great time to be an Xbox 360 owner, period. So many great games have already been released, and are continuing to be released, that there’s hardly any time to take a breath and admire it all. So please, add Infinity Ward’s amazing “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” to your list of must-have titles for your gaming console. This game is nothing short of a masterpiece, with nary a moment wasted.
Unlike Electronic Arts’ long-chugging and time-to-be-retired “Medal of Honor” series, “Call of Duty 4” gives players an immersive and very emotional look at modern combat. This isn’t one of your everyday shooters, or another in a long line of same-old, same-old shooters. This game is simply an experience that any video game fan should try. This even goes beyond “Halo 3,” which was recently found to be attracting casual gamers who often aren’t into FPS titles. “Call of Duty 4” ups the war game/shooter ante by presenting a game that is brilliant and accessible in every way possible.
First of all, let’s just talk about the graphics. This game and “BioShock” would certainly have to be in contention for best graphics of the year. For photo-realism, though, “COD 4” is simply stunning. The attention to every little detail in crisp color and shadow is jaw-dropping. The little things, like unsettled dust caught in a beam of sunlight shining through broken windows in a damaged building, or the soles on a crawling soldier’s shoes directly in front of you, all add up to the larger picture that is every bit as beautiful. What’s more, somehow Infinity Ward managed to code this stuff with minimal to no lag at all, and no pop-ins in the scenery. Everything looks as natural as walking outside and actually being there.
As for the gameplay, “COD 4” finds the player splitting his time between portraying a British SAS soldier, and a U.S. Marine. Both military branches are after a Russian terrorist who seems hell bent on causing World War III and ending it in a nuclear fashion. Gamers will balance time spent in the desert, and the colder, snowy climates in an effort to save the known world. In between, there are surprises (like being a gunner on a helicopter and playing exciting back story missions are thrown into the mix) that make the whole single player campaign a truly immersive experience that thoroughly explores both the adrenaline-infused excitement and sheer horror of war. “COD 4” does not exploit, wave patriotic bullshit flags, or turn any of its situations into a superhero experience. It does allow players to come close to modern combat situations, short of enlisting and throwing themselves into the reality of war itself.
Infinity Ward should also be praised for its exceptional AI in this game, both in friendly and enemy quarters. Unlike franchises such as “Splinter Cell,” and other games of this type, players are not asked to issue commands to their teammates. Instead, those characters respond to the player’s actions intuitively and help him work through the various scenarios. These aren’t a bunch of tacked-on “helpers” who rely on the player to do all the heavy lifting. This is very much a team-based game, and not once will players feel sabotaged by their fellow soldiers. Likewise, this means that the enemy is that much smarter as well, and will stop at nothing to prevent the player from succeeding at his assigned goals. Just when you think you’ve gunned down the last enemy, more arrive at the scene, or pop out of hiding places to continue the battle.
The story, characters and action in the single-player campaign are wonders in themselves, but of course players who enjoy FPS games always want to take the fight online as well. “COD 4” excels in this arena as well, providing gamers with the usual assortment of team and solo-based online skirmishes that have become staples of FPS gaming. Up to 18 players can join in, and as far as the experience on the 360 goes, “COD 4” online runs as smooth as silk with all the excellent graphics and frame rates kept intact.
In this day and age of gaming, it’s easy to become jaded to the visuals and sounds of next-gen games. We’re all expecting the latest games to look and sound great, and our expectations are often met with an above-average success rate. However, every so often a game like “COD 4” comes along and just reminds us all what can really be created when all the elements come together perfectly. This is a title that blows its competition out of the water single-handedly, much like “Gears of War” did last year. Not to say the rating I gave for “Halo 3” has changed for me, personally. I still think that game is every bit a real classic, but “COD 4” just takes the whole FPS genre and moves it that extra step. It certainly breathes fresh air into the stale war game scenario as a whole, and for that alone all gamers should be thankful. Whatever it may be in the end, it’s going to be a while before anyone betters this game. Don’t miss out.