Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
It was time, Activision’s long awaited first person shooter had been released. Together with Unreal Tournament 3, this game was on the top of many people’s wish list. The hype around Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was huge, expectations were high, but will it forfill these expectations? Go on and find out…
Previous Call of Duty versions were all set in a World War II setting, yet this latest game in the series, as the name suggests, takes place in a modern environment.
No more fighting in the deserts of North-Africa or in Russia’s cold and destroyed cities. These are replaced by locations in the Middle-East and Eastern Europe. Even the killing of Germans has come to an end, this time you will have to face terrorists at war with your country. You will have to do this both as John ‘Soap’ MacTavish from the British S.A.S., and as sergeant Paul Jackson from the US Navy. Although you’ll be playing with two different characters, this doesn’t mean you get two different stories. At first there seems to be no connection whatsoever between the two soldiers’ campaigns, but as the story continues and starts to unfold the two stories becomes one.
The singleplayer starts with a training level. Your first job will be to test some of the basic weapons so you can get used to the controls. After this first ‘test’ you’ll be sent to a building next to the firing range. This is where the real test begins: before you’ll be able to get into some real fighting you will have to prove yourself worthy by completing a small training level. Depending on how long you take to complete this training level, the computer will suggest you a difficulty to play the rest of the game on. This, however, is not mandatory as you can still chose another difficulty to play with.
Once you’ve done this, the real action can begin. Together with your team you’ll be dropped on a large cargo ship, your mission is to locate a nuclear bomb somewhere on the ship. At first you will meet very little resistance when moving through the ship, some of the terrorists will even be asleep in their bunks. Yet, once you’re passed this first stage and as you infiltrate deeper into the ship, you will be opposed harder and more fiercely.
From the start it becomes clear that, like in previous Call of Duty games, you won’t have to expect too much from your team mates. They won’t kill more than the occasional terrorist popping
his head out for too long, so you’ll still have to do most of the killing. This, of course, should not be a problem too anyone wanting to have some fun in a singleplayer game. However, while the levels are very linear and you only have one path to chose from, the design allows you to flank the enemy while your team keeps you covered. Although not much of a difference, it is an improvement to the previous straight forward attacks you were forced to do.
This first mission is very intense, and this intensity is maintained throughout the rest of the game. This doesn’t mean however that the game is a non stop shooting fest. By, among other things, inserting a sniper mission the developers made sure there’s sufficient alteration in the game to keep people’s attention.
But not all is well in this singleplayer. As mentioned before, the levels are very linear and on top of that Call of Duty is still equipped with a very scripted Artificial Intelligence. Especially the latter is a bit outdated, when games like Far Cry (which was released before Call of Duty 2) and F.E.A.R. exist, both having very advanced A.I.’s.
But the biggest minus, without doubt, is the short duration of the game. Even at the hardest difficulty the game is finished within 10 hours, even in as little as 6 hours when you rush
through the game. This is of course not very interesting for people who want to buy the game solely for the singleplayer campaign. One should consider the singleplayer as a nice extra, and the multiplayer as the main part of the game. The multiplayer, which after all, Call of Duty 4 is all about.
After the popularity of Call of Duty 2’s multiplayer, Activision did everything in their power to provide us with another top game. To succeed they did more than provide the game with a new look and design some new levels. Call of Duty 4 comes with a whole lot of new things.
The biggest, and most important renewal is without doubt the ‘Perks’. These perks are bonuses that might just give you the edge you need when fighting on the battlefield.
For example, when you activate the perk ‘Deep Impact’, your bullets will penetrate walls more easily. ‘Iron Lung’ is another example of a very useful perk, it allows snipers to hold their breath longer and thus makes them more effective.
Obviously it would be too easy if players were able to use all the perks at the same time. Therefore you can chose a maximum of three perks to use together. On top of that perks are divided into three categories, meaning you’ll have to pick one of each and stopping you from making certain combinations. All this seems very nice, but there’s a catch to it: not all perks will be available from the start, you will have to unlock them. And this brings me to another major addition to this game.
Like the Battlefield series, Call of Duty has now been equipped with an unlock system. At first players will be able to use a basic weapon from every class, but this weapons are far inferior to the weapons you’re able to unlock. And you won’t be able to unlock weapons only, silencers and scopes will become available as well as you increase your rank.
Your rank will be shown to you by the use of levels, ranging from 1 to 55. The progress you make will be measured by your online achievements. You get points not only by killing people, but also by completing certain objectives (depending on which game mode you are playing). On top of this you will unlock challenges as you grow in rank. These challenges exist of things like using your UAV a certain amount of times or killing a certain number of people with, say, an M4 Carabine. Completing challenges will give you extra points in your way to the highest rank, level 55, and unlocking everything there is to unlock.
On to classes and game modes now. Not much has changed here. You can chose from 5 basic classes (Assault, Spec Ops, Demolitions, Sniper and Heavy Gunner) and 5 completely customizable classes, to the point where you can chose your type of camouflage for your gun.
The available game modes are Free For All (Deathmatch), Team Deathmatch, Domination, Sabotage, Headquarters and the unavoidable Search & Destroy. Surprisingly absent is Capture the Flag, although it might be added in a patch later on. But CTF fans need not worry, there are enough alternatives available which will keep them busy while waiting for their favourite game mode.
The ‘new’ Domination is, in fact, a shameless copy of Unreal Tournament’s Domination. Every map contains three checkpoints, which a team can take over by standing close to it. While having one of those checkpoints under your control, your team will slowly gain points. This means a team needs at least two out of three checkpoints to be getting more points than their opponent, resulting in a constant battle to gain and keep checkpoints. Lots of action assured!
Sabotage, the other new game mode, is a modification of the well known game mode, Search & Destroy. In S&D one team has to attack 2
objectives with explosives while the other team has to defend these objectives. In sabotage, on the other hand, both teams can pick up the explosives, and both teams have to attack (and by consequence, defend) an objective. While neither of these two game modes can be called completely new, both of them are a lot of fun and a welcome addition to the Call of Duty series.
It’s obvious a lot of time has been put in to developing the Call of Duty 4 Multiplayer, and I dare say it’s a job well done. Already at its release sponsors and tournaments alike have shown great interest in this game. Many of the top teams in Call of Duty 2 have moved on to this sequence and although it’s too early to say it will be a great success, things are looking good for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Graphics, Sound & Gameplay
Many Call of Duty 2 players had been worried about their old computers’ ability to run this new game. Relieve was great when it became clear Activision had chosen to stick with DirectX9 once more. By continuing to do so, Activision made sure they could reach a lot of gamers with Call of Duty 4, but there is a downside to this. DirectX9 means less strain on your computer, but it also means the quality of the graphics is much lower than when they would have used DirectX10. Although the graphics are very nice, they can’t be compared with other Dx10 games which were released around the same time.
And while you may not have the most beautiful bullets available flying around you, there certainly are a lot of them at most times. The effect this has is greatly amplified by the sound effects. Both the sounds of bullets flying right
passed you and of explosions all round you is very impressive. Unfortunately this can not be said for the sound produced by your guns. Even though they definitely don’t sound unrealistic, you won’t get really impressed by them. Using an Extreme Music Sound Card and 5.1 boxes I still got the feeling there was room for improvement here. Yet you quickly forget this once you’re in combat and too busy to notice anything but the people shooting at you.
Some changes have been made in the gameplay as well. Not only has the speed of the action increased, but the whole game seems to be going faster. This has without doubt to do with the disappearance of the one shot-one kill rifles, from now on you’ll only be able to use fast firing machine guns (including some semi-automatics though). There has also been a ‘sprint’ function added to the game, which is an important factor as well for the way the game speed has increased. But the biggest difference with its predecessors is the possibility to shoot trough thin walls and other weak materials. The time wooden boxes provided a (temporary) safety has ended, hiding behind one of those for incoming fire means an almost certain death now. A nice addition to the game that gives it this little extra making you feel hunted at all times.
Call of Duty 4 certainly is one of the better games in the FPS genre, and a must have for people who like games with a fast gameplay. Yet it is not the game the hype made of it: the singleplayer is way too short, the graphics could be improved and the quality of the sound is simply not good enough to call this an absolute top game.