A Day at the Ward with Call of Duty 4
The fine folks at Infinity Ward recently opened the studio doors to allow community members a sneak peek Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the game that will be occupying our free time for years to come. We had all seen the trailer, and thought we knew what to expect from the Call of Duty masters, but what was delivered was far more than we could have hoped for.
Now before we get too deep, I want to lay a nice thick layer of flame retardant on this post via a small confessionÃ¢$¦WWII was never really my bag. Now I know CoD 2 won all kinds of awards, and I know there is a mass of people that eat, sleep, and drink the franchise, but I was never quite pushed over the edge because wellÃ¢$¦WWII ain’t my bag. So when we found out a while back that the next iteration of the franchise would be Modern Warfare, I was more than a little excited. Here was a chance to take the intensity, action, and chaos of battle into a setting that I could identify with.
The first thing they said as we hustled into the IW theater was “Remember folks this is still pre-Alpha, nothing is set in stone yet.” Nothing is set in stone is typically industry slang for “We will fix it” so I settled down into my seat and waited for the lackluster show. Infinity Ward staff jumped on the PC, the splash screen came and went, a few console commands danced by, and we were off.
It was a dark and stormy night (no really it was) and there we are, roping down from a Black-Ops chopper onto the deck of an enemy controlled oil tanker. The team advanced slowly with the lethality and poise of a barfly that saw you had a platinum card. Movement was fluid, the visuals were crisp, and the AI knew what it was doing. This was not “DIE FACIST!” this was “tango down.” It was a quiet and confined map, executed in a way that still invoked a sense of danger and urgency, and would be capped with the rush excitement that has become the staple of Call of Duty levels (no spoilers here sorry).
All too soon it was over. The Devs didn’t want to hit us all at once and were aware we would need a few minutes to recoup and process what we had just seen. IW obviously knows just as much about how much a gamer’s brain can take as they do about making awesome games. They pointed out the bathrooms for those that needed a minute, and gave the rest of us a fast coffee injection to help shake out the cloud that was washing away reason. The feelings were pretty unanimous, “That was pre-Alpha?!?”
We moved back in to the theater a little better prepared. The Devs prepped us for round two and loaded the next map. Loading is no longer a wallpaper of information either. Instead load screens are chock full of animation and video detailing objective data, locations, and various bits of intel. Thanks to this intelligence, and coupled with fast loading optimization, the level is ready before you are. Whether we were ready or not, we were dropped into “Bog”.
Bog was featured in the first gameplay trailer, and challenged by many a viewer as pre-rendered. Having now seen it, I can tell you two things:
1) It was not pre-rendered.
2) It was friggin glorious.
Bog presented the level style that CoD fans are more accustomed to; larger spaces, enemies everywhere, and a chaotic frenzy of action that is almost too much to take in. The Dev Team went on to explain that they were looking for each level to present additional gameplay elements. The best way I can explain it is that instead of keeping you maxed the entire time, they set the action in waves so that you are constantly rising and falling with the action.
Call of Duty 4 `Bog Rescue` Gameplay Video
The next bit they wanted to show us was Multi-Player. The crowd was all PC gamers and MP was what we had been waiting for all day. It was here that Call of Duty 4 was really going to shine.
What do you normally get with a multiplayer FPS? A skin and a load-out. Big customization there right? CoD 4 is kicking that to the curb, giving it a curb-stomp, and then laughing at horrified onlookers. The primary vehicle for customization in CoD 4 is through the use of “Perks” (You may have seen a couple of the perk trailers that are making their way out weekly over at CharlieOscerDelta). The default character classes have weapons and perks that fit a specific combat profile. Beyond the basics however is the “Create a Class” system.
“Create a Class” allows you to chose your weapons, weapon attachments, and perks, to create a fighter that is truly your own. Additionally, you have the opportunity to save that class under a name that you provide. This means that no matter where you go, you can swap to a customized fighter tailor made for the situation. Of the perks I was able to see in action, my favorite would be on that causes you to drop a grenade any time you are killed. Yea, think twice about where you are going to “crouch” after fragging me.
In the end, it goes a little something like this: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is absolutely amazing. If the pre-Alpha means “nothing is set in stone” then call this thing a Beta alreadyÃ¢$¦and send me a beta key. Fast paced action, multi-player that offers more than a skin and load-out, and great looking visuals combine to make CoD 4 the game I will be looking out for. Oh and remember I said WWII wasn’t my bag? I haven’t stopped playing CoD 2 since I got home.