Gaming Today Reviews Call of Duty 4
There have been more high quality shooting games in the space of roughly three months than you’d normally see in any given year. Luckily, for the most part, each has its own distinction about it, but that still makes it difficult to choose which one to buy, and leads to plenty of unwinnable debates about best FPS of the year. (Not to mention that several of these games are legitimate contenders for Overall Game of the Year.)
Call of Duty 4 comes out in the wake of Halo 3 and The Orange Box, two games that are simply oozing with value; The Orange Box has five games in one, and Halo 3 has every mode you could want – co-op, a level creator, etc. While Call of Duty 4 is most certainly a feature-rich game, it doesn’t quite weigh up against the two very well in terms of a feature list. CoD4 is one of the most polished shooters ever, and has one of the most compelling stories of any FPS this side of the Half-Life series.
If you’re a fan of shooters, this is a must buy. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it – if you like shooting games, you’d be doing yourself an immense disservice to ignore Call of Duty 4.
I’ve no doubt irked the BioShock fans already, but CoD4 has such a phenomenal presentation and tells the story in such a convincing way that it’s hard to enjoy the story of any other shooter. While the concept of a battle in the Middle East isn’t the most original, nor are many of the elements contained within CoD4’s, everything is pulled off with incredible expertise and in a very unique way.
In addition to having one of the most memorable opening levels of any game – ever – it’s quickly followed up by a sequence that puts you in the shoes of a Mid-Eastern president as he’s dragged through the streets of his country, which is undergoing a coup. While it does amount to a cutscene that allows the credits to scroll by, the sense that you are really in this man’s body, looking around the country you once led, firing squads executing people, feels so gritty and real that saying it will immerse you would be an understatement.
And that feeling continues while in the heat of the action. There are certain things that detract from the feel, most notably the areas where the trigger to start an enemy attack is far too apparent, but when you’re fighting alongside squad members that both seem like real people and, perhaps more importantly, people you actually care about, it’s easy to forgive the monster closet fashion in which enemies are dispensed.
The AI generally manages to keep up with the action while seeming real enough, which is all that you can ask, although the apparently immunity your fellow squadmates enjoy will have you wondering why that grenade didn’t even make a mark on Captain Price.
The single-player and multiplayer both boil down to fights within corridors or small-to-medium sized rooms, much like previous Call of Duty games, just as the single-player still relies on scripted sequences and a fairly linear path. It’s never a problem, though, as the game does a fine job of giving you a sense of freedom while keeping you on that path.
Whether in single-player or multiplayer, the game looks absolutely gorgeous and shows off some impressive lighting effects. The first time you see the camouflaged Russians suddenly appear after revealing themselves from the grass is an incredible site, and is undoubtedly one we’ll see copied by many other games.
Call of Duty 4’s major deficiency is simply the lack of one feature in co-op play. And just like BioShock was forgiven for its lack of multiplayer because its story compensated for it and wouldn’t have really allowed for a multiplayer mode to make sense, Call of Duty 4 is bound to receive the same treatment once everyone is able to experience the phenomenal single-player.
But the multiplayer mode is more than sufficient. In addition to the standard fare you’d expect from a top-notch multiplayer shooter these days, there’s the new leveling system that gives you a real incentive to keep playing and do your best. There’s more to it than a numerical rating system – as you progress through the ranks, you’ll unlock various weapons, mods and perks (such as the ability to take more damage or drop a live grenade when killed), which are something to strive for. It also inadvertently caters to the better players who have more time to spend with the game, but the higher-end weapons aren’t so dominant that the lower levels will be helpless.
When trying to explain why Call of Duty 4 is as great as it is, you can’t simply name off all of the game’s features. Not that they’re unimpressive, but it doesn’t do it justice – Call of Duty 4 is more than the sum of its parts. It’s an experience to be had, and you owe it to yourself to play it.
The story, atmosphere and characters are all so convincing and well done that other games look like a joke by comparison.
The terrific lighting effects are only surpassed by the wow-inducing camouflage.
A great soundtrack compliments the action. Weapon effects and voice acting is also top notch, with none of the Russian sounding like cheesy westerners with a bad accent.
This is the pinnacle of FPS action in both the single- and multiplayer varieties. It’s an absolute must buy – simple as that.