Call of Duty 4 - Review
Call of Duty 4 is an immense game, one of the few First Person Shooters to have had a similar impact on me to that of the Half-Life games. Upon first playing this game I knew I would love it, there is something about it which is just brilliant. The game is highly cinematic at times in single-player, with some scenes just brilliant and at times shocking. This game does some things which I have not witnessed in other games, and at times my jaw was left hanging at what had occurred to you character.
So you play two characters, which as ever in the Call of Duty series you switch between playing as at various times during the campaign. You are either ‘Soap’ Mactavish or Jackson; Soap is your SAS character and Jackson is who you play as with the US Marines. The single-player is, as I have already said very cinematic, but it is also very short clocking in at about 7 hours. Now this isn’t one of the Half-Life episodes where you expect that, but a full single-player game. But this is the gaming world we currently live in, but that is a rant for my own time. So you may only get 7 hours of the straight campaign, which is nicely doubled though with the Arcade mode and Cheats you unlock by completing the game and getting all the ‘intelligence’ items in the game.
The story is actually there, a first I think for a Call of Duty game which used to just throw you into fixed battles and let you go from there, but this have a general plot for you to play inside. Oh did I not mention this time we are playing in the modern day? No, oh well, I’ve told you now! It is pretty decent story I must say, bringing back some characters from the old Call of Duty’s like MacMillan and Price while introducing some new ones to keep it fresh. My one problem with the story is that the developers took a mixed approach, in some ways they were very, very bold in some aspects which I don’t want to ruin for you, while in other aspects they were very reserved, the Marine side of the game takes place in ‘THE MIDDLE EAST’. A minor annoyance I must say that they didn’t even name a country in that part of the campaign, while other areas of the campaign take you through Russia and some other nice ex-Soviet Bloc countries.
The gameplay is good and fast paced. Cover is of great importance; you find cover and move up while avoiding the many grenades you will find thrown at you. It seems at times like the enemy has an infinite grenade supply! The healing system from Call of Duty 2 returns, if you see red blood marks clouding your HUD then you need to jump behind some cover and rest for a few seconds to heal up. The AI is solid if not spectacular, your squad mate will do a decent job, but it is often left up to you to make the forward move to get them to tag along with you and to stop the enemy respawning. There is no quicksave as such, but there are checkpoints scattered around the maps, luckily they are well placed so you don’t have to travel miles to get back to where you want to be. The weapons are all very well balanced and do a good job depending on which ones you use. However you can only have to weapons on you at any one time, by default you have a primary weapon, a handgun, a few special grenades (Flash, Smoke, Stun) and a few normal frag grenades in your inventory. Other times you may have C4 and night-vision in your inventory among other things like airstrikes.
The graphics are very good, it seems a very scaleable game and looks good even when playing at the lower end of the scale, though obviously a better rig means better graphics at better framerates. That is unless you have an Xbox360 which I think have heard looks just as good as on the PC, though as I don’t have a 360 I cannot provide a fair judgement. The effects are very nice, rain is top notch, the weapons are all well modelled and detailed, and the character models are excellent. The motion-capture has been used extremely well and characters sprinting look as you would expect someone loaded down with equipment to be.
The multiplayer is yet again, top notch! I thought TF2 was good, but this in my mind takes the biscuit (though I hate the server browser!) with some great customization all around, be it on the server side or on your character. There are plenty of game types to sink your teeth into, Death Match, Team Death Match, Search and Destroy, Domination (control point exercise), Headquarters and Sabotage. These game modes can be combined with some other options like ‘Hardcore’ mode where the HUD is removed and plays realistically and other game modes which provide you with random pickups to provide you with a hint of Quake.
Infinity Ward have also employed a very good ranking system in which all servers will report the stats unlike Battlefield 2 which required servers to be set-up to be ranked. As it is you progress up the ranks which require various experience points which you gain via kills, assists, completing challenges (such as getting x amount of grenade kills) and using special equipment. The special equipment comes after getting a nice little kill streak and you can get a UAV, an Air Strike and a Attack Helicopter to come swooping over the battle bringing death and destruction. At different ranks you can unlock new weapons, bits of kit like silencers for them and ‘perks’ which allow some great customisation of your character. There is currently a bug that sticks out, if you are playing the game with Steam Friends on then you will be kicked by Punkbuster, so turn off Steam Friends and use Xfire instead until this gets resolved.
Overall this is an amazing game, really enjoyable almost all the time, brilliant in sections and with an amazing multiplayer. However the campaign is a bit short and there are a few too many tedious moments filling the gaps between the epic ones. But still, get this game!
Cost - £30 PC, £40 360 and PS3 (amazon.co.uk) Steam price for this is extortionate I must admit.
Requirements – P4 2.4Ghz, AMD equivalent, 512MB RAM, 8GB Hard Drive Space, GeForce 6600 or ATi 9800Pro or better, internet for multiplayer
Pro’s – Great graphics and multiplayer, innovative ranking system, amazing moment in singleplayer
Con’s – Too short!
Overall – 10/10