Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Published by Infinity Ward
Developed by Activision
ESRB Rating: M
Based on the popular World War II First Person Shooter series, Call of Duty 4 is a departure form the usual setting in that it takes place in the modern era in a hypothetical crisis originating in an unnamed Middle East country.
The player takes on the role of 3 different characters as the story progresses. During the tutorial and first few missions, the main character is "Soap" McTavish, an SAS soldier. The story later switches to the American invasion of an unnamed Middle Eastern country and plays the role of a U.S. Marine, Paul Jackson. The player switches back and forth and for one mission plays the role of Lt. Price in a flashback. Price, who is actually McTavish\'s commanding officer in the current time, is now a Captain and otherwise an NPC.
The controls are typical of a FPS game, with the ability to crouch, go prone, sprint, and fire the weapon either from the hip or by looking through the sights/scope. Grenades are available, in the form of frag or flashbang in campaign mode, and the player can get smoke grenades in Multiplayer mode.
The mission variety is very wide, with some missions even allowing the player to fire helicopter mounted canons, the weapon systems of a KC-135 air support plane using I/R mode, mini-gun positions, and fire from moving vehicles. Some missions are straightforward combat missions, some stealth, and some missions even require the player to defend a position they\'d fought to gain in a previous mission.
There is no health meter as such. When the player sustains damage the edges of the screen start to fill in a hazy red. If the player can quickly get behind cover, they will recover slowly.
COD4 is primarily intended to be a multiplayer game, and as such it offers a number of unique features called Perks. One is called Last Stand, in which a player who has been critically wounded does not always respawn immediately, but can make a heroic last attempt to take an enemy with them by using their sidearm. This is meant to simulate a soldier who is mortally wounded using his last breath to try and kill a foe. A player in this state can\'t move, and can be finished off by an enemy. Other Perks allow more health, more damage, quicker reloads, etc.
Accumulating consecutive kills allows a player to gain special one-use benefits, like calling in an air strike or receiving support fire from a helicopter.
Multiplayer mode allows for the players to actually grow as heir experience increases with the game. By accumulating kills, one can unlock additional weapons which are unavailable at first. Once a player has reached the maximum experience, they can start again at zero with a rank increase. Rank increases don\'t affect gameplay at all, but are good for bragging rights. Note: This is only for online play, not for local split screen multiplayer, where all weapons and classes are available.
In a multiplayer game, there is a variety of maps and game types, including an "Arcade Mode" in which points are awarded for kills and hits, and display in large colorful numbers onscreen.
The graphics are excellent, with plenty of details to truly give the player the feeling of being in an actual war zone. Smoke effects look incredibly real and the missions using I/R from the support plane are almost indistinguishable from actual combat footage. Possibly the strongest element of realism comes from the simple touches, like papers and debris blowing by in the wind in the devastated city zones. It is highly reminiscent of TV news footage of such places, and one could be forgiven for thinking they were seeing video shot on location.
The sound is crisp and great attention has been given to authenticity. The music during the opening of the game is superb and the stereo sound becomes critical to survival in some stages.
No glitches or issues were noticed on the XBox 360 version, and there was never any lag. Enemies are rendered in high detail but the abundance of cover and terrain means there normally aren\'t very many of them on screen at one time.
The controls are fairly straightforward, essentially the same as earlier Call of Duty titles. Every weapon has kick, so going full auto is almost never a good idea, but some weapons are more manageable than others, adding a sense of realism.
In multiplayer mode, repeated consecutive kills allows a player to call for air support, which can come in the form of a helicopter to hound enemy players or an air strike in which fighters zoom over and fire bomb whatever part of the map is designated as a target by the player.
This is a war game, and necessarily contains a good deal of violence. On the upside, visible blood is kept to a minimum, with no gratuitous splashes of blood. Shooting an enemy normally shows none at all, although if they\'re in front of a wall or other piece of scenery, there will often be a splatter behind them. This is meant to be realistic as opposed to gory for its own sake, but can still be rather disturbing.
There is also one point in the game where the player must use a sniper rifle to attack an enemy, and the target\'s arm is blown off in graphic detail.
There is also a scene in which the player experiences the effect and aftermath of a nuclear explosion, and the effect is quite disturbing. It brings the horrors of nuclear weapons to the forefront.
The language in this game is mild compared to the other elements, but still not appropriate for kids. Expect the usual PG rated language. (No F-bombs were noticed, although friendly troops do utter the occasional mild expletive during battle.) Generally speaking, they do make an effort to avoid gratuitous swearing, using more harmless jargon where possible. (The player is called a "muppet" at least once by his C.O.)
Sexual Content/Nudity 10/10
None whatsoever. This is purely a war game.
The player is called upon to do what a soldier does, and it\'s not glamorous. The game does try to put these actions in a context to minimize moral issues, but the player is able to play as a sniper and in at least one instance is forced to fire on an unarmed target in order to advance the plot. Physical torture is also seen in the game although the player is never called upon to participate in it.
In general the game is meant to allow the player to be heroic, and in fact some missions rely upon it.
This is not a game for children, but for a FPS it is an excellent title. Especially if one is tired of the endless parade of WWII games, Call of Duty 4 is a nice change of pace enabling a player to experience some of the concepts and differences in the way modern warfare is fought. The campaign feels too short, but that\'s mostly perception. The game is a lot of fun in both campaign and multiplayer modes.
Total Score: 80/100