Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare  (Microsoft Xbox 360, 2007) Reviews

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Microsoft Xbox 360, 2007)

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Bringing Terror to the Terrorists

Nov 10, 2007 (Updated Nov 10, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent AudioVisual presentation. Remarkable warfare experience.

Cons:Singleplayer is 5 hours long. Not enough gore. Multiplayer balance issues.

The Bottom Line: Scores of Arabs and Russians line up to be killed in a hail of your bullets in this beautifully crafted, world of warfare.

If video games are being produced based on the developer’s interpretation of the future, then, that future looks rough. It seems as though there is no shortage of Russian speaking, dissidents of collapsed Soviet Union satellites – or Arabic speaking, generically labeled “Terrorists” trained to run up to your crosshairs yelling and screaming for you to put them out of their misery - in a hail of bullets.

It seems as though America is perpetually in a state of war – with British troops right by her side, assaulting, attacking and otherwise disrupting elements of activity related to these, under-represented, disenfranchised members of the 3rd world.

”Whoever Wants to Go To War Has Never Truly Been There”

CALL OF DUTY 4 is the newest war simulation from Infinity Ward, and the first one I have purchased in the Call of Duty series. CoD1 – CoD3 were based during WW2 and I had already gotten bored with the WW2 theme during play sessions of Medal of Honor. I bought CoD4 because I was interested in a modernized warfare game along the lines of America’s Army, Battlefield 2 and Operation Flashpoint

This game has no story or plot. The manual is a mere 8 pages long.

The game’s only attempt at a story to hook you is by sending you on a bevy of missions, after introducing you to the latest Arab Muslim Terrorist video game character -Khaled Al Asad; who has decided that he wants to mark himself for death at the hands of US Marines, by hijacking a nuclear device from a disorderly nation of the former Soviet Union. Considering that as I am typing this, Pakistan, a nuclear armed nation, is currently under threat of takeover by radical Islamist forces, the mission objectives of CoD4 do not seem so far fetched.

Its more, “been there, done that” only this time… its being done really well

Call of Duty 4 has the best graphics and the best sound I have seen on the Xbox yet.
The Graphics are nearly photo realistic during most of the outdoor missions, right down to the grass, brush, wooden doors on shacks and metal structures. While the enemy’s detailing could have used some work, there isn’t much to gripe about in CoD4’s graphic department. Even during online play, the graphics are sharp, impressive and vivid whether you are playing on a standard TV or an HDTV.

Shooting enemies typically causes short spurts of blood and shooting them in the head usually displays the telltale “pink mist” as well as what appears to be a small piece of their skull flying off. This is especially nice when you are sniping with a silenced rifle and your simple *pffffft* puts a hole in an enemy soldier’s face.

Gunshot flash effects are especially spectacular partly because in the tradition of CoD games, you must aim right down your barrel’s iron sights to gain the most accuracy against your enemy.

Many of the game’s best graphical moments are due to the spectacular volumetric lighting and dynamic shadows. There are plenty of moments that make your jaw drop and leave you shouting “holy sh*t” but I think the moment that wowed me the most was when you must use the “Javelin” anti tank missile to destroy 5 tanks in the early stages. When you let one rip, it rockets towards the sky and then falls on its target like a meteorite.

The public’s first introduction to the capabilities of the AC-130 Spectre gunship was probably in the movie Transformers when one of them fires its weapons on Sporpinox. There is a great level in CoD4 where you get to use the Spectre’s 25mm, 40mm and 105mm cannons to provide air support to your buddies on the ground.

Similar to other CoD games, the screen rocks and rolls when explosions nearby give you concussions or rattle your bones. It adds new levels of visual immersion into the game's world and it all looks damned good.

The sound is equally impressive. Your rifles all sound violent and loud (something Halo continually disappointed me with). When there are massive gun battles – and there will be plenty of them - the sound is at its best when you are using a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound system. Everything from Arabs and Russians shouting angry unmentionables at you to the cracks of gunfire both near and distant is displayed wonderfully.

I was simply amazed by the sounds of bullets zipping, ricocheting and clipping the terrain. There must be over 100 bullet sound fx because none of them ever sound similar. You may also get into a fire fight near steel girders while watching in awe as the bullets create sparks on the metal.

"If your assault is going too well - you're being set up for an ambush"

The best thing about the game's audio visual presentation is the fact that all of the game's scenes are done in-game using the game's standard game engine. In the early scenes for example, as you are in the shoes of a deposed dictator being lead to your execution, you can look around the inside of the car taking you to your death - and out the windows, watching people being gunned down by firing squads. In another scene, you crawl from the wreckage of a helicopter only to...die... while you marvel around you at the death and destruction caused by a detonated nuke.

This is also the first game I've played where the typical attack dogs are scarier than the enemy's guns. If they knock you to the ground you've gotta shake them off before they tear open your throat. Break the dog's neck and you get the Down Boy...Down achievement (20 gamerpoints)

”Freedom isn’t Free but the US Marines will pay your share…”

During the game you will jump from the boots of one character to the next as you move from chapter to chapter. During the British special opts missions you will play as a new recruit to the S.A.S team – Private “Soap” – along side your commanding officer “Captain Price” and the rest of the team as they raid homes in Eastern European countrysides.

There is a flashback scene where you must assasinate a terrorist Muslim by stealthily sneaking across farmland in a sniper's ghillie suit and then man a MK 82 Baret .50 to kill him. Very Cool

Later, you will jump into the boots of a U.S. Marine Force – Private Jackson – where you’ll use American weapons to fight Arabs in exotic locations – even in Iraq during “Shock and Awe” Day 3.

Your partners all have excellent Artificial Intelligence and they never get stuck as they move from waypoint to waypoint. They also provide good covering fire and they will barge into doors to assault hiding enemies on their own. Similar to real life warfare, many times, you’ll see one of them get cut down by enemy fire and the graphics really make you pause for a moment and ponder what has just happened.

"Battle Plans NEVER survive contact with the enemy"

What makes me happiest about Call of Duty 4 is that it has come just in time to put an end to Halo 3’s single handed domination of Xbox live. When H3 was released, everyone was playing it and almost no one was playing anything else. CoD4 is a solid title that is already hosting a bevy of player all around the world (mostly American or British).

Multiplayer here is EXACTLY what you’d expect from a Call of Duty game (and all of the Battlefield games).

You choose a class; Sniper, Assault, Demolitions or Special Opts.
Your choice will determine your weapon type: a sniper gets a high powered rifle with a scope. Assault gets an M16 with grenade launcher, Demo gets a shotgun and Special Opts gets an MP5.

Your weapon will pretty much decide your role in each map – if you have a sniper rifle, you don’t want to be moving around too much because you are ineffective at short ranges and if you have a rifle or smg, you don’t want to be going up against snipers.

There are a few key differences in CoD4 which separate it from other games in this pack to speak of. Firstly, the aiming system is specifically designed so that you must aim with the right analog stick – then you must press the Left trigger to actually aim through the scope – followed by a need to hold the Left Stick (L3) down in order to hold your breath and take steady shots. It is a bit complicated but after a while you’ll get used to it.
The only decision that annoyed me was the need for the LeftBumper and RightBumper buttons to both be grenade throwers. First of all, I hate gamers who mindlessly toss grenades at anyone they miss. Secondly, I felt it would be more balanced to let a player select grenades in the same manner they select weapons using the D-pad.

Holding the Left Stick down (L3) causes your soldier to sprint which makes him run just a bit faster than most enemies can aim at him. You can’t do this for very long periods of time but it will help you get out of some sticky situations.

The next major alteration made in Multiplayer of CoD4 is the Perks system.
Each individual class has their own Perks which are special abilities that can be unlocked through play and the gaining of experience.
Some perks include : increased weapon damage, increased stamina (for sprints), faster reloading, invisibility on radar, or increased accuracy. Other perks increase your health, allow for more grenades to be carried, or allows you to carry a rocket launcher- RPG- (for shooting down enemy helicopters)
The perks list continues on to “revenge” perks such as Last Stand which allows you to whip out your pistol for a last chance at killing the guy who just cut you down – or, Martydom, which causes a live grenade to drop at your feet to hopefully kill the guy who just knifed you.

Rather than have Battlefield2 style air strikes, CoD4 rewards skillfull players by offering them special abilities if they manage to net a high kill –to-death ratio. If you kill 3 enemies in a row, you are given instant-radar (provided by a UAV) which allows you to see everyone on the map. If you kill 5, you are offered an air strike which sends a squad of jet fighters streaking over head –bombing everything beneath. Kill 7 and you’ll be offered a helicopter gunship which will fly around shooting at everyone out in the open with a gattling cannon.

In order to kill the helicopter, the enemies will either have to have gained the RPG perk, or they'll have to be manning one of the level's turrets. Until it is shot down, the helicopter will fly around gunning people down, adding kills to your score.

While you search for warm bodies to fill with hot lead, you gain experience points. Experience points increase your rank from Private all the way up to 4-star General – unlocking perks along the way – and giving you Xbox Live Achievements. The typical achievements are all here: score multiple headshots, destroy X number of enemies, capture X number of flags, etc.

I should also mention that there is a “create a class” feature which allows you to create up to 5 custom classes (you choose primary, secondary weapons and up to 3 perks).

”You were killed by an exploding car. Cars on Fire may explode killing those nearby”

Unlike Halo 3 and Battlefield which disappointed me with their battle damage models, CoD4 makes your soldier and the enemy feel appropriately fragile. Firing a 3-round burst at an enemy is enough to kill him in one volley (at the most, 2 volleys) and if you are using a sniper rifle, one shot is normally enough to kill.

Grenades are especially powerful. If one is thrown and lands near you, a grenade indicator will pop up, alerting you to the grenade and its direction so you can back off. If it lands at your feet, pressing the RightBumper will pick it up and lug it back.
[An annoying caveat is that the martyrdom grenade has a very short fuse and gives you almost no time to throw it before it detonates in your face]

Bullets tear through everything . A special processing code in the engine handles bullet trajectories and calculates their penetration through solid materials such as sheetrock walls, fences, wood and thin metal. Gaining penetration perks makes you much more lethal since you can shoot through anything your enemy might hide behind. You will quickly learn that stray bullets can (and will) find their way into your skull if you find yourself on the wrong end of a crossfire - even if you are behind a wall. The game even gives experience points as rewards to people who continuously kill people they can't see behind a barrier.

"Teamwork is important - it gives the other guy more people to shoot at"

The Singleplayer campaign is shockingly short – spread across 3 acts that take around 10 ~15 minutes each to beat. In the game’s defense, those moments of play are incredibly fun and will engross you in its realism the entire time.

I was also a bit dissapointed that the multiplayer radar is damn near useless. You can only see the last position a guy was in when he fired a shot - unless you gain UAV support to spot enemies on the map.

Furthermore, the maps, despite their high detail, are featureless with no major landmarks. All of the multiplay maps are variations of the "war torn area" theme. It is nearly impossible to figure out exactly where you are and give your position to others.

You will learn quickly enough that you absolutely cannot stop moving, or turn your back too long because the maps feature almost no safe camping positions - you can be outflanked easily no matter where you are. Claymore mine Perks help a little, if you plant them around your position (like near doorways or highly traveled paths), but, you only get two of them and you can still be shot if an enemy destroys them.

You will quickly learn that you must camp as much as possible because no matter where you are, someone can see you and take a shot at you if you are in the open. All too often, you will kill someone and attract the gunfire of someone else who was nearby - and they will shoot you in the back.

People seem to be surrounding you all the time and it gives you a freaky, paranoid feeling you are always about to be killed... because you soon will be.

I would appreciate it if there wasn't a "martydom" perk because it makes the gameplay feel cheap.

"REMEMBER, the Claymore mine is planted towards you"

With the Call of Duty games, we’ve gotten closer and closer to graphical representations – of the hell that our grandfathers and fathers faced in WW2, and our brothers and sisters are facing right now in Iraq. My only gripe with this game is that the combat and violence is derivative and lacks true impact of what we see everyday in headlines.
The only thing that is missing here is full body fragmenting like that found in the Soldier of Fortune games which turn bullet wounds and shotgun blasts into bloody amputations.
How could explosions and gun blasts that are this violent not taken humans apart?
Having limbs laying about after vicious gun battles serves to heighten the visual impact of death and bloodshed. It is necessary to reinforce the simple truth: “bullets hurt – a lot”.

I like CoD4 because it looks and feels like what I expect war should look and feel like, but it is obvious that the people we are killing are based on their real life counterparts whose cultures are being exploited to suit the desires of the game’s developers.

Even though there are real life wars going on right now on the other side of the world, it is always impressive when a developer brings us closer and closer to real war with simulations on video game consoles.

Whether in singleplayer or multiplayer, you'll fight through highly detailed, wartorn villages, warehouses or districts hoping to aim your red dot at the enemy's head before he does the same to you. The list of spots to camp in are myriad but when you are discovered, unless your first shot is a headshot, it will be your last.

This is an excellent game and a must have for the Xbox 360 and I only hope Soldier of Fortune:Payback (released on November 13th) comes close to it or surpasses it.

There is no way Halo 3 (or anything else) will beat Call of Duty 4 for Action game of the Year"

Recommend this product? Yes

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