Monday, November 19, 2007


I have never been one to kid myself into thinking I could handle the struggles of war. I couldn’t do it and have great admiration for the men and women in uniform protecting our country. I imagine many others feel the same way and that contributes to the popularity of first-person shooter video games. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is such a game.

The game comes with the usual options of playing solo (you’ll play as a U.S. Marine and British S.A.S.) or multiplayer campaigns. The easiest thing to do is to jump into a single player game and that exactly what I did.

It doesn’t take long to get the feeling that this game isn’t going to be like anything you’ve played before. Sure, it’s a Call of Duty game, but there’s something different. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re no longer in a WWII setting. Maybe it’s the graphics that take you to another level. Whatever it is, you know right away you’re going for one heck of a ride.

After an initial training session, which is more enjoyable than most in-game tutorials, you start your mission on a ship in the middle of the Bering Strait. Going from compartment to compartment you explore the entire vessel in an attempt to overtake it. Once you do, your mission changes to getting out alive as you race to a higher point while the ship begins to take on water. This is done surprisingly well as you get the sense that you are fighting to keep your balance as the floor’s angle shifts beneath your feet.

I won’t go into too many details because I think being surprised is important in games. Why would anyone want to know all the details before playing? But I do have to say that two elements are extremely fascinating. First, as you start the second level, you see things through the eyes of a kidnapped Middle East leader. You are helpless in the backseat of a car as the kidnappers driver you through the streets of a dirty, crime-ridden town. You are walked to the center of what has the feel of a bull-fighting arena and you are the main attraction. The only problem is you aren’t facing a bull, but a gun that is pointed straight at your head. Click…

Honestly, it’s one of the creepiest things I have ever experienced in a video game. But I’m glad it was in there. I won’t be dumb enough to say it gives a gamer the real feeling of being in the shoes of someone about to be executed, but it does provide a different perspective than most would have without it.

Another thing that I found amazing was being the gunner in a helicopter over a town in the Middle East. I’m not talking about the typical “shoot out of the side as you fly quickly by the targets” mode either, although that’s in the game too. No, I mean you’re literally hovering above the town and your sole purpose is basically to blow up anything that moves (except your allies, of course). Having the ability to chase the enemy out of buildings and to track them as the run across fields or down a road…it’s intense. (See the picture above for an idea of what you’ll see.)

There’s a third level and, in all, expect to spend anywhere from 4-10 hours on the game, depending on setting you’re on and your familiarity with shooters. For experienced gamers playing at Normal difficulty, it will probably take five or six hours. Yes, that is short. But it’s action-packed and just about every second of the game will be intense, so it’s a very good 5-6 hours.

Once the campaign is over, an arcade mode is unlocked, as well as some cheats. Again, I won’t spoil it by telling you what you’ll find, but you can probably guess just from the fact that there’s an arcade mode. That equals CoD with added fun.

For those looking for multiplayer action, you’ll get the same stuff, only you’ll have the added element of other humans helping with the campaigns instead of characters controlled by AI. You’ll also access 55 multiplayer ranks and six different classes. You’ll also have unlockable gadgets, weapons and special abilities (called perks).

To be honest, only an extremely lengthy review, with descriptions of all the bells and whistles, will do justice to this game. But, getting to the point, it’s an unbelievable experience with outstanding graphics, terrific audio, amazing environments and heart-pounding action. I never thought of myself as a fan of first-person shooters, but Halo 3 made me re-thing that. Now, with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in my machine, I know I’m a fan. Well, at least I’m a fan of incredibly good shooters!

GAMEPLAY: The controls are responsive and I had no problems controlling my travels and actions. The game moves fast, but it’s never out of control to the point that it’s not enjoyable. Yes, it’s on the short side, but it’s one of the most action-packed titles I have ever played…right there with Halo 3. Oh, the storyline is top-notch too.

GRAPHICS: Very good. The details, the movements, the environments…they’re all about as realistic as you could hope for. I’ll put the interaction with the environment a notch below Halo 3, but that’s still pretty good.

SOUND: Everything is there to provide you with a great gaming experience. The war sound effects are perfect (at least as far as I know!) and the soundtrack helps move the game along. The voices of the other characters are understandable and convey their emotions well. Some games seem to just track some actors and stick the voices in the game, but that’s not the case here. None of the audio seems out of place.

EXTRAS: Multiplayer, arcade mode, cheats, etc. CoD gives you everything you could expect (Halo 3’s map editor and replay feature went above and beyond).

GRADE: 93% (Same as Halo 3, being that there's some give-and-take in a few areas; ultimately it all evens out and they're both unbelievably good.)

NOTE: Just like Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare carries a Mature (17+) rating that should not be ignored. It’s a brutal game, full of violence, and really is not suitable for the younger crowd. Obviously some parents may feel their kids are mature enough to handle this game, but that’s an individual choice. As a general rule, this isn’t a title for the little ones.

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