Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Xbox 360
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Infinity Ward
Release Date: Out Now
Some game reviews are difficult to write simply because the game has impressed you so much that there are so many thoughts swirling around in your head that you just don’t seem able to pick them out in any coherent order. I was probably one of the few game journalists that wasn’t sick of seeing World War II based Call of Duty games and in fact, I’ve never been too keen on modern warfare. However, I’ve just finished the single-player story in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and I have to admit that no first-person shooter has ever impressed me so much.
In Call of Duty 4 you’ll play as several characters. For the most part you’ll play as Soap MacTavish a British S.A.S. soldier but you’ll also play as a U.S. Marine, Sgt. Jackson and on a few occasions, as other characters. The game is set both in Russia and in the Middle East. Much has been made of how short the single-player game is and it is short. The game could easily be completed in less than five hours if you’re playing on one of the easier difficulty levels (you’re probably talking at least double on the hardest difficulty setting however). With most games I would have a serious complaint about this but there’s absolutely no filler in the single-player campaign. It’s as if Infinity Ward had a 20 hour campaign and trimmed it down to focus on the moments of pure excellence. From the moment you first assault a ship in the middle of the ocean to the moment when you pull the trigger for the final time at the end of the game, it’s none stop adrenaline-pumping excellence. Once you’ve completed the game you’ll also unlock Arcade mode (and the various cheats for the game too) which gives you the chance to replay the missions and attempt to improve your performance.
I won’t go into the game’s story because, to be honest, it would be giving too much away. Suffice to say there are plenty of moments here that are mesmerising, thrilling and shocking. This isn’t an FPS were everything turns out OK. Things go wrong frequently throughout the course of the storyline and at times, disastrously wrong. Whilst the storyline is fictional it definitely picks up on real-world situations and some of the situations you find yourself in look just like they could have been pulled from the evening news. I had my reservations about the Call of Duty series moving from World War II scenarios to modern day warfare but Call of Duty 4 is every inch a true Call of Duty experience and without a doubt the best single-player experience in the series.
Call of Duty 4 isn’t just an excellent offline experience. The multiplayer side of the game is also compelling. The game uses a class system that offers classes such as Assault, Special Ops, Heavy Gunner, Demolitions and Sniper of which only two are available when you first play. The game keeps track of your online performance and you’ll gain experience (for the number of kills and the amount of pre-determined objectives you complete) and level-up. As you level-up you’ll gain more classes and eventually you’ll be able to create your own custom class, choosing what weapons and perks (such as specialised weaponry, increased amount of damage that can be taken and increased health etc.) your character has. These perks help to give your online character a greater sense of individuality. Because of all the perks you can unlock and because you are constantly developing your character, there is a surprising amount of depth here and it’s more rewarding than most FPS multiplayer experiences. The multiplayer game has six different variants (Free-for-all, Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Sabotage, Domination and Headquarters) and sixteen different maps.
Infinity Ward impressed everyone with what they achieved with Call of Duty 2 when the Xbox 360 was launched. For a launch title the game was very impressive with intense action that rarely affected the game’s frame rate. Of course that was a few years ago and Infinity Ward have obviously been working their socks off learning how to get the most out of the Xbox 360 because Call of Duty 4 looks far superior to Call of Duty 2 and the frame rate is excellent throughout. There are some monumental action sequences during the single-player campaign and none of these cause performance issues. There are a multitude of lighting and blurring effects that simply look stunning. The character models look very good and some of the animations are particularly impressive.
The most important thing as far as deaf gamers are concerned is the game’s deaf gamer friendliness. The good news is that Call of Duty 4 is subtitled so you are going to be able to enjoy the game’s storyline. The bad news is that the game isn’t completely subtitled and there are some omissions, which are a little annoying. The dialogue is displayed in white text with the speakers name placed before them in a light green text meaning you’ll know who is saying what. All objectives are shown in text and you’re notified in text when objectives have been completed. You’re also notified in text when a checkpoint has been reached. During a battle you’ll see icons warning you that a grenade has been thrown near to you and that if you don’t move pronto you are going to get blown to smithereens. You’ll also see an icon telling you if a thrown item can be picked up and thrown back. Red directional arcs show you from what direction you’re being fired upon. You’re notified if you need to reload. You’ll also be shown an icon that indicates whether an object can be jumped over. You don’t have a health bar as such. The edges of the screen will redden as you take damage and this reddening will become more intense as you take more damage. If you take a lot of damage you’ll also have a text prompt telling you to get out of the way and if you do take evasive action the redness will subside. As we’ve just mentioned, there are some omissions. There are some comments during the course of the missions that aren’t subtitled. Thankfully none of these are crucially important. There is one cutscene that isn’t subtitled and there are a few times when the screen goes black before going into a mission and the dialogue that’s spoken during these few moments of blackness are not subtitled. As the end credits roll there are some comments that aren’t subtitled and there is one occasion toward the end of the game where the white subtitles are being displayed against a white screen making the text almost impossible to read.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a game any fan of the FPS genre cannot afford to miss out on. The single-player game is short but it’s first class from start to finish and length issues aside, it can’t be faulted. The multiplayer mode is surprisingly deep and once again, it’s difficult to find fault with. In fact the game as a whole is just an excellent experience. If you aren’t normally bothered with the multiplayer portion of an FPS then I can understand any reservations that may creep in regarding the single-player game length. What I will say is that I haven’t come across a finer single-player FPS experience and it’s a game I could definitely see myself playing through multiple times.