Sunday, April 20, 2008

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Game: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

System: Just about everything!

Release: November 2007

Recently Activision and Infinity Ward released downloadable content for the hit game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The map pack introduced four new arenas for players to experience, and grossed an estimated $10 million during the first ten days. This is followed by over three months of toping the Xbox Live most played charts. Needless to say this game kicks some major ass, and will now get some attention on the somewhat neglected Rubber’s Review. Be warned for the three or four people who have never played this game—there are some spoilers.

COD4 offers tons of action to anyone brave enough to pick up the sticks. Taking a duel role in the single player game, you will experience the adventures of a soldier for the British S.A.S. and U.S. Marines. Each add compelling points of view to the overall story, and play slightly different roles. The S.A.S. missions offer a relatively stealthier approach to combat. A smaller number of comrades are present in these missions, and snipping is a brutally effective tactic used to the fullest potential. The infamous gunny suit mission has a player sneaking around an enemy battalion to take out the main objective. The final shot is taken miles away with the coriolis effect and wind being major factors in the mission’s success. Of course after you hit your target an entire army is out to ensure you never make another badass assassination attempt.

The U.S. Marine missions are equally intense but in a different way. The U.S. typically employee’s brute force in their tactics and COD4 illustrates this vividly. Marines will be dieing left and right, but don’t worry there are plenty of soldiers to back you up. The majority of missions have the player charge, search, and clear various buildings. Wielding the helicopter guns as you punch through the urban jungle searching for key targets, the Marines are often met with wave after wave of enemies touting sniper rifles, AK-47’s, and RPGs. These bad boys are also smarter then your average terrorist. They will take cover, flank, and communicate with each other to ensure you die—frequently.

One of the features that make this single player experience outstanding is the use of non-traditional FPS moments throughout the game. Players will take on the P.O.V. of the recently overthrown president as he is delivered to his executioner. Looking side to side you see murders, tanks, and battalions throughout the streets in some “Iraq like” nation. There is also the sniper mission already mentioned, and the entertaining “Death from Above” level that places the player high up in an air support gunship. Think big explosions and lots of death—from above. Finally there are more cinematic moments where players get to make epic shots in slow motion, or witness their own demise as a nuclear devise is detonated a few miles from your position. These moments add something different to the campaign that is rarely seen in most games in this genre.

Sadly this great single player experience is just that—single player. There is no co-op of any kind, and this is defiantly a let down. With so many games, even the crappy ones, employing cooperative story modes there is no excuse for this horrendous situation. The other issue is the overall length of the single player. Six hours does not cut it when the genres average is eight to ten hours. Sure the Arcade Mode will add some replay value, but even going through each mission twice comes to a pitiful twelve hours. Fortunately the multiplayer is arguably the best FPS experience around.

The standard games-types await the contenders of Xbox Live. There is no CTF, however, everything else seems to be available—Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Sabotage, Domination, etc. To ensure players continue to play until COD5, there is semi-brilliant leveling system. Players start off with the bare essentials in terms of weapons, perks, and explosives. Upon reaching level four these three categories become customizable, and as the player levels more tools of destruction become available.

Weapons should be fairly self explanatory. Rest assured this game takes full advantage of every single piece of currently used weaponry. My personal favorites include the G36C, M16, and P90. These weapons, however, are available based on your level. Don’t expect to be wielding the deadly .50 cal sniper rifle in your first fight. Perks are a variety of “power ups” that gives your character a personalized play style. Players can customize a snipping character with Iron Lungs for a longer lasting steady shot, and Deep Impact for increased damage. Conversely, a stealthily fast soldier can be created with the UV (radar) Jammer and Extreme Conditioning for a longer sprint. These various perks provide a unique edge for players, and are remarkably balanced. Explosives come in a variety of styles. RPGs, claymores, C4, and of course a plethora of grenades will ensure plenty of big bada-booms! Like weapons the full arsenal of perks and explosives is not available until the player reaches the level cap at 55.

The leveling system is often a complaint that is easily found throughout the gaming community. This is a minor issue in my opinion, and adds much more then it takes away. Players have the ability to pick up fallen weapons, and anyone with any decent amount of skill can unlock the various perks quickly. The leveling system is cumulative, and the various challenges reward large amount of experience for rapid leveling. “But that evil man snipes me all the time with his .50 cal, and he always calls in support strikes!!!” Ok, yes, this happens. Players can score killing streak support items like Air Strikes and Helicopters with greater ease utilizing the higher level features. The beauty of this game is lower level players can call in support too. The same Air Strike is called in with a M16 kill streak as with a G36C. For those who enjoy the leveling up process there is a Prestige system to further the life of this wonderful game. Players can restart from level 1, and begin to re-earn everything over again. The reward is bragging rights with a shiny medal to indicate your rank.

So, incase you haven’t figured it out yet, this game is a must own. Superior graphics depict everything from the bullet shell to the butterfly near the creek. The gameplay is solid, and adds numerous needed features to the FPS genre. Sprinting will be seen in many a game to come, throwing grenades back is awesome, and the overall feel of the controls will make you wish all games played this smooth. The sound is so close to perfect that your neighbors may call the cops out of the fear that a revolution as just begun. Add to this a solid yet short single player, and a fantastic multiplayer, and you have an outstanding score of 4.9 out of 5. The only thing holding this game short of perfection is its lack of co-op, and limiting special features that are available in games like Halo 3—namely recording games and level editors. Despite these minor flaws this game remains #1 in the charts and the numbers do not lie.

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