The days of the World War II era shooter may be over, and the Call of Duty series might be the first to defect. When Infinity Ward announced that all later COD titles would take place in a modern warfare setting, I had my doubts, and even more after my disappointment with Call of Duty 3. That was until I saw the demonstration at E3. From the moment I saw the SAS agents emerge from a very convincing camouflage, I was hooked.
Infinity Ward even announced they were going to offer an online multiplayer beta that I wanted to take part in, but when it came out my 360 got the Red Ring of Death so I was out of the loop until the final release. All I can say now is I’m glad I waited because Call of Duty 4 was well worth it.
With its departure from the World War II setting, COD4 starts off with a bang, an SAS assault on an Estonian frigate carrying precious cargo: a nuclear warhead with Arabic markings on it. However upon the discovery, two MiGs fire on, and sink it, but not before the SAS escapes in a very dramatic sequence.
It doesn’t stop from there: we are then taken to the Middle East, and through the eyes of overthrown President Al-Fulari, we see the results of a revolution. People are resisting the military, dogs are chasing them through the streets, infidels are gunned down via firing squad, and revolutionaries fire their guns in the air. The President is tied to a pole, and is placed face to face with a Russian Ultranationalist, who walks away and hands a gun to revolutionary leader Khalid Al-Asad. From his own eyes, Al-Fulari is executed, and it is broadcasted live on the news.
Just this scene alone sets the pace of Call of Duty 4. The main gist of the story consists of both USMC and British SAS forces teaming up to stop Al-Asad and the Ultranationalist movement from attacking the rest of the free world. We’ve seen the combat from past Call of Duty titles, but by taking it to modern settings, the already intense battles increase tenfold.
Keeping true to the series’ "no one fights alone" philosophy, you are still part of a larger movement. However, when playing as the SAS, most of the action centers around your team, led by Captain Price and his right hand man known simply as "Gaz." These missions do add a taste of the covert operative scenarios that will become critical in Modern Warfare.
However, when taking the role of the USMC forces, it is classic Call of Duty. In other words, it is all out intensity. Some of the USMC missions even include armed gunship assaults, and manning the grenade launchers is a blast in itself.
There is more vehicle based combat this time around, including a full mission that takes place aboard a C-130 aircraft. And via night vision, soldiers provide cover fire against oncoming forces, a true change to the game and a treat to play.
Call of Duty 4 is filled with what I like to call "holy crap" moments. Right from the previously mentioned freighter sinking and the televised Presidential execution, there are air bombings, vicious ground fighting, suicides, and even a nuclear detonation! If there was the gaming equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, this is definitely it!
I guess that makes sense that Harry Gregson-Williams did the soundtrack, as he is known for previous Bruckheimer scores. That alone isn’t the only thing of COD4 that sounds great. Everything sounds like a war zone, and in 5.1 surround, it is unbelievable. The same can be said about the voice acting, especially of the SAS. You get to really appreciate both Capt. Price and Gaz as you follow them on their missions.
Also when playing Call of Duty 4, I kept asking myself, "How is this even possible on the Xbox 360?" Early reports stated that COD4 is one of the best looking games in recent years, and all I can say is that still pictures cannot do the game justice at all. In motion, COD4 is the most visually stunning first person shooter I have ever seen. Intense combat, explosions and debris flying all over the place, and all this running at a near flawless 60 frames per second, how can Infinity Ward top this with Call of Duty 5?
It seems the only way they can really improve is to provide a longer story. While there are still nearly 20 missions in three main acts, they are significantly shorter than past games. A seasoned shooter will blaze through the game in about six or seven hours. However, by going through the game in Arcade Mode (similar to Halo 3’s Metagame) and getting achievements on higher difficulties, not to mention a multiplayer that constantly expands the more it’s played, there is tons of replay value waiting to happen.
Call of Duty 4 is the ultimate gaming equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, and it blows every shooter out of the water in terms of intensity. The jump in time to a modern setting was a very smart choice, and Infinity Ward has found a new model for success. Here’s to seeing more of Captain Price and Gaz in the future"