I’m going to let you know right off the bat – this review contains spoilers. The game has been out for almost a year, so I’d say it’s pretty close to the Spoiler Statute Of Limitations.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, as the title would suggest, brings the franchise finally out of the European and North African theaters of World War II, and into the present day, or rather the not-so-distant-future, while maintaining the theme of prior installments, where they followed the conflict in question from multiple perspectives (previously the Russians, British, and Americans, now just the Americans). With the transition, the game adds a more cinematic approach, but cuts back on it’s length, for good and for ill.
In the game, you play through as several different viewpoint characters, with the main characters being new SAS Operative Sgt. “Soap” McTavish from the British perspective, and Sgt. Paul Jackson of the US Marine Corps First Force Recon unit. Other characters played include a gunship operator on an AC-130, the unnamed president of the unnamed middle eastern country where Jackson’s plot takes place (during the opening credits, when he’s being taken to his execution), and your commanding officer, Capt. Price on a flashback mission.
The game’s storyline is one of the most memorable game storylines I’ve encountered in quite some time, in part because it breaks with forumula and expectations. As the game starts out by all accounts it’s going to be a split between semi-stealth in one type of terrain with SAS, and then balls-out urban warfare with the Marines – the actions of one viewpoint character might effect another viewpoint character, but otherwise things would be pretty basic. And then the nuke goes off. No really, that’s when the gears change dramatically. The moment your character drags himself from the wreckage of your downed helecopter and all he can do is walk, with the cloud from the nuclear explosion over the entire tableau is going to be one of the most memorable video game moments I’ve ever encountered, up there with Aerith’s death, and the reveal about Darth Revan in KotOR. From there, things get progressively darker and nastier, and we, as the player, end up getting more emotionally involved.
The controls and overall gameplay in the game are okay. The AI of your squad-mates is very good, and very confident, they rarely get in the way of your fire, and with 1 notable exception they didn’t get me killed, though that situation was the physics engine’s fault, not mine – I tried to throw back a grenade that the enemy had chucked at me, but it bounced off one of my squadmates heads, and landed next to me. I had just enough time to try and throw it again, only to have the grenade do a repeat performance – but I digress.
The game, however, runs into a few issues. You can’t cling to walls to take cover. You can’t give orders to your AI companions – they’re good about going where you need to go, either by following your lead or by proceeding to the next objective waypoint – but even Half Life 2 could let you at least tell them to “go here”. Further, the game designers fall back on a nasty crutch that has persisted since the original Call of Duty – enemies will continue respawning out of line of sight endlessly in several missions unless you reach a certain point, at which point they stop respawning for a bit, or maybe we get a lull, or something similar. Also, the game is very short. I beat it single-player in 6-8 hours (and that’s with dying a few times).
Anyway, I haven’t tried multi-player for the PS3 version yet (which is the version I have) – and I’ll provide feedback (or something) later, maybe.
Anyway, overall, Call of Duty 4 is a very good FPS with a few faults, but nothing that I would say would prevent it from being in you video game library. I give the game an 8 out of 10.
Get Call of Duty 4 from Amazon.com: