Suddenly in the distance you see a lone figure kneeling behind a crate exchanging fire with an unknown target. You raise your rifle scope to your eye and zero in on your target. He’s stopped firing and appears to be holding his location. You wait a few more seconds to ensure the stability of your target, take a deep breath in, line up your sight on his head…. slowly you squeeze the trigger… gently… carefully….
…Only to get blown to hell by a enemy bombing run.
That’s Call of Duty for you.
I ran out Saturday (mostly out of boredom) and picked a copy up. I’ve been playing Ghost Recon 2: Advanced Warfighter over the last week, a hand-me-down from a schoolmate, and its gotten my blood pumping for some hard-hitting FPS action. I saw the videos from E3 and the reviews for CoD 4 and thought, “hell, I loved the other ones, why not?”
The game is broken up into two parts: Single Player (With an Arcade option unlocked after beating all campaign levels) and Multiplayer, both with different feels and styles of play. This review is for the PC version of the game.
Unlike previous Call of Duty games where you play a set number of missons for one allied force then move onto the next allied force, CoD 4 creates a linear storyline using two major factions: British SAS and USMC. You’re given a very brief and simple “Training Mission” then a straight forward “Baby Mission” to get used to combat in the game. During single player mode you switch between a SAS covert op in Russia and a USMC assault on a Middle Eastern Country. The storyline between the two ties together and climaxes in a great feat of storytelling.
All in all, the single player missions are straight forward and what you’d expect out of a Call of Duty game, but unlike previous CoD’s the maps are a little more open ended and movement is less restricted to set paths. One aspect that leaves much to be desired was pointed out by the guys over at Penny Arcade about a Cover System in the game. For 90% of the missions in CoD 4 you’re with a squad or platoon of troops, but have no control over their actions and abilites. After playing Ghost Recon for the last week it was something I really wish they added to CoD 4.
Besides this fact I think the game delivers solid graphics with a great storyline. There are levels that I think every lover of FPS games should play this game for- namely the major assault on the Middle East stronghold resulting in a awsome interactive cut scene at the end, The Sniper mission that has you creeping and crawling along to a location, then taking a real sniper shot with wind and humidity into effect, and finally the covering of a SAS squad from a AC-10 using infrared/heat vision and massive firepower.
All in all I’d give it 4 out 5.
Now here’s an interesting twist. Using an idea presented first in CoD 3, the developers use an Experience-based system to advance you along with upgrades to weapons, weapon attachements, and skills. The system is interesting but frustrating at first. It’s like starting a MMO on a PBP server then walking into the enemy city at level 5: you’re going to get ganked….A LOT!
After you gain some rank and manage to get familar with the multiplayer levels there are some fun aspects to the game. Calling in UAVs, Airstrikes, and Attack Helicopters adds a good element to gameplay, but at the same time can be frustrating. You have to obtain X number of kills without being killed to call in this support… which on some levels is almost impossible to do.
But with the experience aspect to the multiplayer game it keeps dragging you back in to get that next level, that new toy. The terrain and detail in the game adds another great element as well. When selecting a sniper kit you’re actually dressed in a Guille suit, giving you an advantage in tall grass and heavy growth areas. Unlike other games with sniper kits when you lay down in tall grass with a guille suit here, you actually blend in.
All in all the multiplayer is fun, with elements of possible addiction attached. I’d give it 3.5 out of 5. I would give it 4, but for some reason I get clean headshots lined up down a snipers scope, squeeze the trigger and they never hit!