on November 6, 2007
When it comes to FPS's, and any other shooter for that matter, you have your current kings, namely: Halo, Rainbow Six (and all of it's "spawns", like GRAW) and Gears of War (still). Throw BioShock in there if you want... whatever. You get the point. Now - take from each of those games the best aspects... throw them together, and you have Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Simply put - you'll love this game, even if you don't like military or first-person shooters. If you're the type that strictly plays the single-player mode, then I'd rent first, just to be sure it's for you. For me, even the story mode keeps me coming back. This game is a BEAST, and it's a BEAST on every platform it's on - 360, PS3 and PC.
Infinity Ward understands FPS's - their absence was noticed immediately in Call of Duty 3, which sucked. They're back. This game is a few MINOR elements away from absolute perfection, in my opinion. And you don't get better than perfection.
I'll get the little gripes out of the way:
1. No Co-Op campaign. As frantic as every stage is, coupled with the fact that there's really no point on the game where you're not at least with ONE other player - usually more - I thought this should be available. It's pretty much standard now in the next-gen FPS's, but surprisingly absent here. Hmmm...
2. The whole 'friendly-fire' thing... I realize that this is realistic, but it's pretty frustrating sometimes - moreso here than in a game like Rainbow Six, simply because there's no easily identifiable icon or marker. I don't need THAT level of realism in a game - just my opinion. Yes, your recticle is red if it's on an enemy and green for a friendly, but during all of the fighting, that's really hard to see. Coupled with the fact that a lot of the enemies are wearing uniforms pretty similar to YOURS, you may end up accidentally shooting your squad more than you'd care to admit, especially on the Veteran difficulty level.
(That's really it for the 'gripes' - the other is more of an personal preference for me. I'd rather have more gameplay modes available in the multiplayer right off the bat, but I can also see how starting off with just the initial two works.
You may notice that I haven't complained about the duration of the story mode... while short, I doubt that any of the other reviewers that are slamming it have "breezed through in a few hours" on any difficulty higher than Sick Infant - that's before Rookie, if you're wondering. The story is compelling; there are actual moments where your chest and heart actually POUND - tell me the "All Ghillied Up" stage didn't have you holding your breath in real life, I dare you. Other games, while significantly longer, don't always fill their time with substance. A game like BioShock doesn't have an online mode, so it's story HAS to carry it entirely. Halo 3 is longer, sure... but most of it is retracing your steps back through previously played boards. No thank you. Apart from an effective story mode, this game's "bread and butter" is in the online multiplayer. Just like Halo 3. Just like RB6: Vegas. Just like Gears of War. Online play is what will keep this game, and others, being played for years to come.)
...and that's it, folks. Nothing else bad here. AT ALL. Period.
Gameplay - the game is phenomenal. Even if the campaign is rather on the short side (took about 6 or so hours playing on Normal - Veteran or Hardened will probably double that time, plus some) it is undeniably entertaining. While it may not necessarily be breaking new ground as far as plot, it STILL is far more engaging that Rainbow Six: Vegas's campaign mode, which is great, as well as Gears of War and even the mighty Halo 3. (just my opinion) (A+)
Graphics - arguably the best on any console, period. I give it the nod over Gears of War and BioShock - this is the best looking game I have ever played, and it runs (with all the chaos going on) at a smooth 60 frames per second is 1080P HD glory. The word gets thrown around alot with these newer systems, but this game is truly Photo-Realistic. The only thing I've seen comparable would be Crysis, another military shooter -and that's (not surprisingly) a PC-only game at the moment. It absolutely does not get any better than COD4. (A++)
Sound - as good as anything out now. The musical numbers are all spot-on, and the dialogue and combat chatter is phenomenal. Top notch all the way around - no "forced" sounding acting here. This games sounds like it was recorded during actual combat. (A+)
Multiplayer - time will tell if it will stand up to the insanely deep Halo Multiplayer mode, or the ridiculously addictive multiplayer modes on GoW or RB6, but even in this early stage COD4 is more than holding it's own. Choose from a preset variety of classes - sniper, assault, heavy gunner, etc. and get to killing. Kill enough and eventually unlock the ability to create your OWN class - and that's where the fun really gets going. There's a rank structure, but with there being absolutly ZERO offical multiplayer achievements, hopefully this will minimize people's tendency to cheat. (big problem on RB6) Ranking up does have it's privileges, however... different weapons, customizations for those weapons (scopes, skins, etc.) How new players feel about playing months from now when the majority of their combatants have superior equipment remains to be seen... balancing could be an issue there. The way it's set up though, if you're good at FPS's (and you know who you are), you will be alright. There's some work to be done with the team balancing... and I would prefer the ability to choose which maps I play on during ranked matches, but all in all, pretty solid. (A)
Replay Value - extremely high, even with a relatively short campaign. All of the achievements for the game come from the Campaign mode, yet over half of them require you to beat the game on one of the two harder difficulty levels. (not recommended for first-timers - frustration WILL ensue... as well as bullets, grenades and dog bites) Hell, even the TRAINING MODULE is fun and gets replay - Halo can't say that. This game is ridiculous. Even as varied as multiplayer is by nature, the Prestige Mode adds a new level to it. Make it all the way to Level 55, then you have "a tough decision" to make... (A+)
Overall - Dangerously Good. I give it an A+, or a solid 9.9998 out of 10 (I stand by the fact that a co-op campaign would render a potential Call of Duty 5 pointless) This is one of the best games ever. After playing the Beta earlier this year, I proclaimed that this could be a sleeper for Game of the Year, while everyone else was obviously sold on Halo... maybe a few for BioShock. This has them both, hands down. The only surprising part is how convincingly better this game is than the other GOTY frontrunners. All other FPS's (particularly military FPS's) need to take notice - this is BY FAR the best ever. (Note to Tom Clancy and the folks at UbiSoft: you have work to do for that next Rainbow Six. The bar is WAY up there now... don't disappoint)
A definite must own, especially for XBox Live subscribers - this is the best for this year. No not Halo - Call of Duty 4. Period. The only thing I see that could pull people away from this even for a moment would potentially be Grand Theft Auto 4.