Few series in the gaming world have been so varied in terms of quality quite like Call of Duty. Many console owners have only really had experience with 3rd game in the series, and Xbox 360 only installment that was developed by a different company from the original games. Call of Duty 3, while not a terrible game, wasn’t a great example of what the series can achieve in the right direction.
Luckily Call of Duty 4 sees a return of developers Infinity Ward and a change of pace for the series. Traditionally set during the Second World War, COD 4 has moved the series forward to the modern-day, swapping out the traditional Japanese and Nazi enemies for a more contemporary battlefield focused around terrorism.
A modern first-person shooter set predominately against Middle Eastern terrorists might not sound exactly original, but the story turns out to be one of the game’s major selling points. The usual bravado and macho garbage that you usually find associated with FPS games are completely absent, replaced with some incredibly varied environments, realistic characters, and a sense of the futility of war rather than the promotion of it.
The plot is backed up by some amazing level design. All of the epic set pieces that made Call of Duty 2 so amazing have returned in full force with the advantage of modern graphics and modern weaponry making the game even more explosive and dynamic than it was before. Levels involve a mix of the linear and open, and while there’s nothing approaching a Farcry level of ‘choosing’ how to fight, there are plenty of areas where you’ve got enough options to allow for a variety of play styles and tactics.
Artificial Intelligence is some of the best we’ve ever seen in an FPS. Combined with plenty of opportunities to make intelligent use of weapons and terrain there’s a level of strategy in COD 4 that’s slightly more advanced than most other Xbox 360 shooters. Even the obligatory stealth section is enjoyable rather than frustrating. The AI is good enough to make the game quite difficult, even on easier settings, so gamers will be in for a challenge.
Call of Duty 4 looks brilliant. Modern FPS games normally conjure an image of dull, grey-brown colours and endless battles set in Middle Eastern, brown-colored towns with no personality. COD 4 really breaks the mold with environments varying from barren deserts to lush forests that are nearly too nice to be destroyed by the battles that take place within them. The audio is particularly standout; if you have a good sound system it’s nearly cinematic in quality and makes great use of directional audio.
At around six hours, the length is going to be the major turn off for many gamers looking to get more “bang” for their buck. However, what you get with COD 4 isn’t so much about the quantity and more about the fact that every level and every fight has a purpose. Nothing has been added as filler just to pad out the game. It’s honest, genuine quality from start to finish and well worth every cent.