STAFF REVIEW of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007.
by Rick Wallace

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Box art The Call of Duty series has always been known for its World War II theme and gameplay style, but the folks at Infinity Ward have decided to step into the present day with Modern Warfare. Is this a wise decision for Infinity Ward, or should they have stayed in the WWII era? Well after putting in well over 15 hours in the first few days after release, I am here to tell you?It was definitely a wise decision!

Infinity Ward returns to the COD series as the developer in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Without a doubt this is great news for many of the veterans and fans of the series. While COD3 (developed by Treyarch) wasn?t a terrible game, many folks believed it to be sup par to the quality that Infinity Ward had set with previous iterations of Call of Duty. I have personally enjoyed all the previous titles in the series, and was most certainly excited about the newest addition to the Call of Duty legend. So lets get right to it then!

Call of Duty 4 has a robust single player campaign that pits you as the US Marines or the British SAS dependant upon the level you are playing. The game is broken down into a prologue and 3 acts with sub chapters in each. You can go back and replay missions once you have played through them once. All of the achievements in the game are based on the single player campaign. Some of them are level specific in which you have to perform a certain task in order to unlock the achievement. There are quite a few levels in the single player that will be embedded in people?s memories as classics. One that comes to mind quickly is the ?All Ghillied Up? level where you play as an SAS sniper. This level is all about stealth and it can get quite intense, even while lying quietly in the grass. The ghillie suit, which is the grassy camouflage of a sniper, is absolutely amazing in this game. And that statement is true for both single player and online play. You?ll literally walk over top of a sniper without noticing him online if you are not paying attention. Yes, it?s that good. And before you ask, it?s only worn by snipers.

Single player is great and all, but Call of Duty 4 is all about the multiplayer. This game would still score high even without the single player campaign. For those lucky enough to have participated in the beta earlier this year, you got only a small sampling of what was to come online. 3 maps were included in the beta, but in the full version there are 16 multiplayer maps total. And rumor has it that DLC maps and game variations are not too far off in the future. Every map has a specific play list that allows a variety of game variations to be played. You?ll choose your game mode of choice from a play list when searching for a game to join. There are currently 13 game variations to choose from ranging from standard team death match modes to all sorts of objective games. In most games you have the ability to have up to 12 players in a game. There is one game mode called Ground War which allows for up to 18 players.

Finally, games are starting to take note from Halo?s success and include the party option. COD4 allows you to invite some friends into your pre-game lobby and party up as well. Once partied up, you can enter ranked matches and play together as a team. The server will keep your team together in the games, so you?ll be able to play under a clan tag if you so desire. More on the clan tag option later in this review.

When you first log in to the multiplayer menus, many options are dimmed out and inaccessible until you play a few online matches. Most of your equipment you use online is unlocked as you progress in rank. You earn XP during each match you play online and these points accumulate into a total value to help you increase your rank. You?ll get XP for kills, assists, completing tasks and challenges. Do not fret about the unlockables though. You?ll unlock plenty within your first hour of play online which will in turn keep you wanting to play more and more.

Once you get to Rank 4, you will unlock the option ?Create-A-Class?. This new feature allows you to create and customize a profile specific to your needs and desires. You select your weapon class, and choose your primary weapon. Here you can put on any attachments that you may have earned thus far online, but remember that some attachments will affect your Perk selections available. Certain attachments will actually replace your Perk 1, such as a grenade launcher. Next, you?ll select a side arm, and then finally choose a special grenade. Now is where the ?Create-A-Class? gets interesting. Your next step is selecting your ?Perks?. Perks are basically specialty skills your character possesses when online. You can select up to 3, but only 1 from each category. So choose wisely.

Perk 1 is basically explosive oriented. There are 7 options to choose from ranging from C4 specialist to a Bomb Squad perk that allows you to be able to locate enemy explosives. When you create your first class, only a few of these options are unlocked. But no worries, you?ll unlock the rest of the perks in this category and others as well fairly quickly. Perk 2 contains perks pertaining to health increases, extra powerful ammunition, quicker reloads, etc. Finally Perk 3 has 8 options, again which have to be unlocked as you progress. One of my favorites in this category is called Last Stand. When this perk is activated, you will not die immediately when shot. No, you will actually fall to your back and pull out your pistol. At this time you?ll have about 10 seconds or so to take out anyone you can before you die. Now of course, your shooter can finish you off if he sees you have Last Stand. As I stated earlier, you only get to choose one Perk from each grouping, so customize it to your gaming style.

In the online menu you will also find an option called ?Barracks?. Here you?ll be able to view Leaderboards, Challenges, and create a clan tag. Let?s just get the clan tag option out of the way first. When you create this tag, it attaches as a prefix to you Gamertag in the multiplayer lobbies. That?s it! It?s only a visual identifier and nothing more. So for those looking for a distinct and fruitful clan option will be a bit disappointed. Hopefully a much more in depth clan option can be added through an update at a later time. In the Barracks option, the Challenges option is the most important thing you?ll want to be checking out. Here IW has set up challenges for you to complete. You?ll receive XP points when completing these challenges which of course help you continue to increase your rank. There are challenges for each individual weapon, as well as general tasks such as calling air strikes or blowing things up. So be sure to check out the challenges as you unlock them to see what you want to work on next.

While playing online you?ll have the ability to use some perks, such as the RPG, by pressing right or left on your D-Pad. Some perks, such as Last Stand or Juggernaut active at all times and do not need to be accesses. The D-Pad is also used to call in UAV, Air Strikes and Helicopter support. The UAV is 30 second radar that appears on your HUD showing the location of enemies. This UAV is activated by pressing right on the D-Pad when you get a 3 Kill Streak. When you obtain a 5 Kill streak, you will have the ability to call in an air strike. When you push right on the D-Pad, a map will appear on your screen and you will select the location you want the air strike to occur. (HINT: Be sure you have a UAV enabled so you can see the enemy?s current location.) Finally, if you are good enough to get a 7-Kill streak you will get the ability to call in Chopper support. Once again, just hit right on your d-pad and a friendly helicopter will come to your teams aid and mow down any enemies it sees in the open. Here?s another hint for you folks. If you are on the receiving end of an air strike or chopper support, take cover in a well sheltered building. Be sure it has a complete roof as well, or you?ll be a sitting duck.

Another great addition to the gameplay is the melee knife attack. Some may wonder where to equip your knife for stealth attacks, and what weapon does it replace. Well, don?t fret because your knife is equipped at all times without taking up an inventory spot. To use your knife attack, you just click the right thumb stick when in melee range of an opponent. Oh the sweet satisfaction of sneaking up on someone from behind and knifing them in the back. Luckily you can?t hear your opponents or you may hear some words you really shouldn?t use in public.

From my experiences so far, the online play has been smooth as silk and Infinity Ward has many defense mechanisms in place to ward of cheaters. If you have a stand by button your modem and want to try the old trick of hitting stand by and creating an advantage for yourself, don?t do it. IW can confirm these users and will in fact ban your ability to host matches. If there are extreme circumstances, you could even find yourself banned from live altogether. So, just keep that in mind.

The graphics in this game are phenomenal. Foliage acts as great cover for snipers in the ghillie suit, and the damage taken to buildings and various objects via gun fire is well defined. I haven?t experienced any slow down issues at all in either single player or multiplayer. This is a great thing due to the amount of action taking place on the screen at all times. I have heard several folks complain that the sounds were recycled from previous games, but I have to say that the sound effects are right on with what is happening at all times. I mean honestly folks, how many sound variations to an M16?s gunfire are there? Some of the sounds, such as the battle cries can get a bit repetitive and sometimes downright annoying, but again it really doesn?t deter from the gameplay.And finally, the controls make the game easy to pick up and play. You can customize the controller to your liking of course, but all in all the triggers act as you grenade toss and you gun trigger. X is your reload button, and the D-pad is for your perks and special circumstances.

Overall, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a must have for any FPS fan. The lack of a distinct clan support will turn some folks off of course, but this doesn?t deter from the actual gameplay in the least. The visuals and sounds of the game are right where they should be, and the actual gameplay is superb whether it?s multiplayer or single player. One of the few downfalls of the game would be the lack of split screen support whether it be having a guest online with you, or just going through the game in co-op. This exclision is a glaring defect to many folks. I highly recommend this title to anyone and everyone that has any interest in the FPS genre.

Please include some sort of actual clan support instead of just a visual representation in the lobby. Clans seem to be an important assett to FPS fans, and a full fledged clan vs clan system would be superb. Also include some sort of split screen co-op, or online guests.

Overall: 9.4 / 10
Gameplay: 9.6 / 10
Visuals: 9.3 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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