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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty

When looking back on the year 2007, it is clear that the gaming industry has evolved into another level of sheer brilliance, becoming the quickest growing medium on the planet. The next generation has blossomed nicely, and the quality of many of the games released has been superb. In fact, with the likes of Halo 3, Bioshock, The Orange Box and Super Mario Galaxy making it into our consoles, gamers have never had it better.

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So, it would be fair to assume that developers Infinity Ward may have been a little apprehensive as to how the release of their newest baby, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, would go down. Fortunately, this apprehension is quickly blown to pieces, as it is clear from the beginning that this is one amazing game.

After the critical success of Call of Duty 2, developers Infinity Ward began work on the game you’re reading about here. Activision brought in Treyarch for the development of Call of Duty 3, giving Infinity Ward the best part of two years to work on this game, giving them a huge timescale to create a new evolution of the series. During these two years, there were a number of major decisions that needed to be made by the team. After the unoriginality of Call of Duty 3 failed to reach the heights of it’s predecessor, a new style and direction was certainly needed. Infinity Ward quickly announced that this title would be set in the present time, bringing with it a whole new conflict and a number of settings that have never been seen in a war game. Many were sceptical and believed that the Call of Duty series was beginning to falter, much like the descent of the Medal of Honor franchise into the unrelenting gaming abyss. Fortunately, change is good. Implemented at just the right time, Infinity Ward has created an absolute juggernaut of a FPS that is guaranteed to put the series back on track.

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Infinity Ward has created an absolute juggernaut of a FPS”The single player campaign is hugely impressive and as with many other war shooters, the first main level is stunning. After a brief training exercise to get familiar with the controls, players will lead an attack on a cargo ship, securing an important package with your newly introduced SAS team. This explosive level is the first sign that the series has evolved into something special. Within the first ten minutes of play the developers have been able to flaunt and show off just where they have improved, as the cargo ship mission gives gamers a quick glimpse into what they should expect from the rest of the campaign. It is a hugely cinematic experience, laced with spectacular set pieces and providing many moments that will be remembered for years to come.

It is worth noting that gamers will mainly play as the comically named Soap McTavish, a stereotypical Englishman who works alongside the SAS squad, lead by the even more clichéd Captain Price. As the game progresses, you become a tight knit squad as you start to realise they aren’t as utterly useless as the AI allies in many FPS games. They regularly provide distractions and take out vital enemies, meaning you really are apart of a team, and not a lone hero for once. This makes it even more rewarding when you succeed with your objective, as you can sense that the team morale improves with victory.

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The campaign mode won’t last the large majority of gamers long (barely six hours), unless it is played on one of the two tougher difficulty settings. On “Hardened” mode, the game will give a truly testing and relentless challenge to many gamers, as the enemy AI fights with the same aggression and skill as the gamer. However, this title comes into its own when you start playing on “Veteran” mode. It really is an unbelievable experience, and one that should not be missed. In fact, I urge you to play this game on veteran mode, as it offers the most sincere and rewarding challenge in quite a while. If you can get over the fact that, inevitably, you will suffer a large amount of deaths, then this is currently one of the most intense and excellent single player campaigns to date. Of corse, the easier difficulty settings are there for a reason, ensuring that the less hardened gamers will not miss this fantastic game.

Throughout the game there is a decent amount of variation, as missions are regularly broken up with helicopter scenes, or an update in the proceedings of the narrative. It is obvious that developers Infinity Ward have worked closely with the US and British Military, as they provide realistic takes on weapons used in real life warfare. The first time you pick up the Javelin Missile is the first time you will feel like you have reached the pinnacle of modern weaponry. Thankfully, you will have to use it a number of times throughout the campaign, meaning the satisfaction factor will continue to flourish. Many gamers will be licking their lips after seeing the result of this offensive behemoth, as its combined power and accuracy is second to none. The main bulk of weapons all shell out the typically satisfying rips and thuds, giving players the kind of power they should revel in.

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One superb section of the game worth mentioning by itself is the level “All Ghillied Up”. This is half way through the single player campaign, where you will be transported back to the Ukrainian disaster town of Chernobyl. Playing as the early Captain Price, you fight alongside tough guy leader Captain MacMillan. As it is essentially a stealth mission, both of you are kitted out in a superb ghillie suit, which gives you an impressive amount of camouflage in the long grass and bushes of the level. Within seconds of this scenes opening you are treated to a master touch from the developers, as MacMillan scuttles out of the grass, initially invisible to the untrained eye. The mission is extremely intense, as you work together to take out a huge terrorist threat, evading the surrounding patrol. As you expect, it doesn’t all go to plan, and plays out what is one of the finest scenes the next generation has to offer so far. The rest of the campaign plays out absolutely solidly, giving gamers an immensely exciting and finely executed FPS experience.

Gameplay plays out like an overhauled version of Call of Duty 2, as Infinity Ward have kept a basic formula, offering familiarity to players of the older titles. The button bashing mini games of Call of Duty 3 have been excluded, with the closest aspect to this the despatching of ferocious dogs, of whom require one well timed button press to kill. The blistering speed of which they approach you is terrifying; as you need one well-placed shot to get rid of them, or else face a physical fight to protect you life. The use of flash bang grenades gives the game a slight tactical element, especially on “Veteran”, where they prove invaluable. The ability to shoot through thin walls is also a welcome inclusion, giving players a sneaky advantage when trying to pick off enemies undetected. The gameplay isn’t anything new or original, just a solid, well thought out and truly entertaining set-up.

The Call of Duty games have always managed to impress visually, and Modern Warfare isn’t any different. Graphically, I can’t name a sharper, more detailed or even realistic title. Running in true HD glory, it is absolutely stunning. The detail is so intricate and finely displayed that a lot of the time you will be a stationary figure on the battlefield, as your jaw scrapes across the tarmac of the road below in disbelief, revelling in the “beautiful” warfare that is caressed with that immaculate next gen sheen. It really is that impressive. A huge positive is that the increase in activity on screen never results in a slow down with the frame rate, meaning the representation of warfare will always be crisp and crystal clear. It has become commonplace that new titles on the 360 get compared to the graphical goliath Bioshock, usually falling into the “no comparison” category. With this said, it is a testimony to the developers that Modern Warfare holds up with the best, and is sure to raise its fair share of eyebrows over the coming months and beyond.

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“Running in true HD glory, it is absolutely stunning”After the online multiplayer beta released early this year, many gamers were known to get pretty excited at the prospect of Modern Warfare’s online play. That excitement is fully justified as soon as you begin taking on the rest of the world, as the smooth running online arena provides some of the most thrilling and fast paced skirmishes on the home console. Graphically, the game loses nothing. Most importantly, there is little lag whatsoever, meaning gamers can initiate in what is an extremely smooth online experience. Maps are well balanced, and are great for both team games and the classic deathmatch situation. Hidden in between this multiplayer excellence is a reward system that aims to draw players back to the game. It is simple, the better a player does, the more “Perks” they earn. These “Perks” allow an advanced armoury, extra abilities (such as the genius “Last Stand”), and also the chance to customise the range of weapons you hold. It is this kind of thought that should be put into every online experience, as it sets it apart from every other game, bar Halo 3. Infinity Ward have even drawn inspiration from Bungie’s title, reproducing a very similar lobby layout. This is certainly not a bad thing though. Finally, gamers have an excuse to leave the Master Chief for a while, and take on a whole new set of challenges. It’s like the old saying goes, you wait for a bus and then two come along at once. As far as the Xbox 360 is concerned, Halo 3 and Modern Warfare have the only online experiences that are worth the price alone.

I can honestly say that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a superb accumulation to the series, incorporating just enough new additions to keep the hardcore happy and the new players excited. With such an explosive single player campaign incorporated alongside a breathtakingly simple yet sublime online mode, there is little negativity here. The difficulties may lurch from one extreme to the other, but that shouldn’t spoil such a well thought out and involving campaign. This is what gamers wanted from the series, and Infinity Ward should be applauded for their efforts in development. Modern Warfare is here with a bang, and won’t be leaving anytime soon. A fantastic showpiece of what the next generation is capable of, and a truly memorable roller coaster ride. Superb.

10 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in September 2007.

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