Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

There’s certainly been an influx of World War II FPS’s since Medal of Honor was released on the PlayStation back in 1999. The uninitiated may think that Call of Duty 4 is yet another one of these World War II games, although they would be mistaken as the fourth instalment in the series breaks tradition and takes the franchise into the modern day. A lot of people are going to be over the moon seeing the back of those World War II uniforms and clunky weapons.

Fans of the Call of Duty series may have been concerned when they announced this change of period, we had our own reservations, although with Infinity Ward returning to the series (Treyarch more than capably handled the superb third game) any worries were always going to be unwarranted.

Make no mistake about it this is still very much a Call of Duty game, everything from the recharging health, the grenade indicator that warns you of any nearby explosive pineapples, soldier switching at certain points, and the intense and eardrum bursting warfare have been left intact.

We quite simply wouldn’t want it any other way.

Following a short training course (that tells us we can now impressively fire through less solid objects – such as wood – to hit our enemies, amongst other things) the first mission then follows the SAS onboard a ship during a stormy night at sea. This mission has some very impressive camera work (if you are prone to seasickness then be sure to have a bucket at your side) as it nears its end, and shows off some of the most amazing visuals that we‘ve seen so far. Some might be turned off by the very scripted feel of this earliest mission, although it’s basically a prologue to the main game, a simple teaser if you like.

So we’ve mentioned our very own SAS, but you also get to act out as a US Marine. Seeing wars from different perspectives has always been a part of the Call of Duty rulebook, and we’re glad to see that it remains here. The SAS missions sometimes involve you being discreet whilst listening to your superior, the US Marine missions on the other hand are about making as much noise as possible. It’s not as if the neighbours are brave enough to complain though, so keep that trained finger on that trigger.

The campaign of the game may be a little on the short side, although it certainly left a lasting impression on us and is full of enough memorable moments that even an amnesic would remember them. We felt such a rush of adrenaline when we were tasked with reaching a landing zone within a specific time limit, we felt our muscles tense and a knot in our stomach when we were crawling through long lovely grass whilst tanks rolled by and a patrol of soldiers slowly approached our place of hiding (thank god for the camouflage), we felt vulnerable when an enemy helicopter flew overhead, and certainly felt the need to howl “victory” when we called in an attack helicopter of our own to clear out buildings or signal an air strike whenever we were allowed to. Certainly some of this feels a little scripted, particularly if you are being told what to do, although the execution is sublime.

Sublime it may be, but it’s also film like on occasion, especially in its use of visual effects and music. The flashback level is certainly a good example of this, with music matching the mood, sounding quiet during sneaky moments and picking up in pace when you are told to run between enemy vehicles whilst opposing soldiers are in the vicinity. The dying moments of the campaign are also certainly something that we’ll remember for the cinematic flair and intensity that they present.

Graphically Call of Duty 4 is one of the finest looking games we’ve seen on the two most powerful consoles, if we were good at poetry we probably wouldn’t be able to justify how brilliantly beautiful everything looks, but we’ll give it a shot anyway (the justifying part, not the poetry). The lighting is gorgeous, the weapons look big (pistols not included) and intricately detailed, and the character models are superb, with everything from their facial features to the “too clean” soles of their boots looking so real that we may need counselling. The graphical intensity the series is famous for also puts you under no illusions that you are in the middle of a war zone with rockets being followed by fluffy trails of smoke, bullets whizzing by with a deadly purpose, sparks jumping enthusiastically, and live soldiers darting about.

Call of Duty 4 isn’t only a fantastic single player game it’s also a fantastic multiplayer game. Online the game certainly has its many selling points, and is one of the best out there. The game introduces a new perks system, which allows you to equip yourself with up to three skills. If you have The Last Stand perk equipped for example, if you get all shot up, your dying breath could be worse, as it gives you the opportunity to fire your pistol at enemies as you lay there slipping painfully away towards death. On the other hand, if you die with the martyrdom equipped, you’ll drop a grenade, and not just any grenade, but a grenade ready to explode, we don’t think we need to explain what could potentially happen next. Extreme conditioning allows you to sprint for longer, iron lungs gives you the right to hold your breath longer to keep a steady sniping hand (it’s also a good cure for hiccups apparently) and so on. It’s a great idea which certainly adds to the action, and as perks, modes, and weapons are un-lockable, many will keep on playing to fight for another day. There’s more uniqueness to be found in being gifted the chance to use a radar to locate enemy positions if you kill a string of three enemies before dying yourself. If you kill five enemies without dying on the other hand, you can then pat yourself on the back, and after you are done with your self admiration, you can then call in an air strike (you’ll feel like god, and bellow with laughter as your enemies scramble for cover). But it’s not over, earn yourself a string of seven kills and all other players may very well cower in your presence as you shoot them, but it also gives you the privilege to call in a handy attack helicopter to give you and your guns a breather from all that shooting. Unquestionably, this is one of the most rewarding online experiences that money can buy.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the finest FPS games that we have ever had the pleasure of playing. It’s easily up there with the best of single and multiplayer shooting, and has few real complaints other than the brevity of the single player campaign. Forget the negatives though, Infinity Ward is certainly deserving of plenty of salutes for delivering an intense and satisfying modern day shooter.