A bit over-rated by the gaming media, but solid if not flawed.
Call Of Duty 4 was released last year to overwhelming praise, a bit undeserved in my mind, but not something I took into account when reviewing the game.
Call Of Duty 4 as you probably know is a first person shooter from Infinity Ward in their long running Call Of Duty series. The single player game plays out as a fairly standard FPS that we've seen done to death since the original Call Of Duty . It's not a bad formula to say, but after Call Of Duty, Call Of Duty: United Offensive, and Call Of Duty 2, it's gotten pretty stale. Most of the game involves going through linear levels mowing down enemies with the occasional rail shooter level, defensive mission, and a rather well scripted trek through Chernobyl as one half of a pair of SAS assassins. Another big issue the game suffers from is AI, it's downright bad, enemies behavior tends to be limited to throwing grenades, shooting from cover, and then running out of that cover to charge you head on. All which makes the 4th wall evident is the pacing of the game, which respawns enemies in an effort to keep you as a player constantly moving forward.
It's still some good fun though if you can really turn off your mind and be taken in by the Michael Bay movie style of in your face presentation. It's also going to come in at a rather short length also, most people will finished the single player in about 5-6 hours on the normal difficulty. The difficulty itself isn't very high, about average, except most players should be prepared for a lot of cheap deaths in the form of grenades coming from ever direction, it's somewhat forgiving in that you seem to be able to easily thrown them back at the enemy, but the AI tends to follow to quantity over quality motto in grenade use, so be prepared to get killed by them a lot. As per the rail shooter missions, they're pretty straight forward and not very difficult. "All Ghilled Up" The mission that has you playing as an SAS sniper comes through at the end of the second third of the game and it's rather easy difficulty seems a bit out of place in the mission structure, but it's still a fairly memorable level. As far as the story goes, it's not much above the same type of big budget generic Hollywood war movies that you've seen being popped out since the 1980s. Stereotypical bad guys in stereotypical places are what you'll see here, with a somewhat surprising twist early in the game.
On the multiplayer front it's a fairly standard list of modes that feature Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, a Counter-strike like mode that has one team defending an objective that the other team must bomb. Headquarters, which has two teams competing to capture a point which moves around the map as it changes hands between teams.Lastly a capture the flag mode called Domination which has each team trying to take control of 3 flags accross the map. The modes themselves and the game is very technically polished. The netcode is good, and the game runs well, but it suffers from many design flaws. Map design is on big issue, often times the map design is far too complex for it's own good and leads to situations where you have can have enemies coming at you from any direction, you'll often times get shot in the back and likewise, end up shooting people in the back or get taken out by someone spamming grenades, which is especially bad on some of the smaller maps. The spawn system works well with making the experience even worse with it often spawning your player in bad spots where you can get easily picked off.
Another design flaw are the weapons themselves, which you can unlock as you gain rank in the multiplayer. Most of them have little recoil and little spread, especially submachine guns, which are also extremely powerful and encourage spam instead of actually aiming them. The largest balance issue that COD4 suffers from is team stacking. A good 2/3 of the games you're going to be playing will have most good players stacked on one team, this is made worse by the "auto balance" feature which moves the lower rated players to the team with less players, effectively making a bad problem even worse. One aspect where the multiplayer exceeds is it's unlockable weapons system, you've got a large amount of very realistically modeled weapons that are genuinely fun to use, along with having different camouflage and weapon attachments to unlock for them it really feels satisfying to unlock them and it's a shame that the weak map design and spawn system hold the game's multiplayer back so much and often make it frustrating to play and unbalanced.
Graphically COD4 leaves a good first impression, it's big, it's got a lot of explosions and things going on during it's scripted sequences. It's also runs very smoothly even with anti-aliasing even on midranged hardware. Upon closer inspection it's lacking compared to extremely high standard that Crysis has set. The textures are blurry and lacking in detail, explosion and smoke effects don't look very good, and many of the character models are blocky and poorly animated. It almost appears at points that animations from previous Call Of Duty games have been reused, which brings me back to issues of sound. The weapons here sound bad, very bad, despite being extremely realistically modeled many sound nothing like their real life equivalent and sound like peashooters more than firearms. In the same case of graphics, it appears that many weapon sounds were morphed and reused here.
In closing Call Of Duty 4 isn't a bad game, it's just flawed. It's still one of the best first person shooters released this year, but if you're looking for a single player shooter you're better off with a game like Crysis or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. unless you greatly favor very linear controlled games, in that case I would recommend COD4, but only if you really can't stand more open ended games. As per a mulitplayer game, I'd far recommend Team Fortress 2 over this as it's a much more balanced and satisfying game to play with a much better multiplayer community.