MODERN WARFARE : A Thriller of a Game
They say war is hell. Infinity Ward's Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare takes you to the very depths of Hades. The long-awaited COD4, IW's follow-up to the excellent Call of Duty 2, is a jarring, intense, and gripping take on war in the new millennia. The enemies are smarter, the weapons are deadlier, and the grenades all too plentiful. COD4 will shake loose your fillings and have you begging for more.
Infinity Ward was born out of the success of retelling some of the greatest battles in World War II. The company has become synonymous with the virtual beach at Normandy. So it was quite a gamble to break from the comfort zone of Nazi-occupied Europe and leap into present day. The gamble paid off. Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and every other military-based shooter has been put on notice. There is a new standard to judge this sub-genre and it is Call of Duty 4.
The meticulous care IW took to faithfully recreate WWII-era weaponry was also given to bringing modern armaments to life. Many of the incredible tools of war used today come into play in COD4. You'll man the weapons of the AC-130 Gunship, which flies above the battlefield and fires 105mm rounds that decimate the enemy; make big explosions with Javelin missiles, which drop straight down to hit the thinner top armor of tanks; and cycle through a small arsenal of both light and heavy guns featuring a variety of scopes and augmentations. With an astonishing number of enemies in the field (half of whom seem to carry rocket launchers), you are going to need every last bit of modern tech to survive.
Unlike Infinity Ward's previous iterations of Call of Duty, Modern Warfare tells one contiguous story. Though you will hop between perspectives of the British S.A.S. and the U.S. Marines, each leap continues the progression of a single storyline. It's an effective tool. While the story itself--which revolves around stolen Russian nukes and Mid-Eastern terrorists bent on destroying the Great Satan (that's you and your grandma)--isn't exactly cutting edge, it's enjoyable. And more importantly, IW finds ways to make you care for every last one of your teammates. Of course, no good guys die in war, right? There aren't so much "twists" as there are shocking moments in the storyline. You may find yourself in disbelief not only at some of the events that take place, but in the direct manner in which the most startling moments are often told. There are a few too many shell-shocked slow-mo moments that seem to drag to the point of almost being frustrating, but credit Infinity Ward for not backing down from wartime melodrama.
If you played the original Call of Duty or its sequel, then you will have little trouble hopping into COD4. This is not a revolution of game controls. Infinity Ward maintains its smart system of rewarding players for aiming down the sight before firing; you can run from cover to cover (an absolute necessity to survive the utter insanity in some of the levels); you have a one-click melee attack; there are a few highlighted spots that require a button press to interact with (how else would one plant C4 on an AA gun?); and yes you can once again pick up live grenades and throw them back at the enemy.
The real change comes in the combat. This is one intense shooter, mainly because there are just so many enemies. And they are smarter thanks to some refined AI. Granted, there are going to be moments when enemies get stuck in dumb routines or stand in the open waiting to be mowed down, but overall the bad guys prove themselves to be resourceful and without mercy. Though a linear shooter that essentially funnels you through corridors, there are a considerable number of side paths. These almost always lead to flanking positions. If you do not flank the enemy, rest assured they will flank you. Enemies usually know to stay in cover. And they also know that you, being a well-trained soldier, aren't going to fight in the open. That's why they fire RPGs and toss so many damned grenades. They are trying to flush you out. And since most cars explode and will kill you if you are standing beside them, quite often you'll be forced to move.
Also, the enemy has access to perhaps the greatest weapon in modern war: dogs. Yes, there are dogs in COD4 and they can be real bitches (get it?). Dogs are a major pain in the ass. They don't have fear; they don't worry about flanking you or dying by your bullets. They want one thing: to rip out your throat. Often they will. Dogs move fast and attack sometimes before you turn to see what all that barking's about. If a dog attacks, you will hit the ground and enter one of the shortest mini-games of all time. You have perhaps two seconds from the moment you hit the ground to perform a melee attack and break the dog's neck. Otherwise, the dog will rip out your throat. That means you die.