The multiplayer alone makes Call of Duty 4 a must-buy.
Infinity Ward have finally abandoned the World War II setting that the series is known for, and gone into the 21st century with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While the campaign is criminally short, the quality of that campaign combined with an addictive multiplayer plus some really slick visuals make Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the best first-person-shooter of 2007.
Even though the campaign is short, the game covers a lot of ground in the 5-7 hours it will take you to complete the game, depending on the difficulty level you're playing on. The game tells a story of two soldiers: a British SAS that goes by the name of 'Soap' McTavish and a US colonel called Paul Jackson. You start the game out in the eyes of 'Soap' McTavish by following a basic tutorial that explains the controls.
Once you have completed the tutorial, you embark on your first mission that's set in the Bering Strait where you have to infiltrate a ship that's supposed to be carrying nuclear warheads, and it's up to you and your squad to save the world. This first mission alone features plenty of breathtaking moments which, for story purposes, won't be explained here since it's a sight you have to see with your own eyes to truly appreciate. Call of Duty 4 manages to keep one-upping itself with these breathtaking scenarios, and it never, brings down the pace, save for a mission where you have to go on a sniping mission, that, as slow as it is, manages to be a huge compliment to the action in the other missions.
Don't let the name "Modern Warfare" fool you, Call of Duty 4 plays almost exactly like its World War II counterparts. You have a compass at the bottom of the screen that tells you where you have to go, but getting to that position is easier said than done, as enemies will do a pretty good job of making you look like Swiss cheese, even on the lower difficulties, if you don't keep your head down. You still have the aiming mode, where you have to look down the sights for increased accuracy and by still having that, Call of Duty 4 manages to be more tactical than it might look. Especially on the harder difficulties.
Once you complete the singleplayer campaign, there's a great multiplayer component to sink your teeth in. Up to 18 players can play online on the 360 and PS3 versions on 16 different maps. All of the maps are wonderfully balanced, and they are a real joy to play on. A lot of the maps are taken directly from the singleplayer campaign, with a few alterations to make it equally enjoyable for all types of players, of course. There are six modes to choose from, ranging from the standard Team Deathmatch to a Counter-Strike like mode called Search and Destroy, where one of the players on your team has to plant a bomb somewhere on the map, and the other team has to locate and disarm it. There are also "Hardcore" versions of the modes where there isn't a map, and you take more damage from gunfire. All weapons and perks are also stuff you have to pick up in the "Hardcore" versions of the modes.
The thing that makes the multiplayer so addicting, is the inclusion of experience points. You get experience points for killing a guy, calling in a UAV, which is a radar that shows your enemies positions on the map, calling in an airstrike, calling in a helicopter or completing weapon challenges. The way you can call in a UAV is by killing three guys. You can call in an airstrike by killing five guys, which is especially deadly if it's combined with a UAV. If you manage to kill seven guys in a row, you get to call in a helicopter which is really handy if your team is behind on points. The other team can shoot the chopper down though, if one of the players has a rocket launcher. It's also possible to take it down with conventional gunfire, but that takes a long time and you will most likely be dead before you shoot them down. These advantages keep the multiplayer fresh and exciting. The experience points you gather by doing these actions level up your character, which gives you better weapons and new weapon challenges, which are all pretty basic "kill a set number of dudes" challenges, but they give you an incentive to try out new weapons, instead of relying on the same weapon all the time.
Perks are also a new addition to the Call of Duty franchise. The perks are upgrades, if you can call them that, to your character. Some of them make you sprint longer and some can make you reload faster. One of the perks is particularly interesting: It's called "Last Stand" and what it does is that if you get killed, you get to pull out your pistol and try to kill the guy who shot you. If you manage to kill him before you die, you get double the experience points you would normally get. It's a neat little perk that can bite your opponent in the ass if he's not careful.
Once you get to level 4 in the online mode, which is pretty easy, you get to create your own cIass. This is where the fun of gaining perks begins: When you level up, you'll be treated with some new perks although it's not every time you increase your level you get new perks. You can customize up to six cIasses, and it really comes down to you how you want to play. There's a big selection of weapons and perks you can use, and the fact that you want to keep unlocking them, is one of the major plusses with the online.
Once you get to level 55 in the online mode, you have a choice: Keep playing? Or unlock Prestige Mode? Prestige mode resets you back to level 1 again, but every time you level up, you get a different badge than the others to gloat. You can play through Prestige Mode four times before you have to stop at level 55.
Visually, Call of Duty 4 is outstanding. It features sharp textures, amazingly life-like animations and just sucks you into these war-torn villages by really portraying some life-like graphics. The lighting is a great contributor to this. It looks very realistic and is really the icing on the cake to an already great-looking game.
Audio-wise, Call of Duty 4 doesn't really bring anything new to the table: It features the traditional movie-like soundtrack when the action picks up, and is appropriately moody when you're sneaking around. The game does feature a rap over the end credits that's hilarious if you pay attention to the lyrics.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare might look like your average first-person-shooter, but a thought-provoking story, a short, but sweet single-player and a fantastic multiplayer suite all add up to make it the best first-person-shooter of 2007.