Best shooter of '07
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare arrived late 2007 alongside a whole range of other highly anticipated games, and while it could have been overshadowed easily, it wasn’t and for a very good reason. Call of Duty 4 is a fantastic example of just how awesome first person shooters can still be, and in my opinion was a real triumph all around. Call of Duty has in the past, had its roots firmly in the WWII era, however, as the sub-title suggests, Infinity Ward have decided to tackle a modern theatre of war and it really paid off. As well as giving you the opportunity to play with a new, much larger range of weapons, it also allows you to play with all the new tools of the trade, such as night vision goggles, Javelin missile launchers, and air strikes. This is by far the most explosive game of the series so far and is also probably the most intensely action packed game so far. To get the ball rolling, there is a single player campaign, where you take the roll of two characters; one is a new member of an elite SAS squad, while the other is a sergeant in the USMC. As you go through the campaign you will switch between the two as they run in parallel timelines, performing different tasks in the war against a Middle Eastern terrorist leader, and an evil Russian and his son. It should be noted that this is the first title in the series to actually have a story not based on historical events. This seems to have worked in their favour as it has allowed them to have quite an involving plot as you get attached to the characters, and it comes as a shock as they die around you. All this provides a visceral experience that you wont forget for quite a long time, and will probably end up playing through a good few times. Of course, it helps that the campaign is incredibly action packed. A lot of the time you will be rushing through battlefields where explosions are going off all around you, and you are held in position by the threat of bullets ripping you to bits the moment you peer over your cover. It’s insane, but incredibly fun. There are also some really impressive stealthier missions, in particular a pair of missions where you go back in time to play as an SAS sniper as you make your way through a deserted Chernobyl to try and assassinate a terrorist during an arms deal. My one complaint with the campaign is that it’s criminally short. I was done with it in three hours which was quite frustrating as it was the most fun I had in a long time. That said, though the campaign is short it is of such a high standard that it can be forgiven, and with different difficulty levels, some of which are incredibly hard, you can always go through it on multiple attempts with different difficulties to see just how good you are. Also, to add to the replay value a bit, you can play through the campaign in “Arcade mode” where you get points for everything you do, more points are awarded for cool moves, such as headshots etc, and at the end you get a score which you can then try and beat, or get your friends to do the same. Aside from the single player aspect of the game, there is a vastly improved multiplayer suite consisting of a very large variety of maps and game modes. The maps vary from Middle Eastern towns to Russian villages to a Freighter out on the sea. There is a great amount of variety here and this is supported by the large range of game modes, some of which aren’t just spin-offs of the usual team death match modes. Headquarters is a personal favourite of mine, but if you are a fan of the classic search and destroy, that still remains from the previous games, as well as a whole bucket load of other modes to keep you busy. For me, the thing that kept me coming back to CoD4 multiplayer was the ranking system. Infinity Ward has done a cracking job of creating a persistent ranking system, consisting of 55 ranks, where you unlock weapons, camouflage and perks. Perks are special abilities, and you can equip three at a time and they grant you such bonuses as quick reload times, extra grenades, and the immensely popular Martyrdom, where you drop a grenade next to your corpse to try and take out anyone attempting to tea-bag you. There is a huge number of perks to be unlocked, and since you can create custom classes, you can have different load-outs with different perks to keep you ready for any situation that may arise. Of course, the weapons play a large part in multiplayer, especially with the ranks as you will unlock extra guns and explosives as you progress. There are too many guns for me to recite, rest assured you will have a wide enough variety to keep you interested. Not only that but there are a series of achievements for all you perfectionists out there which will reward you with gun camouflages, the coolest of which is having gold guns. You are also rewarded during rounds for getting kill streaks, three kills in a life will grant you a UAV to highlight enemy positions, five kills will give you an air strike, and seven will grant you a helicopter gunship to reign fire down on your foes, its an interesting system, although the choppers can feel a little overpowered at times which can get frustrating, but when you know the maps, you can often find cover to hide from them fairly easily. All of this adds up to an incredibly addictive multiplayer system that will keep most FPS fans hooked for quite a long time, and with an incredible graphics engine, you will also find the game aesthetically pleasing, as it will run extremely well at the same time, and scales incredibly well. To be honest, it is easily one of the best looking shooters out there, as well as one of the most stable and well optimised and I was really impressed with it when I found that it could run at maximum settings online with a stable 90FPS on my 18 month old 8800GTS. Even if your system is dated, you should have no problems running the game if you turn some of the effects down. Call of Duty 4 stood out as one of my favourite games of 2007, if not my most favourite. This is due to an incredible single player experience, an addictive multiplayer experience, and some incredible tech to back it all up. If there is one shooter you should own from last year, this is it.