Never Has There Been a More Exhilarating Rollercoaster
The single-player experience in Call of Duty 4 is a rollercoaster, plain and simple. You are on rails, so to speak, the entire time, never truly choosing your own course. Sure, there may be a section of a level or two where you are allowed to choose one of two or three objectives to shoot for first, but your decisions as a player are wholly inconsequential and have no impact on the gameplay. This, for me, was a beautiful thing. Yes, I am aware that is completely goes against everything the gaming community is telling you that you must have right now (coughsandboxcough), but it’s wonderful.
The reason behind this is simple: cinematic experience. The entire time I was playing this game I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a really awesome war movie. There are scripted sequences in this game, just like every other Call of Duty, that simply blew me away. Intense helicopter crashes and explosions and tanks and sniping segments, the list goes on. In short, the game makes you feel hardcore. (Unless you’re playing on Veteran, the hardest difficulty, like I did. It made me feel like a baby most of the time.)
Gameplay is finely-tuned and sweet to control. Responsive, satisfying gunplay is the name of the game, and Call of Duty 4 shines. The guns feel powerful, effective, and gratifying as they stop enemies in their tracks. The gun models look like what you’d expect, but the graphics in general are stunning. Animations especially stand out within the confines of the game. Everything is very fluid and believable, sucking the player into the war. Allies open doors slowly to peer in, jump barriers realistically and look like human beings. It all feels right.
The direction the developers took in the sound department also contributes heavily to the believability of the game. Comm chatter sounds great and authentic. Your superiors will tell you when a room has been cleared and when they are being fired upon, among other things. The music especially stands out. One level in particular rises to the top in my memory. You are a sniper who has been coupled with another sniper for an assassination mission (Most agree this is the coolest mission in the game).You’re sneaking through and around the enemy, when all of a sudden you have to bolt to avoid being spotted. The drums pick up dramatically and form a beat that just gave me chill bumps. It was incredible. The score is top-notch, sound effects beat and pounded through my speakers, and it all really heightens the experience.
Singleplayer, however, is not the only place this game shines. Multiplayer is robust and addicting. There are a plethora of game modes to choose from, but the trick is everything must be unlocked to play. The process is simple and fun. You kill things, you get points, you level, you unlock, rinse, repeat, have fun. Not much more to it, but it is extremely well-executed. The maps are fun and fast-paced. There’s so much more that can be said, but really, it’s just as great as the single-player.
In summary, Call of Duty 4 is a game every fan of the genre should play. There are no real complaints to be had. The only reason I didn’t give this a perfect score is simply because I played through it on Veteran. Dying 100 times per level is a bit of a damper on the fun factor, but I suppose that is my fault for choosing it. Games need to figure out how to be challenging without being cheap. Call of Duty fails here, but it is neither significant nor glaring. It shines stunningly in every single other facet. This game is truly a gem.