Everything new is old again...
However, the geniuses at Infinity Ward have developed, much like the military itself, and advanced to deal with the changing consumer audience, and have made Call of Duty 4 about modern combat. The story in-game here isn't the re-telling of any historic event, nor is it truly about current issues, but is in fact an act of fiction, while still maintaining a feel like such a story was plausible and all too eerily possible in this day and age.
In Call of Duty 4, you'll play as a couple of soldiers (and at least a couple more) in this modern age of combat. As British SAS member "Soap" McTavish, you'll be aiding Russian Loyalists against Radicals trying to seize nuclear weapons to aid their allies in the middle east, and that's where the other soldier you play as, US Marine, Paul Jackson, comes in, as a coup has occurred and hostile Opfor insurgents are taking control of the middle east, threatening hostility on the west for past grievances. There are more than a few twists in the games short, but explosive campaign, and though it could've used a few more missions to extend the experience, the story here is fantastic.
The presentation behind this story is equally impressive. The scale and environments displayed in Call of Duty has always been impressive, and the character models and animations here are on par with the rest of the graphical design. Weapons look equally detailed and look nearly photo-realistic when being fired and reloaded, and explosions and gunfire is impactful and impressive looking.
This is accompanied by a soundtrack reminiscent of other Call of Duty efforts, but with a contemporary twang every now and then that really puts one into the mood that, "hey, this is still a war game like usual, but apparently, war has changed". Sound effects are spot on and make you feel right on the battlefield, and what voice acting is there, is fantastic and fits the rest of the stellar presentation.
Finally, gameplay. This is a Call of Duty game, and is therefore, has some of the most solid shooting in any FPS, but like other Infinity Ward games, also throws in a multitude of varying objectives and means to complete those objectives so you're really not feeling like you're doing the same thing throughout the game's short campaign, as you'll snipe, call in for air support, and even man the guns of an airship at one point or another. It's an FPS, but it's one of the most balanced out FPS's to date, with the right amount of immersion, action, story, and varying objectives to keep the audience riveted. And this doesn't even tough on...
Multiplayer. Perhaps the games most surprising and addictive aspect is it's highly competitive multiplayer. Although all the standard FPS modes are here, the solidity of the game shines through to the multiplayer, and unique aspects like the ability to create your own class, customize weapons, and calling in for support during the game's several modes makes it a truly unique experience that sets itself apart while still providing a huge amount of replay value to the game.
With a briskly paced campaign and endless replay value entailed in its multiplayer, Call of Duty 4 is a game that is easily recommendable to anybody. Though the 5th installment is looking to be a return to mediocrity, one can only hope the next Infinity Ward offering will be as good, if not better than this.