By YukoAsho 21 Comments
So I've been playing through a bunch of games recently, having the time to do so, and I decided to give Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare a go on the PC, since I picked up the Call of Duty Collection on Steam during their amazing June sales (and finally beaten CoD1 and UO, by the way). Now I'm already on record as preferring Treyarch's games (as well as UO by Grey Matter), but going through CoD4 has really refreshed my memory on why I put Infinity Ward below Treyarch in terms of personal preference. Now I get that the Infinity Ward/ Respawn Entertainment fanboys are probably going to give me a bunch of shit for this, seeing as everyone in the gaming media and community is quick to kiss the asses of Jason West and Vince Zampella with the sort of fervor normally reserved for Rockstar Games, but hey, it's a free website, so go ahead and fling shit around like monkeys at the Metro Zoo. Anyway, let's start.
First off, the infinitely respawning enemies. Now I get that there has to be challenge in a game, but this is seriously the worst way to do it. While there was some respawning going on in Call of Duty 2, IW really ramped up the nonsense for 4. It's nearly impossible to actually reduce the number of enemies since they respawn nearly instantly. As such, the game will at points turn into a slow, pitiful crawl where luck plays more of a role than skill. This becomes bleedingly obvious in “Shock and Awe” and the two Azerbaijan village levels, but is pervasive throughout most of the game. It's a horrible, cheap way to design a game, and both CoD4 and MW2 are guilty of this in spades.
Then there's the level design, which are lacking, to say the least. Virtually all the cover in the game can be accessed by some enemy or another in a ridiculously easy manner. Now this wouldn't be so bad normally, if not for the whole infinitely spawning enemies thing I discussed earlier. Here's an example: In “Shock and Awe,” when the player meets up with the squad that needs rescuing, there's this building right across from the one s/he's in. Now the common sense thing to do is to kill the people on the roof, at the windows and in the doorway before jumping down and hiding behind a large shipping container near your position. This will, however, have to be repeated multiple times due to the respawning enemies, which are also spawning to the left of that building, and coming for you. So you have to deal with enemies on both sides and hope you get a couple of lucky grenade tosses to get you through this particular section. This happens several times throughout the game, and it wouldn't be so bad were it not for the...
Grenade spam. Holy shit, there are so many God damned grenades to deal with. Now I get that enemies are going to throw grenades to flush you out – that's what that's what they're for, after all. However, when you have upwards of three grenades at any one time being thrown in your general direction, more often than not, escaping one grenade leads to another. And it's all the time. I suspect that they're not thrown from enemies, but rather, they rain from the sky, cascading you in a shower of exploding pineapples. And it's all the fucking time. Sorry, but when the entire contents of a grenade production facility are being thrown at me constantly, the suspension of belief goes straight out the window, and the game becomes unbearably unbalanced.
Lastly, I have to mention one level in particularly, namely “One Shot, One Kill,” or rather, one part of that level. I'm sorry, but the Ferris wheel is the biggest pile of ass in the whole game. Let me paint a picture – There's this giant Ferris wheel in front of some misplaced cars and bumper karts (now where the cars came from, who knows? This is supposed to be an amusement park, not a parking lot). Anyway, after setting your buddy on the ground behind the Ferris wheel and setting up some claymores, it's time to wait for your ride to get there. Only thing is, your ride is more than 7 kilometers away, and here comes more enemies than a game of Space Invaders. It starts off well enough: Shooting the first few enemies sets a pack of wild dogs on them, and then they fall into some of your claymore mines. Then the real fun begins. Enemies come in from all directions, sometimes two or three at a time. If they're not coming in from near the swimming pool that you passed by earlier, they're getting dropped in by helicopter. At this point, the few undetonated claymores left matter not. You are nearly constantly besieged by an entire army. Only luck determines if you can make it long enough for the chopper to get to you, but more often than not, you'll be getting up close and personal with the game's myriad of quotes about war.
Needless to say, I'm not a huge fan. It's not a terrible game, but one that can lead to so many hair pulling moments. Contrast that with UO, Big Red One, CoD3 and World at War, where each death brought with it a lesson, and it was actually possible to clear enemy positions (unless it was one of those “hold out” missions, but even then, your support characters were actually useful, unlike in CoD4). A game should always challenge, sure, but it should never frustrate, and never should it leave the player simply thinking they were just lucky. How no one ever calls IW out on this nonsense is baffling, but then again, we live in an age where celebrity developers can make all sorts of shoddy tripe and get near limitless praise.
Anyway, if you've read this far, thank you. I truly needed to vent. Now if you'll excuse me, it's back to the Ferris wheel.