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‘COD4’ , the rebirth of a franchise

November 23, 2007

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Call of Duty 4

Sometimes you just gotta leave the past in the dust. Like many of the military first-person shooters cluttering up the video game marketplace,
Infinity Ward’s impeccable ‘Call of Duty’ series had begun to wear out its welcome in recent years. Even though Infinity Ward had tweaked the formula, the familiar settings and strategic situations were getting mighty dusty. There was just no shaking that familiar sense of déjà vu.

‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’ just doesn’t represent a shift in time period, it represents a rebirth of the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise. Infinity Ward didn’t go back and reinvent the wheel but in abandoning the World War eras they cleared those boundaries which may have been confining their
creativity. From a developer’s standpoint, having those chains removed had to have been very liberating. From a player’s perspective, the resulting enthusiasm of Infinity Ward’s shift in focus can be felt throughout the entire game, even though the length of the adventure is shorter than most first-person shooters.

Call of Duty 4: Go go go!‘Call of Duty 4’ does what few games do these days. It connects with the player on a very personal level no matter what their political stance might be. Playing off the war in Iraq and the state of the Middle East, enables the game to heighten the realism to maybe an uncomfortable but insightful level for some. As you wage war through small villages and sprawling cities, you cannot help but to speculate if there will be a sinister plot twist lurking around the corner that will transform you from a liberating
hero into an oppressive villain in the blink of an eye.

Masters of level design, Infinity Ward has ramped it up for ‘COD4’. There are many missions where you are in foot, following your compass as you engage in running firefights. There are also some outstanding interludes that have you hanging out of a helicopter operating its gun turret, taking on the role of a camouflaged sniper, carrying wounded soldiers through the streets and acting as a pinpoint bomber guarding freindlies from the sky. Your viewpoint during that stage is a screen resembling black and white military bombing footage you’ve seen played on CBC or CNN over the course of the Iraq War. It is a crafty choice for a gameplay level as it has all sorts of other implications, if you really think about what you are supposed to be doing and how you are doing it.

Call of Duty 4:  I remember this in a Hollywood Movie...While close to it, the single player campaign is not picture perfect. Your colleagues are not that much help so it is best not to rely on them for cover fire or protection of any kind. Sometimes they have as much impact on
the battle as potted plants might even though they are right in the thick of things. They will also bump into you a lot and get in your way especially in crowded doorways or farmhouses. To edge up the difficulty even more, the bad guys respawn like crazy. Typically in first-person shooters you are rewarded for tactical shrewdness. If from across the battlefield you decide to take out all the snipers in a bunker, the A.I. usually considers them rubbed out and cuts you a break for thinking ahead. In ‘Call of Duty 4’, such enemies infinitely respawn so there is not much of an advantage to be gained by sitting back and clearing a path for yourself.

The multiplayer side of things is a multifaceted and addictive proposition. Up to 18 people can play at a time, there are 16 maps and six game modes to select from. As you gain experience points, you can level up your character in your chosen class and do some cool things like call in air strikes or a helping hand from a helicopter or two.

Call of Duty 4: Darn Cars!‘Call of Duty 4’ is a short but staggeringly powerful experience. There are some portions, whether they be cut-scenes or part of the gameplay, that really do rival scenes you would find in any Hollywood blockbuster. The thrill of discretely crawling under parked vehicles as hordes of armed enemy soldiers stand nearby or ducking and weaving as you carry an injured helicopter pilot to safety while bullets whiz through the air around you has all the excitement of any action movie. Then, there are the scenes that will haunt you and perhaps stick with you long after you have switched off the console and put your controller down. Without giving too much away, one daring scene/level in particular involves the fallout of a devastating blast. Hands down, it is one of the most compelling scenes I have ever witnessed in a game.

‘Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision.
Developer: Infinity Ward.
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Official Site: http://www.callofduty.com/

Rating: 9.5 / 10


 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.