After building its supreme reputation on the historic gun fights of World War II, Call of Duty’s eighth outing finally brings the action up to date, announcing itself with the tagline “Modern Warfare”. A gamble? Not likely, Call of Duty 4 is the best in the series to date and a must on the hit list of Xbox 360 owners.
With the modern age, comes a new campaign mode. While it’s the usual story, following a terrorist laden plot around the world, taking down multi-national strongholds one by one, Call of Duty 4’s missions are so vastly powerful and absorbing that you’ll loose yourself in an instant. The action kicks off on a boat, but it’s not just the enemy crew you have to deal with. The gameplay is about as immersive as you’ll find from a first person shooter, every sway of the boat and slosh of water knocks you back a couple of strides. Next swapping oceans for deserts and the aggressive towns of the Far East, with gun fire bellowing from all angles, if you’re lucky enough to own a HD panel and surround sound, you’ll feel right in the thick of the action. Grenades dropping at your side, bullets rippling through thin walls and waves of clever enemies, attacking in patterns and hitting the weak spots of your position, Call of Duty 4 brings a new level of realism even Rainbow Six cannot match.
Within each level, your objectives are handily targeted on a HUD compass but making your ends meet is never a case of simply traversing from A to B. From high octane blood baths, donning a grassy camo to providing sniper support from the hills or even hiding amongst the wilderness, watching tanks and RPG patrols creep by, Call of Duty 4 offers a breathtaking campaign mode with even more memorable moments than the monstrous Halo 3.
Infinity Ward’s overhaul of the graphics is another welcome treat. Producing easily the best looking game on Xbox 360 to date, each lifelike environment, destructible building and remarkable character modelling is a sumptuous example of next generation gaming at its finest.
To complete the puzzle, Infinity Ward have reworked the control system. The basic FPS layout is no where to be seen. Adapting to Call of Duty’s reliance on zoomed aiming, pulling your gun from your hip to sight down the barrel has been given a purpose button. Holding down the left control stick powers the player into a sprint and tapping another will hurl him into the ground.
So far so good, but sadly campaign mode does hit a hitch. Seasoned CoD players will wolf down the story in less than 10 hours but even more painfully, there’s no co-op option. Why the choice was taken to cast aside such a loved and now basic mode, I’ll never know, luckily the overall quality of the single player still beams through and what could have been a major issue, dies down to a mere niggle.
As so often is the case, the bulk of your play will seep into multiplayer. With the vast number of gamers on Xbox LIVE, a lack of computer controlled characters for single console matches won’t hold Modern Warfare back. Trudge deep into online play and you’ll discover an imaginative class system to boost the normal range of options. After collecting experience for kills, offensive sprees and disarming bombs, you can level up your online character, picking from a range of perks and unlockables to make a custom rank truly you own. Chains of kills will also be rewarded with the new air support system. Take down five consecutive enemies and you’ll rack up an rocket attack from a supporting chopper, then take down a couple more and he’ll stay by your side.
With peerless AI and an expansive range of true to life weaponry, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is at last a masterpiece of the current day. Expect to be playing online until the next one hits the shelves and even hit the supreme campaign mode over and over again expect, searching for the cleanest route to salvation, Halo 3 is going to have to move over already.