Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn, Posted on 2007-11-14


Developer: Infinity Ward Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 6, 2007 Also On: PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

I was not the first person jumping out of his chair when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was announced. I played and loved both Xbox 360 Call of Duty titles, but for whatever reason I never really followed it until the beta came out. I was definitely excited to see Infinity Ward's return to the reins, and it seemed then that it was Infinity Ward after all who was needed to bring Call of Duty to its highest level of greatness. It is hard not to call Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare one of the best first-person shooters of our time, with its campaign's most epic, intense battles and its Halo 3-smashing online multiplayer modes.

I liked Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's campaign more than Halo 3's. I felt that it was more intense, and each mission and situation felt more rewarding if I could survive without dying or failing my objective. The missions take place throughout three different Acts, and there are a lot of things to do in each Act. From start to finish you'll run through a Marine obstacle course, man the guns of a helicopter, bombard and destroy groups of enemies with an AC-130 gun, call in air strikes, sneak through enemy encampments, and more. There is just so much stuff going on throughout the course of this game—none of these actions I just mentioned were placed into context, and it is the situations that you are put in as you go through the game that are so crazy. I was blown away by some of the missions—the "All Ghillied Up" mission involves a ton of sneaking, and even though you can run through most of its situations, there are some that you just want to experience without alerting the enemy—outsmarting the bad guy is always a lot of fun, and in Call of Duty 4, it is something you can very often do.

The game plays like a charm, and very much like the last two Call of Duty games. I felt like Call of Duty 4 moved a little faster than the others, and I thought that the modern-day guns made the fights a lot different. A lot of guns can perforate thin walls, so there are a lot of situations where you don't have to wait as long to pop-and-shoot at enemies; oftentimes you can just shoot an enemy through the object he's standing behind. This doesn't necessarily make the game easy—the A.I. is very good, and will pursue you diligently. There are a lot of encounters with tanks and helicopters, although you'll get to destroy a lot more of them in this game than you did in previous games. You don't get to drive anything, but Call of Duty 4 maintains its on-foot perfection and feels just as good to play as Halo 3. There are plenty of things for you to do in the game as well. The campaign isn't the longest ever, but casual gamers will probably want to play it on its default difficulty before moving up to Hardened. Veteran is as difficult, if not more difficult than Halo's Legendary—earning the Achievements for beating missions on Veteran difficulty is a challenge, and so are some of the other ones.

Online multiplayer is another one of those things for you to do, and quite frankly, it's the multiplayer that should have you going out and buying Call of Duty 4. After playing both the Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 multiplayer betas, I claimed that the latter was the best online game. I didn't think my opinion would change, and it didn't. Call of Duty 4's online multiplayer is made so great by its different classes. You can earn experience points and rank up, earn levels, and unlock weapon attachments as well as more classes. There are also customizable slots called "Perks" that let you change how you play the game quite a lot. You can equip a Perk that increases your health, one that lengthens your running stamina, and one that lets you shoot at enemies after falling to the ground. There are others as well, and changing these different options is what makes the experience different for everyone. Since you can switch between classes at every single respawn, the game can become quite hectic but also very strategic. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a game whose online experience should go down with the same prestige as Halo 3's and Counter-Strike's.

All of the little details are what make Call of Duty 4 look so damn good. As you sneak through buildings, taking out enemies with quick bursts of fire while looking down the sights of your MP5, you'll notice a lot of blurring that is incredibly realistic—your soldier's eyes focus just like yours do, and this makes for a pretty impressive effect. The explosions are unrivaled in gaming, with some of the best particle and smoke effects to date. Everything in the game looks wonderfully real. Whether it's the tattered and war-torn, shabby streets ravaged early in the campaign or the hilly Russian countryside later on, the environment will absorb gamers into each and every firefight. Next to Halo this effect has never been pulled off as well.

If Call of Duty 4's intense situations and incredibly beautiful graphics don't pull you into the game, the sound effects probably will, particularly if you are supporting a 5.1 surround-sound setup. Although I myself don't have this sort of setup, I spent quite a lot of time playing the game with people who had it—it changed the game; it made finding enemies a different process, it made hearing the bouncing of grenades absolutely terrifying, and the firing of any single gun sound like the man-killing thing that it is. The battle cries and shouts of your squad mates are a lot more realistic this time around, and although Activision took the high road and avoided the use of overly-profane language, they certainly did a good job capturing the stress of the battlefield in the dialogue.

Call of Duty 4 doesn't have a lot of flaws, to be honest. Rather than flaws, it seems to have qualities that just don't dominate other games. The graphics are absolutely wonderful with all of the small touches, but overall the game doesn't look a whole lot better than the best-looking Xbox 360 games. This is a silly statement, really, but I am just saying that Call of Duty 4 is so good that it takes comparisons to the best of the best to really distinguish the explanation for an imperfect score.

Overall, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare joins the ranks of Halo 3, BioShock, The Orange Box, Super Mario Galaxy, Mass Effect, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction as one of the best games of the year, one of the games in a group of titles that truly separate themselves from the competition and have proven that they are worthy of purchase by anyone with even the slightest trace of interest or connection to the subject matter. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will have stiff competition going up for Game of the Year awards, but it surely is one of the best games for anyone sporting an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 to own.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.6
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn