2007 is undoubtedly the year of the AAA shooter. In the last few months we’ve had BioShock, Halo 3 and The Orange Box released to universal acclaim. Can Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare break the mould of yet-another-war-game and meet the lofty expectations of gamers spoiled by the brilliance of some recent titles? Read on for the full review.
Infinity Ward finally dropped the World War II setting and modernized the game. I imagine it would’ve been quite hard to change the direction of the series so drastically in the course of one sequel, however the work has paid off - instead of vaguely historic World War II re-enactments, we get a fantastic modern-day story following a group of elite soldiers, that would appeal to anyone who has read S.A.S novelists such as Andy McNabb. The gist of it is that a nutter by the name of Zakhaev has got his hands on some nuclear warheads and has them pointed at the United States. You’ll follow S.A.S troops through Russia and U.S. Marines through the Middle East in their attempts to stop him.
The game is truly gorgeous - it’s easily one of the best looking console games ever. The level of detail in the textures, models and environments is astonishing, and the characters move and react (and die) with considerable realism thanks to some brilliant animation. It’s the grittiest and most intense depiction of a battlefield in a video game yet. The effects that occur when you’re hurt, or have just been stunned by a flash-bang grenade work brilliantly and actually add to the immersion.
This detail extends to the physics - when bullets strike surfaces, the game takes into account a number of things - the caliber of the bullet, your distance from the surface, the material itself (wood, metal, stone) and the thickness - meaning that what might look like cover, and indeed function as cover in other games, can easily be shot through with the right weapon.
Infinity Ward have done some amazing work with the sound - hard-hitting explosions, intense gunfire, enemies screaming as they are riddled with bullets, jets flying overhead, bullets whizzing past - who knows if it’s realistic - and who wants to find out? Regardless, it all sounds fantastic - and it’s something that simply must be experienced in surround. The score by Harry Gregson-Williams and Stephen Barton does the job perfectly, bringing an epic Hollywood-esque soundtrack to the game that rivals John Debney’s work in Lair.
For a game that pushes the graphical capabilities of the Xbox 360 so hard, it’s refreshing to experience a silky smooth frame rate that very rarely exhibits dropped frames - usually in the most hectic moments and always returning to glory within the blink of an eye. Combined with perhaps the tightest controls on a console first-person shooter yet, you have an incredibly fast-paced, responsive and immersive experience - although having to click the left stick to sprint is a little annoying.
Unlike a majority of squad-based shooters, there’s no ability to command your squad - also outside the norm for games pushing the graphical envelope is the fact that you probably couldn’t do a better job than the AI even if you could command them. Your teammates behave like real soldiers, clearing rooms methodically before advancing - at times, you can sit back and let them do the work - they’ll even save your life if you get into a position where they need to.
There’s a lot of variety to the missions, including the best sniper moment in a video game to date - which sees you and another S.A.S. soldier infiltrate a heavily guarded area and take out a target from nearly 1,000 yards. You’ll need to account for wind and the Coriolis effect to hit the target, and then fight your way out of the massive shit-fight you’ve just started. Another mission sees you manning the weaponry onboard an AC-130 Gunship - switching between three different types of munitions and providing the air support for a team on the ground.
The first downside is the fact it’s over long before you want it to be - FPS veterans who don’t ramp up the difficulty will be done with the game in well under ten hours. The second is the is the glaring omission of a co-operative mode. It seems crazy - the sniper mission in particular would’ve made one of the best moments in co-operative gameplay ever.
Pages: 1 2