Developer: Infinity Ward
Release Date: November 5, 2007
"Sniper! Our UAV is online! Friendly air strike on the way! Hostile neutralized." Take that, you damn sniper. This is one of the many scenarios that will be all too familiar when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hits the shelves and FPS fans immerse themselves in the franchise's first modern warfare game. If you're interested in seeing how this specific scenario would happen, check out the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Ghillie in the Mist trailer.
Without a doubt, the most overused settings for FPS games is World War II, so CoD4 taking a step into the modern warfare era means there's a world of potential out there. We recently got some hands-on time with the CoD4 multiplayer, and CoD4 looks like it could give the famed Halo multiplayer a run for its money.
Besides the amazing graphics, superb performance, and realistic gameplay, CoD4 introduces two new features to the multiplayer gameplay: leveling up through online kills and a really innovative perks system. Basically, any time you're in a ranked match and obtain a kill, you'll earn a respective amount of experience points (denoted by green numbers that hover above your victim's head), and after obtaining a certain amount of experience, you'll rank up. Upon reaching certain ranks, you will unlock a variety of new perks, weapons, and attachments.
After a few rounds of ranked multiplayer matches, you'll obtain the ability to create a class. When you initially join a match, you'll have the option to play as preset classes, such as assault or support characters, but using the Create-a-Class option lets you customize your character to be truly unique from your opponents. You select the following: primary weapon, sidearm, special grenade (smoke, flash, stun), attachments, and three different perks. Some perks may take up two perk slots, thereby only allowing for two perks. Finally, you save the name of your class to an empty slot, and any time you join a multiplayer match, you can choose to play as that class. You can create and save up to five different classes.
Perks essentially enhance your class by boosting a present feature, or giving you a new one. There are three slots for perks, with each slot having many different unlockable perks. From what I saw, the first perk slot granted additional items, like C4s, an RPG, claymores, or extra special grenades, while perk slots two and three generally affected or enhanced certain aspects of your character. There are uncontrollable perks such as juggernaut, which increases your health; stopping power, which increases bullet damage; and sleight of hand, which allows for faster reload times. Then, there are perks that give you completely new features to utilize. For example, martyrdom causes you to drop a grenade upon death, which was fun to watch. Other exciting perks included deep impact, which causes your bullets to penetrate thick obstacles, such as walls and deal great damage to your enemies. My personal favorite perk is Last Stand, which gives you the ability to pull out your pistol (while incapacitated on the ground, might I add), and get off a few last shots on your enemies. It was really great to get mowed down by someone, and, as he's running away and laughing, put a couple of slugs into his head. Oh, sweet revenge.
Probably the most amazing thing about CoD4 running in multiplayer is how beautiful it is in a 720 resolution, and 60 frames per second — online. Although 12 people were allowed on each map and we were teamed up in groups of six, performance-wise, it felt like I was playing a single-player game. I mentioned this to the PR folks, who saw through my ruse and informed me that I wouldn't be seeing any of the single-player content. Foiled again.
As any multiplayer FPS fan will know, maps and game types play an important role in the online experience. At the event, we were able to play three maps, each well thought-out, realistically rendered, and providing an intense and balanced experience. Game types include Free-for all, Team Deathmatch (which we played), Team Objective, and Team Tactical. Team Objective further expands to include Domination and Seek and Destroy, which will probably be similar to CoD2's iteration, and Team Tactical has 2v2 and 3v3 versions of Team Deathmatch and Search and Destroy.
The first map we were able to see was called Overgrown, which is set in the middle of a forest, with a dried-up river in the middle. On one side are the remains of a small outpost of buildings, and on the other side are fields and a barn. The realistically dense tall grass offers many locations for snipers to hide and pick you off from afar. A bridge that crossed the dry riverbed often served as a never-ending battle and chokepoint, where I earned a good bit of experience. The second map, Crash, takes place in a small town with damaged buildings and destroyed cars. In the center of the town is a helicopter, which I assume crashed, based on the map name. This map was very well balanced and offered many great C4 spots, rooftop battles, and alleyway snipings. The third map, and my personal favorite, is Vacant, which is basically an office with several rooms and a docking bay — excellent factors for intense ambushes. The huge warehouse-like docking bay was the center of many formidable battles, and outside were huge cargo containers which allowed hiding and, in some cases, cover from the team pushing out of the office.
Another interesting feature included in CoD4 is kill streaks, which are generally what they sound like. For every certain kill that you reach on the kill streak counter, you obtain the ability to use a crafty little feature. At the third kill streak, you're able to call in an UAV, which is a scanner that will update your mini-map every few seconds with blips denoting the location of enemies. At kill streak five, you get to call in an air strike that will drop three bombs on the position of your choice. At kill streak seven, you receive the reinforcement of an AI-controlled chopper, which will gun down enemies as it flies around the map. The chopper can be taken out by an RPG, but they were very tedious when trying to gun down enemy forces. The best part about these kill streaks is that they only require you hit "right" on the d-pad to launch the command.
The controls for CoD4 are just how they left off in COD3: forward and backward movement, strafing with the left analog stick, looking around with the right analog stick, right trigger to shoot, left trigger to bring up the scope or behind-the-gun view, right bumper for a frag grenade, and the left bumper for your special grenade. Anyone who's played COD2 or COD3 will easily pick up on the controls, but even if you haven't, they are very easy to get used to.
In the very near future, the CoD4 multiplayer beta is expected to launch, but hold your horses because it's exclusive to the Xbox 360. With three maps, limited perks and weapons, and a level cap of 20, the beta sounds like practically the same game we played at the event, but it's quite possible that as the beta progresses, more will be unlocked. Any experience gained, perks unlocked, or classes created will not carry over into the full game, but it's all for fun, right?
Even though the event was entirely multiplayer, we were able to squeeze out some single-player details from the developers. For the first time, CoD4 will feature an in-depth and story-driven single-player campaign, which will include well-developed characters, powerful voice acting, and intriguing music that will fit the mood of the story. The storyline will be tailored to CoD4's gameplay, and although some of it takes place in the Middle East, Infinity Ward wants to be clear that the title has nothing to do with political situations. At the end of the day, it's just a fun game with a great storyline. Don't be surprised if you tear up at certain points during the single-player campaign; the bond between you and your squadmates will make you want to protect them at all costs.
With beautiful graphics, superb controls, realistic physics and gameplay, innovative and interesting multiplayer features, an intense single-player campaign, a promising composition, and probably the best multiplayer system for an FPS yet, what more could you want from Call of Duty 4? Whether you're a hardcore CoD fan, an FPS junkie, or just a gamer who loves realistic graphics, amazing multiplayer, or a game that will never be the same twice, Call of Duty 4 is certainly worth looking into. Since the game is soon entering beta, I can't count my chickens yet, but it looks like Call of Duty 4 is certainly going to be worth the wait.
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