Written by  :  Tom Cross (31)
Written on  :  Feb 18, 2008
Platform  :  PlayStation 3
Rating  :  4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars4.14 Stars

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The Best Online Shooter You've Ever Played

The Good

The Good: Almost everything. Call of Duty 4 delivers a thrilling war shooter experience, and its new setting and tone distance it enough from its predecessors to make it feel really fresh. The single player story line is better than it sounds. You’ll control two different men, one in the service of the British army, the other working for the US. The narrative hops back and forth between these two men, following them as they track down a few select (and dastardly) terrorists, mowing down armies of faceless Russians and Middle Easterners (the half of the game is set in a purposefully unnamed yet obviously Iraq-based Middle Eastern country) troopers.

Now normally this doesn’t do it for me, but the portrayal of the consequences of your actions (basically, fucking up when you shouldn’t, in various countries) is portrayed unflinchingly. Likewise, the storytelling and characterization of various comrades is detailed and adroit. This marks a big departure from most war shooters, as does the serious and tasteful depiction of extreme disasters (in one case, you experience the aftermath of an atomic explosion). The shooting mechanics are good, and while there’s no cover feature, the prone, sprinting, knife, grenade and scope options all combine to keep you interested throughout the campaign.

The multiplayer, simply put, blows the single-player away. Most of the multiplayer levels are condensed or modified versions of single-player ones, and almost all of them are great (and all of them are well-balanced). As you fight through ruined Russian and Middle Eastern locales, the options available to you are astounding. You can outfit yourself with multiple different weapons and explosives, but that’s only half of it. As you get kills, you level up, gaining experience.

Aside from kills, there are different achievements to be had. You get XP for using certain guns in certain ways, for shooting down helicopters, for doing almost anything, really. Along the way you’ll unlock “perks,” which are special abilities. You might unlock a perk that lets you sprint for longer, or one that steadies your aim. This makes it so that most character load-outs are unique. Some people might favor carrying two SMGs, and a full compliment of grenades, while others might want to silence all of their guns and make themselves invisible to radar. The options are endless, and since there are 50 levels of experience, which you can repeat once over to get a special medal, you can see just how much depth there is to the experience.

The Bad

Not much, except the aforementioned creepy neo-Imperialist feel. Sometimes, in multiplayer, grenade spamming can get crazy, but that’s about it. As is always the case with Call of Duty, every 100 feet your boys will halt, and wait for you to move up, just enough to trip an invisible wire and cause them to advance. If you don’t advance yourself, your comrades will hunker down and stay put, weathering the onslaught of an unending stream of bad guys. This can get annoying, to say the least.

The Bottom Line

COD4 is the best multiplayer game I have ever played. It is well-balanced, fast, entertaining, and constantly surprising. Every new perk unlocks a new strategy. When you get the Martyrdom perk (it drops a live grenade when you die), every battle will end with you rushing toward the opposition, hoping for that extra kill. Infinity Ward has announced that they’ll be releasing new maps soon. Call of Duty 4 is about to get a lot more exciting. For once in my life, I can recommend a war shooter to somebody. Go try it; you won’t want to stop, once you’ve gained that first level.