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SummarySkip the political brainwashing and enjoy the spectacle
The GoodOh no!, not another Call of Duty! How many times do the Germans have to say they are sorry for WWII? Why can't the videogame industry forgive them once and for all? Wait a second!, "Modern Warfare"? What does this have to do with Call of Duty at all? Well, it has to do that it will sell millions thanks to the name. At least Activision doesn't have any shame on calling things by their name. Anyway, let's forget about the commercial over-exploitation of the art of videogames, thanks to the oligarchy of publishers that rule party and let's leave Infinity Ward develop Call of Duty 6 (yes, I said 6), while we concentrate on Call of Duty 4.
I criticize rabidly Call of Duty 4, but, ironically, this 4th, incoherent part of the series is easily the best FPS of the year (take that, self-esteem!). Call of Duty 4 has it all, it renews the franchise, is technically perfect and the level of spectacle will orgasm your teenage brain and lock up your need for a more intellectual society.
After hearing all those hyping reviews and even reading some positive commentaries on the game of people I consider intelligent here at Moby I gave it a try. I haven't played Call of Duty 3, since they didn't released it for PC (even if they did release it for 5 different platforms, :( ), but many reviews were not very positive. In addition, Call of Duty 2 was little more than a boring copy of the first game sinking in an ocean of WWII games. The series was pretty dead for me.
But everything changes when you play Call of Duty 4. After the mandatory tutorial mission, as necessary as boring, where you take the role of a S.A.S. soldier of the British Army, the setting changes to one of those big cargo boats full of big metal boxes in the middle of a storm. The objective is to find and secure a nuclear bomb, and, if you want to stay alive, you better do as you are told. And that's the magic of the game - if you follow the orders, everything looks amazing. If you play a random non-CoD4 FPS, once in a while you live some situation that looks very realistic or exciting. In CoD4, the script is full of these situations, and the player only has to follow it as a good actor to enjoy them. For example, what is the possibility of hitting a helicopter pilot with an sniper rifle in the head? Well, CoD4 puts a helicopter right in front of you while you operate a sniper rifle so you can live this unusual war experience.
And this is the key of CoD4's excitement, the script is hard worked so you can watch and live all type of spectacular situations in modern warfare like a tank riding over a pick up truck, helicopters heavy firing against enemies barricaded in an apartments building, missiles being launched, an execution in first person, shooting an enemy while he fights hand to hand against a comrade, the blowing up of an electric tower, the reaction of enemies at darkness, and many other things. In addition, CoD4 includes enough new features (at least, if you haven't played other war games which included them before) to make the more repetitive missions more exciting than the average FPSs. As an illustration, you can throw grenades back, cars can explode if hit too many times, bullets can go through slim walls or even bodies (and kill another guy behind the first one), you can cause friendly casualties (which implies automatic mission failure when playing as a S.A.S.), you can use night vision and take advantage in dark areas, use special modern weapons with exotic behaviors (like the javelin missile launcher, that goes over obstacles to hit a distant target), etc. Sometimes you won't know what is scripted and what is random, but, if you want to enjoy the maximum possible, you should just not care. But, in general, missions are enough exotic to what we are already used to, that most of them feel very fresh.
In summary, most of what you experience in this game is fresh, varied and enough exciting to make the experience a nice ride from the beginning to the end. Unless you get stuck in an area because it's too difficult and you have to repeat the same scene 10 times, which is an inevitable problem when games are only based on killing and avoiding to be killed.
You may think: "Wow!, this all sounds pretty good, I will pay tens of € for it"; but wait, there is still more. The technical aspects of the game are way over the standards. When it comes to graphics, for example, I've heard from people that compare it to Crysis. Of course, graphics are not better, but they do an equivalent job. If you don't look at every texture in detail, you may easily have an equivalent visual experience as with Crysis, but with much lower hardware specs. It can run very smooth even with two-years old cards.
As for the sound, I never know what to say, because I don't really know how weapons and explosions sound in real life, but everything seems to sound correct in CoD4. I specially remember the "Death from above" mission, about which you may have heard already. I'm only telling you that you play it from an airplane. Once again, I don't know what do you hear in these situations, but it really felt like being there shooting all those... oh! sorry, better find out by yourself.
And there is even more. The guys from Infinity Ward have paid a lot of attention to the characters and to many details that make the player's immersion a very easy task. Not only is the voice acting perfect, but the animation are also something to mention, specially when enemies are hit. They don't behave as the usual ragdolls that, as soon as they are hit they become dead lifts. Even when an explosion throws an enemy (or a teammate) in the air, they don't die at the moment. Sometimes they'll die shooting the last burst or they'll stay in the ground wounded shooting with their pistol, all these "final breath" animations depending on where did you hit them.
And thanks to many other realistic features of the game, you may still enjoy a lot of variety even in the most repetitive levels. I was surprised, for example, when I decided to carry for a while a sniper rifle in the streets of..., well, this unnamed country you fight in. Due to the proximity of the targets, you can expect that high caliber bullets would pierce their bodies, but I was positively surprised that you can even kill two guys with the same bullet, :D And there are still many other realistic curiosities to discover in the game.
Finally, there is another very good reason to play Call of Duty 4: just 7 letters, P-r-y-p-i-a-t.
The BadBut all this comes with a price.
There are two major drawbacks in CoD4. On the one hand, the reason for this game to work so fine is that the philosophy behind the gameplay is that the player has a role comparable to that of the "play" button in a movie. On the other, that it sinks (like 95% of war games, actually) to US military and political propaganda.
Let's start with the first one. Before you play CoD4, you should ask yourself: Do I like freedom and interactivity in games? If the answer is a determined "yes" you should ask yourself yet another question: Do I like good, accurate serious action movies with plenty of killing and explosions? If the answer is another "yes" or the answer to the first question was no, you can go on and play this game. But if you like freedom and interactivity in games too much, even if you like CoD4, you will feel unpleasant playing this game. Summarizing, this game is a movie, and you better accept it from the beginning.
As Call of Duty tradition commands, you play the role of a low rank soldier who is only there to obey orders, usually about killing every enemy in sight, putting explosives and handling heavy weapons against big shots like tanks and helicopters. Actually, the rest of the troop doesn't look like doing anything apart from holding positions. I will tell you a secret (that you will discover sooner or later), in some parts of the game the protagonism of the player is so exaggerated, that enemies will respawn infinitely until you advance against the enemy lines, o_0 At least, Captain Price is a nice ol' chap to receive orders from, and he also did have to receive pleeeeenty of orders back when he was a low rank soldier trapped in an action movie of the early 2000's.
Related to this, I also want to talk about the "achievements". I'm not sure what is the point of it because I'm a PC gamer, but, apparently, many console games rewards the player for achieving absurdly hard tasks in these games. Most of these games are already a stupid pointless way of wasting many children's time to make them replay them again and again to unlock even more pointless secrets. It is kind of wrong. In CoD4, you are encouraged to find 30 hidden laptops with "intel on the enemy" (you don't actually learn anything, it's just the excuse). As I said, this game is designed to play fast, and exploring the levels for laptops is just the perfect way to break the gameplay and the immersion. And it's absolutely not designed to play twice, that's why there is a multiplayer.
Now, what about a little conspiranoia? Is Call of Duty 4 created by the government of the US to promote a war against Iran? or maybe by the oil companies? Not probable, but CoD4 certainly helps to the "war on terror" agenda. How? Repeating a lie. OK, OK, I'm not going too deep with all this, you came looking for a review, not an explanation on how big media producers tune their messages with given political ideas of their interest in order to make societies believe that these ideas are true and go against their own good to help the interest of the people that hold the power (bankers, mostly). But let's see what this game is about.
The game starts presenting us with the situation both in Russia and in the Middle East. It seems that there is a civil war in the first one between loyalist and ultranationalist rebels. In the Middle East we learn about a guy called Al-Kashan who is super-powerful in the region (for some unknown reason). The "Prologue", consisting on three missions, shows us how these two situations evolves threatening the civilized world, that is (hand on heart full of proud), the US and the UK, and maybe other less important ones. The first (sort of) mission is played ("play" as in "the movie is playing") through the eyes of a president victim of a coupe d'Etat. It serves as an introduction in which we see a city in chaos, an unnamed city in an unnamed country that looks a lot like what we see on the news about Iraq. After this level, and the always-too-long tutorial, we start the real thing in a mission to board a Russian cargo that carries a nuclear bomb.
If we play a bit with the prejudices of lousy-minded citizens (considering a "citizen" that who lives in a "civilization", as opposed to "barbarians", those who live to the East of Poland and to the South of the Mediterranean), what we read here is:
- Arabs, that I have learned on TV is another way to say Muslim, are unable to maintain political instability, they are like children in comparison to our mature democracies. Therefore, and because they hate (hands on heart again) America (which is a country, not a continent), Arab-land is a dangerous source of terrorist.
- Even if they are capitalists now, we have never liked the Russians. After years of Cold War we have learned that conspiracy is part of their culture, and that having all that military resources, who knows how many of them are selling to who knows what people, probably even to terrorists. And who knows what they are saying with that strange language of them.
Now, let's see what is the real political and military situation in which this game has been developed.
Since 11-S, that may have been performed by the oil companies and Zionist ultra secret groups, DUN, DUN, DUN! Oh!, sorry, no more conspiracies. As I was saying, since 11-S, the US with the help of other countries (mostly the UK), has invaded both Afghanistan and Irak and has threatened with invading Iran too during the last two years (but seem to have forget about it in the last months). The results are (not) surprisingly very different to what the invaders claimed would be: they still fight the talibans in Afghanistan and Irak is the hell on Earth right now. This can be explained by comparing the reasons given to invade these countries and the final outcome they have gotten from it:
- Afghanistan: The reason was to bring Al-Qaeda to justice, the outcomes are plenty of US military bases in the region and control over the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. Al-Qaeda has not been brought to justice at all.
- Irak: The reasons were many, hypothetical relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, hypothetical possession of weapons of mass destruction by Hussein's dictatorship, bringing democracy and happiness to the people of Irak. The outcome is, well, death and destruction, but control over Irak's oil and plenty of US military bases are still feasible too. Of course, all the given reasons have turned false.
- Iran: Mostly the same reasons and the same outcome of Irak, but with much worse consequences for everybody. The UN and even the US intelligence has already thrown away the idea that Iran is a short-term nuclear threat, while North-Korea, possible the closest dictatorship in the world, did proclaim to the whole world their intention to be a nuclear threat and the US did nothing.
Where is Russia in all this? Basically, they are a gas and armaments power in the region. They didn't take well the invasion of Afghanistan and they are always ready to sell modern weaponry to many countries in Asia, specially those opposed to the US interests.
In summary, CoD4, probably not on purpose, does a lot of good to promote prejudices against the artificial enemies of the US empire. "Hey!, and the UK too". Sorry guys, and the UK too. This game is a wrong cultural reference. If you don't believe that a videogame (or a movie or a book or whatever) can harm you, or that the science of propaganda is mature enough to make you believe whatever they want, let's play a game: Name the three errors I commited in the explanation of the "Prologue", and don't look... Here they are:
- Al-Kashan is false, it's Al-Asad.
- Nobody says it's a Russian cargo, it's under Slovenian flag.
- The coup d'Etat mission is the third one, not the first one.
If you hadn't caught these error before, your brain would take them as the truth from now on. And it's easy not to remember these facts because the human brain is inaccurate, that's why we write important things down, and the experts in propaganda know this. What?, still not convinced? Well, and if I say you that the cargo's flag is not Slovenian, but Estonian? And if I say you that now you are confused and that the only way to know where the fucking cargo's flag is from is to actually play the game and watch it for yourself?
In addition, Call of Duty 4 is another game where war looks like a funny thing to do. Through most of the game, the player is tricked into thinking that wars missions are prepared as a surgeon prepares for an operation and the only thing they see is dozen upon dozen of bad guys falling, as if that were their job. It must be the higher anglo-saxon intellect, you know. In the S.A.S. missions there are not even friendly casualties. And, of course, there are absolutely no civilians in the battlefield, Infinity Ward could have written a note at the end of the game saying "no civilian has been harmed during this game". This reinforced the pleasant idea that in modern warfare (that is, this game), the technology allow fors clean wars where nobody dies (at least, no more than ~140000 per year), as if civilians where told the day before that there is going to be war in the neighborhood, that they have to, please, go to the designated hotel rooms, and that they don't have to worry about their belongings that are going to be treated with maximum care.
OK, I was lying, there is a one civilian, which is, OBVIOUSLY, killed by the bad guys. Yeah!, they are bad you know. Man!, how pissed I am with them bad guys, they kill innocent people, I'm so proud to be in the good side of the world!
Last, but not least: women count!!! How many girls are in the whole game? One fucking girl!! (yes, both screenshots are mine, ;) ) I thought that in a "modern warfare" game we could see some more female soldiers, but no, the average of number of women in a shooter is still 1. Seriously, I challenge you to find some hyped FPS where there is more than one woman. Why women don't play that many games? WHO KNOWS!!??