Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Preview

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the next title in the popular first-person shooter war series by Infinity Ward. It is not only the first Call of Duty game to be rated 17+, but also the first not set at some point during World War II – ‘Modern Warfare’ is set in the near future, hence the subtitle ‘Modern Warfare’. Over the last two days (October 11th-12th 2007) the COD4 Demo was made available for pre-release download. now brings to you the low-down on Infinity Ward’s latest instalment.

In the Beginning…

The demo begins with a lengthy video spelling out the general plot of the game, which acts as the perfect medium to show off the spectacular graphical sights it has to offer. The storyline is the usual case of ‘One man tries to build a big army, British and US governments discover his plans and attempt to stop him in his tracks’. However, being set in a completely different time and environment from the rest of the series, the stakes are much higher and the enemy is much more dangerous.

After selecting to begin a New Game we are treated to a ‘mission briefing’ video in the form of a television broadcast from USMC – supposedly a news channel covering the ongoing conflict. We find ourselves in the midst of the fighting in Capital City, with our mission being to secure a tank codename “War-Pig” which has become marooned behind enemy lines in a bog – hence the name of the chapter ‘The Bog’. The little intricate details that flash all over the screen during this sequence really make you feel like you are part of something.

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Into the Warzone

When play finally begins the initial feeling we get is ‘Whoa’. Simple as that – this game is so slick-looking it makes some ‘great looking games’ out at the moment look like last generation’s news. Gunfire everywhere we look, superbly animated soldiers charging, lighting effects to die for – this is a prime example of how graphics should be.

The next thing we notice is that the general layout of the original games is back. A compass scrolls at the bottom as you move, with a blinking yellow beacon adorning it, guiding the player in the direction of their objective. Regular actions like crouching, lying down and jumping return, as well as grenade throwing and aiming with the second mouse button. The action button is also back, doubling as a method of swapping guns dropped by both the enemy and your own teammates. Players can also lean round corners to pick off the enemy vigilantly.

To call the action throughout this demo anything less than ‘incredibly intense’ would be a major understatement. Thrown straight into the firing line, the drone of the enemy machine guns and the screaming orders of your team feel so powerful and we feel ourselves drawn into the stunning action. From the word go, we know this is more than just another warfare shooter.

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No ‘I’ in ‘COD’

After playing for a couple of minutes, it becomes extremely obvious that Call of Duty 4 is heavily teamwork based – even more so than the previous instalments – and it feels absolutely brilliant. You really do feel like you are part of a team and not just on a ‘one-man takes out dozens of enemies alone’ mission. While moving forward with your team you will more than likely take shots to various parts of the body – as with other Call of Duty games, the screen will become blood-stained and your immediate objective is to get into a safe place and hide until your character is ‘healed’.

However if you continue to take damage despite this warning, you will meet your death. If you were caught in gunfire, the screen will blur and display some proverb or information, e.g. ‘The cost of a single Javelin Missile is $80,000’. If you were killed in another way, the game will usually explain to you how you died and how best to avoid it next time – ‘You were killed by an exploding vehicle. Vehicles on fire are likely to explode’. Nicely put.

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Take the Call

Right-click allows the player to aim better – in the case of the M4A1 rifle carried by the soldiers during the demo, using the laser sight for incredible and ultra cool aiming. When moving into aiming mode, everything in the foreground will become blurred – this effect looks insanely amazing and makes us wonder why it hasn’t been used before in a Call of Duty game! Slip on the night-vision goggles and suddenly you really do feel like you are in the settings – the tension is immense.

Little details like your character pulling the night-vision goggle over his head instead of them just appearing on your head, or the way the camera shuffles about when you reload instead of just staying stationary make the whole experience feel even more realistic. So many other situations add to the realism – at one point one of your team bumps into an enemy soldier in a stairwell; they wrestle with each other before the enemy manages to trip your partner up and floor him – at this point you will probably want to take him out before he manages to bring his gun to your ally’s head! Of course, even if you were to let him be executed, it’s not the end of the world – moments later, he will be replaced by ‘re-enforcements’ in the form of a replacement soldier, armed and ready.

The weapons in the demo are a mix of classic and modern. The AK47 and standard sniper rifle are both in there, while the laser-sight rifle and auto-lock on rocket launcher are both welcome features. When using the rocket launcher, it takes a couple of seconds for the gun to lock an enemy vehicle before firing the rocket high into the sky in an attempt to stop the enemy shooting it down – things like this really show how modern life this game really is.

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The Future’s Bright

So as you can probably tell, we here at Steamfriends are incredibly impressed by everything Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare has to offer and wait in anticipation for the full package, complete with full single player and online multiplayer which, to be honest, is BOUND to be immense. With release dates set as November 5th for the US and November 9th for Europe, prepare to be blown away very soon.