Review by Mad_Ogre
Reviewed: 01/04/08 | Updated: 01/06/08
This is THE online game on the ps3 right now, but if you can't get online - just rent it.
This is the first Call of Duty game to break away from the era of the World Wars, and this move if definitely for the best. Everything, naturally, has a more modern feel to it - you have nightvision, for example.
The graphics in single player are very good, it is difficult to compare the graphics to other games because most games have great graphics these days, so about the only justification I can do for the graphics here is to say that if I was to compare them with other games I've played, they'd be right up there with the best. Basically, you'll have absolutely nothing to complain about by way of graphics - it runs smoothly and without obvious glitches.
While most other things in Call of Duty 4 have been renovated this time around, the gameplay remains pretty much unchanged. They implement some of the new modern technology well into what you have to do, such as using night vision to go through buildings and have an advantage over the enemy. At the heart of it though, the gameplay is the same old 'Infinite Enemies' style that we saw in Call of Duty 2. This means that if you're at one side of the battlefield, and you can shoot enemies, they will keep on coming... forever. The only way to stop them from coming is to advance your position forward, which magically makes them stop coming and your men move in and take over.
Basically nothing has changed in the gameplay from CoD2 - you can't even command your allies, you simply have to play the role of a soldier who is being told what to do. I have absolutely no problem with this, I think it is fair enough, but if you're looking for a more tactical game then I recommend GRAW 2 for that, because you won't find what you're looking for here.
Music and Sound
Again, as with graphics, there is nothing to complain about here. There isn't anything particularly memorable that you'll always associate with the game (apart from maybe the words: 'fifty thousand people used to live here') but they basically did some stereotypical 'war-like' music and stuffed it into the game. I can't see what else they could have done really, it goes with the feel of the game, and thats about it.
This is where the game really shines. If you can't play online then there's no other reason to buy Call of Duty 4, you should go for a rent at maximum if you're in that scenario, and you're missing out on the best multiplayer experience so far on ps3. Actually, you'll be missing out on the best multiplayer experience I've had in a while - I never dug the Halo series and this beats GRAW and Gears of War online, so the only thing that beats this is the Socom games, in my opinion (never played counterstrike).
The smooth feel of the single player game has been perfectly recaptured in the online segment, games can be found with great ease (thanks to the online patch that fixed the waiting time to get into rooms) - though I still believe that online games should be using a better lobby system than this. I very much dislike the idea of just searching for a game type and being placed into a game - I think people should create their own rooms and stay in them, which tends to bring together the gaming community. Another problem is that the room closes when the host leaves, so instead of the room allocating another host, the game just ends you go to find another room. Having said this, the system is very user friendly and the interface is quick.
There is a decent variety to game modes, and there are a decent number of maps (locations) to play in - although (as with any online game) there could be more, and this would be nice. The maps themselves have been very well done, and I really take my hat off to the development team for this, the maps are excellent and well varied, and there is enough there for almost any playing style (sniping, charging etc.)
There is very little lag online, and you very rarely get a situation where only one person is lagging, the lag usually affects everybody and doesn't last very long - if it does everyone is usually disconnected anyway. I must admit that sometimes the odd bullet doesn't actually register a hit, sometimes you can cleanly snipe someone in the chest and the bullet doesn't hit, it just seems to go right through them or something. This has been complained about but this is nothing game breaking, it happens relatively rarely (for me at least).
The ranking system is very good, when you start you (if I remember correctly) don't actually have a rank (if not you start with a rank one) then your rank goes up more as you play, you get experience points (EXP) for every kill, airstrike, bomb plant, UAV recon, and just about everything you can do for the team. Once you have enough EXP you unlock the next rank and so on. At the start you only have a choice of a few guns, and you basically have no attachments save the grenade launcher. But as you play on and your rank increases you unlock guns and gun attachments are usually unlocked by completing weapon challenges with the weapon (usually a certain number of kills or headshots will unlock something for the weapon - you can see all the challenges by going into the barracks from the multiplayer menu and you can see from there what you need to do to unlock things).
This ranking system really helps to keep you hooked to the game, and in no time you'll have found your niche and preferred weapon setup. You can also create your own classes after level 5 (you should reach level 5 after about 7 games) and this is pretty much essential for picking your own weapons and deciding which perks you want to use. Perks are basically an added ability for your class - for example if you're a sniper you'll want to choose the 'Iron Lungs' perk - which allows you to hold your breath for longer to hold the aim steady when you're shooting. Others include stopping power (added bullet damage), UAV jammer (undetectable on enemy radar - more on this later), and dead silence (make less sound when moving). There are a lot of perks to be unlocked with higher ranks.
You'll have noticed that I've said there's an 'enemy radar.' Well, I know what you're thinking - 'OMG theres an enemy radar? Thats rubbish!' Well, actually, the radar is extremely limited - if you're playing a mode other than hardcore than you have a radar at all times, and when an enemy fires his gun (unless he has equiped a silencer) then he'll appear on the radar for a very short time. The radar doesn't really follow his movements so you only get his last position on the radar. The radar does not cover the whole map either, so unless he's in short range you won't even know where he actually is. The other way to get people up on the rader is to call in a UAV recon. To call in a UAV recon you have to get 3 kills without dying, and it basically gives everyone on your team a proper radar, which means that enemy positions start coming up on the screen (unless they have the UAV jammer perk). When you get 5 kills without dying you get to call in an airstrike on a location of your choice and you glean any kills you get from it, and when you get 7 kills without dying you get to call in your own helicopter, which flies around the battlefield killing the other team and you get all the kills for it. Sweet!
This may sound like a lot to take in all at once, and it is, but after about 15 games you'll have it all figured out and it will come natural to you. I've never seen another online game do powerups in this way, but that obviously does not mean it hasn't happened. So I don't know if it is a new idea or not, but either way it is very well implemented into the game, and still remains balanced. You can shoot down choppers with RPGs and you can avoid airstrikes by getting indoors or underground, or just out of the area completely.
Then there's all the challenges, there are about 4 pages of challenges to be done, and completing one gives you more EXP and, more importantly, a real sense of achievement. They're like achievements for the xbox 360, except they give you EXP instead of Gamerpoints. If you get into this game you'll be hooked on these things for sure.
To summarise, the online portion of this game is absolutely fantastic - it is THE online game of the ps3 right now, leaving resistance: fall of man look like it has no personality, while blowing it totally out of the water. But, if you can't get online then this is not a game to buy - the single player alone is not worth it unless you really have a love for the Call of Duty series.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (EU, 11/09/07)
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