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Call of Duty 4 - Modern Warfare - XBox 360 Review

by November 20, 2007
Call of Duty 4 for XBox 360

Call of Duty 4 for XBox 360

Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision Publishing, Inc.
Game Resolution: 720p / 1080i / 1080p
Display: Panasonic PT-AX100U
Reference System: Reference System 6
MSRP: $59.99
Style: First Person / Shooter
Rating: Mature (Blood, Gore, Violence)

Pros

  • Obscenely realistic graphics
  • Fantastic sound effects
  • Engrossing single player plot
  • RPG like multi-player elements

Cons

  • Not enough multi-player maps
  • Main scenario could have been longer

Introduction

Have you been murdered recently? I mean, like actually shot in the face or blown up by a nuclear holocaust? If so, then I doubt you are reading this right now. But, if you would like to experience those things without real pain or the sting of death, then you should be playing Call of Duty 4! My statement might seem a little tongue-in-cheek, but it’s closer to the truth then you can realize from just reading a review. If you have a good home theater, then your time spent with CoD4 is beyond gaming entertainment, it’s a moving emotional experience.

Visuals

Where do I begin? The graphics are on a level unlike any game I have played before. Sure, there are titles like Far Cry, or previous incarnations of Call of Duty that seem real, but Infinity Ward have outdone themselves! This is THE most realistic first person shooter out there today. Yeah, you PC guys might be calling out “Crysis” in the distance somewhere, but it takes a pretty hefty computer to play it and have any decently realistic experience. I am playing CoD4 on my Xbox 360 after all! Most high-end PC video cards cost more than my entire game console... But I digress.

Playing the game, you can see a lot of detail in everything from the blades of grass, to the texture on the walls, to the face of the dog that just throttled your throat. The color schemes of the various landscapes seem very appropriate as well. In the desert towns, there are beautiful golden hues that project the heat of the surroundings. Alternately, in the mountains, cooler temperatures are communicated with the shades of blue that fill the display. The contrast in CoD4 is also fantastic! In dark buildings there is just a hint of what’s around you. Of course, Infrared goggles can be turned on, allowing you to sneak up on enemies in the dead of night.

Fire looks fantastic, the weapons look fantastic, the buildings look fantastic, the ground looks fantastic, the explosions look fantastic, the vehicles look fantastic… Did I mention that the whole game looks fantastic? Actually, it’s all fan-freakin-tastic!

Editor's Note: We have used up our quota of the word "fantastic" for the remainder of this review. - Clint DeBoer

Sound

Of course, beautiful graphics alone don’t make the game. The sound in CoD4 is also excellent! I am feeling sorry for many of the PC guys right about now. Though I have a small 7.1 setup on my personal computer, only a full home theater will do this game justice. You have GOT to hear this game! The music, the effects, the voices, etc. All magnificent!

Most games give you a plot that feels kind of so-so, then they throw in some half-baked voice acting and some corny music. Not so with CoD4! The voice acting is pretty good and the actors believably lead you into the main plot. Walking around your team members and on the battle field, the dialogue tracks realistically though the surround speakers. Also, the music is intense at times and lighter at others. Some of the music has incredibly deep bass that can be felt more than heard - with the right sub. The music seemed to be at the quality of a good CD and I wasn't particularly aware of the overt use of compression. The sound effects truly engulfed me during play and firearms had some good punch, as if I truly held them in my hand. In the middle of the battlefield surrounds allowed the bullets to literally fly right by your head. Sound alone could convey from where you were being shot. The explosions produce a lot of deep bass, though effects were very subtle. There wasn't a lot of mid-bass punch, but rather the low-low bass that is more felt than heard. It would have been nicer to have a little more mid-bass sonic punch, especially considering that many consumer level subs don’t actually reproduce the subtleties of 20-30Hz frequencies or lower. But if you are one of the lucky ones with a nice big sub or two, you’ll like the way it feels!

Gameplay

Yes, I have been raving about the audio and video, but how is the gameplay? It’s WAR! Yes, that’s right, pick your favorite war movie, then picture yourself as the main character. Now, put yourself in the middle of the action and fight! To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the war movies or war games, but CoD4 made the experience so real that I wanted to play more and more; even when my neighbor, Chris Seymour (of SeymourAV.com) kept pounding my face into the dirt. Put my frequent death out of your mind for a moment, and we’ll step into the first person scenario...

CoD4 ClassesIn the single player mode, you play several different characters and move in and out of their roles as you fight, kill, and die. Not only is this a first person run-and-gun game, but you get the opportunity to be helicopter gunner or even leader of a foreign nation for a brief time. The game felt similar to the previous Call of Duty titles, but was much more engrossing. The realism of the graphics and sound bring your emotions in play and drive you on to fight the enemy and protect your own. Of course, there are sweet guns, lots of grenades, stabbing, and lots of dying. Did I mention that you can shoot through walls with certain weapons? That adds a whole new level of strategy! Again, it’s war, so what can you expect? The first night I played, my wife watched for a while and even she was sucked into the action. Of course, I kept playing past her bed time. As she headed up to bed she said “Come home safe” as if I was really in some foreign war. *grin* I do have one complaint about the single player scenario… It’s too short! Yes, an experienced FPS player will probably complete it in the 5 to 7 hour range. Oh, and when you do finish it, be sure to watch the entire set of credits. There’s a little bit more at the end that you won’t want to miss.

CoD4 MapsOk, back to me getting my face pounded into the ground… That’s right, I’d like to talk about the multi-player game. There are two ways you can do this, on Xbox Live, or locally. When you play a local game with up to 4 players per 360, you get quite a few weapon options that you don’t have when you play online. Yeah, I know, that seems kind of odd, but they have figured out a way to throw in some RPG elements to the game. You see, as you play online, you level up your character and you can create your own class with new weapons, grenades, and some special items, as well. It’s kind of cool how they do this, but it might be a little frustrating when you first start online as you get pwned by the masters with the cool stuff and you are just a little guy running for your life. I do like the weapons and the classes seemed pretty balanced for local play, however. I wish there were more multi-player maps. Only 9 are provided for local play, but half a dozen more would be great. There are more maps if you play on XBox Live. Of course, I am sure there will be more in the near future, but I doubt they’ll be free. In any case, there is plenty of great terrain to hide in, jump over, blow up, and die in.

 

About the author:

Jim Robbins is, by profession, a computer programmer. His technology interests started back in 1989, when he became SysOp of his High School's BBS (anyone remember those?). Of course, as most intelligent and geeky high school students, he also loved video games. Those video games were a force driving him into self discovery as an audioholic!

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Recent Forum Posts:

Thaedium posts on November 21, 2007 20:21
I own it for my PC, bought it at gamespot and downloaded it. No problems, no hassles, and looks great. My PC is going on 2 years old now and has no problems running it with nearly every setting maxed out. Have the computer plugged into the reciever, so I get the good experience out of it.

My buddy has the Xbox version of the game, it too is also great but I'm an old timer when it comes to playing games via PC, and therefore prefer to play it there. My issue with the Xbox version is the lack of customability for online play. With the PC version, you go into multiplayer and you can take a look at the server list. Don't like the Kill Cam? With the PC version simply filter it out. Want a server with more then just 16 players? fine, find one with 50. Want a dedicated server that doesn't force you to find other users constantly, too easy.

The only real benefit I see to the Xbox/PS3 versions is that you can get whats known as prestige mode. Once you hit level 55 you can trade in your rank, and get a fancy symbol by your name, and you get to work back up from lvl 1 again. You can do this up to 10 times in the PS3 and Xbox versions, so thats technically a rank scale of 550 ranks… Not bad.


Some further thoughts about CoD4. Well, I believe that CoD4 did a wonderful job on it, but there really is so much more that could have been done with it. Take a look at PC games like BF2 for instance. Modern warfare includes the usage of vehicles, I should know, I'm in the Infantry. Games like Halo also have been using vehicles for quite some time now, so why not include these components to expand upon an already good game? How does a 3 kill streak, or a 5 kill streak, or a 7 kill streak simulate the reality of combat at all ? At 3 kills you can call in Radar, at 5 you can call in an Air Strike, and at 7 you can call in a gunship for fire support. Looking at a game like BF2 for instance, you have a more realistic balance. You have an overall commander, and then section leaders who can request artillery. CoD4 could have done something similar relatively easily.

The rank system in CoD4 is good, but simplistic, again comparing it to BF2 you gain levels, and as you gain levels you unlock weapons. CoD4's rank system offers some unique things that I think are definently better then BF2's for instance, the ideas of unlocking challenges that once completed help out a lot with your drive for experience. However, it falls short in a few things where a older game like BF2 surpasses it. You don't get to enjoy the leveling up experience as much because you don't quite get the same sort of knick knacks that you do in BF2. Campaign stars, ribbons, badges for excellence in certain categories. Nor does CoD4 track all of your multiplayer stats as well. I'm curious how many rounds I've shot on the M4, what percentage were missed, and what was head shots. I'm curious about my average lifespan, and the ratio of kills to deaths.


All in all though, its a fun game, and you wouldn't be disappointed with buying it. As to the realism of it, well, its a game. It doesn't get anywhere near close to the real thing, and that I can assure you from having been there myself. My suggestion for someone wanting to experience the real thing would be to anti-up and join the military, otherwise your going to continue to believe these games are realistic, which they are no where near it.


Airborne!
GlocksRock posts on November 21, 2007 16:05
Jim Robbins, post: 332337
If you rent it, you'll surely have enough time to play through the single player mode. However, if you get wrapped up in the online play, then you'll really want to have your own copy. The RPG elements add that extra level of motivation to keep you playing online.

So, depending on the kind of player you are, you may or may not want to own it… *shrug*


Btw, I just watched my DVR'd copy of Chuck last night. Looks like the game is featured in Episode 109…

http://www.nbc.com/Chuck/video/episodes.shtml

Anyway…

I know, that's what I'm worried about, I'm scared I might like it more than Halo 3 and not want to play my beloved Halo 3 anymore… I'm less worried about the COD4 campaign, but I would still play it.
Jim Robbins posts on November 21, 2007 15:08
GlocksRock, post: 332230
I too am excited about playing this. The demo was awesome, but I haven't had a chance to play it for real yet. I'm not sure I want to buy it, but I do want to get a gamefly account and rent it asap.

If you rent it, you'll surely have enough time to play through the single player mode. However, if you get wrapped up in the online play, then you'll really want to have your own copy. The RPG elements add that extra level of motivation to keep you playing online.

So, depending on the kind of player you are, you may or may not want to own it… *shrug*


Btw, I just watched my DVR'd copy of Chuck last night. Looks like the game is featured in Episode 109…

http://www.nbc.com/Chuck/video/episodes.shtml

Anyway…
Jim Robbins posts on November 21, 2007 14:54
It is really nice to have the game on a console. I am not trying to make you all run out and buy a 360, but the ease of use is the kicker for me.

Of course, there are several 360 versions out this Christmas. If you go for the cheaper unit with the HD, it's $350, and that comes with two games: Forza 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8492838&st=xbxo+360&type=product&id=1186003685732
Any store has it at this price.

If you want to stand in line and love Guitar Hero, then Best Buy is having a special deal on the 360 with GH2 and a guitar for the same price. I don't think you get the 2 free games with it, however:
http://bfads.net/XBox-360-with-Guitar-Hero-Pack-at-Best-Buy

Anyway, if you go the PC route, it'll be just as good, but you might want to hook the PC into your theater! *grin*

Later all!
Adam posts on November 21, 2007 14:39
BTW, joking aside, I do want to thank Jim for his review!
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