previews\ Jun 12, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - PS3 - Preview

Activision’s long-running Call of Duty franchise has been the premier WWII shooter series since its debut on PCs several years ago, successfully usurping that title from EA’s Medal of Honor series. The franchise has been able to maintain a high level of intensity while still being an easy to pick up FPS. However, the WWII FPS-genre has grown a bit long in the tooth, and many gamers were wondering where the series could go for the fourth entry. Luckily, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will be a brand new direction for the series, taking it to a new level with accurate modern weaponry and brand new settings. However, skeptics should fear not, as the game promises to maintain the level of intensity that the series has made its name on while breathing fresh air into the shooter genre as a whole.

Call of Duty 4 is being developed by Infinity Ward this time around (Treyarch was the developer behind CoD 3). The game will be centered on a completely fictional conflict instead of mirroring current events (the series, the developers say, has always been about matching up two equally matched sides, which isn’t really the case in current real-life conflicts). It will take place in a variety of different environments, from a ship on the Black Sea, to Northern Azerbaijan and a Mogadishu-esque area.

The first area showcased by the development team was a nighttime level on the Black Sea. You and your team covertly engage an enemy ship, going from room to room taking out the foes aboard the ship, even killing those that happen to be sleeping.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Xbox 360 screenshots

The next stage shown was called Charlie Don’t Surf, in an obvious homage to Apocalypse Now, and it was instantly seen why. The stage opened with dozens of helicopters littering the sky flying over buildings in the Mogadishu-looking area (the only thing missing was Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries). The level then became an escort mission where you had to run alongside of a tank and take out RPG-toting bad guys. The stage moved fast and maintained the high level of intensity found in other games in the series. Another mission took place at the same area, only at night, where night-vision becomes a necessity. The level was crazy, with sniper fire and rockets whizzing past, helicopters going down in fiery tailspins and buildings getting blown to smithereens.

However, it won’t be all hardcore battles. The developers stated that while previous entries in the CoD series have been “cranked up to eleven” from start to finish, this one will have breaks in the intensity to allow for some missions with less gunfire (but suspenseful nonetheless). There will be some sneaking missions thrown into the mix, where one false move could leave you bullet-ridden.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Xbox 360 screenshots

One of the most exciting things about CoD4 are the vehicles. While many of them couldn’t be divulged at the event, the team showed off the AC-130. Inspired by a particularly graphic video that can be seen on YouTube, the AC-130 missions place you in the large airborne battleship for some protection missions. The vehicle is capable of massive destruction, laying waste to entire structures and groups of enemies like cutting through butter. Since the thing only sees in black-and-white night-vision, the only way to distinguish between enemy troops and your own is by the strobe flash that accompanies your soldiers; and since friendly fire results in immediate loss, this adds to the challenge and the suspense.

Graphically, the game’s aesthetic will be even better than the games that came before it, and should be one of the best looking games to hit shelves this fall. The Azerbaijan stage showcased an incredible amount of detail, with effects like bugs and a huge depth of field. The game will also utilize “God Ray” lighting effects with dust particles passing through light beams, specific damage points throughout the environment (you can shoot the tires and side-view mirrors out of cars, for example), and huge beautiful environments.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Xbox 360 screenshots

However, as great as the stages are, the character models are the real stars of the show. The soldiers look painstakingly realistic, complete with self-shadowing, high-resolution textures and fabric detail. Every piece of equipment on them will be a deliberate thing that they use on the field (including the aforementioned strobe to keep them from getting shot by the AC-130). The attention to detail is so deep, that you can even see the time on the characters’ watches.

The game’s multiplayer elements will also be very deep, giving players the ability to play 16-player matches and use a party system, where they can start off as a party of one and invite friends to jump in whenever they want. The most fascinating element of the multiplayer, though, is the create-a-class system. As you play MP matches, you gain points towards unlockable classes, and finally the create-a-class system, which lets you choose your soldier’s weapons, attachments and “perks”, which work as battlefield bonuses. There will be tons of different perks on the field, giving the player many ways to play the game and create a character that will allow them to rack up massive kills online.

Those out there tired of WWII should have cause for celebration, as Call of Duty 4 will give them a quintessential modern combat FPS experience. Whether you prefer to play alone or duke it out online, CoD4 is one title to get excited about this fall.

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