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.
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
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.
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
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.