Activision has a pretty big problem with their upcoming game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It is being released around the same time as Halo 3, one of the most anticipated titles of 2007. However, not one to be frightened by the possible overshadowing of their game, Infinity Ward, the creators of the fantastic Xbox 360 launch title Call of Duty 2, are ready to pull out all the stops to make an action-packed, graphically stunning step into the world of modern conflict and war.
As you can tell by the title, Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward decided to leave behind the World War 2 shooter scene, where there have been more games made than actual years of the war. Instead, they have decided to go up to date, featuring fictional wars in the not too distant future. Although the battles are fictional, Infinity Ward has tried to keep the game as true to life as possible, with actual weapons and equipment used by the Army. None of the weapons used are prototypes, like in the Ghost Recon series, but instead they have tried to keep the game extremely realistic in order to immerse you into the experience.
The story is based around “The Four Horsemen”, a group of Middle Eastern men who have been hired by a Russian nationalist to cause chaos. You will play the game through the eyes of two characters. One is a British SAS commando whose main focus is on the Russian side of the story. The other is a US Marine focused on the Middle Eastern side. However, you won’t just always play as these two characters, but these two are the main characters. There are no news reports in this game; you will see everything through the eyes of the soldiers. By creating this game from scratch, Infinity Ward created a huge challenge for themselves. In WW2, everyone knew that the Germans were bad, and the Allies were good. However, in Modern Warfare, everything is original, so sides have to be created as well as different factions of good and bad.
As you’d expect from a Call of Duty game, the action will be coming hard and heavy, leaving you with a ringing in your ears and sweaty palms as you maintain a vice grip on the controller. To highlight this, there is one mission where you are part of a massive assault on a ship, at night and during a huge storm. Another mission places you in the gunner position of an AC-130 Spectre gunship, with the visuals looking almost identical to real-time footage from a gun camera. The game won’t just feature intense firefights, as that can just be exhausting. Some missions will have to be completed by stealth, such as the mission shown at E3 where you are part of a two-man sniper team.
Call of Duty 4 features a cutting edge graphics engine, capable of making even the shine and shadow of a bullet look like a piece of art. Infinity Ward has shown off the engine to much appreciation. Complete with unique textures and lighting, as well as gorgeous looking explosions, Call of Duty 4 will be pushing the bar for this generation of games. However, not many people will notice these if they’re busy taking cover and shooting anything that moves. Vince Zampella, Infinity Wards chief creative officer said, “On Call of Duty 2 we were [an Xbox 360] launch title, everyone was learning and ramping up on beta hardware… so now, the artists have been trained up from day zero, so we think this is the best-looking game you’ll see on a next-gen console. We’ve really squeezed a lot out of the hardware, and it looks 10 times better than Call of Duty 2. And I think Call of Duty 2 looks great.”
Multiplayer has always been a big part of the Call of Duty series and with Call of Duty 4 this is no different. One of the first major differences is the introduction of a create-a-class system. Five default classes will be available including assault, spec-ops, light machine gunner, demolitions, and sniper class. The create-a-class option will be unlocked after the player has gained a certain amount of experience points. This allows the character to customise the weapons and three perks that can be used by the class. Another new addition is the aforementioned perks. Perks are special abilities that a player can use to enhance themselves. Some of these include Double Tap and Sleight of Hand, which can improve the weapon of the player, either by increasing the weapon power, the speed of reload or the amount of bullets fired. Others such as Endurance and Juggernaut, can enhance the character by enabling them to sprint for longer or increasing the amount of damage it takes to kill them. A few are really intriguing such as Last Stand which, when you take enough damage to die, you fall to your knees, draw your pistol and it gives you a last chance to kill the player who killed you. However, in this mode you will bleed out after a certain time, meaning you will die anyway.
The graphics for multiplayer are no different from those found in the single player campaign, so expect to glare at the gorgeousness as you annihilate people from around the globe.
Modern Warfare is a huge step forward for Infinity Ward, ditching the WW2 gameplay and opting for a more modern feel which has rejuvenated the Call of Duty series. Look for more coverage at Console Monster as the days count down to the beta of COD4, and it’s eventually Q4 2007 release.