Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - PS3 Review
Infinity Ward haven't released a lot of games in their history, but they have created two of the best; Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 on the PC. This fourth game in the series (the third game was developed by Treyarch), but unlike previous titles it isn't based on World War II, with the focus now shifted to the modern era (hence the games subtitle). Can the developers bring us a solid action title? You better believe it...
|Welcome to Call of Duty 4 graphics!|
In the game you play a member of the British S.A.S. as well as the US Marines. Each of the stories combines to create one large story which effectively sees a couple of nuclear missiles go missing with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. You know the drill.. there's a story here, but it really plays second fiddle to the action so let's get into it.
So Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a FPS, but you won't be going in commando style. In almost every mission you have several squad mates who will assist you during battle. While you can't order them around as per many other battle games you do get a very good sense of what it's like working as a team. You can lead the charge, or you can hang back a little and let them do most of the dirty work.
Controls in COD4 will be quite familiar to anyone who have played previous games in the series. The R1 button is used as the trigger, the L1 is used to line up enemies along the guns sights, or zoom in using the sniper rifles while the R3 button is used for a close melee attack with the knife. The L2 button is used to toss flash bang or similar grenades while the R2 button is used to throw frag grenades at the enemies. The D-Pad is also used to select from a number of items including Claymores, C4 explosives or night vision goggles. One of the coolest things is that, if quick enough, you can hit the R2 button to pick up a grenade thrown at you to toss it back at the enemies.
|Running from the explosions.|
Where this game really shines is the enemies. Not only are there often dozens of them advancing on you at once, but they are also pretty intelligent too. Now we're not saying this is a benchmark game for AI but they certainly show some form of intelligence. The game is by no means linear with wide open spaces to explore and multiple paths to reach the target, but no matter which way you head the enemies will find ways to make your life more difficult. They'll toss grenades in your general area, shoot cars near you to make them explode, send the dogs out to hunt you down (if you get attacked by one you can press R3 to break its neck!) or fire a few RPG's to shake you up a bit. Around 70 weapons have been faithfully recreated for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare with as much attention to detail as possible. Not only do they look and sound unique, but also have different physical properties in terms of damage and the effect on the environment. Weapons can shoot through thin walls to inflict damage on unseen opponents.
The game isn't all just relentless FPS blasting either. In one mission you take control of the three guns in a AC-130 plane in order to provide covering fire for your troops on the ground below. In another mission you will work in tandem with another sniper in order to infiltrate and assassinate one of the terrorist leaders - the escape from that mission is one of the most exciting and intense we have ever played in a video game. In another mission you take control of the machine gun inside an attack helicopter to provide support to ground troops, and defend your own chopper.
|Attack choppers can be called in.|
When you complete the Campaign Mode you unlock the Arcade mode. This mode allows you to complete single missions, or the entire campaign, and perform as best possible.
Certainly our biggest disappointment with this game is the length of the single player campaign. We completed it in around 6 hours which in our book is way too short. Also disappointing is that, despite the squad based nature of the game, there are no co-op campaigns available on either a single console, or via LAN or online play. Finally we found that the costumes worn by both friends and foes was very similar an on occasion we were blasting away at a friendly before we realised - we guess it happens in real life, but I would have liked a little separation
So onto the best part of this game - or at least we think the part that will offer longevity well beyond the single player experience - the multiplayer. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on the PS3 supports up to 18-player online across 16 maps and with 13 different game modes. As seems to be the case with many games these days gamers can select from different classes of soldier. Impressively when you've ranked up four levels - which you should be able to do in an hour or two - you can create your own classes of soldier including selecting weapons, camouflage for them, extra items and the perks which may include improved bullet velocity which allows them to pass through walls easier, steady aiming, martyrdom which sees you drop a grenade when you die and hopefully take out an opponent, or more health just to name a few.
|Folks, this screen is in-game!|
One really cool aspect is the way in which performing well in the field will give you bonuses. Three kills will given you the ability to launch the UAV radar tracking which allows you see the locations of all enemies for a period of time. Five kills allows you to call in an airstrike to target an area of the map and take out anyone. Seven kills allows you to call in an attack chopper. It's great fun and watching everyone scatter when the airstrike or chopper is inbound can be hilarious.
The online multiplayer includes a series of challenges to be completed which will earn you even more experience. These challenges may be killing a certain number of people with a gun, falling 30 off a building to your death, calling in an airstrike or attack chopper and so on. By completing these challenges you will earn more experience to go towards improving your ranking, and unlocking new items.
|Waiting for some action.|
I must admit though that I was every so slightly disappointed by the lobby system in COD4. First of all it takes a long time to actually find and connect to a game in progress - although Infinity Ward are working on improving their servers as I type this. It's also impossible to find numerous matches, and also see their connection speed to you. The games that I did automatically join had some players with much lag, although this really isn't a fault of the game itself. COD4 is about as lag-free as it gets on good connection. I would have also liked to be able to configure matches even further then is currently available; disabling certain weapons, or classes or weapons, grenades and other attributes. Perhaps more importantly I would also like the option to disable the perks or disable the weapons upgrades which the better and more experienced players will have while the newcomers struggle with the bog standard weapons and perks. This is partially overcome with some of the game modes such as Old School which strips away any initial bonuses and places them on the map - the problem is that you need to have leveled up a few times to have this mode become accessible.
As you would have seen from the surrounding screenshots this game is pretty spectacular graphically. What you can't appreciate here is the level of animation and the visual effects that are rampant throughout the game. Particle effects, fires, explosions, smoke, bullet tracers, buildings crumbling, bullet holes and so on are all beautifully recreated for the game. One of the coolest effects is the depth of field which sees you focus on objects. Zoom in to view along the barrel of your gun and the background blurs out the further out from your sight you go. It's impressive and is hard to put into words but when you see it you'll be impressed.
|Smoke, flame and particle effects are great.|
Sure there's the occasional thing which we've seen in other games that is missing here such as the grass and shrubs moving in a breeze, and there are no ripples when you run through water, but you'll be so distracted by the other goings on that you'll barely have time to notice and the amount of other visual distractions more then make up for these small issues. The game does, very rarely, have a small frame rate sputter, but it's infrequent and doesn't disturb the gameplay at all.
Audio is, as expected, top notch. Firstly the music. Harry Gregson-Williams, who gamers may know from the music in the Metal Gear Solid series and movie goers from Kingdom of Heaven and the Shrek trilogy, has composed the opening theme for the game which certainly sets the dramatic tone and mood. Stephen Barton has composed the music for the in-game action and it's one of the best scores we've heard. Moving onto the battlefield and the effects are brilliant. Using Dolby Digital 5.1 audio the gunfire and explosions are intense while the speech is as realistic as we've heard in a video game - and that applies to both friendly soldiers offering advice or sit-reps and enemies shouting to their own comrades.
|I wouldn't stick your head out for long.|
Put simply - and this is despite the short single player campaign - this is one of the best games we have ever played. If you don't have your PS3 connected online there is no better reason to do it then Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. A technical marvel, gameplay rush and online showcase makes this an essential purchase, and quite possibly (although there are a few other titles that could still claim that prize) 2007 Game of the Year!
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||One of the most polished games we've seen on PS3, or indeed any system, to date.||94%|
|SOUND||Not to be outdone the audio is every bit as impressive.||93%|
|GAMEPLAY||Some of the most intense, atmospheric FPS action ever.||96%|
|VALUE||Single player is short, but the multi-player could keep you playing for months.||88%|
|OVERALL||Make no mistake about it Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare sets new benchmarks for FPS titles on consoles. If you own a PS3, and certainly if you're connected online, then this is an essential purchase.||92%|