Just under two weeks ago, I wrote about having to budget my gaming time and outlined the titles I’m currently playing and those that will take a back seat for the time being. With nearly every game I’ve played over the past few months being a shooter, I figured Call of Duty 4 could wait. Regardless of the fact that Infinity Ward‘s contributions to the Call of Duty franchise are a couple of my favourite games of all time (Call of Duty & Call of Duty 2), I told myself I would get to COD4 in due time. That was until last Friday, when I awoke to two messages in my XBL inbox and an email from three separate people, all raving about the game. I followed that up with GameSpot’s video review and I was sold. Call of Duty 4 simply couldn’t wait.
If there’s one thing Infinity Ward does extremely well, it’s bringing a level of intensity to battles like no other. I remember playing through Call of Duty 2 for the first time and quite literally working up a sweat. Obviously, I’ve never been in the middle of a fire fight myself, but I have a feeling it’s pretty close to being as chaotic and unforgiving as Infinity Ward portrays it. With each game they’ve developed, they’ve taken another step forward in level design and giving the player the freedom to choose your own path. In most levels, you’ll find at least a couple routes that will lead you to the same ultimate goal. Often times, you’ll be placed in an open area with a few objectives on your compass and told to lead the way. I don’t know about you, but that is how I want to be playing games.
There isn’t much to say about the graphics, sound and music other than they are top notch. As we have come to expect from the COD franchise, it’s right up there with the leading games in terms of graphics capabilities – level of detail, lighting, etc. The only area I would say it doesn’t truly shine is the water effects. We’ve seen nicer water in recent games like Halo 3 and BioShock. This is a game that needs to be played with surround sound. Since there’s no set course and enemies are constantly popping up all around you, it’s important to be able to hear them coming before they shoot you in the back of the head. And that’s one area COD4 really stands out. At any given time there could be 20 or more people on screen firing weapons, yet you could pick out each and every one of them if you listen closely. How sound effects change depending on distance is spot on as well. Up close, assault rifles are loud and angry. But off in the distance, they’re muffled and snappy.
Although COD4 is scoring great in the reviews, there’s a common remark among them – the length of the single player campaign. It was quite some time ago when I stopped really caring if a game is going to take me under 10 hours to complete. It really doesn’t matter. I would much rather play 5 or 6 hours of sheer goodness than 15-20 hours with half of that being filler. There are few games that can pull of a short campaign, but COD4 is one of them. Halo 3 and Heavenly Sword are a couple more good examples. By no means do you feel ripped off when you finish COD4 for the first time. Hell, I went straight back to the mission select screen and replayed some of my favourites. I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week.
At this point, I haven’t played a single round of multiplayer. But going by what I’ve read and what I heard from he beta, I’m in for a treat. Depending on how much I get into it, I could end up writing about COD4 again some time soon. But typically, I don’t invest a whole lot of hours into multiplayer gaming. We’ll see if COD4 really grabs me.
So, since I ended up buying a game from my “when there’s a dry spell” pile, I’ll have to push back one that I was planning on picking up. I really can’t wait to see how Assassin’s Creed is. Need for Speed ProStreet will likely be that game that I get to in a couple months time. After all, I now have to make room for Super Mario Galaxy after all the rave reviews. I honestly didn’t see that coming.