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"Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare"

11/15/07

After playing the abysmal "Call of Duty 3" last year, my ears didn't exactly perk up when I heard that "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" was on the way.  Then, I saw a video trailer...and, I decided that I should keep my mind open to the idea that "COD4" could be worthwhile.  But, I never would have thought I could have been so surprised, because this game is rock-solid.

I don't know if this is the best single-player game on Xbox 360--"Gears of War" hasn't really been challenged thus far, in my mind--but, with apologies to "Halo 3", "COD4" is the best multiplayer game available if you like first-person shooters.  Moving from World War II settings for the first time, this "Call of Duty" game takes place in the here and now, and in the story (single player) portion of the game, you alternate between playing a British military officer and a US soldier, attempting to take down crazy Russian terrorists bent on world domination.  Unlike the last game, "COD4" has a great seven-hour adventure for the single player and while it isn't perfect, the voice acting is great, the variety of missions is solid (even giving you a fun helicopter mission where you have to kill targets using just your radar) and the action and tactical planning is pretty intense.  Firefights in "COD4" just feel more realistic, and you will die a fair amount if you don't use cover.

But, the multiplayer portion of the game is where you will spend most of your time.  Giving you a whopping 16 maps out of the box (one just has to assume they could give us more later on), "COD4" is basically an online role-playing shooter.  That's because you build up your character by killing competitors and mixing up how you do it, as well as beating in-game "challenges" like building killing streaks or beating objectives (capture the flag, etc.).  There are also experience points within each weapon class, so you can make, say, your MP5 stronger by using it more often, and objectives are set by how many times you kill opponents (kill 50 people and get a scope, kill even more and get a bigger scope or a grenade launcher or a silencer).  Just in my two hours of play, I have been just using that gun to level it up, and next, I'll move to maybe the assault rifles or a sniper rifle.

Even better than the experience system: the Perk system.  Your character can utilize three special abilities at a time, called perks in the game; these range from more health to faster sprinting to double the ammo packs to extra grenades.  There are about 25 of these in all; my favorite is already Last Stand.  This perk that allows, once you have been "killed" by an enemy, for your player to hit the ground with just your pistol and you can fire at any surrounding bad guys for about five seconds (or whenever someone else shoots you again).  The number of times I played tonight and killed bad guys after I had been reduced to just the pistol while lying on the ground was spectacular, and you get double the kill points when you kill someone in Last Stand.  And, you get KillCam, which shows you the last three seconds of your life before you respawn to jump back into the action.  I loved watching other guys size me up for the kill before putting one in the back of my noggin; great cinema.

The graphics are beautiful; the variety of maps, ranging from urban hideouts to a farm to a missile silo, is great; the sound effects are fantastic; the mix of killathons and team-based games is great.  And, it will take you a hundred hours or more to get through all of the challenges.  With this and "Halo 3", I don't think I need any more games ever...but of course, you know that I can't be satiated!!

Rating:  Opening Weekend

 

Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09