November's been a great month for PC gaming, and in my opinion no title is more indicative of that than Call of Duty 4.
The Call of Duty series has, up until now, been primarily concerned with World War 2. And they were excellent, excellent WW2 FPSes but let's really be honest... the world didn't really need another WW2 FPS, and Infinity Ward knew this. So, we have Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat. Set in quasi-present day, it pits the contemporary USMC and SAS against Arab and Russian insurgencies in many different locales such as inside a storm-tossed container ship, in the broken streets of an urban middle-eastern capital, in the grey-brown underbrush of small russian villages, and even the deathly gray edifices of Pripyat near Chernobyl and inside a hijacked jumbo jet.
Let me tell you something, my friend. This game hits you right where it counts and it doesn't stop until you think you're being waterboarded, quasi-drowning under a torrent of cool, sparkling awesomeness. The graphics are beautiful and detailed. The sounds are spot on and the soundtrack kicks incredible amounts of sonic ass. The controls are exactly as you remember them, slick and intuitive. The action is pulse-poundingly exciting. I have so many good things to say about it that I'm worried about losing my membership card identifying me as a gaming curmudgeon.
While not a revolutionary title, it certainly is very evolutionary, in every sense of the word. Even aside from the top notch graphics, the game manages to use all the best parts of past COD fare and make it better (and modern, obviously). In previous COD games, I just took it for granted that one of the first things I would have to do would be to ditch my issued weapon in favor of one commonly dropped by the enemy so that I would have a source of ammunition from most enemies I killed... thus probably getting funny looks from all the other soldiers, as I was probably the only Allied trooper never seen without an MP-40. This is not the case in COD-4. I don't know if it's just that all the best stuff in the game happens to use 7.62mm ammo or what, but only once did I ever have to chuck an empty gun and grab an AK-47. I also like that there's usually plenty of Dragunov sniper rifles laying around to replace my pistol, since I like having both a full-auto weapon for hosing down clusters of enemies and a sniper rifle as well for picking off distant targets from safety. Heck, they even added in the ability to easily throw back those irritating grenades that always seem to land at your feet at inopportune moments. The storytelling in the COD series has always been top notch and this time it is no different. In fact, much moreso than previous titles, this one hammers home the poignancy, sacrifice and heroism of the soldiery as well as showing that while exciting to play games about, war is a ghastly and terrible thing. At the risk of spoiling the story, not all the various soldiers in the game get a happy ending, and the game gives them all scenes that, in my opinion, should be allowed to vie for Oscars. The voice acting is great as well, and there's tons of little touches that keep you immersed in the game and having fun.
And immersive the game definitely is. A lot of people may gripe about how COD's theatrical style of play feels like it is on rails, but that's kind of the point... it's a war movie in which the player is the star. While it isn't as versatile and open-ended as some other games, and certainly not as realistic, it is definitely immersive and you feel you are there. In the battle. Mud on your face, blood in your mouth, tears in your eyes and always wanting more.
Even the credit sequence at the end of the game feels like it's in a movie theater. And it's worth your while to stick it out all the way through to the end of the credits. Just saying.
Of all the games I've tested over the last week or so, this was my favorite. I must give it a hearty and enthusiastic A+ verdict. And I haven't even touched the multiplayer yet. Hell, I don't care if the multiplayer stinks in 9 distinct yet overpowering ways, the single player is awesome enough to carry it. If your PC can play it, you need this game.
And that's the word from Bandit Camp.