There are times when I question whether anybody cares about these reviews. This is one of those times and I honestly doubt whether or not anybody will be swayed or influenced by point of view and the way I express it. I don’t think it’s my fault, nor the fault of anybody I work with.
I think it’s the fault of the team at Infinity Ward.
You see, if the Call of Duty games hadn’t proved themselves over and over again across multiple platforms (OK, except Call of Duty 3 on the Wii) and hadn’t ended up gathering so much critical and commercial success then I may be a bit more assured about the purpose of this article.
As it is, you already know the game is going to be good. With this premise and team behind it, the graphics shown in these screenshots and this introduction which seems resigned to self-pity, you just know the game is going to be good. You don’t need me to tell you that.
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I could leave it there, I suppose. On the other hand though, Tim would probably get a bit angry if I did and, more importantly, the Evil Piñata that sits behind me would destroy me with its laser-capable eyes as punishment. So, I suppose I’ll just have to get on with it and, with any luck, I’ll be able to pinpoint all the reasons why it is so great.
No FUBAR please, we’re British!
This Call of Duty is different to all the others and the chances are you might have heard about it. Instead of carrying on in the same, tired vein as all the other World War II games, Call of Duty has made a desperate bid for freedom and jumped into the modern day to be counted with all the other modern war shooters like Rainbow Six.
It’s kind of like escaping from Colditz only to find that you’re now stuck in a Christopher Lambert film. The good news though is that the Christopher Lambert film turns out to be quite good, just like the new setting for Call of Duty 4. The story for the new game is actually quite complex and suitably thrilling, playing at times like something straight out of a fast-paced military thriller, but far more visceral than anything Andy McNab could write.
So, without dropping any game-destroying spoilers, suffice it say that the game is about a group of terrorists being financed by a Russian lunatic who wants to see his country returned to its former glory – hammer, sickle and the whole nine yards. The millionaire in question, a loon of the one-armed variety, provides the funds to stage attacks in both Russia and the Middle East. Governments are toppled, and that’s just for starters.
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Players get to experience the battle from a few different perspectives and spend most of the time in the head of either Rookie SAS operative Soap McTavish or Sergeant Jackson of the US Marines. Of the two, the SAS side seems a bit more expansive and interesting. The game starts you off as Soap and you very quickly form a bond with your team – led by the very familiar Captain Pryce who has, in one form or another, been in every Call of Duty game to date.
The accents for the SAS are perhaps a tad overdone, but all it really does is draw a distinct difference between the two armies. This difference is then accentuated by different play styles and group tactics. You can expect the US army to be acting in full force a lot of the time, reinforcements regularly storming in and shouting, but the SAS tend to have a team of a fixed size and are more business-like.
There’s no yelling ‘OOHRAH!’ or whinging about the mission having gone FUBAR – not for the SAS. If one of Captain Pryce’s men goes down then all you’ll hear is a dignified “Man down”. As a result, the Marines end up feeling more like the standard good-guys, while the SAS as a covert unit take on a more brutal feel. In fact, in the first mission you play as them you'll end up storming a ship and executing some sleeping terrorists. It's a far cry from the old Call of Duty games, but it is still excellently done and helps give the game a more adult and mature feel.