Call of Duty 4 Hands-on Preview

Written by Joe Martin

October 20, 2007 | 10:26

Tags: #call-of-duty #chernobyl #cod #cod4 #infinity #modern-warfare #tactical

Companies: #treyarch

Mobile Phone of Respect

In terms of actual gameplay, much of what made Call of Duty 2 in particular has been retained, with some of it being expanded on in terms of features and graphics.

One of my favourite things about Call of Duty 2, which is generally agreed to be the best game in the series, was the realism and sense of joy I had when using the ironsights – which is the technical term for sighting down the barrel of the gun. I may sound a bit odd for saying this and Jack Thompson would probably have a field day if he read bit-tech (he does pop by every once in a while... hey Jack! - Ed.), but there was something so satisfying about sighting down an M1 Garand and popping off a Nazi helmet with a single round.

Well, ironsights are still in the latest game and they’re still as pleasing as ever. The new ragdolls and effect make enemies realistically crumple and be thrown back when then they take a hit and the super depth of field effect makes sighting even more immersive than ever. When you look down the barrel of the rifle you can expect your peripheral vision to blur a little naturally as you are focused on a single spot in the distance – usually a helmet.

The modern setting also makes aiming in this manner a bit different for some weapons. Sighting down a rocket launcher scope in Call of Duty 2 was only slightly different to aiming a normal rifle. In Call of Duty 4 however players will have to learn to use lock-on and heat-seeking sights, lining up targets for longer periods and waiting for the rocket to find a course.

Call of Duty 4 Hands-on Preview Mobile Phone of Respect
Click to enlarge

There are of course more low-tech weapons, those more often used by the enemy. In a typically subtle commentary on the state of modern warfare, most of the enemies will use AK-47s and standard point-shoot RPGs. Players and team mates meanwhile will often enter a battlefield with flashbangs, advanced assault rifles with under-barrel grenade launchers and silenced sniper rifles.

Yeah, not exactly a fair fight – but all is fair in love and Call of Duty, especially when you’re facing similar torrents of enemies as in past Call of Duty games.

Players can only carry a small selection of weapons at a time though, just as usual. You can expect to be limited to just two weapons, plus grenades and special grenades. Normally this load-up will be an assault rifle of some sort, followed by a back-up weapon such as an RPG or pistol and a bag full of flashbangs. The special grenade category is reserved for certain rifles which come with grenade launcher attachments.

We tried a whole bunch of weapons in our hands-on with both the PC and Xbox 360 versions and in each the guns handled well and felt both as fun and as authentic as possible. The amount of recoil felt a little reduced on the 360 version, but that’s hardly surprising when you think about the control system.

Call of Duty 4 Hands-on Preview Mobile Phone of Respect
Click to enlarge

Combat itself is still just as involving as ever and the various ally NPCs which litter the levels function very well in giving the illusion of teamwork despite the fact that they can’t be controlled or ordered around. Players are essentially a single man in a larger squad and never do they take a commanding position. Instead, allies will approach the situation in a manner which is both plausible and likely, flanking enemy positions and using grenades to stun enemies before they clear a room.

How much of the ally NPC behaviour is scripted into specific actions and how much of it is done on the fly isn’t something we could really clarify, but if you pushed us for an answer then we’d suggest it’s a mix of the two. There are occasions where allies can be spotted doing the same things in levels we’ve revisited, but there are others where they don’t.

Either way, the way that NPCs are organised is still the same as ever. A few of the mission-critical people are either invincible or will result in game-over scenarios if killed, but everyone else is expendable. If the grunt in front of you dies then you can expect a brief cry of mourning from a nearby squaddie before the dead soldier is replaced by a new reinforcement running into the battle.

The same is true for enemies too, who seem to keep respawning in some areas until the player manages to push forward to a set point or complete an objective. It’s one of those things which sound ludicrously broken and flawed in a game which is supposed to be realistic, but in reality it works well to keep the pace up and stop players sitting in the back with a sniper rifle all day. There’s nothing to stop you picking off the bad guys with a rifle if you want, but if you want to win then you’ll have to move forward between shots.
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