Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Preview - 03/09/2007

Call of Duty is arguably one of the best war games out there and surpasses the likes of Medal of Honor and Brothers in Arms in most people’s books.

The thing is that WWII games are getting stale as there are only so many incarnations of the same war that can be made before people get tired of it. True, they may be about different stages in the war and told from different points of view but lets face it, eventually everyone gets bored of shooting Nazis.

COD 4 Developer Infinity Ward has latched onto this train of thought and have thus steered the game away from WWII for the first time in the franchise’s history. Thus COD 4 gains the subtitle Modern Warfare. So if the Nazis aren’t the enemy, who are? And if defeating their reign of tyranny isn’t the objective, what is?

The game is set in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, possible locations [as seen in trailers] are Cairo, Chernobyl, Prypiat and Azerbaijan. But the developers were keen to point out that the game is not set on an existing conflict and the plot is purely fictional. Said plot revolves around a Russian Nationalist by the name of Zakhaev who is set on returning his homeland to Soviet times. He knows that the US will never allow this to happen and so he funds a coup in the Middle East, led by his associate Al-Asad, to draw attention away from Russia. These two men and their seconds in command acquire the title The Four Horsemen. However, the US and British governments, who have been monitoring Zakhaev, discover his true intentions and plan to stop him. The story is told from two different perspectives as you take the role of Sergeant John "Soap" MacTavish, of the 22nd SAS Regiment in Russia, as well as Sergeant Paul Jackson, of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in the Middle East.

A flashback mission also features in which you take the role of Captain Price from the 22nd SAS Regiment, 15 years before the present day happenings. This mission plays out in Chernobyl with Price’s objective being to assassinate Zakhaev. Obviously it fails as his captain is wounded and he must get him out of there. The name Price was also used in the first two games in the COD series and whether this incarnation is a relative of the WWII Price remains to be seen. It is also rumoured that Zakhaev was left with one arm after the assassination attempt. Any further characters have yet to be unveiled.

Of course, the series’ move into the realms of Modern Warfare equips you with modern day weapons and technology. Examples of this that have been showcased include M203 grenade launchers, IR laser pointers for use in conjunction with night vision goggles, silenced MP5SD submachine guns, and the FGM-148 Javelin portable anti-tank guided missile.

But your equipment isn’t the only thing that has changed in the game. The gameplay itself is sporting some new features that should provide a breath of fresh air for the series and diversify, as well as intensify the player’s gaming experiences. Most of this innovation stems from Infinity’s choice to move away from a standard three country campaign and as a result the plot plays out more like a movie’s with the different perspectives of the US and British soldier interlacing and providing an altogether more in depth and fulfilling gaming experience.

Apart form the previously mentioned roles that the player will assume in the game, other small cameo-style missions will appear where the player assumes the role of an AC-130 gunship gunner or the pilot of an AH-1 SuperCobra helicopter providing air support for the ground troops. These diverse roles that the player will assume help to bring across the variation of combat that is witnessed in modern day warfare and cater for different styles of gameplay including high intensity fire fights as well as slower paced, drama style intensity moments.

Of course no war game, modern or otherwise, is complete without an online mode. The COD series usually sports a fairly good online system and this incarnation is no different. Game modes range between your normal Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Team Objective including Capture the Flag and Defend and Destroy, and Team Tactical modes. Players may also choose between five different classes of soldier to find the one that best fits their style. The five default classes include the likes of Assault, Spec Ops, Light Machine Gunner, Demolitions, and Sniper class all with a choice of primary and secondary weapons as well as special grenades. New to the franchise though is the possibility to create your own class to perfectly suite your playing style. You may create five custom layouts in which you can assign their weapons and skills. In the beginning, only two default classes will appear for choice with the other default classes and the custom option appearing as you gain more online experience points (gained by killing your opponents) and rise through the ranks (create a class will be unlocked when a player reaches level 4, private class).

Another new introduction to the online mode of COD is the idea of perks. These are special abilities that a player can assign to his custom class to further customise and optimise the class in order to suit his playing style.

Finally, the last twist in COD 4s online mode is the inclusion of Hardcore Mode. In this mode players may play any of the online game types but damage dealt and received is increased, all HUD items (map, ammo, and other indicators) are removed and friendly fire is enabled. This is to cater for a more realistic war experience.

So, will all these innovations, namely the decision to bring CoD into modern times, propel the series ahead of the opposition? Or will it be too much to handle and disgruntle the fans of the series? My opinion is that the former will be correct and everyone, fans and new people to the series alike will enjoy the breath of fresh air that Infinity Ward are offering and will revel in the opportunity to pull themselves out of the WWII trenches and onto the Modern Warfare battlegrounds. Slated for a November 5th worldwide release, this is definitely one to look out for.

Stick to TGSN for a full review at release.

- Alex Goodenough



Infinity Ward
PS3 - 360 - PC