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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Score: 100%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4; (Online 2 - 18)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is my new favorite game. When I first popped it in, I was blown away. Graphics are photo-realistic and scary good. Gone is the glossy sheen seen in so many next-gen games today. Instead, you are presented with graphics so amazing, you feel like you are there. Modern Combat begins with a mission on a ship in the Bering Sea. As you wrap up the mission, the weather gets pretty crazy, forcing you to navigate your way off the boat to safety amidst crashing waves and a seriously rocking ship. This is just a taste of what is to come. Other missions include a trip through enemy territory wearing a ghillie suit where you will literally be hiding in grass mere inches from oncoming enemy. Talk about a heart-pounding experience! Others include dalliances with nukes and an escape mission in radiation-laden Chernobyl territory. Its all beautiful stuff with plumes of dust blowing about, grasses swaying in the wind, or even wild dogs sprinkled about the deserted buildings near Chernobyl. Simply chilling.

Music is amazing and serves to completely immerse you into the situation. It is very cinematic in nature and very moving and intense. Another immersive feature are the voiceovers, which are perfectly done and not the least bit cheesy. Since you'll be playing both as a member of the S.A.S. and also the U.S. Army, and your missions take place in areas of Russia and also the Middle East, you have a variety of accents you'll encounter. Your teammates say relevant things to you and at times, you'll be reliant solely upon another member to guide you, so you had better be paying attention. Weapons fire sounds just right and with surround sound, it can't be beat. You will jump as you hear bullets whizzing by your head and on more than one occasion, I was surprised by a terrorist jumping out of an area I though was clear. Surprise!

Gameplay, oh the gameplay. Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is such a visceral experience, it almost can't be described, but I will try. You take on the roles of two men, one "Soap" McTavish, S.A.S. and Pvt. Paul Jackson, U.S. Army. Your adventures will take you to various grand locales in Russia (McTavish) and the Middle East (Jackson) and you'll do everything from assassination to search and rescue, with lots of shooting in between. In the Middle East, you are on a constant hunt for a fictional terrorist leader, searching safe houses and chasing down his son to get to him. Since this guy has a nuke he is using to threaten, its imperative that you locate him. In the meantime, McTavish is working the other side of the mission, getting answers in Russia. At one point, you get to see a mission that took place in the 80's and you get a brief look at an earlier Captain Price, a man you'll spend lots of time with on missions as McTavish. Since you have the same core group with you throughout the entire game, with additional members, of course, you grow accustomed to them and it's rough when you see your men fall.

. As you make your way through your missions, you can carry one pistol and one automatic gun at a time, so it's always a good idea to swap with what the locals are dropping so you don't run low on ammo. Running out of bullets is so not cool. One thing that displeased me was the fact that the default controls (which is what I used) were not preset to use the SIXAXIS for melee combat as they were in Call of Duty 3. That was one thing I really loved in Call of Duty 3 and although it may be an option somewhere in there, I didn't see it readily available.

Grenades are back, along with flashbangs and you will use them a lot. Be warned, however, that your flashbangs will affect you, just like they will for the enemy, if you look their way as they go off. A new and exciting element added is night vision goggles! Sneak into a house and just start taking the enemies by surprise. They'll never know what hit them. The night vision was perhaps my favorite new addition and really added a nice twist. Another new enemy added was attack dogs. These guys would jump on you and your only option was to melee attack them by pressing down on R3 as they go for your throat. If you miss, you're in trouble. Best to shoot them as they approach.

Since your HUD is pretty clean and basically just shows your ammo, you'll need to be wary of when you are taking too much damage. As your screen grows red, you are in danger. If you start to see blood vessels, you are almost dead. Instead of a radar (at least in the single player campaign), COD4 uses a compass and your goals are indicated by a little yellow marker which tells you how far away in meters you are from your current goal. If you have multiple targets, you'll have more than one marker. Use this feature or you'll find yourself in trouble. While playing multiplayer, you'll have a mini-map to show enemies, friendlies and flags. In addition to performing your standard missions, you can also locate and pick up pieces of enemy intel as a side mission.

Although the single player campaign is relatively short (it can be completed in one marathon session), it is also incredibly intense and damn near perfect. While I wish the experience had been longer, what's there was awesome and there was nothing unnecessary present. Although I'm not much of an online multiplayer gamer myself, the multiplayer experience was clearly what they wanted you to spend the bulk of your time on since the single player campaign was short. Again, I am not complaining one bit.

Once you beat the game, you unlock Arcade Mode where you go back and replay the game, aiming for maximum points which come from kills. If you sit through the credits after beating the game, you'll get to play through an additional mission where you kill terrorists in a plane to rescue a VIP.

There are four levels of difficulty: Recruit, Regular, Hardened and Extreme. I played on Regular because although I have a good deal of experience with FPS games of this sort, I am not really what I would consider an expert. However, after beating the game, I did go back and play some in Arcade Mode, which is opened only after beating the game and I decided to play it on Extreme. I didn't really find it all that difficult, but perhaps that's because it was an early level. I do plan to go back through and beat the standard game first on Hard and then on Extreme because I had such a good time with the game my first run through that I want to experience it again.

Game Mechanics:
Control in Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is just as sweet as the other aspects of the game. On default, your Left analog stick controls your movement and your Right stick controls your crosshair. To snipe or aim down the sight, click (L1) and fire with (R1). Throwing frag grenades is as simple as clicking the (R2) button or (L2) for special grenades. There will be times when you need to move very quickly, such as when you are in pursuit of someone. For this, you'll use the Sprint feature by pressing down on (L3).

Your character can move about fully upright, crouched or prone to the ground. Since you'll be ducking for cover early and often, it's a good idea to grow accustomed to this. A simple click of the (X) to get back up or (O) button to crouch or go prone will do the trick. Jumping is accomplished by a click of the (X) button and at times, you'll also have to vault over debris or windows and such. When you do, you'll be prompted to click (X). You can also cycle through your weapons by clicking the (Triangle) button. Going into the Options menu when you pause your game allows you to change your control configuration, but to be honest, by the time I realized they had changed the melee to (R3), I was afraid to change my control configuration for fear that I had grown so used to the default that I would be pressing the wrong buttons.

Once again, as you can easily tell by the perfect score, Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is must-have stuff. Although I wasn't one of the detractors screaming that Activision needed to get off the WWII boat and try something new, I applaud this step into the future, both in theme and design. Even if you've avoided FPS games in the past, you owe it to yourself to at least rent COD4 and try it out. It may just make an FPS fan out of you yet. Highly recommended.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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