2007 was the year of games that you start playing casually and end playing like a cocaine addict. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was no exception.
I spent a good part of the summer addicted to the beta of the online component, in spite of the fact that I would have to do it all over again when the game came out proper. Surprisingly the part of the game I thought I would play the least of is the part I could not put down.
The single player story gripped my attention for three days the way the multiplayer had when I first downloaded the beta. The campaign did all the things you’ve read in reviews elsewhere–it was immersing, intense, vividly realistic at times and didn’t lose momentum from start to finish. What was most impressive about the game is it was the first shooter in a while where I’ve felt for the characters in your squad. Something about the representation of soldiers felt more real in this game than in any game prior.
After the terrible characterization of Rainbow Six: Vegas the characters in this game seem fully fleshed out and entirely believable, almost. There is still very little character there to get attached to in the main story. It’s telling, however, that there is untapped potential in games as a story medium in just how attached I got to two-dimension characters in the course of the game.
This game most certainly wins my “greater than the sum of its parts” award. In almost every case the game is mediocre. The gunplay is solid but average, the graphics are impressive, but when you look at them they aren’t all that more advanced than CoD2, the sound isn’t anything special, it’s just polished. Put together the parts somehow seem more impressive. The visuals and the audio combine to immerse you in the battle like never before. Doing all of this without other worldly sound design and without 6 layers of pixel shaders and bump mapping.
It’s probably the utilitarian design and presentation that makes the game so gritty and stomach churning.
Oh, and the multiplayer is really good too.
Overall: 5 Stars