Wed, Mar 18, 2009 - Page 14 News List

[ PC GAME REVIEW ] 'Call of Duty 4,' the best of the best

'Call of Duty 4' is deeper than any other multiplayer game before

By Gareth Murfin  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Where the game really shines is multi-player mode. Initially looking like any other multi-player game with near-photorealistic graphics (something we have become accustomed to), COD4 seems quite fun. The selection of weapons is large enough and the gun add-ons and “perks” are varied. (A perk allows your player special abilities: for example, the “martyrdom” perk allows you to drop a live grenade when you die, which can be good for storming into the enemy base on a suicide mission.) On the whole it feels very much par for the course, with most of the initial fears being forgotten in minutes: no huge glitches like bad collision detection, no obvious ways for players to cheat (like waiting for you to appear and killing you) and a generally high standard of players.

If you give it some more time, however, you uncover a depth not yet seen in any other multiplayer game. The character responds quickly and realistically: swapping guns, tossing grenades and using your knife become second nature, allowing you to feel like you are in the game. The way the reward system is designed to give you gratification adds to the urge to keep on playing. For example, the first time you manage to toss an opponent’s own grenade back at him you will be rewarded with a huge bonus and some very satisfying music and on-screen messages. This is only the beginning; as you improve you are able to experience absolutely mind-blowing gaming moments as you take out rooms full of the enemy while sidestepping rockets and knife lunges. Consecutive kills earn rewards such as the ability to call in an air strike and even your own helicopter, which arrives armed to the teeth with rockets. Sooner or later you will find yourself exhilarated by the gameplay, with your heart actually racing and at times your hands shaking so much you can barely hold the joy pad. This is usually due to a killing spree that has the power to make you feel like John Preston from Equilibrium or even John Rambo.

Since all your statistics are recorded in a worldwide table, you are able to see where you rank globally. Though it’s interesting at first to laugh at your rank of No. 5 million, the COD4 standings have the potential to become as important to you as your favorite sports league tables. The feeling of personally working your way up the global standings can become somewhat addictive. Similarly, even meeting other players who rank in, say, the top 5,000 can feel like meeting a minor celebrity or coming up against an unstoppable force. With time, dedication and, of course, some serious first-person-shooter skill, it is possible to feel highly proud of your abilities and the moments you have experienced. So much so that it spills over into your real-life conversations — it reminds me of meeting down at the pub to discuss the game of sport you just played. Coming from a computer game, this is pretty much unheard of.

The bottom line is that COD4is the most impressive multiplayer first-person shooter I have ever played and has rightfully earned its title as my favorite game of all time, knocking classics such as Super Mario World, Street Fighter II Turbo, Quake and Perfect Dark down the list, which is not something that has happened in the past 10 years. If you own a system capable of playing COD4 and don’t own this game, you should consider this a grave error. The longevity of COD4 alone will justify its cost tenfold, especially when it can now be picked up second-hand.

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