Awards

  • Recommended by TR

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, DS - Xbox 360 version reviewed.

Here's the story so far. In 2003 Infinity Ward - a new developer made up of much of the team that produced Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for the PC - produce a game that instantly redefines both the WWII shooter and the military FPS as a sub-genre. In 2005 the same developer produces a follow-up that gives us our first glimpse of what next-generation console hardware and high-end PC graphics can achieve. Call of Duty 2 isn't just visually and technically accomplished; it's a masterclass in how to orchestrate a fairly linear FPS so that it becomes an almost overwhelmingly immersive and cinematic experience. It sells bucketloads on the PC and Xbox 360, and for about a year becomes the most played game on Xbox Live.
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But now the tragic twist in the tale. Infinity Ward and publishers Activision hand over development of a third, Xbox 360 and PS3 only Call of Duty to a second developer, Treyarch. The results are excellent - when you're playing it online with other players. Sadly, the single-player mode is a bit of a disaster. It still has moments of grandeur and tension, but for the most part it's unfocused, monotonous and messy. This left us with a couple of questions. Why did Infinity Ward hand over development to Treyarch, and what was the team up to while its beloved series was being mangled?
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The answer to both questions appears to be Call of Duty 4. If so, then the hours I sacrificed to that game suddenly don't seem so completely useless. If one poor CoD is the price we paid to get this one, then it's a price I'm happy to have paid. We've known for ages that this was the game where Infinity Ward left WWII behind for contemporary action, but what I didn't expect was how excellent and different the new game would turn out to be. CoD4 takes everything that's great about the CoD experience - the carefully staged action, the big cinematic set-pieces, the intelligent squad AI, the awesome sound and graphics - and makes it all work for a different age and a different mode of combat. The effect is a bit like a turbo-charged G.R.A.W. or Rainbow Six, but with all the tricky strategy stuff dialled down and the action turned up to the max.

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