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As an individual who spent countless hours playing Call of Duty 2, I was a little disappointed in the experience that was Call of Duty 3. This goes to show you that the importance of the developer behind the title is something that should never be overlooked. So while COD4 bids farewell to the WWII era, it emphatically welcomes the return of Infinity Ward, and I for one am glad to have them back at the helm.

Many will argue that a game set in the present dealing with war and terrorist threats is an exhibition of poor taste, and while those individuals are entitled to their opinions, I believe that Infinity Ward’s decision to make use of a fictitious plot revolving around Russian Ultranationalists was well executed, believable, and respectful to our troops. In fact, we are currently holding a COD4 contest on the site, and some of the photos we received show individuals decked out in their military gear, proof that the men and women in our armed forces clearly support the game.

Call of Duty 4 is an adrenaline rush from start to finish. From the moment you pick up your rifle and begin training for your first mission, you are sold on the world that Infinity Ward has developed. The training you undergo in COD4, while brief, is much more engaging then the previous iterations of the game. The twist this time around is that the results of your training will suggest to you what level of difficulty you should probably play the game at.

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Loading time is well used and visually impressive

Once training is complete, you will be briefed on your first real world mission, and head out for action. The loading screens (and it pains me to call them that, because they are so well done that you forget you are waiting) are reminiscent of something you would see in an episode of 24. In fact, I kept uttering the words “I need the satellite footage Chloe” in my head while watching them on my screen during the brief intro/loading period before my first mission. Detailed and extremely well executed, the “loading screens” blend and even go as far as to enhance the overall experience of the game.

Your helicopter closes in on its target, and sends you rappelling through the night sky onto a vessel being pounded by rain and ocean waves. Lightning flashes sporadically, delivering stark shadows and intense spots of light, all of which test your senses from the moment your feet make contact with the deck below. Glass shatters as you take out the enemies within the captain’s quarters, and as you work your way down into the vessel, bullets pierce metal pipes, steam visibly emits, and the whistling sound wreaks havoc on your senses as you try to focus on the firefight at hand.

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Special effects in COD4 are nothing short of amazing

The game’s superb use of camera angles further entrench you in the gameplay experience. While it may be seen as frustrating, the escape from the vessel is a perfect example of this. Infinity Wards creative manipulation during this scene almost makes you feel as if you are sliding off screen as you grip your controller and tilt your head trying to compensate for the effect. I don’t want to give too much away but trust me, these guys and girls really know their way around a camera.

The missions in Call of Duty 4 are varied in location, and although many are heavily plot driven this time around, they still require you to think quickly on your feet. Your perspective alters at several points during the game. Some perspectives will be offered more than once, while others are strictly one time “shots” only. While this has become a standard storytelling device used throughout the Call of Duty franchise, its execution in COD4 is unlike anything you have seen before.

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Tread carefully, because enemies are extremely aware of their surroundings

Gameplay features and controls are in line with that of the previous COD titles, with the obvious difference being that this time around, you will have access to advanced weaponry and devices, such as our all time favorite — night vision. Infinity Ward’s on screen representation of this device is by far one of the best we have seen to date, as it reacts to light and shadow in a very believable manner.

In addition to the devices, the weapons in Call of Duty 4 showcase the developers meticulous attention to detail as well, and in my opinion, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone that does it better. Bullets now not only pierce enemies, but depending on the weapon you are carrying and the type of object your target is hiding behind, you can now potentially take out your enemies without having a direct line of site to them. In other words, you can shoot through stuff. The only feature that I would have liked to see that was not available is the ability to change the rate of fire on your weapon.

Visually, the game is stunning. Everything from the facial texture on an enemy to the kitchen wallpaper exhibit an attention to detail which sets Infinity Ward apart from others who attempt to claim their throne. Light fixtures flicker in the dark corners of rooms as you make your way through buildings, cautiously inspecting your surroundings.

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Using your knife is faster than reloading and extremely satisfying

When it comes to audio, Infinity Ward put its best ear forward as well. From the top notch voice acting and well placed theme music, to the bone shattering bullet impacts and ear ringing explosions, the overall sound quality of COD4 will put your surround sound system to the test. If you do not yet own a surround sound system, or simply have not taken the time to set it up with your gaming console, shame on you, as you will essentially be missing out on a great deal of what this game has to offer.

Various difficulty levels are available and add to the depth and replay value of the single player mode. However, regardless of what level you chose, the enemies in COD4 have more advanced AI, and are much more powerful in general. One of the most noticeable enhancements in this area is the addition of what is referred to as “last stand” in the multiplayer mode. Enemies now have the ability to pull out their pistol and fire off a few rounds at you before biting the big one themselves. So it pays to tread carefully, because simply watching an enemy fall to the ground after a few bullets no longer ensures that they are in fact dead.

While the developers put a great deal of time into the enemy enhancements, they also did their part to reestablish balance by placing checkpoints in key locations. This ultimately gives gamers the ability to save their progress before and after some of the game’s most intense moments.

The single player mode will run you about five to eight hours, depending on how you choose to approach the game. I took my time with it, beating it in just under eight hours or so, and was very happy with the storyline as well as the overall length of the game. My personal view on the subject is that I would rather play a well executed and entertaining game that runs five to eight hours than a mediocre game that drags on for twenty. You may feel differently about this, and if so you may want to drop the final score a few tenths of a point.

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Mix and match perks to create your own character class

A complete game in its own right, the multiplayer mode of COD4 will have you mixing and matching perks in your sleep. For the first time, gamers will be allowed to create their own character classes based on a three level hierarchy of “perks” such as “deep impact” which allows for deeper bullet penetration, or “juggernaut” which as the name implies, increases your health and makes you significantly harder to take down. Essentially, the more you achieve online, the higher your rank becomes. Each rank unlocks new perks, weapons, and weapon attachments.

In terms of multiplayer modes, COD4 includes free-for-all (kill everyone, first to reach score limit ends the game, top three win), team deathmatch (kill players on opposing team, first team to reach score limit wins), search and destroy (take turns defending and destroying an objective), sabotage (one bomb in the center of the map, grab it and destroy the enemies objective), domination (capture and hold designated positions to gain points), and finally, headquarters (capture the headquarters and defend it from the enemy).

Infinity Ward, with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, tossed aside their WWII fatigues, and crashed an already saturated party of so called modern warfare experts. The developer reinvented themselves, and in the process raised the bar yet again.

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