Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X personal computers and the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii video game consoles. The game was released in North America, Australia, and Europe in November 2007 for video game consoles and Windows, was released for the Mac in September 2008, and was released for the Wii in November 2009. It is the fourth installment in the Call of Duty video game series, excluding expansion packs, and is followed by a direct sequel, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The game breaks away from the World War II setting of previous games in the series and is instead set in modern times. Call of Duty 4 was in development for two years, and it uses a proprietary game engine.
The story takes place in a fictional near-future, where a radical leader has staged a coup d’état in the Middle East, and an “Ultranationalist” movement has instigated a civil war in Russia. The events of the conflicts are seen from the perspectives of an American Marine and a British SAS commando, and are set in multiple locations, including the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Prypiat, Ukraine. The multiplayer portion of the game features various game modes, and contains a leveling system that allows the player to unlock additional weapons, weapon attachments, and camouflage schemes as they advance.
Critically acclaimed, the game received an aggregated score of 94% from both GameRankings and Metacritic. The gameplay, multiplayer, and story received particular praise, while criticism targeted what was perceived as an inability to innovate the first-person shooter genre. The game won numerous awards from gaming websites, including IGN’s Best Xbox 360 Game. It was the top-selling game worldwide for 2007, reaching over seven million copies by January 2008, and over 13 million by May 2009.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a first-person shooter similar to previous games in the Call of Duty series but set in the present-day instead of World War II.
The game’s move to modern warfare introduces new weapons and technology to the Call of Duty franchise, including the M4A1 carbine, the M203 grenade launcher, the AN/PEQ-2 Target Pointer for use in conjunction with night vision goggles, the MP5SD submachine gun, and the FGM-148 Javelin portable anti-tank guided missile. The player gains access to these over the course of the game, but may only carry up to two weapons in addition to grenades. Weapons from fallen foes can be picked up to replace weapons in a player’s arsenal. Players also have additional abilities, including a grenade launcher attachment, claymores with tripwire-like detonation (appears as a V-shaped motion sensor laser in-game), C-4, night-vision goggles, and the ability to call in airstrikes and an attack helicopter.
The gameplay of Call of Duty 4 shares several features with previous iterations of the franchise. Once again, players fight alongside AI-controlled teammates. They help during the game’s missions by providing cover fire, shooting down enemies, and clearing rooms for entry.
A character can be positioned in one of three stances: standing, kneeling, or prone; each affecting the character’s rate of movement, accuracy, and stealth. Using cover helps the player avoid enemy fire or recover health after taking significant damage, as there are no armor or health powerups. When the character has taken damage, the edges of the screen glow red and the character’s heartbeat increases. If the character stays out of fire, the character can recover. When the character is within the blast radius of a live grenade, a marker indicates the direction of the grenade, helping the player to either flee or toss it back to the enemy.
Similar to previous games in the series, the player takes on the role of various characters during a single-player campaign. The characters’ involvement in the plot occurs simultaneously and overlaps the events in the game. As such, the player’s perspective can change from one character to another between missions.
Each mission features a series of objectives; the player is led to each objective with the HUD, which marks its direction and distance. Some objectives require that the player arrives at a checkpoint, while other objectives require the player to eliminate enemies in a specified location, stand their ground to defend an objective, or plant explosive charges on an enemy installation. The player is often accompanied by friendly troops, who cannot be issued orders. Laptop computers containing enemy intelligence appear throughout the campaign, and can be collected to unlock game bonuses.
After the credits roll, a special epilogue mission is unlocked for play, featuring an anonymous four-man squad of SAS troops retrieving a VIP from terrorists who have hijacked an airliner. The SAS rescue the VIP and escape before the plane is destroyed.
On a mission in the Bering Sea, Sergeant “Soap” MacTavish, Captain Price, “Gaz”, and several SAS members find a nuclear device onboard a cargo ship. Suddenly, the ship is attacked, and the team evacuate with the cargo manifest, which provides evidence of ties between the Russian Ultranationalist Party and a rebel faction in the Middle East. Russian Ultranationalist Imran Zakhaev, who plans to return his motherland to the times of the Soviet Union, draws international attention away from his plans by funding a coup d’état in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, organized by a local separatist leader named Khaled Al-Asad. The British and American governments, who discover the plot, initiate a police action to stop the uprisings in both regions. After President Al-Fulani of the Middle Eastern country is executed on live television and Al-Asad takes control, the SAS rescue their compromised informant in the Russian Ultranationalist Party, Nikolai.
One section of the game takes place in Prypiat, Ukraine. Several iconic aspects of the abandoned city, such as this square, were recreated in the game. In an American invasion of the Middle Eastern country, a platoon from the USMC 1st Force Recon, led by Lieutenant Vasquez and Sergeant Paul Jackson, searches for Al-Asad, but only manages to secure a television station broadcasting Al-Asad’s propaganda. During the final stages of the operation, United States Central Command is notified by SEAL Team Six of a Russian nuclear weapon nearby, and sends the NEST to disarm it. However, the nuclear device suddenly detonates, leveling most of the city and killing everyone in the area, including 30,000 marines. Vasquez’s squad, whose helicopter had not left the blast radius after coming to the last-minute rescue of the pilot of a downed AH-1 Cobra helicopter, is also caught in the explosion, resulting in Jackson’s death.
The British learn that Al-Asad fled the country before the USMC’s invasion. With the help of their informant Nikolai, the SAS finds and interrogates Al-Asad. After learning from him that Zakhaev supplied the nuclear bomb, Captain Price executes Al-Asad. Price then has a flashback of his mission to eliminate Zakhaev in Prypiat, Ukraine, 15 years earlier. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Zakhaev took advantage of the turmoil to profit from nuclear proliferation and used his new wealth to lure soldiers from the Soviet Army to form his Ultranationalist Party. Price was paired with Captain MacMillan to carry out the black op assassination of Zakhaev. After stealthily sneaking into Prypiat and taking up a position in the top room of an abandoned hotel, MacMillan spotted Zakhaev while Price fired a .50 BMG sniper rifle, but Zakhaev survived, losing only an arm. Price and MacMillan were pursued from the scene and narrowly escaped, with MacMillan sustaining an injured leg in the process.
Back in the present, a joint operation, by the SAS regiment under the command of Captain Price, a USMC Force Recon unit led by Staff Sergeant Griggs, and forces from the Russian military led by Sgt. Kamarov, is undertaken to stop Zakhaev. They capture his son Victor to learn of Zakhaev’s whereabouts, but before they can question him, Zakhaev’s son commits suicide. Zakhaev becomes enraged, blaming Western nations for the death of his son, and plans to retaliate by launching ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads at the United States. When SAS/USMC operatives arrive at the facility, Zakhaev manages to launch two missiles towards the United States. However, the squad successfully deactivates the missiles. They escape the facility in military trucks, Zakhaev’s forces in hot pursuit.
Before the squad can escape across a nearby bridge, it is destroyed by a gunship, leaving them trapped. Zakhaev’s forces arrive and engage the remaining members of the strike force. Suddenly, Gaz receives a call from Sergeant Kamarov, informing him that his forces are on their way to help the American and British forces. On the bridge, a gas tanker explodes, incapacitating most soldiers nearby except Griggs, who is shot while trying to pull MacTavish to safety. Zakhaev, along with two of his soldiers, finish off Gaz and other surviving members of the strike force. Before he reaches Soap and Price, he is distracted by the destruction of his gunship and the arrival of a Russian military helicopter. As Zakhaev looks away, Price slides his pistol to Soap, who shoots and kills Zakhaev and his two guards. When Kamarov and his team arrive, MacTavish is evacuated to safety, while a Russian medic attempts to resuscitate Price.
Call of Duty 4 features team-based and deathmatch-based multiplayer modes on various maps. Each mode has an objective that requires unique strategies to complete. Players can call in UAV reconnaissance scans, air strikes, and attack helicopters, either an AH-1 Cobra for S.A.S. or USMC or an Mil Mi-24 for OpFor or Spetsnaz, when they achieve three-, five-, and seven-enemy kill streaks respectively. A game ends when either a team has reached a predefined number of points, or the allotted time expires in which case the team with the most points wins. However in the rare case the points are even when the time expires, Sudden Death mode is activated in which there is no re-spawning and the team who either has the last man standing, or achieves the objective first are the winners.
The player’s performance in the multiplayer mode is tracked with experience points, earned by taking down other players, completing objectives, or by being a member of a winning team. As the player gains experience, they advance in level, unlocking new weapons, perks, challenges, and gameplay modes. The highest obtainable level is 55, but on the console versions of the game, the player has the option to play “Prestige” mode; this resets their level back to 1 and all earned bonuses are lost in exchange for a special in-game insignia. This process can be repeated up to 10 times with a different insignia being given each time, giving the player a total of 604 levels to achieve.
Completing a challenge grants experience points and may unlock weapon attachments. When a player’s level increases, it may unlock new weapons, perks, or challenges. At lower experience levels, the player only has access to five pre-determined classes, and cannot create a custom class with the weapon of their choosing. However, as the player advances in levels, they earn the ability to customize their classes. This includes selecting their main weapon, side arm, and special grenade type. Additionally, the player can select a limited number of “perks” that can customize their character further. Perk effects include increasing damage by the player, being able to take more damage, or dropping a live grenade after being killed in an act of martyrdom. The player is also given challenges to attempt, including achieving a certain number of kills with a specific weapon or shooting down a helicopter or performing a number of head shots.