Call of Duty 4 Hands-on Preview

Written by Joe Martin

October 20, 2007 | 10:26

Tags: #call-of-duty #chernobyl #cod #cod4 #infinity #modern-warfare #tactical

Companies: #treyarch

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So, what differences do we think there are between the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game? For the time being, we'll have to bypass the PlayStation 3 version completely because we haven’t seen a playable version of it yet.

Well, the first and most obvious difference to us is the control method which obviously limits the smoothness and accuracy available to the standard Xbox 360 gamer. Now, in most games this wouldn’t make much of a difference because the game can easily just be rebalanced or given a reticule so big that any PC gamer worth his salt would laugh at it in disgust.

Yes, Halo Sniper Rifle, I’m looking at you here.

In a Call of Duty game however, the balancing has always been a bit more problematic as the developers struggle to retain a realistic feel to the game and desperately try to avoid nerfing the entire experience.

The result in Call of Duty 4 is, if you ask me, mixed. The PC version of the game is tough, but fair. There are times when you’ll breeze through the game with little to no difficulty and your squad will back you up excellently, throwing down suppressing fire and just generally whooping ass. They even shout soldierly phrases like ‘Oohrah!’ and ‘Fubar!’

Then of course, you’ll get caught up in the action and will charge forwards recklessly only to be slammed into the ground by an RPG, your team mates will suddenly decide that your bullets can’t hurt them and will run into your line of fire and you’ll die five times in ten minutes until you get back on the ball. That’s the PC version, firm but fair.

Call of Duty 4 Hands-on Preview Dick Tracy’s Phone-Watch of Integrity
Click to enlarge

The Xbox 360 version is a slightly different matter and from what I played it was more like a continual, grinding slog for the whole time. Granted, I’m predominantly a PC gamer, but I can take down a Big Daddy with a wrench and I can go toe to toe with the Microsoft honchos in Halo 3, so my mad skills can’t be that dusty.

ET’s Call of...something

However, you have to bear in mind that the game isn’t finished just yet and the balancing is still being heavily tweaked on both platforms. The recent multiplayer beta on the Xbox 360 will probably help in that department and the large amount of feedback from gamers will no doubt prove to be invaluable to the folks at Infinity Ward.

The multiplayer side of things isn’t something I’ve had a chance to look at, but judging from the popularity of the multiplayer beta it isn’t something we need to tell you about either. You probably played it and if you didn’t then just rest assured that by all accounts it’s shaping up rather well and uses a class-based system to bring the combat together.

The singleplayer is something we can talk about though and from what we’ve seen it’s shaping up rather excellently. The graphics are incredibly detailed and good-looking, though the smoke effects don’t look nearly as impressive as they did when Call of Duty 2 came out and the RPG smoke trails are a little suspect.

Call of Duty 4 Hands-on Preview Dick Tracy’s Phone-Watch of Integrity
Click to enlarge

The action itself is as frantic as ever too, with grenades and tracers cutting through the sky and sending up plumes of dirt whilst your team mates scream and run around taking down the bad guys. There are a few areas where we think the gameplay could be tightened up but the overwhelming majority of the game feels crisp and cleanly put together.

The key difference between Call of Duty 4 and the other games in the series is, on reflection, not the largely cosmetic differences between World War 2 and Modern Warfare, but the vastly improved cinematic feel. The past Call of Duty games have often felt grand and beautifully epic, but rarely were they truly cinematic. They felt distinctly like playing a game rather than being in a movie. This isn’t true of Modern Warfare which, with a new story and more contemporarily gritty feel, manages to feel more immersive and polished forever – possibly putting it forward as the best Call of Duty game yet if the development continues like this.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is currently set for a release in early November on the PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo DS.
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