As close to perfect as a shooter may ever come.
2007 – PS3, XBOX 360, PC, Wii. (reviewed for PS3)
Playtime: 500+ hours
- Fun: 19/20
- Stimulation/Engagement: 13/15
- Innovation/Ingenuity: 13/15
- Storytelling/Writing: 10/10
- Immersion/World Building: 10/10
- Control/Systems: 10/10
- Graphics/Presentation: 5/5
- Art Style: 5/5
- Sound Design: 5/5
- Score: 3/5
- Online Capabilities/Multiplayer: 10/10
In the winter of 2007 I was staying with my cousins for winter break, as I would do every summer or extended break from school while my parents were at work. It was home to my grandma and grandpa, my aunt and uncle, and three of their five kids who were older but had not yet flown the coop. With me and my sister that made nine people in a four-bedroom house. The house was more cramped than Japan but my cousin Chris and I almost never went outside; we were gaming like it was Japan too. RuneScape, Last Chaos, and Pokémon filled our days and nights with escape from boredom and hunger. The occasional Yu-Gi-Oh battle was essentially our only recess from the screens. One night, early in our stay, Chris’ older brother brought home a brand-new PlayStation 3 and a copy of COD 4 that he had bought from an actual, physical, in real life Circuit City. My only gaming console up to that point was the GameCube, and I waited all night for my chance to play the new PlayStation when my cousin went to work in the morning. I crouched by the machine like a noob—instead of hitting the PS button on the controller—to tap that (back then) incredible touch power button. The console beeped that most perfect beep that a piece of electronics has ever beeped, and video games once again changed my life.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is my favorite shooter of all time, which can be surprising since most of my favorite shooters come from the series’ main rival, Battlefield. I mean, nowadays, I talk a lot of shit on most Call of Duty’s that come out, as one should when comparing them to the masterpiece that was COD 4. In 2007, it was the most realistic, most innovative, and most compelling first-person shooter for a video game console yet. COD 4—with its online play especially—set the tone for how shooters would be made and played for over a decade. It was a total system seller for both the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360, possibly saving the two consoles from catastrophe after weak first year sales. The game is turning 13 this year, so let’s try to get in and get out as quickly as Capt. Price had hoped to in “All Ghillied Up”.
The campaign is gorgeous and godly entertaining, and the online gameplay was the pinnacle of fun in video games that year. When I first started playing this game, I probably played through the single player story like five times before I even touched the multiplayer, and by golly was I in for a treat. The online component in this game was the most robust and well-developed of its kind for a console game at the time. It absolutely blew my mind how addicting it was to drop into “Crossfire”, or any of their other unbelievably well-designed maps, with 15 other players and kill and die over and over again all day long. The dying could be extremely frustrating at times however, and the reliance on its very simple gameplay formula did, albeit very rarely, cause a bore in COD 4.
The campaign was extremely engaging and pretty replay-able, but the online play is definitely what kept me playing this game so much that I honestly have no idea how many hours I actually sunk into it. It’s at least 500, but could be closer to a thousand. I had a hunger to be good at this game, win every match, rank up, and unlock every gun. But as I said before, the formula was very simple and grew old eventually, and “prestige-ing” was a pretty cheap way of keeping the experience going.
The graphics, the setting, the online play, and the incredibly gripping single player story were all intensely innovative. At the end of the day however, it did inherit the basic point-and-shoot war game model.
I had never loved a story in a video game this much, and few games since have even come close. If you somehow haven’t played it, I really don’t want to spoil anything. Let me just say this game’s campaign contains several of the greatest moments in video game storytelling history.
Immersion/World Building: 10/10
Once you enter COD 4’s world of joint-task forces, counter terrorism, and Russian ultra-nationalism, everything around you disappears, and you never want to leave it.
Control/Systems: 10/10, Graphics/Presentation: 5/5, Art Style: 5/5, Sound Design: 5/5
All perfection. There was nothing like it on consoles at the time.
Online Capabilities/Multiplayer: 10/10
It was the culmination of online gaming and everything every gamer wanted out of an online shooter up to that point. COD 4 online was simply spectacular, a marvel, and obviously added more than a few points to several other sections of this review.
Every year I long for a new shooter to come along and be as good as COD 4, make me love gaming as much as COD 4, and push the boundaries of gaming as much as COD 4 did. Until then—if it ever happens—Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will reign supreme as the closest a war game has ever come to being perfect. Long live games, long live gamers, and long live the GGoat Project.