Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the first entry of one of the most beloved trilogies in the video game industry. As one can tell from the game’s title, the combat and many other elements of the game are focused on replicating modern warfare technologies. This was a major shift for the franchise, having produced nothing but three World War II centered titles up until this game’s release in 2007.
I will mainly be touching up on MW’s campaign mode, since I recently completed it on veteran difficulty (the hardest difficulty, indeed a grueling task). I do not know whether to complain about how impossible some sections of this game feel, or to suck it up and just say I was not skilled or strategic enough at those certain sections, because wow, it probably took me close to a hundred attempts at a few points.
Modern Warfare has a pretty simple narrative. For most of the missions, the player takes the reigns as the silent-spoken John “Soap” MacTavish. The player is to hunt down the secondary antagonist, Khaled Al-Asad, to eventually make their way to tracking down the primary one, Imran Zakhaev. There are actually a few compelling and intensifying moments narratively that do not feel too bloated or overdramatic. The “All Ghillied Up” mission is now iconic among the community.
The missions themselves are designed remarkably. A lot of care was put into the layout and placement of enemies. Each battlefield is like a playground for the player to explore and take different routes to gain vantage points. Occasionally, the player would be rewarded for exploring the crevices of every level with a powerful weapon or “enemy intellect” (which are just laptops that can be optionally collected for achievements, there are 30 in total across the entire campaign).
Most of the missions are run-and-gun with a few special tasks involved, such as using javelin missiles to blow up enemy tanks and helicopters, operating a turret inside of a friendly chopper, or for one mission, manning an AC-130 gunship (which was a pleasant break from worrying about constantly dying as a ground unit).
A fun little addition is the use of gadgets. Only on certain missions, the player is given devices such as claymores, C4s, or the option to drop an air-strike, which can be used strategically in helping the player break through enemy lines.
I have obviously never partaken in a war before, but the sound design is top-notch, from the guns firing from every direction, to the numerous explosions, to the epic soundtrack and voice acting. One can tell that the developers wanted to assure the player would have an aurally stunning experience.
Shifting gears, one aspect that was inconsistent was friendly fire. I’m not going to lie, I would frequently shoot my allies unintentionally. This did not necessarily bother me, but it was how the game handled it that bothered me. Sometimes, I would only lay a bullet or two into an ally, and it would send me to the previous checkpoint. I would do the same thing one mission later, and nothing would happen, only my ally would react to the pain. Sometimes, I was able to full on kill my allies, and I would not be penalized, but the opposite would also occur. The game should really make up its mind whether friendly fire will be tolerated or not.
Another element I would have to speak negatively on is the AI. Allies and enemies are both worth mentioning. The AI on both ends ranges from dimwitted to sixth-sense level of intelligence. Allies tend to run directly in front of the player, or block their pathway (which is actually how many of the friendly fires transpired). As for enemies, they are able to find the player and damage them with an assault rifle from a sniper’s range, but they will not spot the player above them even when the ceiling is blatantly open. This makes for easy pickings, but was bothersome seeing how noticeably unaware the AI were of their surroundings.
One last troublesome function to mention would be the checkpoints. The checkpoint function, like it sounds, is essentially just for the player’s benefit so that they would not have to repeat shooting their way through the same area if they are killed in action later on. It was helpful especially playing on veteran difficulty when I died more times than I could count. Every few checkpoints, however, inconveniently placed me in an open battlefield. This can also annoyingly work against the player’s benefit when playing on veteran difficulty, because sometimes, I would not have even more than a few seconds to react.
Overall, Modern Warfare was and is a grand accomplishment of a first-person shooter. It utilizes its modern-day setting efficiently, and only a few frustrating gameplay mechanics hold it back from being a masterpiece.