What kind of a name is Soap?

Posted: January 8, 2011 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff
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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

While it’s still fresh in my mind and my blood pressure is still elevated, I have to post my review for the game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The game was released in 2007, so by now it’s old news — but not to me. If you’ve ever had doubts about playing this game, or just didn’t get around to it, move it to the front of your list. Every gamer should have the experience of fighting his way through this game. CoD4 was more electrifying than most action movies I’ve seen, and the suspense in some points was more intense than any Bond movie I’ve seen going back to Never Say Never Again.

Gameplay: If you’re like me, and your last shooter was Half Life 2, let me get something out of the way. You’re going to die. You’re going to die a lot. Your enemies are even smarter than the bad guys in Half Life 2, and they’re armed with weapons that are just as good as yours, plus rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, helicopters, and, yes, attack dogs. Fritz the Wonder Pooch doesn’t care if you shoot at him. I always hated shooting dogs, but it was either that or feel their teeth burying into my throat. And with the cinematography in this game, you’ll feel those teeth.

Where was I? Gameplay. Movement is the typical W-S-A-D keyboard combination for jog forward, walk backward, step left, step right. If you’re familiar with shooters, you’ll have done this before. It adds “ctrl” for drop prone, and a plethora of other keystrokes for night vision, C4, flash bang grenades, frag grenades, air strikes, and so on. This got disorienting, but I sucked it up and learned where the keys for everything in my bag of tricks was. It makes you a much more effective fighter than if you just run around shooting, and when you consider that someone out there is doing this for real, you’re willing to do the work.

Combat is fast and it’s deadly. You’ll absorb a couple of shots from your enemies, but not many, and if one of them gets the drop on you and starts unloading dozens of rounds of automatic fire into you, you’ll go down in a second. Weapons are accurate; if they can see you, they hit you. It doesn’t feel like anywhere is safe. My favorite effect, though, was from explosions and flash bang grenades. When these go off near you, the entire screen whites out and all you can hear is a piercing whistle. Whenever this happened, I usually wound up doing one of three things: dropping to the ground and praying for cover; firing wildly in the direction the grenade came from; running in a straight line toward what I hoped was cover. Probably just like the poor sap who gets to have one of those things ruining his day in real life.

Story: Excellent. You could take it from today’s headlines. It gets a little jumpy in the middle of the game as the story goes back and forth between Azerbaijan and a nameless country in the Middle East. As the story moves into the end game, the stakes become incalculably high, and my heart was racing as much from trying to save the day as it was from shooting the bad guys. One thing that I thought was an good, subtle touch — and this may be more how I experienced the story rather than what the writers intended — was that the story takes place quickly, and mostly in small locations you’ve never heard of. Nothing is tied to a big historic event, which makes you wonder, how often do things like this happen in real life, and we never know that it did?

Acting: Superb. My favorite was Bill Murray as the salty, tough, mutton-chopped SAS Captain Price. Close second is Craig Fairbrass as Gaz, another one of the soldiers in the SAS team. Gaz is like one of your bar buddies, cracking jokes even when you’re outnumbered and outgunned. Price doesn’t make jokes unless it’s gallows humor; he’s that kind of soldier. By the end of the movie — heh heh, how’s that for a Freudian slip — you feel like both of them are brothers.

Audio and Visuals: You’ll notice this is last. As impressive as the visuals and sounds were, I would still put the gameplay, story and acting ahead of it in quality. That’s how good they were. Okay, moving right along. The audio brings the game right into your room, especially if you’re like me and play your game with headphones on. Bullets zip and crackle all around you, RPG’s whoosh, and low-flying jets make it feel like the air is shaking. As for the visuals, I’ve gotten spoiled with excellent game graphics. I would say that what sets CoD4 apart is attention to detail. Most of the soldiers have scruff. Cars are scratched up and old-looking, and the battered ruins of the Middle East and Azerbaijan are ghostly.

After I’ve played a game all the way through, I’ve never played the same game, all the way, through, a second time. This may be the first time I do just that.

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