Call of Duty 4 is something special. Sure, it still has the trademark scenarios of the series that have become tired clichés for me: move from house to house clearing rooms, or defend a building against waves of assailants attempting to overtake the position. In fact, the core gameplay analyzed clinically is somewhat antiquated. You can still blow up tanks by walking up to the glowing indicator and pushing the Use key. You can’t open doors by yourself and have to wait for your AI squad members to usher you in. Enemies respawn infinitely until you push forward and activate trigger points. And heaven forbid if you stray too far off the linear path because… well, they won’t have any of that.
But what a linear path it is, framed by a refreshing modern day setting and the most cinematic gaming experience I have ever played. Infinity Ward lovingly crafted a narrative that quickly hooked me into the game and gave context and meaning to all the action. The story is told through many scripted events as well as a few shocking 1st person, non combat sequences. This is the closest I’ve felt to actually playing a movie — the Metal Gear Solid series doesn’t count, it is a movie.
There are too many favorite moments to list. Storming nuclear silos while the missile doors are opening and steam is erupting and oh no we have to stop the launch!! Lt. Price coolly sliding you a handgun across the floor in your darkest hour (the fact that I even remember the guy’s name says a lot). And who can forget the two-part flashback mission to Chernobyl, one of the finest levels I can remember playing in any game. Intense.
Call of Duty 4 is fairly short, yes, but I’m liking the recent trend of games that know how to pace themselves and don’t dilute the experience by dragging for too long (Portal being another recent example). Call of Duty 4 pounces from the opening infiltration, then guides you along a phenomenal ride bountiful with adrenaline rushes and emotional highs, leaving a lasting impression that’s still strongly resonating.