Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare marked a turning point in the Call of Duty franchise. The first game to shift its setting away from World War Two, it would spark a change in direction that would ultimately turn the franchise into a sci-fi series. Whether or not that’s something that is a good thing, and fans are still debating that, it’s impossible not to acknowledge Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare as a literal game changer.
Set in the future, at the time, of 2011, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare sees a radical ultranationalist leader begin a conflict that would go on to span the globe, including Russia, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom. Taking on the roles of both a United States Force Reconnaissance Marine, and a British SAS commando, the player gets the opportunity to switch between these two characters, getting to see multiple parts of the conflict, as they hunt down the ultranationalist leader.
Whilst later games in the series would go on to take a frantic, almost over the top pace, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has a slower, grounded pace to it, one that helps to give the player weight. You’re not jumping around locations or dashing about using mech suits, you’re just a simple soldier, fighting for your life.
The gameplay gives enough variety of action that it doesn’t feel like it repeats itself too much over it’s five hour camplain. Some levels have you assaulting enemy held compounds, other will see you sneaking your way into Pripyat in a level where stealth is the only way forward, and some will have you piloting massive bombers, reigning destruction down from high above the battlefield.
The game can feel frantic and faced paced, yet manages to fit in some slower moments that help to break up the pace. This is something that later games in the series would fail to do, relying on spectacle and explosions to keep players interested.
Thankfully, this variety, and some interesting characterisation, keep you interested enough to play through the game multiple times, something that the game actively encourages you to do so with the inclusion of Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode is a feature that only appeared in the Nintendo DS version of Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized outside of this game, and helps Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to stand out amongst the other games in the franchise.
Allowing players to replay through the game with a running countdown, earning points for completing levels before time runs out, and for killing enemies in creative and accurate ways, Arcade Mode challenges you to play the game over and over, trying to beat your previous score. I lost count of the number of times that I played through Arcade Mode over the regular campaign simply because it felt more rewarding to see your points racking up on screen.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare also offered a strong multi-player element, including many features that would go on to be series staples, such as kill streak rewards, character and player ID customisation, and ‘Prestige’ mode. With multi-player levels built out of campaign maps, and some specially created just for multi-player, the online mode became a huge draw for many fans, with some even skipping the single player experience totally in order to play it.
A game that would go on to be a template for the Call of Duty games that we have today, and with some features that still let the game stand apart from other entries in the series Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the stronger games in the franchise. With a new, remastered version of the game now available on XBOX One and Playstation 4, it’s still a great time to experience the game, whether as a new player, or someone that played it the first time it came out.
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