Last night played host to an Activision party, where there was nothing but Call of Duty 4. The game everyone wants to play was showcased right in front of everyone’s eyes. Not only that, but hands on time was granted for both the single and multiplayer side of things.
The single player was being demonstrated first, with the option of two missions. The first mission we have seen time and time again, named “Bog”, where you start up on a bridge and have to fight your way through the on-going fights. The second available level was “Expendable Crew”, which takes place on a boat. Both are very different from one another in terms of setting and indeed the gameplay.
Typically, both levels are truly atmospheric. Creating tension with the explosions and making you physically jump with the gun fire, the whole thing does a great job of fully immersing you in the game. This is particularly noticeable on the second mission, as the camera continually sways from left to right as the boat rocks thanks to the waves crashing against it. Later on in the same level, the boat is sinking and the viewpoint turns at an even more extreme angle, again creating the feeling you are there in the boat, desperately trying to escape.
The “Bog” level shows off several weapons as well as the now-famous night vision goggles. But until you see the game running for yourself, you won’t notice the finer details. Things such as all the lights on the wall coming from the flashlight on the gun is great to see; it’s smooth, it’s clever and it’s a treat to the eye to witness.
One continual problem that Call of Duty games have had trouble with is linearity. Sadly, from the two levels that were playable, this is still very much the case. There are slightly different routes through “Bog”, but not enough to make it feel different, nor do they take you to different areas. Perhaps some atmosphere may be lost if less scripted actions took place, but nonetheless some will find this irritating.
That’s not to say the game wasn’t fun though; everyone had a blast, but when you look deeper into it, the single player remains linear and genetic, offering little new in the two levels we saw.
Throughout the time spent with the single player, an on-going countdown was happening elsewhere (it counted up actually). This was for the presentation where a stealth mission was shown (video above), as was the Beta. The stealth mission that was demonstrated further strengthens the generic point; you have to wait for your Commander to give the order to shoot (since you mustn’t be detected), then you have to follow him wherever he goes.
Having said that, simply watching the game got you tense. Whether it was the incredibly heavy base literally vibrating the walls or not is irrelevant; every move the demonstrator made was tense, slow and purposeful. It was great to watch and hear, as the music was incredibly cinematic in the way it helped build the tension.
Despite the slightly disappointing hands on with the single player, the multiplayer is anything but. Some of you have no doubt already played the Beta extensively thanks to the Friends and Family scheme currently running, but for those that haven’t: there really is a treat coming your way. The Perks work well, and the customisation that was demonstrated is incredibly in-depth. Not quite as much as Rainbow Six: Vegas, but some would argue that was too deep anyway.
Going in-game for the multiplayer, it is clear immediately that Call of Duty is back to its best. Forget all about CoD 3, just a small sample of the Beta play is enough to know this shits all over Treyarch’s attempt at doing the series. You can hear everything; where your enemies and your team mates are reloading for example is crucial. Play this in something other than surround sound and you will struggle.
If you haven’t played the Beta already, this is where you’ll be spending the first 20 minutes or so of your time
The Perks are fun and really make the multiplayer different from other FPS offerings. Boasting that they weren’t worried about the competition, Infinity Ward let it be known that this is going to be the best FPS ever, and so far, in multiplayer at least, it seems so. Working as a team is essential, and the whole balance of the game lies with who gets to call in the helicopters and airstrikes to take the opposition out. Kill-cam also makes a very welcome return, and the fact that there are no Achievements for the multiplayer means there will hopefully be more fun matches, with people being sensible instead of glitching all over the place.
The Beta has been announced as going public on Monday 27th August at 12PM PDT, and the release date was re-confirmed as the week of November 5th, just in-case anyone didn’t make the Press Conference earlier in the day. Also, the Beta will definitely be coming to Europe, and any other region Infinity Ward can manage. This was made very strongly, so clearly they didn’t mean to upset non-US citizens.
It was great to finally go hands on with the game as it highlighted that once again, Infinity Ward has managed to create a great experience on the 360. Only two levels were shown, so it’s possible that less-linear levels will be included. But we will have to wait and see. One thing is for certain though: the multiplayer is something any FPS fan will want to play.