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DS

North America

Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfareAAA

by Zachary Miller - November 25, 2007, 3:25 pm PST
Total comments: 7

9

It's your duty, soldier, to please that booty!

I really can’t stand war games. As a sub-genre of the first-person shooter, war games have milked the Greatest Generation for all it’s worth, making us storm Omaha Beach at least once a year. Shooting Nazis is fun, sure, but eventually it becomes cliché. I’m also genetically predisposed to sucking at FPS games. If you stuck me in front of an Xbox 360 with a monkey who has never played Halo 3 before, the monkey would win nine times out of ten. If it’s not called “Metroid Prime," I am horrible at it.

Having said that, you can only imagine my shock (and awe!) when I became completely enraptured in Activision’s Call of Duty 4, which is making its rounds on the more modern consoles. I didn’t play it on the PlayStation 3, 360, or PC, mind you, but I just sat, enthralled, watching my friend play on his PS3. I hoped that CoD4 would show up on the Wii (seems like a good fit), but alas, such is not the case. So when I received a copy of CoD4 for the Nintendo DS, I was surprised and excited, but also a little concerned. If Activision passed on the Wii for hardware reasons (and I don’t blame them), then how would the DS game handle?

Ladies and germs, Call of Duty 4 on the DS is absolutely incredible. It is a nonstop thrill ride that literally does not stop until the credits roll. Just like the military forces it strives to evoke, CoD4 is fast, efficient, and responsive. It is, without a doubt, one of the best DS games I’ve had the pleasure of playing.

The plot centers around stopping a Middle East extremist named Al-Asad, who may have Weapons of Mass Destruction. Al-Asad may have financial ties to a businessman in Russia, who is attempting to bring communism back into fashion. You play as American and British troops in both areas, switching back and forth between protagonists, and each “storyline" takes place at the same time. The Brits are trying to find the Russian backer while the Yanks are going after Al-Asad. The plot is told through slideshow cutscenes which occur between missions. While not especially engrossing, the slides get the job done. Interestingly, most missions find you fighting in parallel to the console teams. That is, while the PS3 squad might be infiltrating a tanker’s belly to find a nuclear bomb, the DS version has your squad providing cover on the deck while disarming missiles. It’s like watching the same movie from two different perspectives. This is a very cool dynamic, especially if you’ve experienced both the console and DS versions of the game.

Most of the gameplay is wrought through an interface lifted directly from Metroid Prime: Hunters, another DS FPS I really liked. The stylus navigates the Touch Screen (which also serves as a map) in order to aim on the upper screen, the R Button fires your gun, and double-tapping X or B lets you run and crouch, respectively. The Touch Screen also has icons for your main and secondary weapons, and grenades. Instead of jumping, double-tapping the Touch Screen switches your view to ADS mode (aiming down the sight) which, in theory, gives you a more accurate shot (more on that later). You can exchange your currently-equipped weapon for a gun lying on the ground by tapping a hand icon, and you can occasionally call in air strikes by tapping a binocular icon. By tapping your currently-equipped weapon, you can reload it. A few bomb-defusing sequences have you hacking security codes and defusing bombs. The latter task, while under a beeping timer, has a real sense of urgency to it.

While the controls are, for the most part, incredibly tight, there are some areas that could use improvement. ADS mode brings up a 2D “frame" which does little more than obstruct your view of the enemy, and it’s not noticeably more accurate than firing from the hip. Part of the problem is that you’ll want to use ADS mode for long shots, but the enemies tend to pixel out at a distance, so it’s not always clear what you’re shooting at. Also, ADS is activated by double-tapping the Touch Screen, but due to the constraints of the Touch Screen’s size, you’ll often be removing the stylus and putting it back down, and the game will sometimes register a double-tap, bringing up ADS when you don’t want it. This doesn’t really adversely affect the gameplay, but it’s a slight flaw nonetheless. Actually, if you want to be more accurate, just crouch. Also, ADS sensitivity can be turned down from the options menu.

Thankfully, there are enough gun types around any given area that you never need to worry too much about not hitting enemies. The FPS areas range from the wide-open spaces of a ruined Middle Eastern city the confined quarters of a luxurious mansion in Mother Russia. There are some areas where finding cover becomes a priority, but thankfully your enemies rarely run after you. If you’re hurt, just backtrack a little and rest. The FPS gameplay is engaging and exciting, and its fast pace is almost exactly like the tone set by CoD4’s big console brothers. Although I wish there were a few more spots for air strikes, the gunplay is second to none. These sections only become tedious in the last few missions, when your guard is constantly up, and enemies fill the halls. But even then, you adrenaline is pumping.

And then you’ve got the uber-awesome missions. You know, like the one where you’re the gunner on a helicopter, spraying Arab militia from here to kingdom come. And the coolest mission on the console versions is back in full force here—you’re manning a 105 mm cannon, firing it with wild abandon at enemy troops while your boys on the ground scout out enemy encampments.

The graphics are fantastic considering the hardware this game is running on. Enemies animate fairly smoothly—the game looks noticeably better than N64 games like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, and without the slowdown that crippled the latter. Although there are no real lighting effects to speak of, the overall color palette is light enough that you won’t have trouble seeing enemies, especially since your map’s sonar often detects them (as red dots) before you’re shot to hell. Some sequences, like the opening gunner mission, boggle the mind with their technical skill. You’d expect some chugging or environmental popup while zipping through a canyon, firing on enemy troops while helicopters fly overhead, but nope! It all looks absolutely beautiful, all the time.

Adding to the impressive specs is a boatload of spoken dialog. To get the most out of the game, in fact, you’ll want the volume turned up all the way, as objectives are often given to you over the speakers rather than in a text box. During the critical air support missions in particular, a good ear is an absolute necessity. There’s no noticeable musical score (aside from a few critical missions), but you’ll be too busy paying attention to gunshots, vehicle noise, and your commanding officer to care. My only complaint with the sound is that many of your fellow military officers sound like high schoolers, not the rough-and-tumble Marines you keep hearing about.

I’m sad to report that CoD4 on the DS has no online multiplayer. There is both single and multi-card play, although the available game types are a bit lacking (deathmatch AND team deathmatch? Who’da thunk it?). And unlike Metroid Prime: Hunters, there is no stat tracking. The lack of Wi-Fi play really hurts CoD4, and limits its lastability, but I can’t really knock the solo effort.

But the game’s biggest strength is in how well it establishes the tone and feeling of the console CoD4 games. The fast pace, mission structure, and gameplay are all distinctly Call of Duty, and everything performs beautifully. In addition to that, CoD4 on the DS is just a damn good game and will keep you entertained for quite some time.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 8 9 8 7 9
Graphics
9

While I take some issue with the draw distance, CoD4 looks and performs extremely well. There’s never any noticeable slowdown, even when enemy soldiers flood the screen. The ambient effects, like explosions, gunshots, and overhead helicopters, are very impressive.

Sound
8

Music will kick in during particularly critical sequences, but for the most part you’ll be hearing your COs, gunshots, and enemies yelping as you shoot them in the face, which is exactly what war sounds like.

Control
9

Nary a hitch, aside from the aforementioned ADS trigger. The layout of the Touch Screen can be reversed for you left-handers in the options menu.

Gameplay
8

The gunner missions are so awesome I would have liked to see more of them. The FPS missions, though, are intense and entertaining, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Lastability
7

After you beat the normal difficulty, you can go for hard mode (and it really is tough) or play your favorite missions right away in quick play. The lack of online multiplayer, though, is a real stumbling block. I can see myself popping this game in on plane rides, though, or when I game from the throne. It definitely has “pick up and play for short periods of time" written all over it.

Final
9

While not without its flaws, CoD4 is true to the spirit of its console counterparts and manages to be a kick-ass game in its own right. If you’re looking for a good FPS on your DS, or you just want to see what the fuss over CoD4 is about, check this game out. You won’t be sorry!

Summary

Pros
  • FPS controls are tight and responsive
  • Gunner missions are too cool for words
  • Invokes the atmosphere of the console games with great success
Cons
  • If you’re not dead-on with your headshots, it can take a few clips to down enemies
  • Machine guns are too inaccurate at long range to be of any use
  • No Wi-Fi multiplayer
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

IceColdNovember 25, 2007

Huh. I might actually buy this.

18 DaysNovember 25, 2007

LOL at pro and cons. Machines guns being only good up close and headshots being crucial is the whole point of FPS games.

jakeOSXNovember 25, 2007

wait, so you use your left hand as the stylus and right on the buttons?

KDR_11kNovember 26, 2007

He's a southpaw I imagine.

I would probably be more interested in the game if my touchscreen wasn't so scratched already that it makes scratchy noises when I move the stylus over certain areas. Maybe I should start thinking about getting a DS Lite some time soon. Then again CoD isn't the kind of game I'll pay the full 40€ for anyway. 30, maybe but not 40. I'm still waiting for a pricedrop on Brothers in Arms DS though.

BTW, I love how the story has the EVUL COMMUNISTS funding the EVUL TERRORISTS when all the funding of middle eastern militaries was done by the US with the purpose to keep Russia out of the region...

IceColdNovember 26, 2007

Maybe you should invest in a screen protector, KDR..

Quote

Originally posted by: 18 Days
LOL at pro and cons. Machines guns being only good up close and headshots being crucial is the whole point of FPS games.


I've heard from other people that headshots are unusually hard to get in this game, and if you don't get headshots, the enemies are nearly invincible. Supposedly the same goes for RE:UC.

vuduNovember 28, 2007

In all fairness, in Umbrella Chronicles you're fighting zombies, so it makes sense they're going to keep coming at you until you take out what's left of their brains. Last I checked, the same couldn't be said for CoD.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Box Art

Genre Shooter
Developer n-Space Inc.
Players1 - 8

Worldwide Releases

na: Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfareAAA
Release Nov 06, 2007
PublisherActivision
RatingTeen
jpn: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Release Mar 13, 2008
PublisherActivision
eu: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Release Nov 09, 2007
PublisherActivision
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