The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Returning to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare- Another Review and Introspective

“It’s quite simple. Either we retake the launch facility or we won’t recognize the world tomorrow.” —Captain Price

When I last played through Call of Duty 4, it was the summer of 2012. I was staring down the MCAT at the time; the preparation courses had just started, and one of my friends had lent me his Steam account such that I could help him idle for items in Team Fortress 2 while he was on vacation (this was back during the era where idling was a functional means of accumulating enough metal to craft hats, and while it lasted, we got some pretty cool stuff out of it). I noticed that Call of Duty 4 was in his Steam library and decided to give that a go while idling. At that point, Halo 2 Vista was the shooter I played the most frequently, and so, Call of Duty 4 was a complete breath of fresh air. Coming from a game where I handled missions on my own and where armour was inconsequential, Call of Duty 4‘s campaign played in a completely different manner. The game presents a tale about the theft of nuclear weapons by Ultranationalists, and the player takes on the role of a variety of infantry units working in a squad to advance further and ultimately, thwart the Ultranationalists’ plans. Although this approach is now formulaic and oft-maligned, it was a completely new direction back during 2007, when the game first released, and for me, Call of Duty 4 marked a completely different experience than something like Halo 2 or 007 Nightfire. Whereas I had been previously used to fighting through locales on my own, Call of Duty 4 placed me in a squad where I could count on support from other allied soldiers to carry out a mission (in fact, Call of Duty 4 is where the notion of player-unopenable doors began). Similarly, whereas I previously disregarded armour as being a credible threat, Call of Duty 4 changed that perspective, since I was no longer a super-soldier capable of independently engaging tanks on my own.

My interests in Call of Duty 4 had been piqued by the Pripyat mission, All Ghillied Up: one of the most iconic missions in first person shooters, All Ghillied Up marked a profound change of pace from preceeding missions. The player assume the role of Captain Price (then a lieutenant), sneaking through Pripya to reach a vantage point and assassinate a terrorist. However, while the name of that mission was stealth, the game also provided some allowances for players who failed to be completely stealthy: unlike modern shooters that give players an immediate game over, being spotted in All Ghillied Up led to firefights with enemy forces, and should players succeed, they would get an admonishing from Captain MacMillian. The mission would still continue, mirroring how real life provides individuals with some tolerance for not adhering entirely to a plan. Thus, I yearned to try this mission out for myself and made my way through Call of Duty 4 for the purposes of experiencing the entire title. When I finished, I found Call of Duty 4 to possess a unique atmosphere: it felt like playing through a political thriller/action film, and the game would forever remind me of the long days I spent studying for the MCAT.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Playing through the original Modern Warfare again was a real treat, and even though the game is now nearing its tenth anniversary, it remains as one of the most iconic military shooters that influenced a large number of games. The biggest thrill, however, is the opportunity to fight through the Azerbaijan countryside near the Caucaus Mountains of Russia: this is what I missed the most while playing through Modern Warfare 3.

  • Call of Duty 4 made widespread elements that continue enduring in present-day shooters, such as aiming down sights to reduce bullet spread. Besides Captain Price and Soap’s side of the story, Call of Duty 4 also depicted the narrative from the perspective of American soldiers fighting in an unspecified Middle East country. One of the most surprising moments in Call of Duty 4 was when an American soldier witnesses the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the Middle East, precipitating the events of Modern Warfare 2.

  • Throughout this post, I will refer to Call of Duty 4 interchangeably with Modern Warfare and note that the screenshots are unevenly distributed towards Soap’s missions. The moody and wistful lighting of the Azerbaijan levels were remarkably fun to play through, while the missions set in the sandy Middle Eastern levels felt a little more pedestrian. It comes as no surprise that playing through these levels remind me of the MCAT without fail.

  • The weapons loadouts in Call of Duty 4 set the stage for how other modern military shooters, such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, handled things: the starting weapons for Soap are usually an M4A1 SOPMOD (configured with a suppressor, M203 under-barrel GL, reflex sight and infrared illuminator alongside the M21 rifle. These weapons handle exceptionally well and usually do not need to be swapped out: the M4A1 handles quite well at medium ranges, while the M21 is well-suited for longer range combat.

  • Switching out weapons then becomes a matter of personal preference, to experience the game differently: in general, I tend to stick to the starting weapons because they have optics. Most of the weapons enemy forces carry are only found with their default iron sights, and I’ve never been particularly good with iron sights in games owing to how they’re rendered. While RDS and other optics offset accuracy very slightly in reality, in games, they confer a superior shooting experience, and as such, I usually run with either the Coyote sight or holographic sights in Battlefield 4.

  • I was quite excited to hear that Modern Warfare would be getting a remastered edition in November, but that excitement turned to disappointment when I learned that the remastered edition would only be sold in conjunction with the 110 dollar (Canadian) Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare. I would have easily shelled out 40 CAD or so for a renewed take on Modern Warfare, and Infinite Warfare looks interesting, but I don’t think it’s an economically sound decision to spend 110 dollars on a game until I’m a little more certain as to whether or not I’ll enjoy it.

  • I’m certain that I’ll enjoy the updated Modern Warfare and in fact, look forwards to most seeing what the rejuvenated Pripyat looks like. However, I’m not certain how Infinite Warfare will go, and since I don’t play the multiplayer component of Call of Duty games, it’s better to wait and see. With that being said, I am quite confident that the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be something I will love playing through: I pre-ordered the Day One Edition today, and it’ll unlock on August 23. Speaking of August, observant viewers note that I write posts on the fourth of August every year. This is no coincidence, and tonight, I settled down to a nice homemade dinner with pork chop and freshly-steamed garlic prawns, making the pre-order for  Deus Ex: Mankind Divided while waiting for the prawns to finish cooking.

  • Hopefully, I’ll be able to pick up and purchase the GTX 1060 before then, so I can enjoy both Mankind Divided and DOOM the way they’re meant to be played, at 1080p and 60 FPS with ultra settings. Back in Modern Warfare, my collection of screenshots have finally reached the part where I make my way through Pripyat and the field surrounding Chernobyl. Despite the four years that have passed since I first played this, the sense of immersion in this mission remains unmatched.

  • I wrote two special topics posts about the Pripyat missions to assassinate Zakhaev back during 2012, one for “All Ghillied Up” and one for “One Shot, One Kill”. Both were written in early June, when my MCAT course and physics courses overlapped, resulting in a modestly busy schedule. I learned that taking summer courses was a surprisingly melancholy experience, as I would need to study while my peers were enjoying the summer weather. From there on out, I resolved to work harder from there on out so I could spend my summers engaged in research or working.

  • Armed with my then freshly-reawakened knowledge of projectile motion, I quickly ran the computations to determine that the trajectory of the bullet in “One Shot, One Kill” made sense and subsequently managed to snipe Zakhaev in one shot. In the four years that have passed since then, I’ve become a poorer shot and it took me multiple attempts to successfully blow his arm off, leading to the next phase of the mission. Involving keeping the Ultranationalist soldiers at bay, this part is rather more straightforwards.

  • While the placement of iconic features in Pripyat’s cityscape are not correct, nor is the chronological state of different facilities in Pripyat (the city’s pool, for instance, was still operational as late as 1996), that the developers went to great lengths to craft a compelling, detailed virtual Pripyat is impressive. It is for this reason that the Pripyat missions in Call of Duty 4 continue stand out clearly even in light of the numerous shooters I’ve played through since 2012.

  • There’s a certain melancholy in the mission set after “One Shot, One Kill”: titled “Heat”, the goal is to repel an ultranationalist counterattack and last long enough to reach extraction. On this playthrough, I’ve deliberately chosen to leave all of the intel (collectible laptop computers) where they were even as I found them; I plan on going back at some unspecified point in the future to collect everything.

  • According to the in-game dates, much of the events of Modern Warfare are set in 2011: while the year started a little more unevenly than I would have liked with respect to my coursework, I had a particularly memorable summer once courses ended and research began. During that summer, I developed an agent-based model of fluid flow in a nephron, obtained my basic operator’s license, watched Sora no Woto and spent several evenings at LAN parties on a lazy summer’s night.

  • Back in Call of Duty 4, the final mission of the second act is to chase down Zakhaev’s son in an attempt to learn where Zakhaev himself is. Soap begins armed with the R700 bolt action sniper rifle, the only bolt action weapon in the campaign. It makes up for its low capacity by having high stopping power, although the low carrying capacity means it will soon be discarded in favour of another weapon.

  • Equipped with a reflex sight and sporting a high hip-fire accuracy, the G36C is a common sight in the campaign and is a fine secondary weapon. One aspect of Call of Duty that I found to be enjoyable was the large pool of flash bang grenades and fragmentation grenades: the former are particularly useful for stunning enemies in a room long enough to neutralise everyone, making them a powerful asset on higher difficulties.

  • Here, I’m wielding the W1200 shotgun, having made use of it to clear the building en route to capturing Zakhaev’s son. A pump action shotgun, the W1200 is lethal at close ranges, and I usually chose to equip shotguns where there is a great deal of combat inside a building. During the daytime missions, the age of the graphics in Call of Duty 4 can be seen; at 1080p, the mountain skyboxes look a little blurry, but surprisingly, the textures and assets of the game objects themselves remain quite sharp.

  • The last act in Modern Warfare is to infiltrate a Russian launch facility under Ultranationalist control and thwart a rogue launch. According to the animations, the projected causalities for failure would exceed 40 million, lending itself to the page quote. With this in mind, there’s actually no real time limit to how long one has to enter the facility, so it is possible to play through at a slower, more methodical pace.

  • Here, I reach the power lines that supply the launch facility and making use of C4 to destroy some pylons to take out the power, buying some time for an infil. It suddenly strikes me that on this play-through of Modern Warfare, I completed the game (including all deaths) in around six hours. I can see why the campaign of Modern Warfare and other modern military shooters are considered short, especially considering how Alien: Isolation has occupied around 14 hours of my time, and how DOOM can reasonably be expected to yield a 12-13 hour campaign.

  • However, for the price of admissions, I gauge the value of a game compared against the value of a movie. Since the average movie costs 13-20 dollars to watch (for anywhere from 1.5-3 hours of content), I believe that a game that can deliver six hours of content for eleven dollars is not doing too bad. I remark that while the graphics throughout most of Call of Duty 4 have aged somewhat gracefully, the last two missions, set inside the bunker and on a frenzied pursuit, have not: it was quite tricky for me to get good screenshots for those moments, so I’ve ended the review here on the “All In” mission.

  • The penultimate mission, “No Fighting In The War Room”, feels distinctly like a James Bond shooter — the tight corridors of the facility makes shotguns and PDWs viable here. With Call of Duty beaten a second time and discussed, this post comes to an end. Coming up next will be a talk on New Game after three episodes: having seen enough episodes of New Game, I conclude that it is an anime I will be following this season. However, there’s no trace of the anime glorifying overwork, and some details folks at Tango-Victor-Tango claim are significant are in fact, quite minor. Beyond New Game, I’m actually not too sure what I’ll be writing about this month, but I’ll write about things as they happen.

I wrote the MCAT exam four years ago, and since then, I’ve had the opportunity to go through numerous other shooters, each offering something different and unique with respect to narrative and mechanics. However, despite the time that has passed and experiences that the passage of time confers, Call of Duty 4 remains an intriguing game. Thus, during this year’s Steam Summer Sale, I jumped on the chance to pick up the game on discount and experience it once more. For me, the most enjoyable aspect of Call of Duty 4 remains the fact that half of the game is set in the Caucasus Mountains and the more remote regions of Russia, which have always exerted a strong pull over my curiosity. From the news that’s been present, it appears that Call of Duty 4 will be getting a remastered version, and although I am interested to see how the remastered edition will bring new life to a classic, it appears that it will be only bundled with Call of Duty‘s latest incarnation, Infinite Warfare. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare itself actually looks quite interesting, but I’ll probably wait around and see how the campaign itself is before I decide on sinking any coin into picking the game up: I’ve got two eyes on Battlefield 1 right now, which feels like Strike Witches in the Frostbite Engine and could very well have an interesting campaign to go with the WWI multiplayer.

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