Also available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Nintendo DS, OSX, and Windows
Call of Duty 4 was the first game in the series that feels truly modern not just in setting but in overall design. Being one of the most popular games in the series, it’s since been remastered for the current generation of consoles which is the version that I played most recently. Before I get into the actual review, since it has nothing to do with the game itself but rather the idiots who name these games and the dudebro fuckboys playing them, let me just vent for a moment. Everyone these days seems to assume that when I say “Modern Warfare,” I mean Black Ops IIII. Like, bitch, no. If I meant Black Ops 4, I’d have said Black Ops 4. There’s only game that was titled “Call of Duty 4.” Don’t blame me for the fact that you’re too stupid to tell the difference between a title and a subtitle. Furthermore, does no one at Activision have any understanding of the most basic Roman numerals? “IIII” isn’t a thing. Yes, symmetry for cover art, I get it. That doesn’t make it any less stupid than saying that the number after ten is “zeroteen.” The Roman numeral for “4” is “IV,” not friggin’ “IIII.” Seriously guys, it’s not that hard. It’s one thing if you don’t know Roman numerals for some number like 5372, but 4? Seriously? You can’t even figure that one out? Sorry – actually, nevermind, I’m not sorry – but shit like that pisses me off.
Okay, so here’s where the unpopular opinions come into play. I don’t think Modern Warfare is the best campaign in the series, and I don’t think it’s even close to the best multiplayer in the series. It’s a good campaign, but it falls way short of all three Black Ops games (since the Black Ops 4, in addition to screwing up basic Roman numerals, went the way of the fuckboi and omitted the campaign entirely in favor of just-another-Fortnite-slash-PUBG-rip-off battle royale), Advanced Warfare, Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty, and Call of Duty 2. As for the multiplayer, again, it’s good, but doesn’t come close to Black Ops III, Ghosts (oof, there’s a really unpopular thing – saying literally anything positive about Ghosts), or WWII even with the modern remaster. The campaign, however, is definitely the part of the game with which I have the biggest issues since most of my issues with the multiplayer are super subjective and rather vague since I don’t usually waste my time on FPS multiplayer.
Okay, let’s dig into my plethora of problems with the campaign. First off, everyone knows (or should know) that the golden rule of writing is “Show, don’t tell.” That’s not quite applicable to writing a script for a video game, at least not in the same way. When you’re doing something as basic as establishing the setting for your game, yes, you need to show, but you also need to tell. Don’t just have a map quickly zoom in on what geographically-savvy people know is Oaxaca, Mexico and then proceed to spend the entire game just calling it “Central America” and having every character be short, overweight, wear a massive sombrero, and eat tacos throughout every mission. That’s basically what Modern Warfare does. They may zoom in on what some folks know is Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Iran in the second or two of world-map visible in the loading screens, but they never call the setting anything other than “Middle East,” and every single enemy is a walking caricature of stereotypes that Americans hold about Arabs. And it’s not like this was a stylistic choice – in the other part of the game, they not only say “Hey guys, the country you’re fighting in is Russia,” but they sometimes specify regions of Russia. Like, whose sales are you afraid of losing? Do you really have that many customers in Yemen, Iran, and Oman? I get it, we’re all terrified of anger the desert boogymen (/s), but seriously, this is not acceptable when it’s something as fundamental as your story’s setting. And maybe I just missed something – I was drunk through a chunk of my playthrough – but I’m still not 100% sure why the Russian ultranationalists and the people from Nonamestan were allies. Did they just want to make the Russians and the Muslims work together for the sake of putting the two groups Americans are the most irrationally terrified of in the same game? Regardless of the “why,” Modern Warfare is a prime example of bad narrative set-up.
So now that we’ve established I have absolutely zero respect for the writing here, I guess I can address the actual gameplay in the campaign. It’s good. Honestly, the gameplay in the campaign mode is more than half the reason I’m giving this game a good score at all. For as suck as the writing was, the gameplay direction was spot on. Most of the game is your standard FPS affair, but there’s enough variety to keep anything from getting stale. Sometimes you’ve got a whole squad to back you up, and you’re gunning your way through a town. Sometimes it’s just you and your homie on a stealth missions DEEP behind enemy lines. Sometimes you’re trying to get to a specific point as quickly as possible. One mission has you control the guns on an AC-130 and turn enemies on the ground into meat paste from long range. Some missions are long whereas some are super short and serve only to show story progression. Honestly, I have complaints with almost every aspect of the campaign, but the one aspect for which I have nothing but praise is the mission design and variety. It’s an exemplar of what a modern military shooter’s design should be.
I don’t know how much of an improvement the game’s visuals will be for most folks, but consider that my first playthrough was on Wii at 480i over composite, and this second playthrough was at 2160p over HDMI, it scarcely even looked like the same game to me. I never played COD4 in HD, so going from SD straight UHD was like putting on glasses for the first time. Everything looked so crisp, clear, and photorealistic. I’m not an audiophile, so didn’t really notice a big improvement in sound, but that’s just not the type of thing I’d typically notice. Regardless, though, Modern Warfare Remastered holds up as a model template of what a remaster should be – keep the game itself as unchanged as possible while polishing every aspect of it that you can.
Call of Duty 4 – be it the original release or the remaster – is definitely not even close to the best game in the series, but it is an excellent FPS title nonetheless. If you’re not a fan of the genre, there’s not a whole lot here – the writing is questionable, the multiplayer gets really stale really fast due to the repetitive nature of the genre – but the level design and mechanics of the game are really polished and well designed. I’m on the edge here with the score I’m giving it, but I’m going to err on the side of a higher score because of how truly well designed the single player missions are. If you’re into shooters, I definitely recommend checking this one out.