Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision for Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, Windows, and Xbox 360. The game was released in North America, Australia, and Europe in November 2007 for video game consoles and Windows, and it was released for the Mac in September 2008. It is the fourth installment in the Call of Duty video game series, excluding expansion packs. The game breaks away from the World War II setting of previous games in the series and is instead set in modern times. Call of Duty 4 was in development for two years, and it uses a proprietary game engine. A sequel to Call of Duty 4 titled Modern Warfare 2 is due for release on November 10, 2009.
The story takes place in a fictional near-future, where a radical leader has staged a coup d'état in the Middle East, and an "Ultranationalist" movement has instigated a civil war in Russia. The events of the conflicts are seen from the perspectives of an American Marine and a British SAS commando, and are set in multiple locations, including the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Prypiat, Ukraine. The multiplayer portion of the game features various game modes, and contains a leveling system that allows the player to unlock additional weapons, weapon attachments, and camouflage schemes as they advance.
The game was given considerable praise, receiving an aggregated score of 94% from Game Rankings and 94% from Metacritic. The gameplay, multiplayer, and story received particular praise, while criticism targeted what was perceived as an inability to revolutionize the first-person shooter genre. The game won numerous awards from gaming websites, including IGN's Best Xbox 360 Game. It was the top-selling game worldwide for 2007, reaching over seven million copies by January 2008, and over ten million by June 2008.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a first-person shooter similar to previous games in the Call of Duty series but set in the present-day instead of World War II.
The game's move to modern warfare introduces new weapons and technology to the Call of Duty franchise, including the M4A1 carbine, the M203 grenade launcher, the AN/PEQ-2 Target Pointer for use in conjunction with night vision goggles, the MP5SD submachine gun, and the FGM-148 Javelin portable anti-tank guided missile. The player gains access to these over the course of the game, but may only carry up to two weapons in addition to grenades. Weapons from fallen foes can be picked up to replace weapons in a player's arsenal. Players also have additional abilities, including a grenade launcher attachment, claymores with tripwire-like detonation (appears as a V-shaped motion sensor laser in-game), C-4, night-vision goggles, and the ability to call in airstrikes.
The gameplay of Call of Duty 4 shares several features with previous iterations of the franchise. Once again, players fight alongside AI-controlled teammates. They help during the game's missions by providing cover fire, shooting down enemies, and clearing rooms for entry.
A character can be positioned in one of three stances: standing, kneeling, or prone; each affecting the character's rate of movement, accuracy, and stealth. Using cover helps the player avoid enemy fire or recover health after taking significant damage, as there are no armor or health powerups. When the character has taken damage, the edges of the screen glow red and the character's heartbeat increases. If the character stays out of fire, the character can recover. When the character is within the blast radius of a live grenade, a marker indicates the direction of the grenade, helping the player to either flee or toss it back to the enemy.
Similar to previous games in the series, the player takes on the role of various characters during a single-player campaign. The characters' involvement in the plot occurs simultaneously and overlaps the events in the game. As such, the player's perspective can change from one character to another between missions.
Each mission features a series of objectives; the player is led to each objective with the HUD, which marks its direction and distance. Some objectives require that the player arrives at a checkpoint, while other objectives require the player to eliminate enemies in a specified location, stand their ground to defend an objective, or plant explosive charges on an enemy installation. The player is often accompanied by friendly troops, who cannot be issued orders. Laptop computers containing enemy intelligence appear throughout the campaign, and can be collected to unlock game bonuses.
After the credits roll, a special epilogue mission is unlocked for play, featuring an anonymous four-man squad of SAS troops retrieving a VIP from terrorists who have hijacked an airliner. The SAS rescue the VIP and escape before the plane is destroyed.
Call of Duty 4 features team-based and deathmatch-based multiplayer modes on various maps. Each mode has an objective that requires unique strategies to complete. Players can call in UAV reconnaissance scans, air strikes, and attack helicopters, either an AH-1 Cobra for S.A.S. or USMC or an Mil Mi-24 for OpFor or Spetsnaz, when they achieve three-, five-, and seven-enemy kill streaks respectively. A game ends when either a team has reached a predefined number of points, or the allotted time expires in which case the team with the most points wins. However in the rare case the points are even when the time expires, Sudden Death mode is activated in which there is no re-spawning and the team who either has the last man standing, or achieves the objective first are the winners.
The player's performance in the multiplayer mode is tracked with experience points, earned by taking down other players, completing objectives, or by being a member of a winning team. As the player gains experience, they advance in level, unlocking new weapons, perks, challenges, and gameplay modes. The highest obtainable level is 55, but on the console versions of the game, the player has the option to play "Prestige" mode; this resets their level back to 1 and all earned bonuses are lost in exchange for a special in-game insignia. This process can be repeated up to 10 times with a different insignia being given each time, giving the player a total of 605 levels to achieve.
Completing a challenge grants experience points and may unlock weapon attachments. When a player's level increases, it may unlock new weapons, perks, or challenges. At lower experience levels, the player only has access to five pre-determined classes, and cannot create a custom class with the weapon of their choosing. However, as the player advances in levels, they earn the ability to customize their classes. This includes selecting their main weapon, side arm, and special grenade type. Additionally, the player can select a limited number of "perks" that can customize their character further. Perk effects include increasing damage by the player, being able to take more damage, or dropping a live grenade after being killed in an act of martyrdom. The player is also given challenges to attempt, including achieving a certain number of kills with a specific weapon or shooting down a helicopter or performing a number of head shots.
During the single-player campaign, the player controls six different characters from a first-person perspective. The player assumes the role of "Soap" MacTavish for most of the game, starting with his enrollment in 22nd SAS. Sergeant Paul Jackson is part of USMC 1st Force Recon deployed to the Middle East, and the player controls Jackson's character during five levels of Act 1. Captain/Lieutenant Price is an officer of 22 SAS who is playable in a flashback. Price is voiced by actor Billy Murray, most famous for playing Don Beech on the television series The Bill. Yasir Al-Fulani is the president of the unnamed Middle Eastern country mentioned in the game, and is playable only in the game's opening credit sequence before he is executed. The player assumes the role of an American thermal-imaging TV operator aboard an AC-130 gunship during one level, and a British SAS counter-terrorist operative infiltrating a hijacked airliner to save a VIP in the epilogue level.
The game's non-playable characters (NPC) feature prominently in the story. Captain Price (in his NPC capacity) and his right-hand man, Gaz (voiced by Craig Fairbrass), serve as mentors to MacTavish. Jackson's USMC platoon is led by Lieutenant Vasquez (voiced by David Sobolov) and Staff Sergeant Griggs (voiced by and modeled after Infinity Ward lead animator Mark Grigsby); Griggs later accompanies MacTavish in Russia. Sergeant Kamarov leads the Russian Loyalists that ally with the SAS and USMC forces. Captain Macmillan is Price's (then a lieutenant) mentor and commanding officer during the flashback to the assassination attempt on Zakhaev. The villains in the story are Imran Zakhaev, the leader of the Russian Ultranationalist party and the main antagonist of the game; Khaled Al-Asad, the commander of the revolutionary forces in the Middle East and an ally of Imran Zakhaev; and Victor Zakhaev, the son of Imran Zakhaev and a priority figure in the Ultranationalist party.
On a mission in the Bering Sea, Sergeant "Soap" MacTavish, Captain Price, "Gaz", and several SAS members find a nuclear device onboard a cargo ship. Suddenly, the ship is attacked, and the team evacuate with the cargo manifest, which provides evidence of ties between the Russian Ultranationalist Party and a rebel faction in the Middle East. Russian Ultranationalist Imran Zakhaev, who plans to return his homeland to the times of the Soviet Union, draws international attention away from his plans by funding a coup d'état in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, organized by a local separatist leader named Khaled Al-Asad. The British and American governments, who discover the plot, initiate a police action to stop the uprisings in both regions. After President Al-Fulani of the Middle Eastern country is executed on live television and Al-Asad takes control, the SAS rescue their compromised informant in the Russian Ultranationalist Party, Nikolai.
In an American invasion of the Middle Eastern country, a platoon from the USMC 1st Force Recon, led by Lieutenant Vasquez and Sergeant Paul Jackson, searches for Al-Asad, but only manages to secure a television station broadcasting Al-Asad's propaganda. During the final phases of the operation, United States Central Command is notified by Seal Team Six of a Russian nuclear weapon nearby, and sends the NEST to disarm it. However, the nuclear device suddenly detonates, leveling most of the city and killing everyone in the area, including most of Vasquez's crew, whose helicopter had not left the blast radius due to the last-minute rescue of a downed helicopter pilot.
Captain Price executed a mission in Prypiat, Ukraine to eliminate Russian Ultranationalist Imran Zakhaev.The British learn that Al-Asad fled the country before the USMC's invasion. With the help of their informant Nikolai, the SAS finds and interrogates Al-Asad. After learning from him that Zakhaev supplied the nuclear bomb, Captain Price executes Al-Asad. Price then has a flashback of his mission to eliminate Zakhaev in Prypiat, Ukraine, 15 years earlier. In the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Zakhaev took advantage of the turmoil to profit from nuclear proliferation and used his new wealth to lure soldiers from the Soviet Army to form his Ultranationalist Party. Price was paired with Captain MacMillan to carry out the black op assassination on the British government's orders. MacMillan spotted Zakhaev, while Price fired with a sniper rifle, only to end up shooting off his left arm. The two commandos were then pursued, narrowly escaping.
Back in the present, a joint operation, comprised of the SAS regiment under the command of Captain Price, a USMC Force Recon unit led by Staff Sergeant Griggs, and forces from the Russian military led by Sgt. Kamarov, is undertaken to stop Zakhaev. They capture his son Victor to learn of Zakhaev's whereabouts, but before they can question him, Zakhaev's son commits suicide. Zakhaev becomes enraged, blaming Western nations for the death of his son, and plans to retaliate by launching ballistic missiles armed with warheads at the United States. When SAS/USMC operatives arrive at the facility, Zakhaev manages to launch two missiles towards the United States. However, the squad successfully deactivates the missiles and escapes the facility in a pair of jeeps, with Zakhaev and his forces in pursuit.
Before the squad can cross a nearby bridge to escape, it is destroyed by a gunship, leaving them trapped. Zakhaev's forces arrive and engage the remaining members of the strike force. Suddenly, Gaz receives a call from Sergeant Kamarov, informing him that his forces are on their way to help the American and British forces. On the bridge, a gas tanker explodes, incapacitating most soldiers nearby except Griggs, who is shot while trying to pull MacTavish to safety. Zakhaev, along with two of his soldiers, execute Gaz and other surviving members of the strike force. He then begins to walk towards Soap and Price, but is distracted by the destruction of his gunship and the arrival of a Russian military helicopter. While Zakhaev is looking away, Price slides his pistol to Soap, who shoots and kills Zakhaev and his two guards. When Kamarov and his team arrive, MacTavish is evacuated, while a Russian medic desperately attempts to resuscitate Price. The fates of Price and Soap are unknown.
Minimum Recommended Microsoft Windows Operating System Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista CPU Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, 1.8 Duo Core or higher, or AMD Athlon 64 2800+ processor 2.4 GHz dual-core Memory 512 MB (768 MB for Vista) 1024 MB RAM (2048 MB for Vista) Hard Drive Space 8 GB of free space Graphics Hardware Nvidia GeForce 6600 (128 MB) or ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (128 MB) Nvidia GeForce 7800 or ATI Radeon X1800 Sound Hardware 100% DirectX 9.0c compliant card Sound Blaster X-Fi (Optimized for EAX ADVANCED HD 4.0/5.0 compatible cards) Network Internet or LAN connection required for multiplayer Mac OS Operating System Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.4 CPU Intel Core2Duo 2.0 GHz processor 2.4 GHz Core2Duo Memory 1024 MB 2048 MB RAM Hard Drive Space 8 GB of free space + 1 GB Swap File Graphics Hardware Nvidia GeForce FX 7300 (128 MB) NVidia GeForce FX 7300 (256 MB)
Network Internet or LAN connection required for multiplayer
Call of Duty 4 was developed by a team of a hundred people, over the course of two years. After Call of Duty 2, the Infinity Ward team decided to move away from the World War II environment of previous games in the series. This resulted in two game concepts: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and an unnamed game set to be released in the future. While developing the story for Call of Duty 4, Infinity Ward chose to avoid referencing current, real-life wars, and keep the series' common theme of two opposing forces of similar strength. To enhance the realistic feel of the game, the development team attended a live-fire exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, a training facility in the California desert. This helped the developers to simulate the effects of being near an Abrams tank when it fires. The team also talked with United States Marines who were recently in combat to get a feel for the background, emotions, and attitude of Marines in combat. Veterans were also recruited to supervise motion capture sessions and the artificial intelligence design of the game.
The development team designed the online multiplayer component to be balanced and rewarding for new players while still offering something for experienced players. An early idea to implement air support (air strikes and attack helicopters) involved players fighting over special zones to access a trigger for air support against enemies. This idea was discarded because it discouraged the type of deathmatch gameplay they intended. The kill streak reward system was put in its place to encourage the improvement of player skills. Players were allowed to select weapons before matches to get accustomed to weapons more easily and minimize weapon hunting. Maps were designed primarily for deathmatch games—the developers felt such designs suited other types of gameplay as well. Map layouts were designed to minimize locations players could hide from enemy gunfire.
The music for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was mostly written by British composer Stephen Barton, who had also contributed to film scores by Harry Gregson-Williams. Gregson-Williams also composed music for the game, such as the main theme. Several music tracks from the game are available on Infinity Ward's "7 Days of Modern Warfare" website, and some are available at Barton's own web site. The rap song played during the end credits is performed by Call of Duty 4's lead animator, Mark Grigsby.
The lighting, shadow, and weather effects of the game can be seen in this screenshot.Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare runs on a proprietary engine with features that include true world-dynamic lighting, HDR lighting effects, dynamic shadows and depth of field. "Bullet Penetration" is calculated by the engine, taking into account factors such as surface type and entity thickness. The game runs in a native resolution of 600p for its console versions.
Certain objects, such as cars and some buildings, are destructible. This makes distinguishing cover from concealment important, as the protection provided by objects such as wooden fences and thin walls do not completely protect players from harm. Bullet speed and stopping power are decreased after penetrating an object, and the decrease is dependent on the thickness and surface type of the object. The game makes use of a dynamic physics engine, not implemented in previous Call of Duty titles. Death animations are a combination of pre-set animations and ragdoll physics. Console versions of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare run at a consistent 60 frames per second. Code was included to determine spawning points based on the nearby weapons, and enemy positions and line of sight. The various criteria are meant to minimize players dying immediately after rejoining a match, or being "spawn-killed" due to players simply waiting for players to "respawn".
The game engine has also been used for the development of two other Activision games. An enhanced version of the original engine was used in Call of Duty: World at War, the fifth installment in the Call of Duty series after Call of Duty 4, while a slightly altered version has been used for the James Bond video game Quantum of Solace.
Marketing and release
On April 27, 2007, the day before the release of the game's official trailer, Infinity Ward launched a website called "Charlie Oscar Delta" to provide information on the game. Charlie Oscar Delta features a ranking system that allows users to complete missions to increase their rank and compete for prizes. Charlie Oscar Delta is derived from the NATO phonetic alphabet and the initials of Call of Duty.
The first Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare trailer featuring game footage was released on April 28, 2007. An Xbox 360 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare public beta test was announced on August 30, 2007. The beta test was designed to test the servers, find glitches, and help balance out the weapons. It was originally only for residents of the US, but was later available to other countries. The beta concluded on September 30, 2007. The maximum rank for the beta was initially level 16, but was increased to level 25 towards the end of the beta. Three multiplayer maps were available for play: Crash, Vacant, and Overgrown.
A single-player demo for the PC was released on October 11, 2007 as a Yahoo! exclusive download, and is now available for free download. The demo includes one level, "The Bog," which showcases the advanced night vision and associated graphics capabilities.
The game was released as a Standard Version and a Collector's Edition. The Collector's Edition contains the standard retail game and a DVD containing a documentary film (168 minutes) entitled "Great SAS Missions," which consists of archive footage of the SAS in action and accounts from former SAS members. The DVD contains a "making of" featurette and a level walkthrough by the developers. Also included is a limited edition poster and an exclusive hardcover art-book featuring never-before-seen concept, development, and final in-game artwork. These elements were packaged in a larger cardboard version of the standard retail box. The Collector's Edition was originally only available in the US, but was later released in other countries.
Call of Duty 4 was released for several consoles and Windows in North America on November 6, 2007, in Australia on November 7, 2007, and in Europe on November 9, 2007. The Mac OS X version of the game was developed by Aspyr and released on September 26, 2008. It was rated 15 by the BBFC, M for Mature by the ESRB, MA 15+ by the OFLC, 16+ by the PEGI, and 18 by the USK.
Infinity Ward released the Variety Map Pack for the Xbox 360 on April, 4 2008. It includes the multiplayer stages "Killhouse", "Creek", "Chinatown", and "Broadcast". The same map pack was released for the PlayStation 3 on April, 24 2008, as the PlayStation Store was undergoing an update the previous two weeks. The Variety Map Pack was downloaded by over one million people in its first nine days of release, a record for paid Xbox Live downloadable content, valued at US$10 million. It was released as a free download for Windows on June 5, 2008, sponsored by NVIDIA, along with patch 1.6.
Aggregate scores Aggregator Score GameRankings 94.1% Xbox 360 93.2% PC Metacritic 94% Xbox 360, PS3 92% PC
Review scores Publication Score Game Informer 10 of 10 GamePro GameSpot 9 of 10 GameTrailers 9.4 of 10 IGN 9.4 of 10 Official Xbox Magazine 10 of 10 X-Play
GameCritics: Best Action Game GameSpot: Best Graphics, Best Shooter, Best Xbox 360 Game, Best PlayStation 3 Game GameTrailers: Best Graphics, Best PS3 Game GamePro: Best Overall Game of the Year IGN: Best Xbox 360 Game, Best Shooter of 2007 GameSpy: Best PS3 Game, Best Xbox 360 Game, Best PC Game, Game of the Year X-Play: Best Shooter, Best Sound Design Spike Video Game Awards: Best Shooter, Best Military Game Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences: Action Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, Overall Game of the Year
All three versions of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare have received critical acclaim from video game publications. The Xbox 360 version received an average score of 94% based on 72 reviews on the review aggregator Game Rankings, and an average score of 94 out of 100 based on 69 reviews on Metacritic. The PS3 version received an average score of 94% based on 43 reviews on Game Rankings, and an average score of 94 out of 100 based on 43 reviews on Metacritic. The Windows version was also received favorably, achieving an average score of 93% based on 39 reviews on Game Rankings, and an average score of 92 out of 100 based on 37 reviews on Metacritic.
The gameplay has been cited by reviewers to bring the genre to "a new level of immersion and intensity that we had never seen before." Official Xbox Magazine said about the multiplayer, "it’s the multiplayer mode that solidifies the game’s instant-classic status" and that "the campaign never lets up." GameSpot gave a favorable review for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, saying that the "high quality of that campaign and its terrific multiplayer options make Call of Duty 4 a fantastic package." X-Play commented that "while it may not have revolutionized the genre, it comes damn close to perfecting it." GamePro claims that "the amazingly deep multiplayer rivals Halo 3's in terms of reach and scope."
The game's story has received a considerable amount of acclaim from reviewers. GamePro notes that "the intense single-player campaign offers up an action packed experience that features a tremendously compelling narrative; there are moments in the game that will send chills down your spine." GameSpot mentioned that the "single-player campaign is over in a flash" as the only major flaw. While IGN described the campaign as "still very linear" like that of its predecessors, "eschewing the concept of sandbox gameplay," it noted that this resulted in "a much richer, more focused experience" with "beautifully scripted set pieces."
Call of Duty 4 has also received criticism. Xbox World 360 disliked the game, stating, "It's smoke and mirrors and a host of cheap tricks," commenting on the fact that the game did not revolutionize the genre. Pelit also remarked that "the structure of the single player game should ... have been updated" and that "barging from one invincible checkpoint to the next throughout the whole campaign just isn't good enough anymore."
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare received awards from various game sites and gaming authorities. Both GameSpot and GameTrailers gave it the Best Graphics of E3 2007 award, and the Best PlayStation 3 Game of 2007 award. It gained high praise from both video game magazine GamePro and GameSpy, having been named the Best Overall Game of 2007 by the former, and Game of the Year by the latter. Game Critics also named the game "Best Action Game." From other authorities such as IGN and X-play, and the Spike Video Game Awards, the game won awards for areas such as Best Sound Design, Best Shooter of 2007, and Best Military Game. From the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, Call of Duty 4 won Console Game of the Year, Action game of the Year, and Overall Game of the Year. From the British Academy Video Games Awards, Call of Duty 4 also won Best Gameplay of the Year, Best Story and Character of the Year, and People's Choice Game of the Year.
Before Call of Duty 4 was released, it was predicted to sell even more copies than the highly successful Halo 3; it had received as high reviews as Halo 3, it was launching on three systems as opposed to one for Halo 3, and demand for the game led to a wide-range of retailers only having enough available to satisfy pre-orders. It fulfilled the prediction and the Xbox 360 version became the best-selling video game in the United States from November 2007 to January 2008 according to the NPD Group. In the US, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions sold 1.57 million and 444,000 units, respectively, in November 2007; 1.47 million units of the Xbox 360 version were sold in December 2007; the game sold 331,000 copies for the Xbox 360 and 140,000 copies for the PlayStation 3 in January 2008. The Xbox 360 version was the third best-selling video game of 2007 in the U.S. with 3.04 million units sold, behind Halo 3, which sold 4.82 million units, according to the NPD Group. By January 2008, Call of Duty 4 had sold more than seven million copies worldwide, and was the best-selling game of 2007. On June 3, 2008, Infinity Ward reported that Call of Duty 4 had sold over 10 million units.
Call of Duty 4 is a target of piracy, which has resulted in multiple copies of the game being illegally distributed online. Robert Bowling, one of the game's developers stated, "We pulled some disturbing numbers this past week about the amount of PC players currently playing Multiplayer.... What wasn't fantastic was the percentage of those numbers who were playing on stolen copies of the game on stolen/cracked CD keys of pirated copies."