Within the first 10 minutes of playing the Call of Duty 4 multiplayer beta, I was shot, sliced, blown up while trying to toss back a live grenade, and then shot some more through the wall.
And I enjoyed every minute of it.
If the beta is any true indication of the final product, then Call of Duty 4 is shaping up to be a premier title in one of the more loaded holiday seasons of gaming. How fun is the beta? It made me temporarily forget about BioShock. And I really like BioShock.
Im not going to wax poetic too much on CODs visuals. By now, youre heard every possible way in every language saying how great the game looks. I was, however, a little surprised at the level of detail in the beta. Everything from the shine of the weapons to the dilapidated wreckage of a downed helicopter not only added graphical splendor, but also a tangible sense of tension during battle. As one of the people I played with said, The first thing I thought of was Black Hawk Down.
What really stood out to me was the gameplay. Gameplay is the glue that holds an FPS together, perhaps more than any other genre (except maybe sports). Im far from an FPS savant, but playing the COD 4 beta seemed to combine everything I liked about other shooters. Its got the kinetic chaos of Halo, the need for ears-open-eyeballs-click senses like R6, as well as the wealth of on-field options, like GRAW.
The controls, for the most part, are standard FPS fare. One of the notable exceptions is the ability to sprint for a limited amount of time by clicking down on the left stick. Its a handy tool for navigating across open streets, fields, or any other place that could be clouded by gunfire.
Perhaps the most welcome feature for me was the combat knife, which flashes out when you click down on the right stick. It took at little getting used to, but after a few matches, it started to feel very natural. Its a one-hit kill maneuver, so I can sense this is going to tempt a lot of players to get their ninja on any chance they get.
From a design standpoint, I was intrigued by the perks you get with each class of soldier. It reminded me a little of the weapon system in Madden. Youve got stuff like stopping power (more bullet damage) or steady aim, (more accuracy without having to zoom with the left trigger). As with the weapons and other accessories, more perks are unlocked with a higher rank.
The most fun perk is the last stand, where you heroically pull out your pistol after getting gunned down and try to take someone out before you expire. I just got this perk, and I almost cant wait to get shot to take it for a spin.
I did run into a few issues during my play time, but I wont judge because well, its a beta.
I mentioned earlier that I was shot through the wall. Im not talking about hiding behind a wooden fence bullets were tearing through concrete at an alarming level, as if everyone had armor-piercing bullets. It added a weird dimension to gunfighting thats enjoyably hectic at first, but then gets a little annoying. I was also a little irritated at the lack of invincible time right after you respawn, so there were time Id spring up and immediately get caught by some stray bullets and just die again. (However, I do like the killcam, which replays your death from the eyes of the bastard that shot you.)
So far, those are the only minor negatives Ive had aside from being reminded of my rather poor eyesight and rusty reflexes. Im sure Ill find more, just as Im positive Ill discover more stuff to like here until the game comes out in November.
Until then, Im done. Time to get shot up and shanked some more. Enjoy the video from GameTrailers.