War Worth Fighting?
Do you ever get tired of saving the world? At least in the minds of developers we don’t. Thankfully, this time around it is not the tiresome retread of storming the beaches of Normandy, launching that one last final assault against the Nazis.
It is Call of Duty 4’s greatest strength, an original story set in the modern world. It offers players a fresh experience and some serious firepower, but despite all it does right, the DS version falls short of greatness. It is not a bad game, but it is not a great game either. To put it simply, it is an ambitious effort that with a few tweaks here and there could have been a truly memorable experience.
Following the execution of Dictator Al-Fulani, the region is in unrest and another ruthless dictator is set to take the reigns. Khaled Al-Asad uses the death of Al-Fulani as the go ahead to begin seizing control of the area through what the insiders like to call armed aggression. It is up to you to put the nix to his plans by being, as they say, all that you can be. After a quick tutorial, the action swoops in and never lets up. Taking you to a number of different locales ranging from dingy streets to cargo ships, COD 4 is a relentless shooter that offers plenty of variety to keep players interested.
From a gameplay standpoint, COD 4 is a lot of fun. The action flows from checkpoint to checkpoint with appropriate pacing. In addition to the mass amounts of shells you are going to expel throughout the game, COD 4 also makes the most of the DS functionality. Whether you are tracing wires to disarm C4, solving small puzzles to arm explosives or feverishly rubbing your thumb across the touch screen to fight off aggressive terrorists, there is a nice variety to what you are able to do. In addition to the core gameplay elements, there are levels where you control the Gatling guns on helicopters or jeeps.
As far as the A.I. goes, for a shooter it is a surprise that your teammates are not complete boneheads; they have your back, and they can actually kill people. On the not so bright side, the enemies range from being super soldiers to your average Joe. My best advice is just aim for the head because more often than not these guys can take a whole clip of ammo to the chest. Instances such as that can be quite annoying when you find yourself knee deep in terrorist muck. The level and gameplay variation can only take this title so far, as the main hindrance to winning this war lies in the controls.
The Nintendo DS does not strike me as a console built for first person shooters, so when I popped this bad boy in I had no clue what to expect. How would I shoot and aim; at least walking around was obvious. The good news is the controls are not bad enough to make this game unplayable; they are just awkward, like the kids standing around the punch table at all the school dances. You aim with the stylus, which works well enough, but your hand can get in the way of your precise shooting.
With that out of the way, it all falls on the how you pull the trigger; you can use either shoulder button, but the way you have to position your hand to fire feels uncomfortable. I had to take breaks every half hour or so because I got cramps dealing with it. Another poor feature is you zoom by double tapping the touch screen; there were too many times I would lift the pen and put it back down to get ready, only to find my soldier zoomed in. As you can believe, this did not serve me well in close quarter combat. Verdict: bad, but not bad enough to distract the player from the rest of the package.
In the graphics department, this little guy packs quite the punch. The levels are sprawling and expansive. Most areas will provide a fresh look and experience for the player. There is a lack of variety in the ways the enemies look, but that is a problem in most shooters no matter what platform they are on. The graphics really impress with the flying and driving stages where you zoom across the landscape. Terrorist jeeps will chase after you, and rockets will stream towards you; a ton goes on during these sequences. One minor flaw is on certain levels it can be hard to see in dark areas.
The sound, to its credit, is the best part of the game. A game can be as intense as it wants, but if it does not sound real then it will all be quite anti climactic. Lucky for us the guns are dead on, and the background noise in the stages helps seal the deal. Teammates chatter, terrorist yell, and bombs are dropped overhead. It does the little as well as the big things right. Cutscenes are all narrated, and help set up the slim story more effectively.
Is COD 4 for the DS worth the time? Yes. Will it be the greatest FPS you will ever play? Probably not, but then again this is a DS title. What it will deliver is a campaign long enough to keep players busy, and more importantly, interested throughout. Plus if you like the controls, there is a multiplayer mode for up to four players with games like free for all and capture the flag, and enough map options to not feel too stale too fast. Sure the controls were clunky, but to heck with it, get out there and kick some terrorist butt.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.1 Graphics
Impressive, especially with the amount of action taking place. 2.5 Control
A little uncomfortable, which is not the best thing for an intense shooter. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Exactly what you expect at of a war themed shooter. 4.0
Decently long single player campaign, and anchored by a small assortment of multiplayer options
3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.