So I think I ended up playing about 40%-50% of this game tonight. I just got past the mission where you’re in the plane protecting Price and the SAS dudes.
I don’t mean to shock anyone or anything but man this is fucking awesome. It’s one of those things where I really loved it at the time, and overtime had forgotten why but just knew I really liked it, and getting back in to it today. Not 100%, but I don’t just think it has survived the test of time, I think it’s actually got better with age.
There are are a couple of really annoying things that are real dumb and that is the AI companions. They’re very awkward. Firstly in cutscenes where they just warp from one place to another when it switches from gameplay to cutscene, it just doesn’t have the finely tuned choreography you would see in games like Uncharted 2 or after, and even in gameplay the AI takes up physical space and are kind of everywhere so often they block door ways, or bump me out of cover or something. Not game breaking by any means but just awkwardly annoying.
The thing no one talks about with CoD is the story telling techniques. It is excellent. Not the actual story itself, but the way they set up scenes and subtly build characters is awesome, specifically the SAS. And sometimes even weave it in the gameplay. There was one part that was great where you have to run around this village sniping guys, and you get to the 3rd point and this guy is like “Okay, if we snipe from here we can help out my troops and—“ Gaz just grabs him by the collar, holds him over this high wall and shouts “Enough fucking sniping, where is our informant?!” and it’s surprising and clever. One because games work in 3’s and two because just as you’ve had enough sniping the game knows.
The game is also surprisingly quotable. Everything from “WE. ARE. LEAVING.” to “Are the loyalists the good Russians or the bad Russians?”
It’s weird that for an American game it would make fun of the American military but it really does so all of those characters don’t really mean anything. Not only are they not memorable, notable or quoteable at all but they are made to look like dickheads at every point. Whether that is IW being satirical coming out of Bush-era WMD invasion politics or it’s entirely unintentional and they think it’s cool it’s hard to tell, but I don’t believe they can make one set of characters totally bad ass and another set total fucking dopes by accident (But then the bad guys do actually end up with a nuke so who the fuck knows).
The game completely goes against the stereotype that a CoD is today as well. It actually has a nice flow of quiet in to loud moments instead of just being bang, bang all the time and the levels are surprisingly filled with choice. The level I’ve just done is essentially you just have to get down a street, but there is buildings and cover on either side and around the corner, enemies are everywhere and all of it is optional. It is by no means an open world game but the idea of “These games are a straight line and they just funnel you through” is just not true in this game.
It’s also brilliantly chaotic. I don’t know if it’s the absence of modern military shooters makes this feel refreshing or the newer, more unrealistic ones just don’t hit as hard but the constant flashing lights, people non stop shouting, gunfire everywhere, and just the effects from all the destruction is kind of captivating and actually does a fantastic job of portraying but not over glorifying the action. When you are in the Middle East missions it feels almost troubling. I think they actually do a good job of undermining any kind of heroism you might have taken from these scenes and even though it isn’t asking questions like “Are the US the bad guys?” It also definitely doesn’t feel like any kind of superhero solder interpretations. It just feels like men shooting at each other with very little reasoning or direction. The US levels feel very barbaric in that regard and again is captivating in its own way.
Weirdly enough, I don’t know if the game is racist or I am racist but one of the troubles I have with the gameplay is telling who is a good guy and who is a bad guy. And the only people on the field who are immediately obvious need shooting are the guys who are either wearing red hats or those turban towel type things. Like is the game drumming in a hyper negative message or using an existing hyper negative message as a literal target for me. I don’t know.
The SAS missions on the other hand is marinating in bad ass soldier bullshit. But either they are intentionally just more filmic and unrealistic, or they are not as recognisable battle zones from what was in the papers and news around that time so it feels more Ok to do that. Plus just the execution on the set pieces and cutscenes are so fucking high it’s hard not to love this little team and get wrapped up in their insanity.
Lastly, I don’t think this is the best remaster by any means but once again HDR does so much heavy lifting. I’m sure they added all kinds of stuff to it but back in the day when you flip in and out of night vision it was always really striking. Now with this resolution and colour it’s just even more absorbing. It doesn’t look like a new game, but it still looks very fucking cool.
Over tired, decade to late, redundant rant over. Short version is CoD4 is really fucking good, you guys