As with other Call of Duty games, the first level begins with training - this time in an SAS warehouse filled with a plywood ship, as Price (yes, he’s back) yells instructions, teaching you how to aim down the sights and so on. However, Grant Collier starts the action with the first proper mission, as you and your three-man SAS team rappel from a helicopter onto a ship at night, in rough seas, with a horde of angry ultra-nationalist Russians looking for a fight.
The scene is one of a constantly swaying ship in a storm, with rain and sea spray lashing the deck, as you machine-gun your way past enemies and through some containers to gain access inside. Lightning flashes and briefly lights up the action, as you witness your support helicopter hover down and send a volley of mini-gun fire through the windows of the bridge above, killing everyone inside in a shower of bullets and glass.
You’re kept constantly updated over voice-coms, and make your way to a ship door as your AI teammates kick it in and storm inside, allowing you to systematically take enemies down - including those asleep in their bunks. Shoot a pipe and gas leaks from the bullet holes, while enemies recoil and fall realistically down stairs or slump against other moving objects - Call of Duty 4 has a fully-realized proprietary physics system. If you’re shot, the screen begins to turn red and if it’s bad, you hear your heart beating, which as in CoD2, signals that it’s time to find cover and drop back from the action until your health returns to normal. Yes, this is the Call of Duty we know and love, but it’s much faster, with more realistic animation and liquid-smooth visuals whizzing past at a solid 60-frames-per-second.
There’s a brief lull in the chaotic action, and we ask Collier if this new Call of Duty is a bona fide PC shooter despite the multi-format release? “Yes - there are things you have to do across all platforms, but we want to be the best shooter on PC and all formats. There are a number of advantages on the PC side - you’re going to have mouse/keyboard, dedicated servers, higher player count and the visual quality is much better on high-end systems.” Was Infinity Ward aware that PC gamers were annoyed when Call of Duty 3 didn’t make it to PC?