Call of Duty 4 - single-player hands-on

The atmosphere is tense, hurried, and palpable. We continue through the hallways, to the sounds of the commanding officer reminding everyone to "Check those corners!" to be sure nobody escapes alive to warn the rest of the boat we're here.

With the ship still pitching from one side to the other from the waves, we exit onto the main deck, where the squad fans out to sweep through a maze of cargo containers, then calls in the power of the transport helicopter's machine gun to handle a group of enemy gunners firing from a windowed upper deck. Several rounds and a ton of shattered glass later, we reach the door we were aiming for.

A fellow soldier pauses to swap his MP5SD for a shotgun, explaining, "I like to keep this handy for close encounters," and the door is kicked in. We make our way to the main cargo hold, a cavernous room filled with containers of various sizes and flanked by a long, raised catwalk on either side. We're ambushed almost immediately, but we actually take this chance to climb the catwalk and just watch our allies work. They won't quite beat the level themselves, but these are very capable wingmen. They eliminate all the nearby threats and we rejoin the group, pausing to eliminate a few enemies who had keyed on our position and followed us up.

That's when one of our soldiers finds "the package" - a large, radioactive crate that must contain plutonium or missiles or some other killing machine that we certainly don't want the bad guys having. However, when we radio to tell the home base we've found it, they tell us that the enemy has sent choppers to sink the ship.

Right about then is when the ship is hammered by a massive explosion that literally throws us to the ground. Fires break out, normally ice-cool soldiers start shouting, "What the hell happened?" and control tells you to get out as fast as you can. The enemy choppers arrived, the ship is sinking. It's time to go.

What follows is a mad dash for survival, with our team sprinting through the level, desperate to get to the deck as the ship, now listing badly, begins to literally fall apart all around us. Fires break out, pipes burst from the wall, metal ceiling tiles two feet across fall like leaves in autumn, and the ship just keeps tilting more and more sideways. Finally, we reach the main deck, where our transport copter is already airborne - and pulling away. We leap to the boarding ramp as the copter is already moving, landing on our stomach, where our commanding officer grabs our hands and hauls us in. Mission accomplished. And finally, we exhale.