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Why Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the greatest games ever made

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Say what you want about the Call of Duty series, but the first Modern Warfare deserves to be listed as one of the greatest games ever made. Annual releases and franchise fatigue have turned many former fans away, and the series' popularity has made it so big with the supposed "dude-bro" crowds that more “sophisticated” gamers act as if they need to shy away from the multiplayer powerhouse. But before all of the sequels and popularity backlash came about, Modern Warfare was blowing us away with cinematic, interactive gameplay, highly polished mechanics, and some of the best competitive multiplayer available on consoles. Even today, the original Modern Warfare holds up as one of the best shooters of this generation. 

But what makes Modern Warfare so great? Well, each of its parts can stand alone on their individual greatness. It had an engaging, cinematic single-player campaign, that delivered an emotional (not to mention thrilling) experience as you played out the dramatic events of the story from the characters’ perspective. But the campaign was small potatoes compared to the series’ premier multiplayer mode. The addictive online action couldn’t be beat, even standing up to the shooting genre juggernaut, Halo 3, and beating Bungie’s beloved series at its own game. Modern Warfare’s multiplayer revolutionized the way modern shooters would be played, with the introduction of new genre standards like perk bonuses and a progression system, and combined its innovations with peerless controls and polish. Modern Warfare was, and still is, the complete package.

The action in the campaign pushed beyond the normal shooter conventions of the time, and made a first-person cinematic experience that put players in the boots of a blockbuster-caliber action hero. Within the first level, you’re running through a flooding cargo ship as SAS operative Soap McTavish, with water splashing on your face, alarm lights flashing, and explosions shaking the ground out from under your feet. Later, you snap attack dogs’ necks with your bare hands. Things get even more intense when you’re chased by a helicopter as you fire rockets at your pursuers from a moving truck.  

However, the action isn’t always so fast paced. The riveting shootouts were expertly balanced by dramatic sequences that let you enjoy the scenery. One of the most chilling moments is when you drag your body out of a helicopter crash after being enveloped by a nuclear explosion, and then you gaze wondrously at the nuclear fallout. Then there’s the level in which you man an AC-130 gunship and lob explosive rounds from your safe and secure eye-in-the-sky. It’s all incredibly engaging. Even the slower-paced stealth missions will have you sitting at the edge of your seat. 

In the “All Ghillied Up” mission, you play as a rookie John (Captain) Price--at the side of his mentor Captain MacMillan--in one of the most engaging levels to grace a first person shooter. You hardly even squeeze a trigger--at least, not until all hell breaks loose after the failed assassination attempt. The first half of the level is relatively slow, but incredibly engrossing. At one point, you’re forced to lie in grass with a platoon of soldiers marching over a hill crest toward your direction. Before you know it, dozens of troops walk only a few feet from you, and your only protection is the camouflage from your ghillie suit. You’re helpless--and it’s awesome. 

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Infinity Ward

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57 comments

  • YesConsiderably - September 30, 2012 8:06 a.m.

    I suppose you have to credit Infinity Ward for laying the groundwork for CoD4... but Treyarch's World at War was a more inventive game from all perspectives. The multiplayer maps were larger and more conducive to epic team objective battles, and it of course introduced the cooperative Zombies mode. Where it really blew CoD4 out of the water though, was in its single-player campaign. While CoD4's best moments were just rehashed ideas from prior Call of Duty games - Safehouse was a much less hectic Silo (CoD2) and Heat took a lot from The Mace (CoD3) - WaW introduced a lot of wholly unique scenarios and the way they incorporated vehicles into the levels was very impressive (the flame tanks on Relentless). Presentation-wise, it also walked all over CoD4. Sean Murray's score was exquisite, and the loading screens and game menus were similarly impressive. It also introduced the enemy spawn system that is currently in place. It's a good thing for the industry that IW folded. Treyarch will continue to take this franchise in exciting new directions and set ever-new heights for video game presentation in the process.
  • Clowns - September 14, 2012 9:15 p.m.

    Personally i Prefer Call of Duty 2 with the Original Call of Duty Coming in 2nd, and Cod 4 coming in with a Close Third. call me Crazy but i liked the Simplicity of the Pre-MW CoDs.
  • ChristopherDalley - September 14, 2012 1:08 a.m.

    For better or worse, it's the most influential of the past decade. Emphasis on the worse.
  • Russian Mob - September 13, 2012 10:49 p.m.

    Completely agree. And while MW2 was as good and in some aspects even better, I am shocked how the gaming community is praising MW3, which in my opinion had set the series back. I honestly think you can't even compare the last one to the fist two... Guys at Infinity Ward were definitely masters, entrepreneur and true hardcore gamers. Can't wait to see what the Respawn Entertaintment will bring to the table in next couple of ears! P.S. VVV *Newb below VVV ;)
  • Funkzillabot - September 13, 2012 5:09 p.m.

    Ugh....god. NO. No it is not. What it is, is tired, tired, tired, tired, tired....and has been holding back the Game Industry for years.
  • SpiritTemple - October 6, 2012 6:30 p.m.

    Lol, you mad bro?
  • xxdismalfirexx - September 13, 2012 5:06 p.m.

    When I read the title I thought this was a parody article... but it's not.
  • tyler_14_420 - September 13, 2012 11:11 a.m.

    I think this one had the most thoughtful design put in, rather than just shock effect with EXPLOSIONS AND VEHICLES BAM ZOOM. The multiplayer was excellent. Martyrdom was annoying but it prevented the rampant knife lunges from MW2/3. Weapons seemed fair, and levels didn't really provide a significant benefit, as the most popular guns were usually obtainable extremely early. It was all around excellent, and original. Call of Duty is now like Megaman 1-7, sure, they can be pretty fun, but it's just a re-hash. Then, Megaman X. OMG SO GOOD WITH GRAPHICKS AND DASHING AND WALL-JUMPING WOW ITS LIKE A NEW GAME Where Call of Duty will probaly be like "WE ADDED UH... MORE TYPES OF GUNS!"
  • Pruman - September 13, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    I loved this game and World at War. Then MW2 came along and mucked it up with its ludicrous, nonsensical, worse-than-Michael Bay story. After playing through that one I had zero interest left in the series. This one at least could plausibly happen in real life.
  • monk_on_the_run - September 13, 2012 2:07 p.m.

    Almost completely agree, i didn't mind mw2 but it was the quickscoping and the obsession of people trying to 720 wallbang that killed it for me. COD4 will be one of my favourite games forever
  • interasteral7 - September 19, 2012 5:27 p.m.

    In my opinion, I agree with you for World at War, even though it was not better than Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the previous entries before it. I usually say Call of Duty entries after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare are least improved, but World at War was a less worse entry than the Call of Duty entries after it. It was better than the Call of Duty entries after, because it took a break from the Modern War Era and back to the World War 2 Era.
  • gazzc - September 13, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    I think you will find BF2 was first with a progression system a good 2 or so years earlier. That aside, the first Modern Warfare game was amazing at the time. The graphics blew me away and the action was non stop, the multiplayer was always a good bit of fun and something I spent many hours in. However its popularity is its curse, it became all too easy to repeat the exact same formula with the same engine, add a few minor tweaks here and there and still have everybody rush out and buy it based on nothing but the name. Of course the newer games are no worse than the first but for me the formula grew stale some time ago.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 13, 2012 5:05 a.m.

    Heaps of people maintain that this game is one of the best ever made already. I know intellectually that is a great game, but it doesn't get my imagination fired up much at all.
  • jewcats - September 13, 2012 1:06 a.m.

    "Don't be a fanboy" says the guy who thinks MW3 is the best game ever and whose avatar is a picture of Steve Jobs holding an iPad. That is beautiful.
  • LewisR - September 13, 2012 1:05 a.m.

    MW story, fantastic, speaks for itself but I don't think the balance achieved on multiplayer has been met since (by the series). There was no single gun that was always favoured. Some would be easily accessible, others had finer points that needed skil to take advantage of. As a newbie I hated the first sniper, prefering the rapid but weak semi-auto but several prestiges later it turned out to be one of the best. Also the spawing created a fantastic eb and flow in matches that played out in fantastically created maps which really did allow for a range of tactics. Nowadays the choice of games is greater, there is less chance of pulling together a group of friends onto COD to play a game of Search & Destroy and instead you get stuck with Johnny the one man team or "That trash talking 12 year old" from Texas. Lots of people have their own memoirs, these are just some of reasons I still get COD4 nostalgia trips.
  • tehtimeisnow - September 12, 2012 8:43 p.m.

    u guys got that rite it defenatly is one of the best game of all time cuz its near perfect ganeplay and grafics but i think it just got more beter with each sequel thats y i belief that modern warefare 3 is the best game of all time its just amazeing its super realistic and the grafics r some of the best of any game ever and the online play is perfact
  • mikeylawson - September 13, 2012 1:50 a.m.

    Obvious troll is obvious.
  • lazer59882 - September 12, 2012 8:10 p.m.

    i feel like tehtimeisnow is somehow behind this article...
  • lazer59882 - September 12, 2012 8:09 p.m.

    LOL.
  • TheTrooper424 - September 12, 2012 8:03 p.m.

    Of all the articles I've read I couldn't agree with this one more. Such an amazing game and I have so many memories with it. They could have never made a sequel after that and I'd still be the happiest guy alive. You can't recreate perfection haha

Showing 1-20 of 57 comments

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