Developer: Infinity Ward | Released: 2007 | Genre: FPS
This is a post in a nostalgic series with transcriptions of my diary sessions of the games I played from
2000 2011 and onwards, translated and adapted from Danish. There will be spoilers in these diary sessions.
I’m back with this series again after quite a long hiatus. The previous entry was Outcast, a game I played and wrote about in 2001 in my diaries, and then translated to a blog post in July 2017. Originally I decided to abandon the series mainly because I was convinced I didn’t have any other readers but myself, but also because I wasn’t really sure the diary sessions of 2001 would be up to par. This was a point in time where 3D games was still a novelty to me and thus a lot of the session texts were somewhat naive.
Now I have this idea that I will jump past about a decade of diary sessions, up to 2011, and continue from there. There are several reasons for this. It would close the “hole” between my first failed blog attempt in 2011 and the revitalization in 2015, and it would have session texts from a considerably more experienced gamer, an older me with more games under my belt to compare with.
Dropping the blog in 2011 was followed by going from MMORPG back to single player games, with sort of a brief digression with Portal 2, and then this game – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This game was special at this time because it managed to kickstart my single player hobby.
But what is even more interesting is that it almost failed at that to begin with.
July 4, 2011
This FPS from 2007 has been a bit of a joke in this home for a while now. I borrowed it from my brother-in-law for a while and installed it a few times during the years, but I could never get myself to start it up. Then after some time I just uninstalled it again without even having seen the title screen.
But this time, after the success with Portal 2, I was really intent on giving it a fair chance. I updated it to version 1.7 and dusted off a trainer, in case the game would get too hard later on. Later that evening I then started it up and played a chunk of the first level. I was part of a team of soldiers that rappelled down from a helicopter and onboard a ship in the middle of a storm. The game didn’t grab me at all. I felt nothing. It all seemed so nonsensical, and I was afraid that my gaming curse was back in full bloom again. I shot at the enemy soldiers inside the ship, but it didn’t even take 20 minutes until I disappointingly quit the game.
I read in a few forums to see if anyone else had the same problem as I did, but 99% of all these posts were always about how fantastic this game was. As I read on, I made up my mind about not having been giving this game a fair chance. So damn it all, I restarted it and continued on the ship.
Not long after, the ship was hit by a couple of torpedoes and my team had to scurry out of the many rooms of the ship while it started tipping over. This particular set piece suddenly grabbed me, and then it was like the Olympic flame was lit and would never die again. I played the next couple of missions and now found it to be quite exciting. I now believed that I could complete it after all. It was great news as I was starting to fear that I would never be able to enjoy single player games again.
The game reused a lot of the same rules and conventions as in Call of Duty 2. No health bar but instead a blinking red screen in case I got hit, after which I had to recoup in hiding for half a minute. Unfortunately it also had that damned friendly fire (kill an allied soldier and the mission failed with “Friendly fire will not be tolerated”) – although it has to be said that my cross hair actually changed to red whenever an enemy was in my sight, so maybe I just had to get used to this. But just as in Call of Duty 2, enemies and allies looked like each other in the heat of the battle, and my friends frequently ran in front of me all the time.
Again it was autosaving, and again it was done often enough to not get annoying. In fact, it was quite nice not having to deal with this after Portal 2 (where I regularly quicksaved). There were glowing placeholders for bombs, a flat compass in the bottom to show the goal of the objective, I could once again use melee on soldiers up close, the HUD and ammo faded out after a few seconds, and I could aim down sights with the right mouse button. Most battles were also the same old squeezing past the cornucopia of enemies.
A new feature in Call of Duty 4 was being able to shoot through thin walls and hit the enemy in hiding.
The 3D graphics was once again very pretty. Dynamic shadows everywhere, good face animations, realistic smoke, and I could run it in 1920×1080 without any problems.
After the introduction on the ship during a storm, there was credits part where I were the president of a middle east country, sitting on the back seat of a car on my way to be executed. In the next, real mission, I had a good sniper rifle and shot the enemies from a distance. The missions changed the pace at times and I also had to join the team and shoot enemies up close, but there were quite a few nice spots with a good view where I could quietly pop the enemy soldiers.
A mission also introduced the use of binoculars with a green night vision inside blacked out houses. We found one Nikolai that we freed. The next mission took place in a desert town and reminded me of Black Hawk Down. In and out of houses and down the street. Barrels and walls were great cover, but I had to stay away from parked cars – they had a bad habit of exploding. Silly me was killed by that a few times. The final mission tonight was the one from the demo where I had to shoot a couple of tanks with an RPG and then assist an allied tank shooting soldiers. I seem to remember that I failed that final task quite a few times in the demo, but here it went swimmingly the first time.
Maybe the difficulty had been tweaked.
I have read that there are 16 missions in the game and that it can be completed in about 5-6 hours. So, a shorter game than its predecessor – which is fine by me. FPS can easily overstay their welcome.
July 6, 2011
This evening I played another pile of missions in Call of Duty 4. Right from the beginning it was clear to me that I was a wee bit too rusty, not having played an FPS for years. I installed a trainer and enabled unlimited health, but not long after that an exploding grenade froze a warning signal in my view. I could have lived with that by itself, but it got worse. The graphical glitch blocked being able to lock on a helicopter with an RPG. I didn’t get the calibrating beeps followed by a signal for shooting. I messed around with other trainers but then decided to just open the console and use a cheat code. The good old GOD mode. Unfortunately, activating it was quite a hassle. Just typing the code wasn’t enough; for some reason I also had to reload an older mission, and then the newer mission again. It then worked but only for as long as I was in the game. If I restarted the game, I had to go through the same tomfoolery once again.
But it was worth it. The built-in cheat code worked without other problems, and the screen also didn’t shake anymore whenever I got hit. It did make some of the missions feel superficial – I started a habit of just mowing down enemies as if I was playing Serious Sam – but never mind. I have never been particularly good at FPS anyway. Some of the later missions also had countdowns (I’ve always hated this) and then it was so sweet just being able to dash past the shooting enemies towards the goal.
Typically an helicopter to the rescue.
But other than that, the missions were indeed quite varied and sometimes even fascinating. In the second one I sat in a big bomber with an overview of a city through a blurry black-and-white filter. I had three zoom settings for shooting or bombing soldiers and cars, and a button switched between normal or negative mode. The voices in the radio were completely calm, almost more like concluding rather than commanding. Unfortunately the team on the ground was hard to recognize from the enemy – they only had a very subtle flashing to distinguish them – and I frequently got a message from the radio that the ones I were popping right now happened to be our friends; please stop that.
Apart from that the mission was actually slightly boring. It went on for too long and was definitely not as engaging as being part of a team on the ground.
In the next mission I was back in a desert town with another cornucopia of enemies shooting at everything, after which the game switched between me shooting at cars and soldiers from a helicopter or put down on the ground for a little footwork. Up and down and up and down. A timer occurred, another helicopter came crashing down, and its female pilot had to be found and brought back.
Then the mission ended with a nuclear explosion right in the middle of the town.
Most of the soldiers and helicopters got dusted. The one I was in crashed somewhere in the town and there was a short piece where my soldier crawled slowly out of the wreck to watch the mushroom cloud in the middle of the ashes. Then he died. Unfortunately it wasn’t original. F.E.A.R. came first with a similar nuclear explosion in the end – two years before Call of Duty 4 now mimicked it.
One of the later missions was called “All Ghillied Up” and took place in Pripyat, close to Chernobyl. We were two soldiers in a complete camouflage suit. Lots of stealth and silent popping of enemies at a distance. It had a good atmosphere and some really nice scenarios, making it one of the best missions in the game.
But even so, there were flies in the ointment.
The first one was when we had to lie still in the grass while soldiers and tanks passed us close by. They discovered us way too easily, causing quite a few restarts. After having killed a VIP from a distance, all hell broke lose and another one of those damn 20 minute timers appeared while we scurried to a place in town where a helicopter could pick us up. On the way there we managed to shoot down an enemy helicopter, but it landed and slid on top of my wounded superior. This meant that I now had to run while carrying him, all while the timer was still counting down. Luckily the timer stopped when we reached an area by a ferris wheel, so at least there was that. Now I had to set down my companion and then place mines in the area by the ferris wheel. This part was of course followed up with the classical “hold out” until the helicopter arrived. It swarmed with soldiers like flies on a newly deposited dog turd.
A lot of the missions were just as varied as the one I just described above, and they were also brimming with fail conditions. My friend was not allowed to die! A few times I managed to warn the enemy by mistake when we were supposed to be stealthy, and then my friend was easily turned into Swiss cheese.
As mentioned earlier, the graphics were indeed pretty and detailed, but I also noticed that the background in the distance worked in the same way as in the first Half-Life game – sort of a “sky box” in not quite as high a resolution as the polygon graphics in front of it. It was clear to see when the background was supposed to be mountains. Now, the game was four years old [at the time of playing it] – but still.
July 7, 2011
Finished the game today. In the first mission, my team was on the hunt for the son of a bad guy. A guard tower that a companion and I had entrenched ourselves in was shot down, and I smacked into the asphalt all while the son ran away. In the rest of the mission I was right on his heels, separated by a few local gunfights against more enemy soldiers. The son was not allowed to get too far ahead or the mission failed. And then, as we finally cornered him on the roof top of a house, he just killed himself with a gun. Sigh.
In the later missions a couple of nuclear missiles were launched towards the east coast of USA, and we had to scurry into a heavily fortified rocket launch center to cancel the launch on a computer. Then we left in jeeps and trucks, shooting at the soldiers in the enemy trucks behind us. This was sheer Hollywood. Lots of honking cars, crashes and explosions, and even one helicopter that I had to take down with grenades. Finally a bridge was blown up and my team had to hold out against an uneven plethora of enemy gunfire. It even ended by myself getting too shot up, entering the typical slow motion mode with filtered sounds and blurry graphics. The main bad guy walked closer and shot one of my wounded allies in the head, like this was the end of it. Suddenly one of his helicopters behind him was blown up by a team of Russians that just arrived in the nick of time to save the day. In the meantime I had a gun thrown into my hands. I popped my nemesis and his two henchmen between the eyes.
But not quite the end yet. The credits started with symphonic music followed by a rap tune. Then came an extra mission onboard a flying jumbo jet. My team had to shoot their way to reach a VIP which was then held as a shield by the last guy. I popped him right in the head in the first attempt. We jumped out of the plane with parachutes and that was it. I didn’t even see the parachutes fold out.
This extra mission felt like the leftovers from a party. Perhaps a mission they couldn’t fit into the rest of the game? I can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
By the way, I was a little too fast commending the built-in GOD mode yesterday. A bug did indeed occur when using it. If I was chomped on for too long by a dog, the message about having to defend myself froze on the screen and didn’t leave. I then had to restart the mission and try again, making sure to kill the dogs fast and efficiently this time.
Call of Duty 4 was indeed varied, pretty and cinematic. It had its moments and it was absolutely interesting to check out after having been out of the loop for a few years. But even so, I have to admit that I’m a lousy grandma at FPS of this caliber. It depends on how it’s done and what abilities and guns you have, but in the Call of Duty series, the developers especially care about two things that doesn’t click with me. The first is that you’re always part of a team (typically 2-4 other soldiers) which means that the resistance has been throttled up accordingly. Secondly, it has friendly fire, which is a problem for me that have always been used to shoot without asking first in other FPS during the years. It may very well be realistic but I also think it’s damn annoying and thus less fun – and a video game must always be fun, first and foremost.
This should always have priority over realism.
And because of this, I have decided that Call of Duty 4 is the last game I’ve played in this series – unless the producer comes up with something really extraordinary. At the time of writing this  there are three sequels, and I have already read about them in various reviews. None of their single player campaigns seem to surpass Call of Duty 4.
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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
2007 Infinity Ward