Call of Shooters: Modern Gameplay
By Dwip February 8, 2008, 3:30 pm Comments (1) RSS Feed for this post

In which I shall now review some games and a movie, because I have points to make about them.

Also, for those of you accustomed to slightly more…timely blog updates, rest assured that I am indeed thinking along those same lines. It’s just that, having spent the last few weeks recovering from messed up sleep cycles brought on by my flight home, combined with transcendently ludicrous happenings with school, I frankly haven’t had the energy. And when I DID have energy, well, you all don’t need to hear about exciting times with the girlfriend.

However, this has changed. As part of my gaming haul over Christmas, I recieved both Medal of Honor: Airborne and Call of Duty 4. Now, I’m a fan of randomly shooting evil villains with high-powered weaponry in simulated environments, so this can be nothing but good, right? Yes, it turns out, but with caveats. Allow me to explain.

Medal of Honor: Airborne:

It’s World War II, Europe is under Nazi oppression, this is bad, etc, etc. Can we PLEASE reprise Pacific Assault with another goddamn Pacific Theater game? I love bombed out European towns too, but aeeyah. Enough. Enough.

But here we are anyway, jumping out of planes over Europe. Which, as far as a single-player level design experience goes, is pretty fun, although making skill drops is beyond me somehow. It’s wonderfully refreshing to be able to go all over a level and do whatever, although this really only comes into play fully in the last couple of levels, and honestly Call of Duty 2 did it better, but whatever.

The actual levels are all pretty fun, too. There are a couple of highly annoying blow up the tank objectives, and Operation Varsity has some parts that are pretty rough, but nothing quite so horrific as the AA gun levels in MOH:PA or Call of Duty 1. Capping the whole game is an assault on a giant flak tower, which is confusing to navigate, yet very fun.

Also, for once, we get a game where, before leaving on a mission, you get to pick what guns you want to carry. I cannot tell you how awesome this is. Combined with the system Airborne has of giving out unique weapon upgrades, there’s a lot going here that’s good. It’s a uniquely customizable singleplayer experience that other shooters should attempt to replicate.

Too bad the game’s too short to really get any use out of any of it. Let’s be conservative, and say that my first time through took me about 7 hours, a good half of which was due to playing on Mom’s laptop with a wireless mouse and keyboard, which were crap for gaming, and kept getting me killed. Later, on my own machine, I cut this down to something like 5 hours, and that’s only because I kept getting killed in Paestum, because that level’s fucking hard and wants me dead. In any case, that’s pathetic. I’ll have more to say on this later, but for the moment? Pathetic.

Also, what is it with Medal of Honor games running like crap? Airborne is a lot better than Pacific Assault, but it’s still pretty clunky, and I don’t really know why. We’re not dealing with destructable environments, great graphics, or any of that.

Finally, I was previously unaware that, in World War II, there were super-stormtroopers wearing bulletproof armor, carrying crew-served machine guns by themselves, taking entire clips of assault rifle ammunition to bring down. I was also unaware of the 82nd Airborne Division’s heroic assault on a flak tower that existed, I think, only in Vienna. Which was apparently crawling with the previously mentioned super-stormtroopers. I was also unaware of the judicious use of anti-tank panzerschreks against infantry late in the war. Am I poorly read, or did the designers take some liberties with history? Evidence suggests the later, though I’m always open to the former, and Der Flakturm is a pretty awesome level in any case.

Final review? 6 of 10 aliens, which would have been much higher had there been an actual, you know, game attached.

Call of Duty 4

I can summarily review CoD4 by saying that basically, it totally fucking rocks, and you need to go play it right now. However, as I am the guy who invented the word Tolstoyesqueness as a measure of desireable length, I’m going to elaborate a bit.

On the good side? Many things. Unlike many other shooters, there’s a plot, and it’s a very good cinematic one that, while it has a few issues, is on the whole quite good. It felt as if I was playing a movie oft times, and I mean that in a very complimentary sense.

Also, it’s not Another World War II Shooter. Granted that it’s this close to trying to be Battlefield 2, but that’s ok. We haven’t done modern weapons to death, and we mostly haven’t done them quite as good as CoD4, either, although I must say that, having just played Airborne, I missed that game’s ability to customize weapons loads and weapons themselves. On the other hand, good weapons aren’t hard to find in levels – the nice thing about automatic weapons is that you’ll never find yourself in the position you could find yourself in in World War II, fighting hordes of Nazis with a bolt-action rifle with 5 shots.

Level design is supurb, and basically all the time. I have complaints, but they’re on the level of “Man, I wish the cargo ship level was longer” as opposed to “Man, that AA gun level is crap!” (and yes, I have a serious hate for AA gun levels, why do you ask?). There’s a nice mix of urban and wilderness, and plenty of variety. Yes, sneaking into abandoned cities as a sniper is fun. Yes, being an AC-130 gunner is about the most fun thing ever in shooter history. There is no annoying tank level. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Unlike Airborne, CoD4 runs quite well, and looks good doing it. It’s slick, well-designed, looks great, and runs smoothly. In it, I can do such things as shoot through drywall and kill terrorists on the other side (which happens a lot more than you might think), use night vision goggles, and blow up cars, obstacles, and even a building here and there.

Oh, and thank you, guys, for making machine guns kick ass again. After playing Battlefield 2, I had despaired for the SAW. However, in CoD4, it is the weapon of gods, problematic only in the fact that it takes about a geological age of the Earth to reload, which I assure you is a long time in a CoD4 firefight.

Also, you get to use Mk19s and miniguns. Yes, this is fun.

All of those good things aside, and they are quite good, believe me, I have two complaints, one of which is going to sound pretty familiar.

1. Actually, the end of the USMC mission was pretty cool, but instead of making me play that last level for no reason, couldn’t you have done a cutscene?

1a. Also, could we have a modern shooter which features somebody besides the Marines? I love Marines and all, and, yknow, some of my best friends are Marines, but we have an Army, too, yknow. Not to mention a Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Just saying. And if you’re not careful, somebody might accuse you of trying to be like Battlefield 2.

1c. The actual end of the game may have been a little TOO cinematic. I’m not entirely sure yet.

2. Time to completion: 7 hours. Delayed primarily by a string of deaths in the final bunker mission and a string of reloads in the sniper mission. Awesome levels, awesome plot, but couldn’t there have been a little…more? Like Call of Duty 2. You remember that game, right? Had about twice or three times the gameplay time? Super fun? Probably holds the current title for Best FPS Ever? (This is currently in dispute) Be like that game. Make me hunt more terrorists. I am ok with this. For serious.

As a related note, and I’m going to apply this to Airborne as well, I notice a trend lately, stretching at least as far back as Battlefield 2 in 2005, of people selling their shooters primarily based on multiplayer. Now, I don’t play a lot of multiplayer, but clearly a lot of people like it. However, it hurts me a lot when people who are clearly very good at making an engrossing single player game just don’t make enough of it. Seriously, where is the other half of Airborne? I’d like to know.

Also on that note, for both games, and I’m going to lump Pacific Assault in here too, you’ve gone to a lot of trouble of putting in really fantastic bots, the best bots ever seen in shooters, never mind how Captain Price kept shoving me into the arms of P90-wielding Russian terrorists, bots that would definitely be a boon to the multiplayer experience, as they so clearly were in the days of Battlefield Vietnam. So, that having been said…


Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.

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Comments on Call of Shooters: Modern Gameplay
avatar Comment by Regina #1
February 8, 2008 at 9:44 pm

And by “exciting times with the girlfriend” he means “First we had to go to Walmart to buy me a vacuum filter, and now we get to go BACK tomorrow because it was the wrong size.” Truly, we lead lives of great adventure.