Big first-person shooters like BioShock and Halo 3 may already be gracing retail shelves, but there's plenty more shooter action coming before the end of 2007. Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is at the top of the list, and luckily you'll be able to play it on any next-gen platform--Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC--when it rolls out for duty in early November. Activision recently hosted an event with all three of those versions available for play, and although there wasn't a lot of new content on offer, we did manage to glean a few new details on the multiplayer, the forthcoming PC demo, and more.
Activision had all the content from the Xbox 360 multiplayer beta on offer, including the three maps that tens of thousands of gamers got very well acquainted with last month. It was also showing off a new map called Ambush, set in a Middle Eastern town with a number of bombed-out one- and two-story buildings, and a lot of rubble-strewn, uneven roadways in between. (Basically, think the Crash map without the downed helicopter in the middle.) More interestingly, IW studio head Grant Collier was on hand to talk about the game, and we pressed for new details on the expanded multiplayer ranking system that fans got a taste of in the beta. Collier wouldn't spill all the beans, but he confirmed the level cap will go up to 65 in the final game, and you'll unlock new abilities and weapon challenges as you move toward that last level. Mysteriously, Collier said that hitting 65 will open up a new "prestige mode" that will have its own level progression and other benefits--but he wouldn't say any more than that, so we'll likely have to wait till someone actually unlocks the prestige mode in the final game to find out what it's all about.
In light of Halo 3's release, we were also curious to know what kind of extended stat-tracking and player history COD4 will offer. The short answer is, the extent of available stats that players will be able to access is yet to be determined. But we got word from an Infinity Ward community lead that at least beneath the hood, the game is already keeping an eye on all those juicy numbers. It goes beyond simply looking at your favorite map or weapon; it will also keep track of much more specific data, such as the locations in a given map where you've scored specific kills. We'll find out closer to release how much of this data will be out there for competitive clans to sift through, but it's good to know that the data is at least being tracked, if there's a demand for it.
Diehard PC owners who were smarting at the Xbox exclusivity of the recent multiplayer beta will be glad to know that Infinity Ward will have a treat for them in the form of a playable single-player demo scheduled to hit the Web this Thursday. The demo will offer one level called The Bog, an explosive level which we've played extensively on the 360. This mission has you fighting through a Middle Eastern town beset with insurgents, as you try to free a trapped tank from a bog that it's become mired in. Since Call of Duty started out as a PC franchise, this demo is a nice little nod to the fan base that supported the series in the first place. (Collier says all three platforms will get their own unique features--so in light of the beta and demo, we'll see if anything materializes on the PlayStation 3.)
Lastly, Activision has officially announced that composer Harry Gregson-Williams will be providing the score for the game. This is something we found out a few weeks ago and were disappointed we couldn't reveal at that time, because Gregson-Williams' style is perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the game, from what we've heard so far. Anyone who's played the more recent Metal Gear Solid games will know that Gregson-Williams has the whole ominous techno-thriller thing down cold, and indeed his signature style was evident in the piece of music that played over the beta's title screen. We're looking forward to hearing his aural accompaniment to the globe-spanning single-player storyline in the final game.
There's not much more to say about Call of Duty 4 at this point, other than we want the darn thing to come out already. The single-player and multiplayer components each look like the most ambitious yet in this already acclaimed series--and when you put them together in one package, that's a whole lot of game. Keep your eyes here later this week for the PC single-player demo so you can get a taste of that campaign for yourself.