Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare First Look

The Nintendo DS will get its own version of Activision's mammoth military shooter in November. We took a look.

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Call of Duty 4 is currently topping the wish lists of PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC gamers everywhere, but Activision's massively popular shooter franchise is coming to the small screen too--or the dual small screens, to be precise. We got a look at Call of Duty 4 for the DS recently to see how it will relate to its cousin on the consoles and to find out how the controls work on Nintendo's handheld. COD4 on the DS won't follow the storyline of the console game explicitly. Instead, it will happen in parallel, so you'll be visiting the same or similar locations as in the console game, sometimes even encountering the same events that you'll remember if you're also playing the bigger version of the game. For instance, the DS version will open with a ship level just like it does in the main game, but you'll be investigating a different ship from the one on the consoles.

In practice, the game plays much like other recent shooters on the DS. You use the stylus to look around, the D pad to move, and the left shoulder button to fire your weapon. You can access your collected weapons and grenades by tapping icons on the touch screen. You can also bring your weapon up and look down its sights for more precise aim by double-tapping the touch screen. In addition to the run-and-gun core action, you'll get some occasional on-rails action sequences, like manning a mounted machine gun as you buzz enemy positions. The single-player game will include 12 missions. There will also be a four-player, local-only multiplayer mode with such game types as team deathmatch, capture the flag, and hunter/prey, which is sort of a kill-the-man-with-the-ball game. This multiplayer mode will offer nine maps, two of which you can play with a single cartridge through download play.

In the campaign, the game will also have a couple of interesting and surprisingly hectic minigames. One of them is a hacking minigame where you have to rotate a number of tiles around to create connected pathways between a number of nodes on the edges of the grid. The other minigame we saw involved defusing a bomb. We had a limited number of seconds to trace colored wires with the stylus between various connectors on the bomb, and naturally, we had to be pretty spot-on with our tracing to make sure we could disarm the bomb before it blew us to smithereens.

Call of Duty 4 looks like it's shaping up to be a fairly solid shooting experience in DS terms. The developer seems to have crammed quite a bit of action and explosions into Nintendo's scrappy little handheld. The DS game is due out in early November, right alongside the console versions.

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