I would rate it much higher than six, but I cannot do that when I see a lot of underrated games out there. At this stage, one may realise that COD4 is one of those games packed with fanboys who love to spurt out "If you hate COD, you have got no life" and all other (I'm gonna say it) crap. Nevertheless, I persevere in my goal to write as fair and constructive review as I can. As I admitted before though, I still need to give a lower score to counter-balance its over-exaggerated praise. Call of Duty 4 is a good game. There is no doubt about it. However, it is not all I originally believed it to be. Here's a list of what I think is good and bad about it.
The graphics are amazing. Sure, they are no Crysis, but the lighting and detail really did make make you feel a part of the action. Sometimes I forgot that I was playing a computer game due to that.
Multiplayer is really good, its like COD2 with leveling up and modern setting, but it still feels fresh and unbelievably addictive. The single player is better than most in the COD series and the story is pretty good considering that this is totally fictional.
The combat is perhaps the main highlight. It is intense and what makes it fun and realistic is the sound and explosions and animation and the fact that enemies do not absorb more than two bullets before death. Blood has been introduced in this one so it feels more real.
The game is full of intense and even atmospheric missions which you'll no doubt enjoy playing again and again. The sniper-stealth one, OMG that was amazing. Level design is simply amazing at times.
The game does feature awesome cheats that you unlock when collecting hidden enemy intel. Those are things like Slow-mo, 'A Bad year', photo-negative and even ragtime warfare. An arcade mode is unlocked when you end the game along with an intense epilogue.
Music is amazing. It is an absolute must-listen and often makes a lot of moments feel very cinematic.
Did I just sound like I would rate this a perfect ten? Wait till you hear what I have to say for the cons. First of all, the gameplay design is fun, but very basic and not that intelligent at all. It seems Infinity Ward just kept a lot of the formula from the original games, and from FPS's in general. I enjoyed some things like the quick-time reaction with the dogs and the fact that melee attack was a knife and not a rifle butt and that you could shoot through walls, not to mention an awesome moment when you man an M19 on a helicopter. But otherwise, there was nothing so special that isn't often found in any other FPS. Quicktime events may not be for everybody, but they worked rather well in COD3's less-repetitive gameplay (though Modern Warfare 2 has a few exceptions), like hand-to-combat, or setting up explosives button by button. You also might have heard some people claim that the environment in COD4 was destructible. That's a lie. Yes, the physics have improved a bit from the previous games, but the only thing you can really destroy is cars and that's it apart from a certain mission in an AC-130 which even then is not too satisfying. Honestly, physics-wise it makes Crysis look like Red Faction Guerilla.
The story was good, but it did not feel like it provided an (quote) EMOTIONAL experience. An emotionally gripping experience involves attachment to great characters and feeling for them (like Quantic Dream's "Heavy Rain" or "Indigo Prophecy"). People have been bragging about it all the time that the game has this, but to me that is just nonsensical garbage. There weren't many good characters in this game at all. They were often quite similar to one another and there was almost no emotion at all. The only characters I did like were Griggs and Macmillan, but most like Price and Gaz were almost like robots. Shouting was the only change in character that I could hear. Otherwise, they always were in the same mood and just saying "blow the charge" or "let's get to it" and things like that. In the previous Call of Duties and in the fifth one, the characters were a lot more memorable if not exceptional.
They said this game does not glorify war, but that is not quite true. There are some powerfully dramatic moments like the game's intro cutscene when you are a Middle Eastern President, and the aftermath of the nuclear explosion as well as the final scene in the game's story. Also different sides are not portrayed completely ruthless in one and completely good in the other (thats one thing I like about Infinity Ward, take notes Treyarch) but due to the lack of emotion and depth in the characters, it makes it look like army training can make you fearless. The story itself also did not seem too anti-war, because the plot felt to me like just another typical 'Good USA vs Bad Eastern Europe' plot as is pretty much 90% of war games. Did Infinity Ward watch Jarhead or The Thin Red Line? It is clear that they did not and just assumed that a mushroom cloud in the video game will make people understand how bad, non-sided and complex war is. It was when I experienced characters in series such as Brothers in Arms was I able to develop empathy for what real war is like for soldiers, and COD4 is no BiA.
Also, the game was far too linear and scripted for my liking, and gameplay can be bonded with that problem. Sure, there's some cool stuff you could do like call in helicopter strikes and carry a wounded buddy. However, you could only do that when you HAD to due to the tight scripting. Yes, Bioshock which is another critically acclaimed shooter of the time, was also linear, but it had deep and unique gameplay, environment interaction and truly strategic fighting. All you ever do in CoD4 is shoot and kill, and when you do not, it is sometimes so scripted it has 0% replay value assuming you want to try and see something different. Characters do not even look at you unless you stand at the precise spot. Their eyes do not follow you as in many FPS's like even the first Half Life (and that was released in 1998!). In the training mission I managed to stand behind Price while he was talking to me and he still looked in front, thinking I was there. It just is not acceptable for me that a 2007 FPS game has to be so staged in addition to linear pathing and objectives.
The battlefields themselves often felt too small. There were also a lot of boundaries and invisible walls in most missions. I will not lie, some of them are much larger than in the original games, but they still had too many invisible walls for modern FPS's. The only missions which were a bit expansive and/or offered some replay value was mission 1,2 and 4 in Act 2. An example of the tight scripting was the second sniper mission which was mission 3 (Spoilers in the rest of the paragraph). In that mission you had to assassinate a person with a sniper rifle, the outcome was always the same... wherever you hit him, he survived with his arm blown off. I hit his head, but even then, it was his arm that was decapitated. The fact that it is a flashback sequence makes it more understandable, but Infinity Ward could have improved on it, making parts like that make more sense as to how the outcome occurs, and add more control to the battlefield like squad commands, and getting to open doors and things like that. Not to mention more deep objectives, but I guess that they were a wee bit lazy.
The arcade mode was an interesting old-school idea, but I didn't actually feel that there was a good chance of replaying it and seeing anything different because like I mentioned before, this game is all shoot and kill which is like half a decade too old for CoD4's release time so when you first try them, it will feel awesome, but after a while it is just the same thing. It may be new to the series, but that doesn't mean people should act hyped-up like it's new to the genre because it is not. Personally, I think that when developers are trying to create something "revolutionary" they should try brainstorming a bit longer to add more reason for unlocking extras (and more unique 'extra' content too) as I have to say that even the Arcade Mode does not give the game large replay value.
I know that some people are sick of WW2 games so therefore, turned to this installment in the series. However, you cannot judge a game just by its setting. The game is a bit of a disappointment but it is not something I am going to sell any time soon. However, that does not mean that I do not regret buying it at all for it's high price either. While Call of Duty 4 is certainly an intense and amazing experience that is not found often, it has not in any way revolutionised the genre like some people say because there is nothing innovative or deep in this game. It has simple gameplay mechanics and weapons that I have seen many times already and puts them through an extremely fun, but heavily scripted ride. This game does not have anything to the gameplay that I have not seen before. This game is best for multiplayer which is a pity for me since I usually do singleplayer (with the exception of some games like Left 4 Dead). But if you want games with more perks and good replayability, try some of the battlefield games or the Arma games.