Pay attention to the man behind the curtain

After a second playthrough, I must say Call of Duty 4 is hands-down one of the finest games you could buy in 2007. It really puts the focus on certain points which have an enormous impact on a player’s perception of the game, points where other game developers usually beat around the bush or hide behind the proverbial big white ‘look, we’ve got Next-Gen’ rabbit.

Let’s start with the graphical presentation for instance. Even when playing on a fairly low-end system (an experience which has been a constant throughout my young life), one only has to play the opening sequence (on a cargo ship in the middle of an atlantic storm) to get the picture: whew, what happened ? How did they pull this off ?

It’s very simple. Nobody cares whether or not every drop of water splashes the way Newton would have predicted. Nobody cares whether or not the floor they’re walking on has that certain griddy bump-mapped feel to it. Nobody cares whether or not every light in the environment interferes dynamically with every model. The bottom line is not 64-bit floating point specular lighting, it’s good old whatever-bit spectacular lighting. It scales down well, too. Don’t go for that perfect approximation of real life – it would be a hard sell.

Another aspect CoD 4 brilliantly nails is this: Scripted sequences done right. No matter how twisted your gameplay style is, you never get the impression that you’re linearly traversing a level, crossing invisible triggers that spawn baddies. The same point gets stressed here: don’t waste your time on cross-map AI that’s too subtle to notice – at least for a FPS – and just make sure the local, in-your-face presentation makes sense.

Buy it ! :)

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