Since impressing the public and critics alike at E3 2007, Call of Duty 4 has become one of this year’s most anticipated titles. Now, two months from release, the “public” has been given a sample of what’s to come.
The fact that this beta, which offers only 3 maps and a handful of weapons, has managed to steal some of Halo 3’s thunder (a game only 20ish days away) is a testament to how good COD4 will be. Since entering the beta I was almost instantly enthralled. (More on why “almost” later.) In the interest of full disclosure I should probably mention that I spent countless hours with Infinity Ward’s COD2, yet hardly touched Activision’s COD3, so I was excited to see what the original creators could do. It looks quite promising.
When you first start the COD4 beta, and presumably the retail version, the multiplayer options are pretty bare bones. Choose your class, choose your game type, then go shoot people. The menu teases, showing features and options that will be accessible later, but for now all you can do is decide upon a standard pre-made class and go shoot dudes in the face. Almost everything, from weapons to camo patterns to perk customization, has to be unlocked. (I’m not going to waste time explaining the beta’s content, but give my impressions. If you want information then go to charlieoscardelta.com and check it out. They do a much better job then I ever could.) Playing online gets you experience points. Get a kill and you’ll be rewarded 10 points. An assist nets you two (couldn’t finish him off, could you?). Eventually you’ll rank up, which unlocks different guns and the ability to create a class. Creating a class is probably the best unlock, at least in the beta, letting you select which perks you want. This really opens the game up to many different options, and really lets you play how you want according to the situation at hand. Have an enemy that hides behind cover? Then pick someone that shoots through walls. Does your enemy turtle as a pack in a small room? Pick a class that carries multiple stun grenades and the last stand ability, so you can flash and clear and take the survivors to hell with you. It almost becomes a game of chess, with you constantly countering the other team’s tactics while trying to outsmart them. These perks really add a whole strategic element to the game, and force you to quickly adapt and change your style mid-game.