Call of Duty 4 beta impressions

Call of Duty 4Finally got my beta code yesterday and duly spent a couple of hours’ blasting away with friends last night.

Overall, I like it. Essentially, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is Counter-Strike for Consoles but with some nice added extras to ensure the game is fast-paced and generally more fun. The rank (i.e. experience) system has been shamelessly ripped from the Battlefield franchise and is a concise way of getting rid of Counter-Strike‘s ham-strung shop mechanic.

Initially, you can only choose from one of three rudimentary classes, but you quickly unlock more as you “rank up” in the game. You can also create a further 5 custom classes once you reach a certain rank, comprising any combination of already-unlocked equipment you like.

Experience – and thus the ability to rank up – is gained in several ways, primarily by killing enemy team members. The scoring is more refined than simple kill or no kill, however: you score 10 points for taking someone down on your own, 5 points for double-teaming an enemy and 2 points for an assist, i.e. finishing someone off after they’ve stood too close to a grenade but didn’t die in the explosion.

Additionally, you gain bonuses in-game as your score increases. For instance if you score a few points in quick succession you gain the ability to call in a drone, which duly scans the battlefield and reveals the locations of all enemies on your mini map for several seconds. Offensive bonuses are also available to higher scoring players, which include air strikes and helicopter gunship support.

Overall, it’s a solid multiplayer experience and a refreshing change from the more reserved Counter-Strike clones out there. The action can often be frenetic, but never overwhelms the player. Death is swift but very rarely ill-deserved — the excellent instant replay from your killer’s point of view is a brilliant mechanic and helps you learn where you’re making tactical blunders, or just the latest victim of a skilled sniper.

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