Iron Man

XB360, PS3, WII, PSP, PS2, PC, DS / Action / Release: May 2, 2008 / ESRB: T

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Call of Duty 4 Preview

GameSpy is the latest site with a Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare preview, offering their take on the game.

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Call of Duty 4 Q&A

IGN Australia has Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Q&A, asking Infinity Ward's Grant Collier about the game. Topics include the game design process, mission locations, scripted sequences, realism and the game engine. Be sure to read our preview as well.

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Call of Duty 4 Previews

GameSpot, IGN, GameZone and Team Xbox all have their Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare previews posted, offering another set of impressions based on the press demonstration.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Previews

Computer & Video Games and Eurogamer both have Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare previews posted this morning, reporting on what Infinity Ward's war game sequel will have to offer.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Interview

Having set the standard for the World War II shooter with 2003's Call of Duty, then delivering a well received sequel two years later, Infinity Ward is returning to the franchise it created, but leaving its time-tested setting behind. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare eschews the war that has served as the foundation for so many video game; instead, the game has been furnished with an original storyline set in the modern day and revolving around factions based out of Russia and the Middle East. Revolving around Zakhaev, a Russian nationalist in the Stalin mold, and Al-Asad, his Middle Eastern warlord ally--who, along with their respective henchmen, make up the game's main antagonists, the "Four Horsemen"--Call of Duty 4 is not based on any specific conflicts going on in the real world but is clearly inspired in part by the political atmosphere of the present day. "We're trying to be sensitive to the fact that there are events in the world that we don't want to try and portray verbatim," single-player lead designer Steve Fukuda said to me during a recent trip to Infinity Ward's Encino, California offices. "We don't want to allude to them and then say, 'Hey, we're creating that right now.' I think that would be a little tasteless." "Before, when we came to World War II, we had this ready-made package--Adolf Hitler and the Nazi war machine," Fukuda continued, touching on the new experience of crafting a non-historical narrative. "We don't have that now, so we have to come up with one on our own. At the same time, we have these mandates among ourselves that we want to have this technology or that technology--you saw the Javelin [anti-tank missile] and the AC-130 [gunship]. How do we bring all of this together? The only way we could really do that, while keeping the game exciting, and keeping it spiking up and down in terms of pacing, was to create our own backstory and our own characters." Why Russia and the Middle East? As co-studio head Grant Collier explained, the Call of Duty feel has always been about two powerful sides locked in a see-saw-like battle, with one side--the player's--pushing forward bit by bit. The traditional modern concept of guerrilla desert fighting simply doesn't fit that mold, but a fictional alliance between two leaders of powerful factions could.
During a demo of the game being played by Fukuda, Collier showcased some of the impressive visual fidelity to be seen in Call of Duty 4--highly detailed foliage complete with fluttering butterflies in lush areas, particle-based clouds, a subtle depth of field effect when peering through a zoomed sniper scope, and convincingly flowing water ("This is our streaming technology," announced Collier, to a round of groans from those in the room). Also of note is the new real-time daylight system, which simulates a variety of factors relating to the time of day, and can be manipulated by the designers at any given moment. Collier pointed to several attractive setups--morning, mid-day, dusk, and so on. Most impressive among the game's graphical increases is the level of detail present in character models. Character textures maintain a remarkably high amount of detail even when significantly close, and the cloth textures--an important part of a character model that represents a pouch-laden modern soldier--in particular deserve special mention for being rendered uncommonly well. Art lead Michael Boon noted that the team made a strong effort to avoid falling back into the all-too-common greasy look that tends to crop up in realistically rendered current games. Call of Duty 4 has missions set throughout the world, and even in some cases across different time periods. With its first foray into original storytelling, Infinity Ward is hoping to create a rich and varied campaign. For the most part, players will switch between two main protagonists, but there are numerous plot elements that are conveyed by the player actually taking on a role of a more minor character. In one case, in what is apparently one of the game's shortest levels, the player actually takes on the role of an enemy who, as part of the story, dies about ten minutes after the player takes control. Several levels from the game's campaign were shown, including a nighttime raid on a large ship, an assault on one of Al-Asad's coastal encampments orchestrated by a dozen-strong helicopter force, infantry combat on brutally open desert terrain, and dark, chaotic fighting in the corridors of a heavily wrecked city.
The clear centerpiece of the demonstrated levels was the AC-130 gunship level, as introduced by longtime Call of Duty military advisor and decorated retired Lieutenant Colonel Hank Keirsey, which puts the player in the role of a gunner manning the impressively destructive power mounted on the heavily-armed craft in order to take out enemy personnel surrounding a church--but not to harm the church itself. The largely point-and-shoot level is both extremely visceral in the sheer destructive power afforded to the player as well as somewhat eerie and ethereal in the muted, disconnected way the player is raining death upon tiny enemies far below. Well-implemented in-game post-processing effects create the ruggedly high-tech look of observing the targets through electronic surveillance equipment rather than the naked eye, adding a further layer of abstraction to the already indirect rain of fire. Todd Alderman's multiplayer team from Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 has been assembled once more to create Call of Duty 4's multiplayer, but this time around the team has focused entirely on multiplayer, rather than having to split its time between single-player and multiplayer as in Infinity Ward's past games. "We're extremely excited about the multiplayer," said Alderman. "I can't emphasize enough." Modern Combat's multiplayer mode features an experience-based system with unlockable equipment that essentially allows players to create their own classes. While every player has access to several preset class roles, such as assault, heavy, special ops, and so on, players who have accrued enough experience from racking up kills and achieving objectives will be able to customize their primary weapon, sidearm, and grenades to create classes tuned to their own styles. The team was sure to note that the preset classes were configured with the same system used for custom classes, so there is no actual disadvantage to using the preset classes.
In addition to the equipment loadout, players may assign up to three perks. These perks allow players to simply increase stats such as health, operate special equipment such as GPS jammers, or perform special abilities such as a last-ditch near-death attack that allows the player to whip out his pistol for a chance to damage or kill his assailant. Players who pull off impressive feats during a game, such as completing a seven-kill streak, will also be able to call forth one-off abilities such as ordering in a helicopter strike. As a nod to the PC mod community, Infinity Ward is including out of the box increased realism modes, which make such tweaks as significantly increased damage and the removal of the HUD, which should save some time and effort for the players who would be releasing such mods anyway. There will be a demo of Call of Duty 4, though a date was not given. Following the live demonstration of the game, I sat down with single-player lead designer Steve Fukuda to get a sense of what went into crafting the game's narrative component and what Infinity Ward's goals with that side of the game are. Continue to the next page for that segment. _PAGE_BREAK_ Shack: One of the things that was stressed is that Infinity Ward is trying with Call of Duty 4 to expand the role of storytelling in a first person shooter. How exactly are you attempting to go about this?
Steve Fukuda: One of the things we wanted to do was make sure we kept the intensity of the gameplay there, and one of the ways we do that is we keep the game very continuous. When you're finishing a level as, say, a Marine in the Middle East, we don't just fade to black and then have some text on the screen. We keep visual continuity. We offer a smooth, long, continuous shot up to a military Google Earth view. On that screen you get a map, and the crosshairs show some information as to where you're going and what's going to happen there, and then you get slam-zoomed in, as we call it--your camera flies down to ground level into the shoes of the next soldier. In this case it might have been an SAS operative. You never really feel that the game is pausing; you're just constantly going from one thing to the next. That's one way we're really facilitating the sense of a continuous adventure that never stops. Shack: From what I gathered, though, there will be sequences that break chronologically as well, not just geographically. Is that correct? Steve Fukuda: Exactly, yeah. One of the things we do is, in order to present new information at one point in the story--this is at a very key moment--you make a discovery about a significant plot twist, and a person involved is there. You then actually go back in time, and rather than having that person just say, "Yeah, there was this guy and we had to go kill him," you actually go back fifteen years and you play as the guy who's recounting the story to you. It's very different for a Call of Duty game to do that. It's not normal for the series. It turns into something very cool. Shack: So with the additions to the series' bag of narrative tricks, are you sticking pretty rigidly to the first person perspective throughout? Are you breaking from it at all? Steve Fukuda: No, we're pretty strict about that, actually. It's kind of our thing, keeping it visceral, in that first person setting. Shack: This is a fictional story, with invented characters and conflicts, but clearly there are elements that draw from events occuring in the modern world. How much are you trying to comment on current political situations, or are you keeping yourselves fairly divorced from that?
Steve Fukuda: We're trying to be sensitive to the fact that there are events in the world that we don't want to try and portray verbatim. We don't want to allude to them and say, "Hey, we're creating that right now." I think that would be a little tasteless. However, we do use a lot of references from real life situations. For example, you'll see guys with the infrared laser markers on their rifles, a whole bunch of them all scanning for targets. That's actually something we saw in one of the videos we received from some of our advisors. We saw these guys somewhere in Iraq, aiming all over with these lasers. Then there was that YouTube video of the AC-130. Shack: That one sticks with you. Steve Fukuda: Yeah. It's very iconic. People are used to seeing that kind of thing on CNN a lot now, even seeing a camera view of the bomb falling towards the target, so we're trying to play off of that with some of these parts where the player can really connect visually and recall those situations. They may not remember what exactly had happened in real life, but they get that modern warfare feeling. Shack: Can you speak at all about the writing process, in terms of working with external writers? I assume the concepts were developed internally, then you went outward to flesh it out. Steve Fukuda: Yeah. It definitely went through a very long evolution. The story we started out with was really nothing like the story we have today. I think very few missions from the early phases survived, although the AC-130 mission was one of the earliest missions we came up with, because it's just so arresting. That one survived the entire development process. Eventually, we got to a point where we sort of started to find the voice, so to speak, after transitioning from World War II. To get the right tone, the right feel, the right kind of fiction versus authenticity--that's where we got the writer in to help tie these things together, because there were still a few holes. We weren't quite sure what should happen on a few levels. We would be sitting there at a writers' meeting--some lead designers, myself, the writer, plus our project lead Jason West--we were sitting there discussing it, and you almost wonder what the writer is doing. We're all sitting there, yelling and talking back and forth, then suddenly the writer will ask a question, or say, "Maybe you should look at it like this." He really guided us in a lot of ways, by asking the right questions but not saying, "Okay, this is the way it's going to be," or just writing it all out. He would more try to point us in the right direction, so that we'd have the ideas ourselves, then polish it up. It was actually a really good experience. Shack: More of a consultant role. Steve Fukuda: Yeah, this writer has worked a lot with TV stuff, so he's worked with large creative teams on TV series where they'd say, "You go write that episode, I'll go write this episode." It fit our game, because our game is very much that continuous TV series kind of feel. He helped us hit that really well.
Shack: Did you plot out all that structure episodically, or was there any amount of winging it as you went along? Steve Fukuda: We probably came at it from both ends. On one hand, yes, we had this master plan, but then we'd start making levels, and we'd get cooler ideas for a level. But maybe that level's part of a two-part storyline. Then we work on the story here, and the levels there, and then they have to meet, and then things come together. So I wouldn't say we rigidly followed a plotted out storyline. Between the levels and the story, one didn't drive the other; it was a much more organic process. It was a whole new thing for us. In World War II, there was chronology to fall back on, but we'd never worked on a game using this process before. So now we've got another notch on our belt. Shack: So what relates a Russian warlord type of character to that Middle Eastern situation? Steve Fukuda: I think that's something we want to keep under wraps a little bit. It's part of the motivation to find out what happens there. Shack: Despite the change in setting and introduction of an original story, you're still calling this Call of Duty 4. Is this narrative situation a thread you're planning on continuing in the series? Steve Fukuda: We haven't really decided on that. I think in general we just go all out on every game, expend everything, so I'm not sure how much we're going to leave ourselves for the next one. It's probably too early at this point to really be able to comment. Shack: As a fully-owned studio now, how much autonomy do you feel you have under Activision? Steve Fukuda: I'd say we enjoy a fair bit of autonomy. I don't feel we're really being controlled unduly. We've been give a good amount of slack to work on what we want to work on. Shack: Do you have any thoughts on the PC platform these days? A lot of people were surprised that Call of Duty 3 didn't come to PC. Obviously Infinity Ward itself has a strong PC heritage. Steve Fukuda: I think it's still viable. I'm not worried about it. Activision plans to ship Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC this fall.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Announced (Again)

Despite having been officially announced via a premiere trailer last month, Infinity Ward's shooter sequel Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has now been officially officially announced in an Activision press release. Modern Warfare will be the first game in the series to escape the clutches of the World War II setting, and marks Infinity Ward's return to the franchise after fellow Activision studio Treyarch developed the console-only Call of Duty 3. PC gamers will be able to join in this time around, with Modern Warfare heading to PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game's multiplayer component is said to continue in the vein of Call of Duty 2. Infinity Ward co-leader and COD4 project lead Jason West spoke on the planned gameplay variety. "As the story unfolds, the player is introduced to new gameplay at every turn," he said. "One moment you are fast-roping from your Black Hawk helicopter after storming into the war zone with an armada of choppers, the next you are a sniper, under concealment, in a Ghillie suit miles behind enemy lines, the next you are engaging hostiles from an AC-130 gunship thousands of feet above the battlefield." Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is set for release this fall.

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"Is it me or does that look like John Mullins (Soldier of Fortune) near the end of the trailer?"
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Call of Duty 4 Preview

Games Radar has a Call of Duty 4 preview up, taking a look at the modern warfare installment. Includes several screenshots.

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Call of Duty 4 Trailer

As expected, the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare trailer has been released showing off the next installment in this war game series. Activision has also launched the Charlie Oscar Delta website where you can register for all kinds of exclusive content.

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"Look I'm not going to lie, I'm not impressed at all, fps on rails suck ass, and thats what the ..."
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Call of Duty 4 To Be Revealed This Saturday

Following up on the post on the Infinity Ward forums about an April 28 announcement, Activision just sent along an email announcing that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will be unveiled this Saturday. You'll have to tune in to the NFL Draft on ESPN at noon Central to catch a glimpse of the game, of which nothing is currently known.

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