Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Wii) - Review by Chris
Over the last few years, the Call of Duty franchise has become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, selling franchises in recent memory. The release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare two years ago, developed by Infinity Ward, cemented this notion by becoming not only one of the biggest selling games of this generation but of all time. Unfortunately, 2007 and the release of that game left the Wii and its owners out in the cold as Infinity Ward decided the effort to bring the game to the console wasn't worth it. It's two years later though and with the release of the sequel happening on the bigger consoles, the other Call of Duty developers, Treyarch, have stepped in to finally bring the original to the console. But was the 2 year wait worth it for Wii owners?
Foregoing the usual World War II setting, Modern Warfare sees you take to the booted feet of Sergeant Paul Jackson of the US Marine Corp and new SAS recruit "Soap" MacTavish. The story goes that a Russian Ultranationalist party has been funding a rebel Middle Eastern party, with Imran Zakhaev fronting the operation, but neither the US or British forces can do anything about it as they don't have any evidence. After an SAS operation infiltrating a Russian ship, they uncover proof that this is indeed happening and on the eve of the US led invasion of an unnamed country within the Gulf area, the rebel group capture the president of the nameless country and execute him on live television, with rebel leader Al-Asad assuming control of the country. It is at this point that the British and US forces intervene, splitting the task to tackle the problem on both Russian and Middle Eastern fronts.
As you play, your time will be split between playtime with each character, so you'll get to see how events unfold in each part of the conflict. The events of the game and the action that you'll be involved within are a step above that which you may have seen in the earlier Call of Duty titles, with there being a much greater focus on action with all the events playing out over the course of a few days. But the gameplay doesn't maintain a monotonous, linear style choosing instead to mix things up. The levels as Sergeant Jackson are much more war like, trying to present a replication of a modern war with troops being flown in, guns firing none stop and explosions everywhere, while the missions as MacTavish buck the trend providing some truly intense moments from sneaking through a Russian camp in the hope of reaching a lookout point to manning a gunship hovering above a Russian village to prove air support for your downed comrades. It's certainly a much more intense game than previous games with the modern setting helping to ground a genuine feeling of care for those involved in the conflicts.
Everything here in the single player campaign is as it was in the original versions 2 years ago with there being no improvements or additions for Wii owners. That shouldn't be a big deal though because the campaign is so intense and action packed that it has easily managed to pass the 2 years gap without aging one bit and there really isn't much in the way that it could be improved. At around the 6 to 8 hour mark, it's not inherently long but it seems to be meeting the standard play length for games in the genre now and its run time certainly puts to shame just about every other first person shooter that has come before it and sets the standard for those that will come after it when you consider just what happens in it. So as not to spoiler it, all I will say is that the latter half of the game certainly proves why this has been regarded as the best first person shooter in recent times. The game does unfortunately suffer from the issue of constantly respawning enemies which won't stop until you reach an invisible checkpoint. It certainly makes the game extremely difficult on the higher difficulties and does get annoying as you'll clear out an enemy nest only for more to reappear before you make a move. It's an annoyance but one that can easily be overlooked. The only new inclusion in the game is the arcade mode which allowed two players to get in on the action with Player 1 controlling the movement of the character around the level and being allowed normal shooting powers while Player 2 assumes the role of a tag along, being able to help thin the numbers of the enemies. It's a nice touch but can be difficult to navigate as keeping track of the second reticule is difficult due to the odd choice of colour.
Utilising the Wii-mote and Nunchuk, the game offers you 6 preset control options to match to your playing style. If you don't like any of these, then Treyarch have allowed you the same customisability that High Voltage Software offered with their title The Conduit, allowing you to change just about everything from cursor speed to dead zone to control sensitivity so everyone will be able to find their own medium that they feel comfortable with. And the controls work well in game making it easy to manoeuvre the environments and get your shots off. A default snap-on targetting method is used to help people get their sights on a target but this can be turned off, and it's something you should consider as it never feels very natural using it with the game jumping about the place to the nearest enemy. The cursor does lag a little behind your movement but it's not really noticeable until you take the game online, and it's here that this issue takes some getting used to before you'll be able to overcome it. Unfortunately, owing to the fact that the controllers have less buttons than those on the other consoles, it would seem the developers have had trouble fitting everything in because some of the button placement is a bit off and some of it is too slow for the fast pace of the game and can hamper progression, again something that will occur quite often online.
The game was never going to be able to replicate the sheen of the graphics seen in the original versions but Treyarch can be very pleased with themselves for making the game look as good as it does. The vast majority of everything that was seen in the original versions is replicated here, albeit in lower resolution textures. Character models are well done, looking highly detailed and have fluid animation for the most part. The weapons on offer all look exactly as they should do, being produced to show a significantly high level of detail and recoiling exactly as they would in real life. Levels are replicated as they should be and although brightness can sometimes be an issue, they all look brilliant. There are some rough edges to some of the graphics and the game does stutter on occasion when things do get hectic but it's never to the point where the game is unplayable.
The score and voice work from the original makes it across the down gradient virtually intact, giving the same moody and action oriented music that accentuates the gameplay perfectly and voice work that flows and feels natural. British born composer Stephen Barton really has done a fantastic job with the score and the quality is up there with the other versions, if only slightly behind. The only area here where the game doesn't quite match up is the sound of some of the weapons which seem to have undergone some poor compression techniques, no doubt as a result of having a shorter development period.
Just like the rest of the game, the online component has seen some cut backs, but not as far as other areas. The same basic setup is applied, with all the modes, maps, unlockable perks and challenges available on the original game's disc here for you to enjoy with playtime easy to jump into thanks to the matchmaking service that quickly gets you into a match or lobby. 12 players have now become 10 to allow it to run as smoothly as it can on Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection and the loveable Friends Codes are back making matchmaking with friends a little bit difficult to setup. There's no WiiSpeak compatibility so there won't be any communication between team members which can cause some of the team based objective matches a little difficult to be overtly difficult. But even when you consider some of the cut backs, the overall experience is still top notch. Getting a game is quick and once in game, lag is kept to a minimal which is great given the fast paced nature of the matches. It's certainly one of the most fleshed out online experiences on the console and one that'll definitely have you coming back for months to come.
It may be two years late in coming, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition easily puts to shame every other shooter on the console. Its single player is action packed from start to finish, so much so that if you blink for a second you'll miss something. This feeling is carried over to the fantastic online mode which, while not boasting WiiSpeak options, is the most fleshed out than any other in the genre. Cut backs have been made to the presentation and that was always a given but when you pair impressive and fully customisable controls with what was already there in terms of action and content, you get the best first person shooter on the console. A must have for any action fan who owns a Wii.
Pro: Intense single player campaign, superb online, fully customisable controls, two player co-op
Con: Graphics rough around the edges, frame rate issues offline and on, sound quality isn't always of the highest standard
Final score: 8.7