Call of Duty 4 beta impressions

Disclaimer: These impressions are based on a Beta release. All concerns could and probably will be addressed before the game is shipped.

First person shooter fanatics, this is your holiday season. Halo 3, The Orange Box, and Call of Duty 4 are going to keep the master’s of the headshot busy for countless hours. The best part is all three games come from acclaimed developers who have honed their craft, know their franchises, and are not afraid to let the fans give them feedback. 

Halo 3 conducted a beta, The Orange Box has the critical Steam community behind it for suggestions, and for the past few weeks Call of Duty 4 has also opened its doors to the gaming masses with its own multiplayer beta. I have been spending countless hours blasting away the opposition, and finally have our initial impressions, concerns, and praises about the game. Does it rock? Hell yes. Are their problems? A few.

Call of Duty 4 is a return to the roots of the franchise. While the era is new, the gameplay has been tweaked to match the quality devoted fans remember from Call of Duty 2. The guns are powerful, the environments beautiful, and the gameplay intense; all standard fare for the Call of Duty franchise. Those who have played a Call of Duty game in the past will feel right at home, and nothing was more evident of this than the multiplayer matches we played.

In the beta there were several gametypes to choose from, each a take on the classic experiences one would expect from an online FPS. There are the fan favorites — Team Deathmatch and Free-for-all, as well as Domination (think Territories from Halo 2), and the COD classic Search and Destroy. The option to play Team Deathmatch as well as Search and Destroy with small teams was also available, but wasn’t as fun as the crazy 6v6 experience.

Once a gametype has been selected, players are given the option to choose their class. The typical Assault, Demolitions, and Sniper classes are included, along with the ability for players to create their own custom class. Here is where Call of Duty 4 separates itself from the pack, but at the same time may run into some problems down the road.

The customization options for the classes allow players to choose one primary weapon, one secondary, attach add-ons to each weapon respectively, decide which grenades to take, and which two special abilities to employ. The customization is varied enough that it is possible some matches will have each gamer with a different load out set.

The one problem which may result from this, is it will be hard to accurately determine how best to handle each player. Fanatics of a game are able to learn a system, know what to do in every situation, and in some cases know how many shots it takes to down an enemy. Taking the firearm customization complete with the two special abilities and every encounter is a crap-shoot. The enemy could have the steadier aim ability equipped, which is why he was able to shoot from a distance that normally an assault rifle couldn’t reach, next to your semi-automatic sniper rifle.

The same goes with two players firing at each other with one equipped with the health bonus ability. At times this can get frustrating because it never feels like one is learning the mechanics of the game. It’s a minor gripe, but it will become clear if it will be a bigger problem when the veterans are on with their amazing gear compared to the lowly noob.

Which brings up the other troubling point about the beta and possibly COD4 as a whole. The matchmaking system did not do a very good job matching up players with the same skill level. Matchmaking is based on a rank — one improves their rank by killing other players, and winning matches. This rank also unlocks new weapons, and new abilities. In addition, weapon upgrades can be unlocked by completing micro achievements within the matches, such as killing so many players with a certain weapon. People who devote the time are going to get the best gear.

So not only are the veterans good, they also had the best toys. No one equipped with a sightless Ak-47 is going to stand a chance against a laser scoped M4, along with the steady aim and increased bullet damage abilities. The matchmaking will obviously be fixed, and have more of a player pool to choose from once the full game is released. Let’s hope it does.

Three maps were available in the beta: Crash, Overgrown, and Vacant. Crash is the typical Black Hawk Down style map complete with a down helicopter populating the center; overgrown is set in a small down built around a dried up riverbed, while Vacant lets players fight back and forth within an abandoned Russian storehouse. All three maps looked great, but Vacant proved to have some problems.

There are just too many doorways for people to cover and many times, it was just pure luck that someone got the drop on another player. Again, like the abilities, it felt like nothing was within the player’s control and it became a frustrating experience. Let’s hope this map is tweaked before release.

Graphically, Call of Duty 4 is amazing. While not at the level of Gears of War or Halo 3, Call of Duty 4 will still turn heads when it is seen on a HDTV. The best part is the framerate. The game runs at 60fps, and not once did we experience a drop except when lag occurred. The outdoor environments are especially beautiful with the grass and trees being some of the best ever seen on a console. Make no mistake, COD4 is gorgeous for a COD game.

Despite the problems (remember this is a Beta), Call of Duty 4 is shaping up to be one fine game. All the components are there and so far GamerNode’s time with the game has been a blast. There are a few hiccups in the design, but nothing that can’t be tweaked before the official release of the game. First person shooter fanatics are going to be eating this game up come November.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.