Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Looking perky

Learning that Call of Duty is returning, set in the present day, in the hands of original developers Infinity Ward and back on PC, makes us stand on our chairs and fire imaginary guns into the air.

After all, Call of Duty 2 is still, two years on, the second most popular online PC game (beaten, naturally, by World of Warcraft). But from what we've seen so far, it's soon going to be knocked from its spot.

CoD4 doesn't mess with the basics: all the multiplayer modes you want are here. Where it gets interesting is with the ability to adapt and customise your character in some surprising ways.


For a start, in an odd twist for an online FPS, you'll gain XP with every kill. A straight kill will get you a full 10 points to add to your progress, but as if part of some Fantasy Football War League, an assist will reap you a bonus too.

Injure a man such that your buddy can finish him off and it'll recognise your contribution. It will also mark you for nifty kills, such as shooting through walls. And as you gain ranks, you'll gain new options and, indeed, Perks.

The new 'create-a-class' system lets you customise yourself in unique ways. You select your primary weapon, sidearm and grenade type, and then fill your three Perk slots. The first is for more weaponry, letting you choose between Claymore mines, more powerful grenades, C4 and so on. Then slots two and three are available for more intricate tweaks reminiscent of MMO bonuses.

You could boost your bullet damage, speed up your reload time or make yourself harder to spot on radar. Slot three offers our favourite, the Last Stand mode, which lets you fire off one final shot before dying, as well as Martyrdom, where you pull the pin on a grenade before popping your clogs.

And there's more. Kill three in a row without dying and you can use an aerial drone that will mark enemies on your radar for 30 seconds. Make it to five kills and you can radio for an air strike and devastate your opponents. Each weapon has its own upgrade options, each coming with a particular task you must complete in order to receive the additional silencer, laser scope or similar bonus items.

It all sounds fantastic fun, but a nightmare to balance. Fortunately, IW seem to be on to this, with Perk slots disappearing if your weapons become too ludicrously powerful. And getting to access these things won't take more than a few rounds of combat.

With the PC version getting the fanciest graphics and the largest multiplayer fields, it seems the series is coming home.