Reviews: Call of Duty 4 and Guitar Hero 3

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Guitar Hero and Call of Duty are as about as different as you can get, but as I played both quite a bit this week I thought I'd share my thoughts.

Call of Duty 4

I've been a huge fan of the Call of Duty series. They were dramatic - exciting - and fun as heck. Sure it was a bit easy (hurt? just stay still and you heal), but the games focus on fun versus realism was just fine by me. COD 1 and 2 were both great fun. Unfortunately COD 3 was... well lame. First off - I think I was just a bit burned out on WW2 and Europe. I would have loved to see them go to the Pacific like Medal of Honor, but no, they stayed in Europe and frankly, it was just more of the same. Along with a boring story line, there were bugs and crashes. My favorite bug was the one where my character would get stuck. This never happened in the middle of nowhere - but always in the middle of a firefight.

So when I heard COD4 was moving to modern times, I was definitely interested. When the screen shots started to pour in, I got even more interested. I pre-ordered it via Amazon, but Amazon told me yesterday morning that my copy wouldn't ship till January 2008 (seriously). I ran up to the local Game Stop and they had plenty of copies.

The first thing you notice about the game is the level of detail. It is easily the best visuals I've seen on the XBox ever. It makes Halo 3 look like an Xbox game. It even surpasses Bioshock.

Of course, pretty graphics aren't everything. The game play is awesome. After a kind of boring, but quick, training gig, you are put on a mission that is exciting as heck, and that's just the beginning. Every mission is incredibly intense. While you have some stealth portions, in general everything is one huge firefight. It's so quick, loud, and frentic that when things do slow down, you don't want to trust it. The game moves back and forth from Russia and Middle East, and each area is very well done (not that I've been to either place!). I can definitely recommend Call of Duty 4, just maybe not via Amazon.

Guitar Hero 3

Well, there isn't much to say about this one. I really enjoyed Guitar Hero 2. In fact, I'd find myself hearing the songs from the game on the radio and remember how much fun it was to play it. But let's face it - GH isn't really a deep game. GH3 is more of the same. Now that isn't a bad thing. Don't get me wrong. But it plays more like GH 2.5 than a major update. Sure, it's flashier. The graphics are better. But who sees the graphics when you play? I know I don't. There are some new things in the game. I haven't tried the online multiplayer, mostly because I focused on opening all the songs first. You also have guitar battles with various rockers. This is... mildly interesting, but almost too easy. (I've only played Easy so far though.)

I kind of feel like I may be being overly negative. I really do recommend the game, but I don't think folks should expect anything revolutionary. Now, I will say the music selection is much better. There are some great songs in there, especially the punk songs. But I have to say - it is a bit ironic to play a song talking about white male corporate oppression on an XBox. Somehow I can't imagine Sonic Youth intending for legions of geeks to be playing plastic guitars to that tune.

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Jake Munson posted on 11/11/2007 at 9:32 PM

I only briefly played GH2, so I don't really have a comparison, but I do LOVE GH3. We have it for the Wii, and I spend a little too much time with it. Have you done the final battle yet? That's a real kick in the pants. :)

I agree with you about the graphics. When you get a new character, or change guitar styles...I never really see that stuff because you have to pay so close attention to the notes. And I WAS very disappointed to find out that a new guitar doesn't really do anything. I saved up to buy a $10,000 guitar because I thought it would give me some kind of bonus...

Comment 2 by Gregory Nilsen posted on 11/11/2007 at 10:02 PM

I have to say that I'm a <a href="">big GH3 fan myself</a>, but I'm a Wii guy like Jake. It's one of those games where I don't care about the depth, but the challenge of trying to get through it. I've completed easy and am 3/4 of the way through medium, and I found the difficulty to ramp up pretty quickly. I also like how the playing becomes more accurate to the actual guitar playing as you step up in difficulty. Since I play the guitar casually anyway, it's nice to see that. Oh, and the boss battles do get harder, and the Dragonforce song you open up on beating easy is hard to complete on easy (and I'm not sure I want to try it any harder). Great game all around!

Comment 3 by Gregory Nilsen posted on 11/11/2007 at 10:03 PM

Whoops...screwed up my link...

Comment 4 by DK posted on 11/12/2007 at 5:00 AM

COD4 multi-player is pretty good. Every military rank you gain it unlocks new weapons or skills etc. Adds a lot to the re-playability for now.

Comment 5 by Shuns posted on 11/12/2007 at 5:18 AM

CoD 4 on Xbox live beats any other online FPS multi for 360 hands down.

First there was Rainbow 6: Vegas which was good, then came H3 which was better (but the levels are lame and the visuals are not great either)

Finnaly CoD 4 comes along with a great ranking system, Tip Top visuals are awesome gameplay. =D

Comment 6 by Shuns posted on 11/12/2007 at 5:18 AM

P.S. see you on live ;)
GT: shunnyboy

Comment 7 by Mark Picker posted on 11/12/2007 at 7:48 AM

Massive fan of COD4. I played the beta none stop right up to the second they took the beta servers offline. First day I got the release copy I played it from straight after work until after 8am the next morning.

One of the cool things in the single player game is the focus on fun and the gamer experience and not the game length. The single player isn't that long, but it is just so much fun. Loved the "Death from above" level!

Cool feature in the single player is how the game adapts if you are having trouble reaching a checkpoint. Keep dying over and over at a certain point from too many enemies? After dying a few times, the number of enemies will slightly reduce...keep dying and it will get a little bit easier (just in that section of the level). If only more games would do this.

Multiplayer? Makers of Halo 3, MOH Airborne etc should take a look at what Infinity Ward have done with COD4 for a lesson in how to make a good multiplayer game. Quick connection to matches (most of the time anyway), quick intense game play and the constant feeling of “just one more game, I promise”

Brilliant Game! 10/10

(xboxlive: tHeSmUrF300)

Comment 8 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/12/2007 at 8:26 AM

re: Death From Above - That was definitely one of the coolest moments in gaming history. Very subtle - very "cold" in ways - and truly cool.

re: Multiplayer - Awesome to hear that it is so cool.

Comment 9 by Mark Picker posted on 11/12/2007 at 8:38 AM

I've gone back and replayed "Death from Above" a number of times, it's so well done. A cool feature for COD5 would be the ability to have that style of gameplay in multiplayer (so 10 kills without dying and you get 10 seconds of that style).

When you start playing multiplayer, kiss any work your doing maybe get blogCFC 6 out the door first :)

Comment 10 by tony petruzzi posted on 11/12/2007 at 9:17 AM

dragonforce is the only reason to play gh3. I need to go buy their album.

Comment 11 by Troy Allen posted on 11/12/2007 at 6:41 PM

My 17 year old son is the lead guitarist in a very heavy "speed / metal core" band, so we do not share all of the same musical preferences (although we do agree more often than not). But Dragonforce is a guilty pleasure we both share. You will love their albums, and if you ever get a chance to see them live...GO!

Comment 12 by DK posted on 11/12/2007 at 7:13 PM

my xbox live is: meeble

If anyone wants to cod4.

Comment 13 by Joshua Cyr posted on 11/12/2007 at 9:17 PM

I have decided not to buy GH3 or the 80's add on. Instead I pre-ordered Rock Band with all instruments. If you haven't tried it most Best Buys have a pre-release with drums, mic and guitar setup. Basically it is Guitar Hero but with a whole band at the same time (online or all together). Should be great party game.

Comment 14 by Matthew Steiner posted on 11/13/2007 at 1:20 AM

New website? Nice!

I also own and have played both games. I kept hearing that COD4 was the best shooter, better than Halo, better than Gears of War, better than Rainbox Six, better than BioShock. You're right the level detail is amazing and the level immersion is amazing, but without a duck and cover system this game is simply good instead of excellent. How can games like Halo 3, Bioshock, and COD4 not include such a critical feature. It's the next evolution in FPS games. It's what shooting is all about!

Rainbox Six still wins the crown for best shooter game because of the cool weapons and realism. That game can be incredible tough and slow though so maybe not as fun for some people.

COD4 you can tell is still a COD game. You are led in a linear path and you just run around a shoot, not too much strategy required. I love the game still, but I kinda regret buying the game when I think I won't play it once I beat it.

Bioshock's wins the award for most unique and innovative for the year.

Halo 3 is just more of the same, great game, but they didn't really expand much of the single player campaign which is mostly what I play. I like the music in that game so much though, that I just get jazzed up playing it.

Sorry this comment has turned into random thoughts. See you online.

Comment 15 by Dan posted on 11/13/2007 at 7:43 PM

Looking forward to getting my copy of COD4 soon! I might have to get Assasins Creed first though (depends on the reviews I guess). :-)

Comment 16 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/13/2007 at 7:48 PM

I played 3 more hours of COD4 last night... and wow. My feelings before are nothing compared to now. This game is getting _very_ close to Bioshock in my opinion. I don't want to say why as it will ruin the surprises.

Comment 17 by Crackerjack92 posted on 11/22/2007 at 12:31 PM

assasins creed was supposed to be a letdown but i got COD4 for the PS3 today and it is the best FPS i have. That's saying something.

Comment 18 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/22/2007 at 7:41 PM

I got Assassin's Creed this week as well, and it really ticked me off. I'm not going to say why until I do a proper review, but currently it is pushed down below Orange Box and Mass Effect.

Comment 19 by Troy Allen posted on 11/23/2007 at 3:31 AM

WOW! I am LOVING Assassin's Creed. I have killed 7 of the 9 main targets, and I still love the game. But I love "sneaking" games like Splinter Cell, and I love a good sword fight. Of course I also loved Prince of Persia, and AC is by the same team.

I will wait to read Raymond's full review to comment further, but I can see why this game is not for everyone though. I think everyone can agree the graphics, animation, sound, and scenery is incredible. Gamespot gave a 9 out of 10 - Editor's Choice, and others have praised it equally high. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about it, Ray, because so far our tastes have been scarily similar.

Comment 20 by Mark Picker posted on 11/23/2007 at 4:26 AM

I would have to agree, animation, graphics etc are great in Assassin’s Creed...but I really don't like this game that much. I want my $109 back.

I’ve only played the game for about 8 or 9 hours, but it seems very repetitive and hearing the people around the city (and the people you save) say the same thing over and over really gets annoying. Come on Ubisoft, would it really be that hard to add a few more phrases? Games that force me to listen to the slow dribble that some of the characters spew forth, really annoy me.

But yes, it does look good and some of the kill scenes are very impressive. I love jumping at my target with the hidden blade and smacking them to the ground, or the fight move where you put your short sword in their foot and then as they bend over, come up and smack them in the head.....looks cool. But good graphics, animation and sound don’t make a great game. It’s a pity they didn’t spend just a little more time on it as it is so close to being a brilliant game. Voice acting isn’t that great either.

Have you seen the change list for the COD4 upgrade?

There isn’t much I don’t like about COD4 Multiplayer, and now pretty much everything is being fixed! I think COD4 would have to be one of my most favourite games ever. I’ll give AC a couple more days to grow on my, but after that I’m going back to COD4.


Comment 21 by Mark Picker posted on 11/25/2007 at 11:34 AM

Ok, finished Assassin's Creed yesterday. Really want my money back now. If only to pay for a new controller to replace the one I smashed yesterday after AC pissed me off for the 100th time.

Looks good, but is a very repetitive game. I think a lot of the reviewers didn’t play the game for more than an hour, as it looks like an ok game until you play it for a bit longer.

Comment 22 by ricky posted on 12/10/2007 at 7:27 AM

Call of Duty 4 is so awesome. I got it yesterday and I finished the game today. Even though it was pretty easy, it's gonna be freakin fun to play over and over again.

Comment 23 by Mark Picker posted on 12/10/2007 at 7:47 AM

Now go back and try it on veteran level :)

I was getting so frustrated with veteran level, but got through it finally (except the save the VIP bonus level). Cool how if you keep dying too often that it will decide to make a disabled checkpoint active again (checkpoints are further apart in Veteran mode).

The multiplayer patch isn't far away now, which will make the game even better.


Comment 24 by Ed Salsberg, VIdeo Game Consul posted on 1/16/2008 at 2:27 AM

I absolutely LOVE CoD4! The achievements are spread out far enough apart but not to far. Playing online with friends/clanmates is a blast! The entire game can rest on a sniper in the grass focused in on a cap point 100 yards out or a double tapped SAW waiting in the gutter of a bombed out building just waiting to stand and deliver. This game has been the only one the has turn my Halo 3 clan into a Call of Duty 4/Halo 3 clan. This is one of my picks of the year!

GT SteelValor
Clan PraetoriaGuard

Comment 25 by mika posted on 1/25/2008 at 9:57 PM

Hi, I played 6 more hours of COD4 last night... and wow. I love this game.