Call of Duty 2 has been a staple of my gaming time since the Xbox 360 came out, more than two years ago. Whatever happened to be the 360’s multiplayer game du jour, COD2 was what I kept going back to with the true believers on my friends list. Once they’d patched the early issues, I’ve always maintained that it was the best no-frills multiplayer FPS on the 360.
You wouldn’t have bet against Halo 3 being the one to finally take over that mantle. After all, COD3 stunk and the fact that I probably preferred multiplayer Return to Castle Wolfenstein on the original Xbox didn’t stop Halo 2 from being an immense time sink.
Maybe it’s karma, but this time the non-Halo game totally stole Halo’s thunder for me. Call of Duty 4 had good single player; it was short and perhaps not as fair on the harder difficulties as previous games (try later COD2 levels on veteran followed by ‘No Fighting in the War Room’ from COD4 – nightmare), but still satisfying, with some real standout moments. Alongside the pitched battles that are unmistakeably Call of Duty, stages like the sniper sequence first shown at E3 and the level set on the gunship show range to Infinity Ward’s talents that make me excited to see what they can do next, probably while someone else sodomises the franchise’s good name in 2008’s COD5.
Multiplayer is what won this for COD4 against all of the other top games this year, though. While it has balance problems that have been discussed at length elsewhere and is possibly the most unfriendly game for new players to enter the melee, I adore it. It has the tight gameplay that made COD2 so good and the ingenious levelling system which gives the impetus to keep playing. Whereas most online games have little more than a rank next to your name, if even that much, after literally days of play you’re unlocking new weapons and challenges here. I’m almost at the highest rank and I’ve only unlocked all of the accessories for two weapons, and haven’t unlocked (let alone completed) all of the challenges.
And I haven’t even mentioned that the whole thing runs at 60 frames per second. That achievement, plus the quality and quantity of content here, puts most games to shame. I have no hesitation in calling it my favourite game of 2007.