I’m going to cheat and only review games everyone already likes. Call of Duty 4 is one of them.
The game is a well-executed first person shooter. For the first 2/3rds of it you alternate characters. You can tell they really thought about this mechanic. It is the high-level gameplay. The game thoroughly explores the level as a gameplay element, and the shooter elements don’t get in its way.
There’s a mission, early on, where you get executed on Middle-Eastern television.
There’s a mission, about halfway through the game, where you die of radiation poisoning.
Most famously, after an intense urban combat mission, there’s a mission where you play a flying fortress gunner:
The dialog, the lack of music, and the delay from firing to feedback completely detach you from the battle. That level is, perhaps, a comment on war becoming too like videogames. Too inhuman. Art criticizing life for mimicking art? Maybe not, but even being able to perceive that detachment says interesting things about games. Exactly what am I being detached from? A virtual battle? Death From Above might be the most coldly violent level in Call of Duty. And one of the most interesting.
The crew’s dialog really emphasizes that detachment. “Get that person.” “He’s scared shitless.” “This is going to be one hell of a highlight reel.” The whole conversation about the curved road and the U-shaped building. Most of the game is like the radio chatter from the ground team, which sounds like barely controlled chaos. This level, with its laconic communication from the flight crew, is a highly-interesting contrast. I’m a fan of the designer(s).
And the development team knew their market. They end with a bumping rap joint called Deep and Hard:
That song rolls over the credits, and it’s about stuff you just did. It’s badass. It’s like being a hero and having your own bard.
I didn’t do enough research to know why Call of Duty 4 is apparently the third in the series. Oh well.
Played to completion.