It may seem a strange place to hold an event but Covent Garden’s Hospital is always buzzing with life. The last time I stepped through these doors it was to appreciate the wonderful works of street artist Banksy. That day I was welcomed at the door by a stencil that mysteriously appeared the night before opening to let visitors know that although Banksy may not be there in person but that didn’t mean he wasn’t watching us. Anyway, art was not the theme as I met up with fellow Ready Upper Zoey last Wednesday to play Call of Duty 5.
In the dark dark hall, by the bright bright sign, two gamers stood.
Presumably some of you have played the beta version, but for me it was still a first glimpse. We arrived just before it opened and I made myself immediately unpopular by strutting in and demanding that one of the girls on the door took our photo before even saying what I was there for. Speed forward past me drinking too early in the morning and eating the weirdest mayonnaise I have ever tasted on a chip that was being passed off as a canapé and we get to the good stuff. Shaky from all the coffee and early alcohol I managed to actually play the game and meet the senior producer. Mission accomplished.
‘Ohh look at me I’m playing CoD5 co-op with my handbag and my overly demanding ways’
As any Call of Duty fan will know the last game in the series was a pretty big thing. Maybe not as big in actual physical size as say a hadron collider but possibly a different kind of big, like Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie finally getting together. Call of Duty 4 was made by the lovely Infinity Ward, who also created the first and second game in the franchise. This one is being made by the wonderful Treyarch, who made CoD number three and now have a lot to live up to as number four has recently voted as greatest game of all time. Not that the pressure is on or anything, but I was hoping to see some good stuff today.
We started out on multiplayer and whilst Zoey racked up the kills, I tried to look around the level and generally got slaughtered. It was nice to be able to change my character type mid way through play, but so far nothing to take my breath away. We then had a chance to chat to someone who knew just a tiny bit more about the game then I did; Mr Noah Heller the senior producer. I was told enthusiastically about the level of gore that can accompany their move back to World War II. This man was clearly pleased that although modern warfare (I mean the phrase in general, not just as the title of Call of Duty 4) is a fairly clean and calculated affair. The use of World War II opens up a whole new opportunity for graphically intriguing ways to blow off limbs. A gun will in CoD5 will most certainly make a mess like a real gun would. This was an interesting angle to take as people have been wondering about the possibility that Call of Duty will now just be a whole new game each time the next one is made, jumping randomly to whatever war they feel like with no franchise consistent time line. Is the promise of gore enough to override a feeling of inconsistency? Maybe so.
The game will be aimed at re-enacting end of World War II, so I asked how the British would favour since they are often forgotten in the Pacific end of the war. I was assured that they were portrayed favourably and not forgotten for all their good work. (Being Irish I secretly didn’t care but I won’t admit that out loud… ). Noah did squirm a little over my next probe of ‘so you get to drop the bomb?’ and I’m not too sure what his answer meant. I gather that it is featured but I’m pretty certain you won’t get to ride it, that’s one point lost in my eyes!
Back on the game Zoey and I tried out co-op and single player getting the chance to see all four levels on display: Eviction, Blowtorch & Corkscrew, Relentless, and Hard Landing. The difficulty varied noticeably in each one with Blowtorch & Corkscrew certainly proving more of a challenge than the others. The environments looked good and came across pleasingly in my brief stint seeming well designed and nicely planned out. The co-op showed off the need for companionship in the game; forcing you all to re-spawned right back at the beginning if you failed to help out an injured comrade and left him to die. On single player I enjoyed the mass of enemies I was faced with and I soon ran out of ammo at a pretty crucial moment making me run about in a hail of bullets searching for a new gun. I also enjoyed clearing out an enemy camp and working my way to the machine gun pits to ‘cleanse’ them with my blow torch. The game does manage to convey an enjoyable sense of urgency and realism, although I am yet to experience the need to ‘take a break from the emotional onslaught of a level’ described to me by Noah.
‘As good as Call of Duty 4?’ I hear you cry. Of course the answer after a mere snapshot of the game is that I can’t really say. I would certainly recommend it in a list of games to buy after this day experience, which is a pretty positive outcome considering my generally cynical outlook on all things. I really did enjoy the single player and found that all the modes played very nicely. It really helped that Mr Noah Heller was so wonderfully enthusiastic about the game and after he told me the music was extremely well incorporated I found myself listening intently as I played. So my advice is that if you buy it and in some freak circumstance you find it lacks all your ‘Call of Duty 4 hopes and dreams’ just get Noah round to boost your enthusiasm. Finally I leave you with the knowledge that a short life span is not to be feared as downloadable content was of course promised to be on the cards.