[i]Cliff Caswell writes for the British Army's Soldier Magazine
and has covered operations in the former Yugoslavia - mainly Bosnia and Kosovo - as well as Northern Ireland and Iraq.
He has also been on exercises in the Falkland Islands, Jordan, the USA, the Czech Republic and Germany. He has recently returned from a stint overseas.[/i]
Nearly a decade after I first embedded with British troops in the remnants of the former Yugoslavia, I?m still in awe of the world of the military.
The unique and amazing kit and weapons the troops use still fascinate me as much today as they did back in the days of Bosnia. And it is as much for this reason, as well as the great gameplay, soundtrack and graphics, that I am voting Activision?s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
my game of the year.
Put simply, the developers at Infinity Ward have surpassed themselves with this one. They?ve done their homework in terms of kit; creating an arsenal of realistic weapons, while the battlefield environments are rich in detail. Even the way the soldiers in the story interact with each other is generally spot on.
Importantly, Infinity Ward has also realised that the gaming community is growing increasingly battle-weary of the endless World War II campaign. This has lead it to break ranks and bring the Call of Duty
series into the modern world. Accordingly, the plot is set against the backdrop of some familiar theatres such as the Middle East. It?s also spiced up with a fictional conflict in the former Soviet Union.
From the outset, the single-player campaign is fast-paced and relentless. After a mercifully brief familiarisation session at a ?Fighting in Built Up Areas? (Fibua) training area in the UK, you?re immediately placed in the boots of a British soldier with the less-than-glamorous nickname of ?Soap?. You are then tasked with storming a ship that is believed to be carrying a dodgy cargo.
Working as part of an elite team, you?re inserted into the action by helicopter onto the pitching deck and the shooting begins almost immediately. There are enemies by the truckload armed with assault rifles - you?re forced to get off the boat in a hurry before MiG jets arrive.
If you manage to avoid a watery grave, you are taken around the world to different parts of the campaign in a style reminiscent of the TV show 24
. The United States marines are deploying en masse
to the Middle East while the team of British troops is sent on a covert mission to a volatile area of Russia.
As the action moves around the different theatres, you?re also given the chance to assume the role of those supporting the operation. This includes a stint directing the pulverising fire from a C-130 Spectre gunship.