For me, first person shooters have always been reasonably similar in what they can offer in terms of realism, physics and gameplay as well as a whole host of other aspects. To some degree they have always been carbon copies of one another.
Not Call of Duty 4. For the first time since I discovered the wonders of Battlefield 2, I look forward to finishing university every day so that I can jump online and play some multiplayer.
This game needs a powerful machine to be able to fully enjoy the graphical delights that can be delivered to the user - don't make a mistake, they really are absolutely incredible. Shadows, rag doll physics (so that when you shoot somone they fall down properly and it looks like you killed them), HDR lighting, field of focus (so that when you are looking down your scope at something, things around you become more blurred, the same thing goes for if you are sniping and a blade of grass goes infront of your eyes.)
It is about as real as a game can be and it makes it all the more fun. When you shoot someone through the head you actually see a blast of blood hit the wall - divine.
The team tactics enduced by this game are fun, tense and incredibly professional. You can employ miliatary tactics and actually see them work - I recall several times myself and my best friend stormed building in order to neutralise the targets inside.
You do not hear it yourself, but when ever you do something that may directly influence another player around you, the clever COD4 engine makes your player shout it out. Examples include 'flash out!' for a flash grenade, so that if a player is near you he can turn himself around to prevent becoming equally blind and deaf. The best one however, is when you have a target in your sights and a team mate kills this target, you hear a 'target neutralised' which means you can relax for a minute.
The weapons are incredible. I thought that Battlefield 2 had gotten it right but COD4 shows weapons in a whole new light. Never before have I considered how much of a difference it can make to be using a silenced Mini-Uzi against an AK74u with no silencer or grip. Whilst the AF rifle has a longer range and does more damage, it shoots far slower and makes a heck of a noise. At close range, the Mini-Uzi is capable of ripping players in half and it is little considerations like this that make the game all the more enjoyable.
Shoot Through Walls! Yes, a whole new concept that has been implemented very sucessfully into COD4 is real material penetration. It works very well and makes the game so much more real. You can begin shooting before you enter a room in hope that you'll hit something but be careful, if they're already in the room and on the floor, they'll know you're coming!
The single player is short but equally fun. Providing an experience that only Call of Duty games have provided in terms of story line, it is superb, and the new graphics engine will make it seem all the better.
Buy it, please, for the sake of your own existence and if you cannot run it, please make a good PC your christmas present.
Just for reference my PCs specs are -
Core 2 Duo E6600
2GB Dual Channel DDRII RAM
300GB 7200RPM HDD
2 x Nvidia 7900GT SLI
Asus P5N32E-SLI Motherboard
22" Samsung 1680x1050 Screen - I run the game at 1280 x 1024 - I get 14 fps on 1680x1050.