Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
18th Jun 2007 | 11:19
During our first look at Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare we got chance to sit down with the developer's president Grant Collier. In the middle of a lengthy global press tour, Collier looked absolutely knackered, but it's amazing what a glass of fizzy pop can do.
You can read our impressions of Call of Duty 4 right here, and below is the result of our chat with Grant Collier.
Are you missing World War II?
Grant Collier: I'm so sad that I can't work on World War II anymore; it just breaks my heart (laughs). We really like World War II. We wouldn't have worked on it for seven years if we didn't like it.
Call of Duty 4 is just something we wanted to do for a really long time, and while we were developing Call of Duty 1 we had a bunch of ideas for this game, and during Call of Duty 2 even more.
By the time we'd finished Call of Duty 2, with the success of Call of Duty 2, we were allowed to do whatever we wanted. So sweet, this is something we've been dying to do.
I don't want to speak for the designers, but probably while they've been designing this game, they probably came up with a bunch of ideas for a World War II game. You know, like "Oh I wish we'd done that back in Call of Duty 1 or Call of Duty 2".
So you don't think the World War II FPS has been done to death?
Grant Collier: Well, I think it's been done as much as fantasy RPGs and science fiction shooters. There are such few original games any more, they're all just different takes on a current setting.
I think there's always room for the top games in any genre. If someone came in right now and decided to really blow the doors off World War II, I think the community would embrace them. Lots of people murmur about, "Oh, I've played too many World War II games", but every Call of Duty game sells more than the last one.
You've said how during development of CoD and CoD 2 you were looking at different ways to deliver and present storyline and that you're exploring this more in Call of Duty 4...?
Grant Collier: We've been working with TV writers who are masters of episodic content, who create great teasers at the end of the episode to get you waiting for a whole week until the next show pops up. We've been working with them to really make a lot of very interesting twists and turns in the storyline and get people really engaged.
We're jumping around so much. In one of the first missions you're British SAS rappelling down ropes onto a cargo ship, then in the next mission you could be Americans coming in guns blazing in the Middle East, and then all of a sudden you're a covert attack helicopter pilot.
Then maybe you're the gunner on some large, unknown airship that's flying around the battlefield. Then maybe you go back in time 15 years to be with the young Price [Price from previous CoD games] who's trying to assassinate Zakhaev.
All these things really help propel the story forward - tell the storyline but also get the player just constantly guessing, like "What is gonna be happening next?"
So any major new gameplay features?
Grant Collier: Yeah, in Call of Duty 4 we have the modular nature of modern weaponry. That really allows us to change how the gameplay acts. Now you can have silencers, you can have laser targeting, you can have under-mounted grenade launchers, you can have 2x scope, 4x scope, 6x scope.
All these things allow the weapons to have a lot of different personality depending on which kind of attachments can be on them. That's a huge change.
Also, there's having night-vision on your side. Sometimes the enemy has night-vision, sometimes it doesn't and they're like launching flares and that really affects their visibility.
In the demonstration, I came up and knifed that guy in the dark, and he couldn't see me - and the other enemy with the RPG, his behaviour switched to melee rather than using the RPG and I backed up and hosed him down.
Both those things have a huge impact on the gameplay.
Is it still fairly linear with scripting?
Grant Collier: I think a lot of people in the past have knocked us, like "Oh my gosh it's scripted, it's scripted". Every cut-scene that you've ever seen, they are always scripted. There's not a single cut-scene that you'll see that isn't scripted. And we allow the player to play through these cut-scenes.
So I think it's unfair for people to knock us for that because we give them an added benefit where we don't stop the screen, we don't pull you out of the immersion.
We're creating a really immersive, entertaining product where we actually give the player the ability to move through and follow storyline. If we got rid of all that, that would be like getting "What would we do to add cut-scenes back in?" Which is something we don't want to do.
How do you go about creating the intense action sequences?
Grant Collier: I guess this is kind of giving away our secrets, but since no one's been able to recreate it in the past six years I don't think we have much to worry about really.
We try to create that living, breathing battlefield. It's not just the fight between you and one guy, there's all this other shit that's going on around you. You'll see jets flying through the sky, you might see things exploding in the distance, or a rocket truck launching rockets, maybe planes crashing and tanks battling it out.
Plus you have your really life-like squad around you that are doing things that make it feel like you're not alone - they're actually putting down fire, they're telling you where the enemy is, they're giving you orders. And there's a lot of bad guys around, you've got enemies coming at you from all directions.
It's a combination of all those things that really make it. And the immersion level. We want it to be as authentic as possible and we want it to be as realistic as possible.
Do the SAS missions break up the pace of the game? Is there more stealth?
Grant Collier: Yeah, we've included a lot more stealthy elements. As you saw in the trailer, we showed off the guy in the guile suit, which is the guy covered with branches. That wasn't a cut-scene. I don't know why people say these are all cut-scenes. We don't have cut-scenes!
But we're really pushing the stealthy aspects of the game a lot further with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Also I think it's a question of pace and this whole issue of things being more like an episodic TV series. You want to break up the pace. Call of Duty 2 was pretty much full-on intensity from start to finish, and there's more variety in the pace in Modern Warfare.
We take the player up to 10 and then down to six, up to 9, down to 7, then up to 11, then down to seven. Instead of keeping the player in the red all the time and just burning them out, we'd like to change things up a lot, throw new things at the player that are still as exciting as the last one, it just tickles a different part of your brain.
What are the main advancements you've made on the technology side?
Grant Collier: One of the technological things we have is the procedural clutter system that populates the world with stuff. So when there's an explosion, shit is going to be rolling across the floor.
We have accurate physics; we have a proprietary physics system which gives us the ragdoll and the destructibility of the vehicles and destructibility of parts of the environment.
Being able to have bullet penetration, so depending on thickness of wall and calibre of bullet, you've got accurate bullet penetration.
Will the new way the storyline's being presented mean a far more impressive ending that we've seen in previous Call of Duty games?
Grant Collier: Hopefully it'll be the best ending that we've ever had. It'll be the culmination of a really complicated storyline, so we're really able to deliver on the payoff unlike doing the campaigns in the other games.
Some campaigns would just end, and at the very end of the last campaign you storm the Reichstag or something like that. But now we have a really complex story that will finally all weave together in a very climatic fashion.
Finally, anything more you can tell us about Call of Duty 4 multiplayer?
Grant Collier: We've several things that we've done for the different multiplayer modes. We have classic Call of Duty, we have realism mode which is a mod that has been made by the community every single time that we come out with a Call of Duty game, where it's like one shot, one kill, regenerative health and all that crap.
We also have missions that have hard points. Hard points are pieces of territory that the player can fight over. For example, you have a beacon which calls in an attack helicopter - once you've taken control of the beacon, the attack helicopter comes and starts to strafe the enemy. They can knock the helicopter out the air and at that point it becomes neutral or after it takes a couple of passes.
We also have a radar tower that, once you take control of it - the mini-map is in multiplayer by the way, it's not in single-player - the mini-map will now show not just the friendlies on it but also the enemies on it until the enemies capture it.
So there's various hard points to give the player something to really fight over and some natural resource on the map.