Call of Duty 4 Demo Performance
It has been a pretty wild week for PC gaming. Between the Half-Life 2 Orange Box and demos for both Call of Duty 4 and Unreal Tournament 3, PC gamers have had lots of goodies to play with lately. By the end of this month, we also should have the Crysis demo and Hellgate: London as well. So much for the supposed “death” of PC gaming…
Of all the shooters debuting this year, Call of Duty 4 is probably the one I’ve personally been looking forward to the most. Developer Infinity Ward really has a knack for recreating the mayhem that is war. You could see this in missions like Stalingrad from the original Call of Duty, or Point du Hoc in Call of Duty 2; no other game really immerses you in quite the same way as CoD: you really do feel like you’re part of a team that’s trying to accomplish a larger objective. The Call of Duty series focuses on squad-level combat, so it’s not you against the world, although certainly your character plays a key role in completing each mission.
Call of Duty 4 takes this basic formula and brings it to modern times. You’ll play the role of a member of the elite British SAS, or a Sergeant in the US Marines. The game also has close air support missions where you’ll man the gunner’s position in an AC-130 Spectre gunship or as an AH-1 Cobra pilot. Along the way you’ll be introduced to modern weaponry like the M16/M4 assault rifles, MP5 submachine gun, and M60 light machine gun, which are staples of the US military. You’ll even employ the Javelin anti-tank missile.
Most of the weapons can be upgraded with a secondary fire mode, and the game’s multiplayer component employs a class system where you can play certain roles (sniper, assault, heavy gunner, special ops, demolition) as well as customize yourself via the game’s “create a class” menu. Like most shooters, here you can tweak your character’s primary weapon, sidearm, and grenade type, but you can also choose from additional upgrades known as “perks”. For instance, you can make yourself harder to spot on radar, give yourself more health, or allow your bullets to do more damage, the game even offers a “Last Stand” mode which lets you fire one last shot before dying, or “Martyrdom” which drops a live grenade just as you die. You’ll have three different perks to choose from, so the game offers lots of ways to customize your character once you finish the single-player story and get online.
Call of Duty 4 Graphics
With all the buzz surrounding DirectX 10 and games that take advantage of these features, Call of Duty 4 skips this trend, utilizing DX9 shaders instead. The game also has a dynamic lighting system with bloom effects, rim lighting, and god rays.
On paper you’d think this would put CoD 4 at a disadvantage graphically compared to other shooters coming out this year, but Infinity Ward has managed to deliver a package that looks quite good from what we’ve seen so far: stand next to a member of your squad as he’s firing a long burst and you can see the heat haze from the barrel of his gun. Or as you stare down your gun sights depth of field kicks in, blurring objects in your peripheral vision properly as you focus in on your target.
All of these eye candy effects really flow well together, giving the game that extra layer of polish.
For this article we’ve gathered the latest high-end GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA, running them through the opening few minutes of the Call of Duty 4 demo. While the game provides a console and supports timedemo mode, this feature appears to be broken at the moment in the demo. We tried both Windows XP and Vista and every time we tried to play back one of our demos in timedemo mode, the game crashed to the desktop.
Instead we used FRAPS to evaluate performance. Now since we’re running FRAPS in an uncontrolled environment where enemies are firing AK47s and RPGs at you and your fellow squad members are firing back at them, we obviously can’t run 100% repeatable runs. We did the best we could, running through the same areas in the same manner, but obviously there are going to be some demo runs where we may take more hits than others, or an RPG may fly right over our head whereas in the previous run it may have exploded in front of us. These are all variables that we can’t control and will obviously affect our performance results, so instead of just taking the average of 3 runs like we’d normally do in a more controlled test, we’re going with seven runs.