Remember Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare? What a belter. Since its debut in late 2007, a rather distressing nine years ago, Call of Duty's metaphorical (and, in Activision's case, very literal) stock has risen dramatically. But despite its success – both in terms of the money it makes and the cultural influence it has – it seems customary to look at the series with a bit of a sneer. Infinite Warfare? LOL, more like Infinite Borefare. Black Ops? More like, uh, BACK OPS! SEE! Because it's OLD! Heh.
Which is fine, obviously. Familiarity does breed contempt: ask your husband/wife/partner/body pillow. And some of this contempt is deserved: the announcement of a new Call of Duty, and the hype that surrounds it, is a tiresomely regular event, like going to the dentist or people talking to you, ever. Sometimes this fatigue clouds the issue when it comes to talking about the individual games themselves: Black Ops 3, for example, may be the billionth sequel in a sprawling franchise, but it is a genuinely good multiplayer video game. And guess what? So, still, is Modern Warfare.
Now, I should probably preface this by saying I haven't played CoD 4 on an Xbox 360 in about six years, and I'm not about to go and do so now. But I have played the PC version recently, and it still holds up. In fact, thanks to some lovely mod work on certain servers, it's managed to incorporate some of the killstreaks (predator drones, etc) of the first and second sequels, while avoiding the insane score-chasing and importance of air superiority that defined those later titles.
Played now, Modern Warfare is pleasantly simple, if not necessarily simplistic, particularly in a world of Call of Duty games with wall running and robots and holograms and all the other futuristic rubbish that turns a lot of people off. The 3-5-7 killstreak reward tiers work so well that it takes the pressure off attempting to get your nuke on, enabling you to get on with the business of running around with an MP5, or, as is more likely, the fucking P90/AK47.
It's the maps however, which ensure CoD 4 is still such a joy. Ambush, with its sniping spots looking out into the no man's land which bisects the battlefield. Shipment, with its all-out gunishment. Over-fucking-grown, with it's intense long-range tests of marksmanship and nail-biting stealth-focused approaches. And what about Crash! Or Strike? And so on and so forth. Even its DLC offerings were good: Creek is the map which made me put down the SMG and pick up the M21.
As the series ties itself in knots with endless spin offs and sub-games and new modes and kill/scorestreak variations and Various Other Shit in (sometimes successful) attempts to recapture the glory of the earlier games (or retain the momentum of titles like Advanced Warfare), Modern Warfare stands as a testament to the founding principles of the second era of Call of Duty, a demonstration of how simple to grasp yet tactically flexible they were. Everything built from there: gun-on-gun, kill rewards, bloody Martyrdom. If you've not played it in a while, grab a game on Steam. You'll be surprised at how well it all holds up, nostalgia or no.
Which is why I'm fairly confident that, if the rumours are true, I'd probably have more fun with a console remaster of Modern Warfare than a brand new CoD, particularly if I could get the old team back together. (And I mean old literally.) I'd also wager that newer players would love it, based as it is less on future tech and other toys and more on running and gunning, a glorious throwback to the year 2007, before the nonsense surrounding Call of Duty began to take hold.