Halo 3 vs Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (*2007)
Developed by Bungie Studios (Halo) & Infinity Ward (Call of Duty) Released for Xbox 360 (Halo) & Xbox 360, PS2, Wii & PC
A Bad Movie Studios Video Game Review…Sort of…
* Both games were released the same year
When I got my first Xbox 360 in December of 2007, there were no two games bigger at the time than Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. They were easily the biggest releases of the year and both of them made about a billion-zillion dollars and got 12 year old’s the world over to yell nonsensical obscenities to other players everywhere. Both of these games were a lot of fun and I still play them to this day. In fact I think that Call of Duty 4 is the best game of it’s series, period, and Halo 3 was the game that got me into the Halo franchise to begin with. I probably had more fun with Halo 3 than the other 2 games before it, ODST, or Halo: Reach (I didn’t play Halo 4). and no other Call of Duty game would be able to impress me as much as the original Modern Warfare. At the time, I enjoyed two really good first person shooters. But which one is better? Well, I’ve been thinking about doing a review of Cod 4, and since Halo 3 is free to download right now for Xbox Live Gold Members, I figure it’s the perfect time to give my thoughts on this debate and share them. I will review both of these games by the same 4 categories that I’ve implemented in my last few reviews, Graphics, Gameplay, Sound Design, and Story. I’ll give my opinion on how each game stacks up in those categories (giving them a numeric score) and at the end of this review I will compare both of there scores to proclaim a victor. So let me get to it.
Graphics: Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 are both very different in terms of tone and aesthetics. They both look good, even though they were released earlier in the 360’s life cycle. Halo 3 has a brighter, much more colorful pallet in the visuals. Call of Duty 4 goes for a more realistic approach, using shadows and darker colors (a lot of blue, black, brown and grey) to set a level of grittiness into itself. They really do both look good, but Halo 3 has a bit of this glossy shine and over reliance on bright lights in it’s visuals. And quite frankly, when I saw Call of Duty 4 for the first time (and for a little while after) I legitimately thought it was the best looking game I had ever seen. So Halo 3 looks good (8), but it can’t compare to how much Modern Warfare impressed me. I’m really tempted to give it a (9), but I understand that now it doesn’t deserve that category. So I’ll go with an (8.5).
Gameplay: Well, this one’s gonna be tough. Both of these games are ridiculous fun and addictive, and not only please when you play on your own, but are also noteworthy in the multiplayer experience. But I said I was here to answer which one was better and that’s exactly what I’ll do. First off, the controls. Both of these games are really easy to pick up and play and very quickly you will get a feel for them. Halo 3 has a more traditional control scheme, while I had never encountered one like Call of Duty’s before. I have to say that there are two things that make me edge with Call of Duty’s though. The first is that Halo sometimes has a tendency to feel a bit clumsy. Like you can’t quite figure out where you’re getting shot from and you become a tad disoriented (don’t get me started on the driving controls). The second, is that Modern warfare’s control scheme became the genre standard shortly after. In fact, Halo would even adopt parts of Call of Duty’s control pattern in future games. Call of Duty just feels tighter and more coherent. That doesn’t take away from the fun factor of either game though, and that’s really the most important part. Well, Halo brings in cool weapons, vehicles, lots of explosions and super soldiers. A great mixture for sure. Cod 4 gives us tight innovative controls, high action “realism”, innovative multiplayer, and a diverse and rewarding arsenal to play with. Also a great mixture. Both games also have some semblance of an RPG like feature in the multiplayer that consists of leveling up to achieve better weapons, armor, perks, power-ups etc. Well I prefer the aiming mechanic in Call of Duty 4 by far. But Halo has that nonsensically fun melee combat. Halo also has vehicles that spice things up, but it comes at the price of some shabby controls for them. Call of Duty also feels more rewarding when you earn a kill, mostly because in Halo you waste so many large groups of enemies that never really seem to be a threat that they sort of lose their significance. Call of Duty 4 doesn’t ever really have as many enemies on screen at one time, but your engagements are much more…well engaging. It’s tight corridors and short range combat a lot of the time as opposed to Halo’s formula of more open areas and a lot of explosions. Now, I also feel that each game shines in different ways on the multiplayer vs single player front. Quite frankly, when it comes to online multiplayer, Call of Duty gets the nod hands down. The action is fast paced and rather hectic, not that Halo 3’s isnt, but I have far less downtime on CoD matches than Microsoft’s flagship series. That being said, I prefer to play Halo 3 more with friends. It’s just so fun to shoot your buddies in the face and them beat them down with an assault rifle or stick them with a grenade right when they kill you so you get sweet revenge from the grave. It’s just awesome. So I guess it comes down to single player. Well I’ll talk about that more in the story department so I’ll leave the rating for that there. But when it comes to gameplay, Halo comes in JUST a little short at (8.5) to Call of Duty’s (9).
Sound Design: This is a no contest. Halo 3, hands down. Both games hand really good sound effects, and the immersion into the sounds of battle along with some decent music make it good in this department. A solid (8). But Halo 3 is just awesome. The sound effects in the game for all the guns are unique and memorable, from the shotgun, to the battle rifle, to the assault rifle to any other number of weapons in the game. Then there’s that ridiculously satisfying melee noise. Every time I hear it it puts a smile on my face. But most of all, what makes this game is the musical score. By far one of the best soundtracks in any video game ever. In fact, I actually bought the Halo 3 soundtrack on CD, just to listen to the music. I’ve never done that for any other game (with the exception of Alone in the Dark, but I didn’t choose too, it came with the copy that I got). The music is just excellent, and you get to hear it all the time. It’s just awesome. Halo 3’s sound design gets my first ever (10).
Story: This is actually a very important part of games to me, even more so than the multiplayer. The story mode is where the art part of things comes in, and in my mind where I find the entertainment that judges if I come back to the game at all. How do Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 stack up in this regard? Well I can say that above anything else, they are two sides of the same coin. One is the gritty, realistic, darker, more movie epic like tale of the military at war with a familiar menace, terrorists. The other is a colorful, sci-fi, very James Cameron-ish tale of space marines at war with another familiar menace, aliens. Really, they are only the same in the fact that they are military based, but that’s something they have in common, so why the hell not mention it. But in the battle between the two, there is a clear winner to me. Halo 3 is large. It really feels global, maybe even galactic. It revolves around you not only saving the human race, but the lives of all sentient life in existence. It’s big, it’s stylish, its cool, and it’s just not as good as Call of Duty 4. Call of Duty 4’s campaign is the best I’ve ever played through in any FPS game. Period. The story was coherent, cinematic and written very well. The pacing was amazing, and the character’s actually manage to develop and caused me to actually care about their lives. Yeah Master Chief is a badass, but so is Captain Price. Call of Duty 4 really made me feel like I was fighting a war that there was no guarantee I was going to win. And the true outcome to the whole thing and whether or not you actually DO “win” in the end is debatable. In fact, Modern Warfare completely drops the concept of “winning” in favor of more losses for the greater good vs less loses for common evils. Halo 3 didn’t give me that. Halo 3 felt like a glorified arcade shooter, sending wave after wave of more enemies, different guns and some other cool toys to hold me over until I eventually beat it. There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to finish that game, it felt “in the bag” after the first level honestly. It gave me no real sense of conflict. On top of that, Halo tries to be SO big that it honestly just blends in with the rest of itself. Call of Duty was paced no well and had these standout great moments that were really memorable. I don’t even remember most of Halo 3. So to me, there’s absolutely no comparison, Halo 3 pulls an (8), and Call of Duty 4 knocks it out of the park with a (9.5)
Overall Scores: Halo 3 – 8.6 out of 10
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – 8.75 out of 10
Final thoughts: So there you have it, by a narrow margin, the victor is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Really, this game is amazing and if you haven’t played it you’re missing out. In my opinion it is the absolute best first person shooter game ever made. It’s just this awesome blend, this perfect storm of a game that I’ve very seldom experienced. This however shouldn’t take away from Halo 3. It’s also a great game and easily worth your time and money. Both of them are. But I can’t help but feel that Call of Duty 4 is a bit better. Now I will readily acknowledge that both franchises have taken a bit of a down turn in the last few years, especially Call of Duty. Modern Warfare got me into the series, but I left it about 3 years later after Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010). Call me close minded but I’m someone that actually feels like the series hasn’t really changed or improved all THAT much since the 4th entry, at least not at drastically or significant as MW. And like I said, Halo hasn’t been perfect either. Halo 3” ODST was a let down, Halo: Reach felt a bit too Call of Duty inspired, and I didn’t even give Halo Wars the time of day. I’m not a fan of RTS games. But if you have an Xbox 360 (which means if you can read this, statistically you do) then you must absolutely play these two games. Both Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3 get my first ever 100% approval rating. Rent them, buy them, just play them. Believe me they’re worth it.