Call of Duty 4
Dubbed "Modern Warfare", Call of Duty 4 (COD4) was one of the most important game in this mega-franchises history. Previously, the series had been content to replay the drama of World War II over and over again, particularly the European front, although the battle in the Pacific was visited a few times. However, the fourth installment saw Call of Duty enter into modern era as it told a gripping and controversial story involving fighting in the middle east.
At several points during the single player campaign of COD4, the developers used the first person viewpoint common to the genre to tell a story in a completely new way. For instance, early in the game players are put into the shoes of the leader of a Middle Eastern country who is being led to his execution. Powerless to stop the death, players are simply able to look around as they are carried to their fate. Similarly, a doomed US Marine the players spend a good portion of the game controlling lives out his final moments in the wake a terrorist bombing. Like real war, there are real consequences for even the main character in COD4 and not everyone makes it home alive.
The multiplayer also features tiered rankings: the better gamers do, the higher they rank. The higher their rank, the more toys they'll have at their disposal to play with. The "toys" are actually highly advanced international armaments. Although most of them are based on real technology, many of the more unbelievable weapons are based on prototypes rather than real weaponry being used by armed forces.
For any war gamer, the Call of Duty series will be a mainstay. Call of Duty 4, however, is a particularly shining example of how a compelling story using the technology as a unconventional palette can move the genre forward.