After several months of playing, I am still not done with Call of Duty 4. Chalk it up to its still solid gameplay, and a more “PC” feel – that is, the griefers and assholes exist in the same numbers as I have seen in the past in PC shooters, and there are still some decent folks that you will run into. This is opposed to Halo 3, which I quickly learned last winter has a very distinct community. Nowhere else have I played with so many assholes, who constantly complain about maps and weapons as if every single item placed in the game was done so as a cruel joke.
But we are here to talk about Call of Duty 4. I bring it up again because I just earned my first Prestige point. The Prestige system is a rather ingenious addition to the level up system, wherein you can trade in all of your upgrades and weapons to start at level 1 in exchange for a Prestige point. You might think about why anyone in the world would want to lose their stuff for a measly point, especially if you have played the game. Leveling up in Call of Duty can be done just like in an MMO – if you play enough games, win or lose, you will earn Prestige through sheer brute force. Thus you may not know until you see their skills whether someone with six Prestige is actually good or merely has a lot of time on their hands. On the same token, if you see someone with Red and Blue Tiger camo on all of his weapons, you know they are a certified badass (since you can only earn them through headshots) regardless of his Prestige. So as a system of bragging rights, Prestige only goes so far.
From a playing standpoint, I think it is rather brilliant. Going back to square one will literally force you to use some weapons without fancy sights or silencers until you earn more. If you have any desire to get better at the game you must re-evaluate your arsenal. For example, I grew tired of the MP5′s lack of firepower a while ago, but using it now I am reminded at how much faster I can move and aim with it. I found myself doing immensely better in close quarters combat, and by steering clear of long range engagements, I lived longer despite my “disadvantage” in arsenal. I also remembered that with certain weapons, using the standard iron sights isn’t much of a punishment. In fact, they actually work as well as anything! Take the M16 for example. You have a limited view through the sight, but it is small enough that if your enemy is in them, you are probably going to score a kill. On the other hand, the Red Dot Sight seems more apt for pinpoint precision; if your aim happens to be off, it isn’t easy to figure out how much so, and if your three round burst misses then you’re cooked. Becoming proficient with iron sights is crucial to being a good player, since it means you can use silencers more frequently.
There’s more. As much as I love claymores, having to rely on C4 has unveiled its true flexibility, and heavy weapons really do fail on certain maps. Having a flexible set of weapon loadouts that work for different maps and playstyles is crucial, rather than using overkill and loading up on whatever weapons will net you lots of experience. Prestige mode makes me play smarter, and I can only imagine what I will learn by the time I get to my next point.