Crispy Gamer

No-Duh Dept.: So I finally got around to playing Call of Duty 4...

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I know! That game is so old, it's like something Indiana Jones would find in a tomb all covered in spiderwebs. It's so old, it should be in a home for old games, right? Well, I tried playing COD 4 when it first came out--I really tried--but Bioshock and I were still on our honeymoon, holed up in an Italian villa, ordering room service and making love like our plane was going down. I probably started and stopped playing COD 4 three or four times before the game finally began its slow, mournful descent to the bottom of my to-play pile.

About a week ago, I dug it up, popped it into the 360, and was delighted--delighted!--to discover one of the tightest, most satisfying seven-hour single-player campaigns I have ever played. I still dislike the Call of Duty conceit of shifting perspectives between levels. And yes, it's still very much war porn, with all the fetishized weapons and abundance of psuedo-macho posturing. (Yes, a cigar is actually chewed.) But you can't accuse Infinity Ward of padding out the game. This is one of the leanest, most efficient gaming experiences I've had in all my days.

Unlike 99-percent of all games (see this story), it very much left me wanting more (and very curious about Modern Warfare 2). And that's a good thing.

No, wait; that's actually a fantastic thing.

The ending--including the quickie postscript at 35,000 feet (the gaming equivalent of a was-it-good-for-you-too? post-sex cigarette)--is one of the most satisfying in all of gaming history.

Finally, as soon as the credits finished, I did something I've only done a handful of times before in all my years of gaming: I started playing the damn thing again.