After a long, eagerly anticipated wait, my beta token finally arrived this past Saturday and it was like Christmas for me. I had been eagerly waiting to get into the Call of Duty 4 Multi-Player Beta for a while and after a couple false starts on Infinity Ward’s behalf I’m was finally in and all I can say is that it was worth the wait. With this being a review of the beta it’s going to be a little odd since I won’t be reviewing the entire game, just the multi-player portion. Call of Duty 4 (CoD4) is set to be released on November 5th, but the beta is out now for the lucky few 360 owners.

The beta is only a smattering of what we’ll see in the final version of the game, but what we’re treated to is only going to leave you wanting more. The look of the game is extremely gritty, giving you the feel of being in a real war zone. The colors are drab and washed out, in a good way; it makes you feel like you are actually immersed in a battlefield. Everywhere you look there are war torn buildings, plumes of smoke, burnt out cars, bullet marked walls and more. You really get a sense that you’re always in danger of a sniper firing at you from an abandoned house or your enemy is hiding just around the corner waiting for you to rush in. In video games often times looks are half of the battle, it’s safe to say that Infinity Ward really knocked one out of the park here.

The beta is limited to three maps; Overgrown, Crash, and Vacant. Overgrown is a large map that’s reminiscent of an abandoned Russian village. Most of the buildings have battle damage and it’s a perfect place to play if you’re a sniper. This map is filled with lush vegetation, dried up river beds and plenty of areas to hide. You play as either British SAS forces or Russian Spetsnaz. Crash takes places in a middle-eastern city with a crashed US Marine helicopter as its focal point. The map is filled with two and three story houses perfect for hiding. Here you play as either US Marines or Arab forces. Lastly there’s Vacant, a deserted warehouse. It’s the perfect place to test out your skills in all the game types. With numerous places to hide, inside and out, you can draw you enemies to you and mow them down. The map is an assault class players dream. You play as either British SAS or Russian Spetsnaz.

There are four game types in the beta, and they all have their own areas of appeal. Free-for-All, Team Deathmatch, Team Objective: Search and Destroy and Tactical. Free-for-All is exactly what it sounds like. You’re your own one man team, battling the other players on the map. Team Deathmatch can be up to six vs. six and uses teamwork to kill opposing players and reach the score limit. Team Objective: Search and Destroy is a new version of Search and Destroy from CoD2 in which one player, from the attacking team, must pick up a bomb at the beginning of the match and then move towards Objective A or B where they must plant the bomb. After the bomb is planted the attacking team must then defend that area for 30 seconds. If the defending team kills all of the attacking team’s members or defuses the bomb they win, if the bomb goes off then the attacking team wins. Tactical is like Team Deathmatch and Team Objective, but with teams of 2 or 3.

A feature that I love is the Create a Class, an option that allows you to create your own player class and customize your load out to compliment your own playing style. You can create a Sniper class, Wetworks class that’s perfect for Vacant or any other class that gives you an advantage for a particular map. You have five customizable slots to set up for different maps or game types. It’s something that I’d highly recommend you set up, giving you an advantage over the default weapon setup.

Another feature that will be well received is the Party System, a feature that will allow groups of friends to play together and bounce from game to game as a group. Yes, that includes ranked matches as well. It’s nice when game developers actually listen to the gamers and create a party and matchmaking system that actually works as opposed to making false claims (cough, cough Gears of War).

Now there are a couple downsides to the beta, but it is a beta so it’s to be expected. First is the lag that I’ve experienced from time to time. At times it was so bad you had to quit because you couldn’t control your player properly. Some times it takes forever to get into a game, but that seems to be more of a server issue. Lastly we’re limited to three maps, we want more!

With all the complaints aside though, this game has the potential to be one of the best games of the year. The game play is fast and furious, the visuals are beautiful, and the customization will add to the longevity of the games life. If you get a chance to get into the beta in the next round do it, if not reserve your copy of the game today. The only reason I can’t give this a five star rating is because we’re limited to three maps, I want more!