Everywhere you go in the gaming world, you hear about them: Nazis. Whether you're storming Castle Wolfenstein, earning your Medal of Honor, or soaring through the sky alongside the Blazing Angels, you'll find them. All over the place. Like a plague, except virtually living and tangible, they run around and wait for you to fire off a few bullets into their hides. Unless you're in Call of Duty 4.
If you're late to the party and need a moment to get over your shock, take it. I'll wait.
For years, the CoD series (affectionately called "COD", like the fish) has been known for its WWII dramatizations, but Nazis aren't en vogue enemies anymore. They're old news, but Infinity Ward hasn't given in to the populace's demands. They've found their own way and in doing so, happened to satisfy the general hunger for something new. You see, nothing in Call of Duty 4 lazily says "we're just doing it because they asked". Every locale, each weapon, and all of the (currently shown) gameplay modes are phenomenal, both in terms of their usefulness and practicality.
Anyone who's played any of the previous CoD games will quickly get used to the controls and weaponry in the series' fourth entry. This includes all of the new weapons you're afforded, since the vast majority of them are intuitive, and if they aren't, they're explained. That's important, considering the strong emphasis on multiplayer. Word of the CoD4 beta has already spread like wildfire, and within it, a lucky few good men will get to see what Infinity Ward's improvement-rich efforts have been poured into.
Outside of the surprisingly robust character customization Infinity Ward's trumpeting, there's a variety of maps sporting realistic designs that'll send any of several feelings riding up your spine. There's a cluttered, dirty, vacant city where the buildings are packed in wall-to-wall, and that's in the unrelenting heat of the Middle East. There's your claustrophobia. When you move on to the wide-open, grassy, emerald-green hills of Europe, you'll be out in the open and desperate for some cover. That's your paranoia.
Thankfully, you're able to defend yourself even when you haven't a rock to hide behind. Throwing back grenades is still an option, but you'll have to be quick about it. Picking up the weapons of fallen foes is nothing new, but it can turn a heavily-armed soldier into a sniper. Considering that you can take such a rifle, lay prone and vanish among tall, flowing green grass, you'll figure out ways to hide everywhere. That, too, is a supposed given in the FPS universe, but in a well-designed map you'll find places to hide yet you'll never feel safe. Your blood will keep right on flowing and your heart will be rapidly beating while you make the best of the limited time you've got, always knowing that death's right around the corner, waiting for you.
If you can take that pressure, keep an eye out for Call of Duty 4, which is currently scheduled to come out in early November. It's steadily rising skyward on the hype charts, and with good reason. If that sort of fame gives you the desire to turn away, resist it this time. You don't want to miss out on what's shaping up to be one of 2007's best shooters.