Here are two heavyweights, which - for the first time in this Head2Head contest - are actually based on the same theme!
War is big business on computer and console, spawning hundreds of tactical shooters and real-time strategy games over the years... but which of these will win the ultimate battle?
Released in November 2007, Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4 shot off the shelves, and still managed to snatch the mantle of best-selling game of the year! CoD 4 epitomises pick-up-and-play brilliance.
The solo game is pretty decent, nicely paced with plenty of variety... but you could argue that it's since been surpassed by the plots of Battlefield: Bad Company or Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.
However, it's the multiplayer where this really comes into its own. It's a pity only one official map pack was released for it (CoD 5 in its relatively short lifespan already boasts three map packs!). Nevertheless, whether you love skulking around China Town, hiding behind trees in the Creek or causing carnage on the Broadcast television studio map, there's rarely a dull moment.
Medieval II, on the other hand, requires a little more concentration and dedication to get to grips with the multitude of complex commands and tactics. While it's undoubtedly a classy game, it requires an absolute behemoth of a PC to get the best out of it.
It looks and plays well, and oozes authenticity. The scale of the battles is incredible, the depth and tactical options are immense and the feeling of complete control over your armies is, as yet, unsurpassed. But for me, the actual battle sequences all seem a little haphazard and seem to denigrate into giving a series of random orders and hoping for the best... this isn't a game for the faint hearted or a newbie.
Nevertheless, whether it makes it any further in this competition is not based on my personal preference... let's pit them both against the five criteria!
- Originality - Call of Duty 4 is hardly original, but hones an already successful series and grabs all the best bits from other first person shooters. Medieval II was also the fourth game in its respective series (Total War), but arguably offers the gamer something different and larger in scale than anything else on the market. Winner: Medieval
- Longevity - Both keep you coming back for more as there's plenty on offer. Medieval has its many campaigns and factions, while Call of Duty offers variety through its fantastic online multiplayer, which means no two games are ever the same. Several years after their release, you still have to wrestle the controller or mouse away from fans of each game. These are fully immerive titles that lose little as the months and years roll by. Draw
- Graphics - As mentioned above, Medieval requires a PC with some grunt to run properly and look as good as it should. Even then, upon closer inspection, armies and battlefields can look a little shoddy. The number of soldiers onscreen at any one time is extremely impressive... but Call of Duty looks perfect out of the box, and is absolutely immense on a large HD-ready screen. The various maps mean that the environments do not all revolve around a sandy Middle East setting with all its browns and yellows either; CoD's Creek is lush and green, for example, while China Town perfectly resembles the real thing. Winner: Call of Duty
- Sound FX - Battle cries versus explosions and bullets pinging past your head. Medieval has some decent narration and a great soundtrack, which succeeds in getting the blood pumping. The sound effects during the battles add some realism and work very well too. CoD boasts all the effects you'd expect and develops the key characters nicely through some decent voice acting. One nice touch is being able to hear the footsteps of your foes creeping up behind you... just before they stab you in the back. Draw
- Replayability: Mmm, tough one this. On paper, Medieval has plenty to offer and fans will not tire of the vast array of battles and scenarios on offer. However, for me, the pick-up-and-play nature of CoD means that even after completing the game on single player (Veteran difficulty is notoriously tricky!), you can still head online with a few mates for a few minutes of carnage. It never gets boring! Winner: Call of Duty
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- Head2Head quarter final draw
- Head2Head first round draw