Call of Duty.
In recent years, the franchise has become synonymous with staleness, repetition, and a pandering to a player base generally consisting of youngsters. Admittedly, the production value of these games improved exponentially, but the overall entertainment quality was lacking, and Activision relied relentlessly on emotes, ludicrous colours, and superhuman abilities as a desperate attempt to inject a sense of juvenile amusement into their games.
When I was a teenager, I lived, breathed and worshipped Call of Duty – I’m not overly proud, but it’s the truth. It was basically all I played, and I played it a lot. Through the original Modern Warfare series and Black Ops I and II, I logged thousands of hours of play. In fact, Modern Warfare almost became my life – it was all I focused on. It took me to YouTube, and to competitive gaming with a team. In time, that burning passion contorted into a twisted visage of hate, as everything I loved about Call of Duty dwindled and faded.
Honestly, the last iteration I truly enjoyed was Modern Warfare 3, in 2011. That’s a long time left out in the cold. I watched the releases pass me by… Ghosts, WWII, Infinite Warfare, Advanced Warfare… I had no interest whatsoever.
And then Infinity Ward announced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. My ears pricked up, I sniffed the air, and a sense of deep curiosity awoke within me. I paid attention to the teasers and interviews with a heightened sense of apprehension, repeating one line over and over as a mantra: “Please do it right.”
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is the first title in the franchise I’ve invested real money in in almost eight years – I simply couldn’t miss it. Everything they promised sang to my very soul. This could potentially be my long-awaited return to the franchise, right? Read on to hear my honest, unbiased review.
Every Game Needs a Good Story
Let’s discuss the campaign – without spoilers! First point: it’s short. It’s really short. I logged just around six hours in the campaign, and that wasn’t a speedrun. It’s not a negative; Call of Duty is well-known for short single player stories. However, the duration doesn’t take away from the fact that this campaign is truly compelling.
The cinematic quality alone is superb, with character models, motion capture, and voice acting that surpasses pretty much anything available on the market today. It’s not too much to say it’s beautiful. The environments are immersive, believable and detailed, and are combined excellently with top-grade NPCs and a firm enemy AI that all mixes brilliantly to create an awe-inspiring playthrough.
Unfortunately, if you’re running the game on an original Xbox One or PS4, you won’t have as good an experience as those on an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro – or a high end gaming PC. The frame rate can stumble ever-so-slightly in frantic scenes, and you are of course missing out on the delicious 4K aspect. Further, the game is unbelievably huge on install and will devour over 130GB of disk space – so be prepared to delete other titles!
Once you’re all set-up and running (after hours and hours of downloading), you’ll be rewarded with a story that is equal parts tense and action-packed. It’s studded throughout with a sense of possibility, realism and potential, and offers a harrowing insight into what could very much be a real-world scenario at any given moment. In true Call of Duty style, the player will explore the story as it unravels from multiple perspectives, giving differing observations on the same collective battle.
It seems Infinity War have given the player the option to make subtle choices throughout the game that can alter certain scenes one way or the other. Again, without giving too much away, an example of this will be deciding whether to shoot a man, or walk away and spare him. It’s a decision that you’re not told you can or have to make, but it’s there, and you can do whatever you ultimately want.
Further, the story has been designed in such a way that it permits the player a fair spread of variation: stealth, open-environments, on-rails gunplay, surviving against waves – it’s all there. One minute you’ll be creeping through a house on a silent hunt, and the next you’ll be in the middle of an abandoned desert village, battling waves of overpowering enemies. There’s something for everyone.
I’m not going to spoil anything, but I literally had chills when I finished the game. It ends in such a way that sets it up incredibly well for a sequel, but how it’s handled fills me with intense belief that Modern Warfare is going to put Call of Duty back in a spectacular position.
Multiplayer: The Heart of Call of Duty
Let’s be honest: Call of Duty’s multiplayer is the bread and butter of what it does, and for the most part, it has done it well over the years. It’s where I spent almost every evening and weekend, and where I’ve met a lot of friends that I hold dear to this day. However, it was – in my honest opinion – spoiled by years of jetpacks, exoskeletons, gaudy weapon skins and microtransactions.
In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, it feels like I’ve come home.
The multiplayer is truly fantastic. The UI is flawless, the maps feel well-balanced and varied and are well designed, and the changes Infinity War have introduced to the series are genuinely welcome and inspired. The player count has now been increased in places, the perk systems have been amended, killstreaks are now as pivotal as they once were, and crossplay has been introduced. It just doesn’t seem to stop getting better!
In Ground War, up to 64 players can do combat at one time, on larger maps that come equipped with air and land vehicles. In essence, this makes Modern Warfare feel like an entirely new game, with a real focus on squad-based tactics and ways to play that have never before been seen in Call of Duty.
The weapons are varied, balanced, and a joy to use – it genuinely feels like everyone has a good chance at succeeding online, and I’ve not seen or heard any complaints of irregular spawning, overpowered weaponry, or unfair exploits. Overall, it’s a strange concoction of familiarity and fresh ingenuity – it feels like the good old days, but minor tweaks have improved it infinitely. A case example: infinite sprint as standard, and double-tapping the sprint button will engage a brief “super sprint”, closing distances to cover more efficiently. It’s simple, yet brilliant.
I’m very happy to admit that crossplay works brilliantly; I was playing on Xbox One with my friends on PS4, and nothing changed. A minor drawback is that we had to remain in game chat, but it’s not the end of the world – just mute everyone else! This is a feature that enable gamers to really cross borders and is wholeheartedly welcomed.
Should You Invest?
Yes, yes, yes.
For the old fans: welcome back.
For the current fans: this is what it should really look like.
Infinity Ward have scored a blinder with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The campaign is deeply impressive, the cinematic value is superb, and the multiplayer is the most fun I’ve had on an FPS title in many years. I’m yet to experience the fan-favourite Spec Ops mode, but I’m envisioning this will be nothing short of incredible.
If you’re not excited by the idea of a six-hour campaign and aren’t bothered by multiplayer, then by all means wait for a price decrease, or throw some trade-ins against the cost of the game. If you are enticed by a firm multiplayer, you’ll be right at home with this release.
That’s enough – I’m getting back online!