Developed By: Infinity Ward
Published By: Activision
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Another year, another Call of Duty. It has become a religious expectation that Activision will always deliver their giant shooter franchise whether we like it or not. Nonetheless, all is not that bad nor was is it rosy for the prestigious war shooter. The series and the developers are constantly the subjects of the social media storm from the gaming community taking potshots with each release by belittling the series for not moving forward and many more. After all, the developers have been using the same game engine for more than a decade. Nonetheless, Activision and Infinity Ward seem to be taking the social media hits in stride by releasing yet another Call of Duty this year.
When it was announced that the next CoD will be a remake of CoD4: Modern Warfare, I was rather skeptical and wasn’t particularly expecting anything out of it. After all, who wouldn’t when each installation does tend to feel almost the same without any major changes and Call of Duty takes pride most in its multiplayer modes. The fast-paced, tight shooting and sleek movement, still makes it one of the best multiplayer experience to be offered on gaming consoles but the campaigns while it is filled with spectacular set-pieces, still feel by the numbers. You will always play as the protagonist going up against a corporation, crime lord, or power-hungry fanatic or something in between. You are always led to believe you are fighting the good fight and are always you are always on the side of good. Modern Warfare 2 did try to change it up with the infamous “No Russian” mission however that still felt like it was done for shock value and nothing else.
A Lesson in War
This particular Modern Warfare resets and rewrites the entire story from the ground up with more emphasis on realism taking a more realistic and matured approach for the story. Fighting the good fight here means that there may be a need to resort bad tactics. As Captain Price says, “When the gloves are off, you risk getting blood on your hands”. Captain Price is the only returning character from the series in this remake. Along with him will be three new characters namely SAS Sgt. Kyle Garrick, C.I.A Agent Alex and Freedom Fighter Farah. While Captain Price takes centre on the game’s cover, the story revolves more around Farah and the cause she fights in. Apart from Price, you will take control of the others in different sections of the campaign. Each of this section plays a role in setting the pieces of the story and it gives a full circle as you approach the near climax towards the end.
The one interesting part of the campaign in the remake is the incorporation of realism of war – or at least it tries it’s best in making it feel more authentic rather than trying to “Hollywood” it up. While some parts do feel a little exaggerated for the sake of suspense, Infinity Ward seems like they do want to send a message. That message includes subtle references to the current state of affairs in the real world with never-ending wars especially in the Middle East. War isn’t pretty but this game does make an effort to show how ugly it can really get. There will be missions where you run through on the streets of Urzikstan seeing the collateral damage of war with the civilians the ones taking the brunt of it. It can be downright disturbing to see dead bodies of women and children laying on a corner and men forced to do senseless labour work with brutal beatdowns for not being fast enough. While the game does not ever show graphic violence upfront but it effectively shows that fighting the good fight doesn’t necessary means being able to save everyone even if they are within your reach.
This version of Modern Warfare intends to show not everyone whom we deem righteous or good is who they are thought to be. For example, Captain Price is known for the things he has done in the past and present and has garnered respect from many of his peers. However, even a man such as him knows not everything is always rosy or straight. There are times even the good guys have to resort to bad tactics in order to accomplish what they have set out to do. The line between survival and doing what is morally right can get questioned. There was one particular mission where you be playing as Kyle to raid a house that houses an enemy faction leader. You will be met with some of the families of the enemy faction and in the name of self-defence, there are some you may need to pull the trigger on even women when they pull out an AK to end you. I was hoping that there was a way I could pacify them but alas that wasn’t the case. There was only one way to move forward. Playing through that level got me as a player thinking about the mental strength of those soldiers that they have to face almost every day. It was really nerve-wracking for me and left me utterly disturbed but instilled a sense of newfound respect to those soldiers out there.
On the basis of flow, the campaign can be considered as one of the best I have experienced in the CoD line of games. There are sections where it feels like the developer tries not to put their foot in too much likely to avoid sparking more controversies then it already has. Nonetheless, while the campaign shows the ugly side of the war, one thing is clear, the game does not show straight up who is bad and who is good. There are no morality directions shown here. The structure of the campaign still follows what the shooter series has always done – move to point, kill stuff, move to the next point. While it feels like an on-rails campaign with linear objectives, there are certain parts that you can do differently like for example when you are given a choice of different answer choices resulting in saving a life or not. Nonetheless, whichever you choose, it will not affect the ending of the game but it does still offer some minor depth into the campaign.
Camping of Duty
Call of Duty has always been revered for its fast-paced and action-packed multiplayer regardless of the theme whether is the futuristic or classic world war. The run and gun, quick reflex and explosive gameplay have always been a staple to the series. However, it seems much of the focus went into the campaign – which was amazing but results in some rather odd design choices made for the multiplayer mode. That said, I still had a blast playing the MP mode and it has become one of my top favorite quick pick me up games nowadays. Let’s start with what has changed and for starters, the pace has gone down a notch. That is not to say that run and gun tactics are no longer viable, it still is. It is just that it results in more deaths then before especially if you have been playing CoD MP games for a long time. This particular change can be attributed to the next change – the map design themselves.
In most CoD maps, it uses a “3-lane” system which meant to provide more compact and fluid action and without slowing down the flow of the entire game. Furthermore, there is very little space for any players to feel safe or even take a breather. Every corner in the previous CoD maps provides very little protection for you. If you found what you think is a good camp spot, you will notice it will be made very obvious and there will always be a spot that enemies will have a clear view to your position forcing you to always move. In this Modern Warfare, developers have totally scrapped the idea of the “3-lane” system and opted for maps that offer more diversified paths in order to give players and especially newcomers some “safe spaces”. This is due to CoD MP has always been rather “too hard” for some players so the developers came out with the idea of designing most of the maps to essentially have these “safe spaces” for new players on the basis of giving them a good feel of the game or just probably to give them a fighting chance in a match. However, it also introduces a fundamental problem – camping.
Now as mentioned before, CoD MP matches have never been too much in camping if not at all. However, with this new CoD, some maps provide these spaces where you essentially can hunker down for the entirety of the match, provided you know how to play your cards well. Coupled with the fact that the explosives in this game are pretty strong especially Claymores in which when you place them behind a door or tiny corners, unsuspecting enemies will get blown away. Considering as well that the game also introduces “Field Upgrades” which consist of abilities such as controlling a recon drone, changing into more damaging ammo rounds and even throwing munition boxes which supply your entire inventory including all throw-able and deploy-able bombs. All these abilities have their own length of cool-down. What this means is that you can be well supplied throughout the match.
While the camping and map design issues arguments are still ongoing, the gunplay in this game is actually very good. CoD: Modern Warfare brings back all the real guns in keeping with the theme of authenticity and this time, they feel a lot more powerful from the sound and the feedback when you shoot an enemy. There is this impact that you get making every bullet that hits feel like it does big damage and I really enjoy that feeling as I pull the trigger. Snipers in this game especially sounds powerful. I am never a sniper kind of player but I have been always rolling it here as I love that blunt effect whenever I land a headshot with it. It is just so darn satisfying to hear. The sound quality is also very good coupled with the visual explosives that we all have come to expect from a CoD game, it is still a very good experience playing the MP – putting the camping issues aside of course.
Different Ways to Fight
The multiplayer brings back the usual modes such as Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Domination (Capture the Flag), Kill Confirm just to name a few. Furthermore, there will be more modes dropping in as post-launch content for free. While many of these modes are old and familiar, there are two new ones that I have played through thus far – Gunfight, NVG and Ground War. Gunfight is a 2v2 match where you will not be choosing your loadout but be given instead. The first team to win six rounds wins the match. Everyone starts out with the same loadout that changes every round. You can start with handguns in the first round and snipers on the second. In my opinion, this mode changes up some of the fundamental rules in CoD as every action you take whether to rush in before the enemy does or try to manoeuvre around to take the element of surprise is more calculated. Teamwork in this game is essential if you want to win a round consistently.
The next is NVG which is basically matches being played in the night time. Realism rules will be applied here which means there will be little to no hud display, standard health and a well-placed headshot mean instant kill. If having a gunfight in a night setting doesn’t play well, there is Ground War. This mode is like what if Battlefield and CoD meshed up their ideas into one game. Ground War is essentially placing you in a bigger map with 64 players trying to capture and defend points. While the idea does seem plausible, but it does give me an odd vibe as I am too used to CoD being a smaller team with tight corner gunfights. I have to admit Ground War does feel fun but at the same time does not stand out much. In fact, it does feel rather messy and doesn’t define anything other than having a bigger number of players on a single map. Furthermore, there seems to be only one map to play for the time being.
Modern Warfare also features a co-op mode where you and other 3 players will be tackling missions and many of these missions have some small connections to the new enemy that will be coming in the next Modern Warfare game. Many of these missions consist of finding intel, killing certain enemies and reaching to the next point. At most It feels like those daily missions from Destiny where you reach a point, defend the onslaught of enemies coming to you within a time period and move on. I would not say that it is not fun at all rather the formula at this point feels stale. You can play it using stealth or guns blazing and knowing CoD players, it is very easy to know which method of approach they actually prefer. I have never managed to complete many of these missions thanks to that as me and my teams get destroyed by the sheer amount of enemy AI coming right at us. Nonetheless, co-op still offers a different experience should you want it.
What I Liked
The entire package from the way I see it is well done. From Day 1, there aren’t any game-breaking issues that I have come across thus far. The campaign is something I actually really enjoyed from the start to finish. While the story will and already have drawn some controversial debate, this is one story that is not a one-sided outlook nor are there any pure heroes in war. The heroes here the only ones we deemed them so through our own eyes. This is war after all and everyone has their own brand of justice. The campaign here does an amazing job in showing the sides of a war that not everyone cares nor knows about. It can be disturbing but at the same time eye-opening. CoD always have been pretty good in creating stories that seemed to come straight out of B-rated Hollywood movie scripts with the usual one hero bravado but this time, it is different and it felt real and relatable and struck a chord in me in realizing the effects of war and what comes after.
Multiplayer is still on its best foot. The gunfights are amazing to experience and the controls themselves are tight and responsive as always. The addition of crossplay does spice things up though it isn’t as messed up as I expected to be. I still managed to hold myself well against keyboard and mouse players. The pace of the game has slowed down to the point it can feel approachable especially to new players. Racking up the killstreaks seems more doable although still requires you to be skilful to get the required number of kills and staying alive as long as you can. The other mode I truly enjoyed was Gunfight as the emphasis on teamwork is so crucial. A random teammate and I were forced to really open up our mics and give callouts in order to win the match. It was actually one the best experiences I had in CoD MP ever. I am playing the game better and I made a new friend.
What I Didn’t Like
To my surprise, there is very little I would like to pick on the game. Most of my nitpicks stem from the multiplayer side where it really frustrates me how I kept getting killed by someone that camps and defends a spot so well or even walking to a corner and get shotgunned from the back by someone that was just sitting there waiting for a good shot. While run and gun tactics still work but it is hard to make them super effective especially when the map designs are against that idea. With that many complaints coming from the CoD community, I hope Infinity Ward will take note and make the needed changes as they will be putting in more maps into the game at post-launch.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare once again sets a new bar for its campaign mode. The original Modern Warfare has been one of Activision’s most memorable games so is this remake that resets the entire MW story worth the change? It is a big fat yes. In fact, it made the story feel more logical than the original. I hope that the next Modern Warfare sequel will maintain the quality of the story and also do justice to many of the old-time favourite characters especially every CoD fan favourite, Simon “Ghost” Riley. So in short, anyone that has never gotten into CoD games would find this new Modern Warfare the perfect place to start out and veterans of the series will still be able to get many hours of fun out from its multiplayer. Kudos to Infinity Ward.