Back to basics, that’s where Activision has decided to take the Call of Duty franchise. Despite the continued financial success of the series, there is a general consensus that the futuristic military theme from the past few games (excluding 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII) has gone stale. As such, the publisher thought it necessary to go back to the one that started the craze in order to reinvigorate the series, producing an all new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game.
Developer Infinity Ward is again at the helm for the game and though it shares the same name and several characters from the original 2007 game, they are insistent that this is a re imagined game made from the ground up for what will probably be a new trilogy.
This includes the story which now focuses on three central characters, CIA SAC officer Alex, Sergeant Kyle Garrick from the SAS, and Farah Karim — a rebel leader from the fictionalised Urzikstan. Along with Captain John Price from the original, the three are hunting down stolen shipments of dangerous gas which has to potential to ignite war.
The campaign is as savage and visceral as ever in the series, and isn’t afraid to tackle controversial elements such as terrorism and child labour. It makes for a gripping narrative, particularly keeping you on your toes at any given moment, especially in the quieter sections of the game such as when you are stealthy infiltrating a terrorist-occupied safe house in London.
With that being said, the lack of presence from the overarching villain of the plot is a downside. Frequently talked up and even teased during a portion of the game, he is ultimately let down by the payoff in the end. Certainly one of the weaker villains in the series for sure.
Supporting the story’s aim for realism is the brand new engine created for the game. The game looks stunning, with the detailed, near photo realistic environments coupled with the expressive facial animations adding a new dimension to the narrative.
This attention to detail is also applied to the guns. Every gun in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare feels and sounds unique; the power from the Model 680 shotgun having its own distinction compared to the quiet reliance of the M13 assault rifle used for stealth missions. From the sound of the bullet being fired to the shell hitting the ground, it particularly makes the more brutal scenes even more unsettling because of how realistic it looks and sounds.
The visual fidelity doesn’t mean that the performance is compromised. The game runs silky smooth at 60 fps with no instance of stuttering and slowdown. It carries over to multiplayer as well, where the gameplay is fast and fernatic as always.
Speaking of multiplayer, there is a new mode that comes with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare . The hugely popular Zombies mode is out and replaced with Spec Ops. It retains the cooperative elements from Zombies, but now is tied to the story; taking place right after the campaign.
Spec Ops is objective-based, meaning you’ll be tasked with things to fulfill in order to complete the mission. This makes for much more tense situations since you have to properly work together to complete the objectives. The levels themselves are also much more open compared to the claustrophobic design of Zombies, allowing for more versatility in tackle the goals.
In regards to the rest of COD multiplayer, it is a more familiar scene for returning players. Modes like Team Deathmatch and Domination are back which are played across ten new map in the game. There are also new modes added like Cyber Attack and Gunfight are introduced into this year’s game with the former having you locate an EMP with your team to use against the opposing team while the latter is a more intimate 2v2 multi-round match set up.
Perhaps to hammer home the realistic tone of the game, the new Realism mode is there for players to try to get the full immersive experience. Realism mode takes away takes away all HUD elements, so you’re unable to see how much ammo you have or even have access to the mini map. It certainly makes for a more cautious and stressful approach, a contrast to the frantic nature of multiplayer.
Realism mode can also be applied to use across the multiple levels of the campaign and adds an additional level of tension, especially for night levels where you can’t aim down the sights and cannot rely upon the laser sights which are now disabled. Night maps were supposed to be in the game for multiplayer but currently have a postponed release date that is not yet announced by Infinity Ward.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a return to form not just for the series, but also for developer Infinity Ward who have received a fair amount of slack in recent times. Doubling down on the realistic tone has made it to be one of the most engaging and fun games to play right now, with the new engine making it much more easy to be invested in the world and its characters. Multiplayer too stays strong and should have no problems being embraced by players.
Reviewed on PS4
Visuals courtesy of Activision.