By George Wood
The revamp of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series knocked me sideways upon announcement, though I still was wary of the implications. Would Infinity Ward throw more nuclear rocket fuel in the CoD engine to produce a more over the top CoD like Black Ops 4? Would I be able to play as a mecha-grizzly bear with RPG launchers as legs, or plug enemies from afar with a satellite laser sniper?
This was a series I had grown up with, and I am happy to report the game features a core classic CoD feel with stockpiles of newness to offer. Some highlights include Ground War, (32 vs 32 raging death fest …. with vehicles!), 2 v 2 skirmishes and cross-platform connectivity between PC and consoles broadening the pool of players who will assuredly wreck my day. Overall, the rules of engagement laid down by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare represent a slight transition from utterly chaotic running and gunning to a more calculated pace, rewarding players who can utilize cover within the fray.
1. The Campaign
The issue I have with many campaigns in shooters, including some Call of Duty titles, is that sometimes I need a little bit more emotional stimuli while I gun down enemies by the thousands. The first mission is par for the course, a standard chemical weapons investigation. “Oh, yet another terrorist organization stealing chemical weapons for dastardly aims?” *yawn*
My internal cynicism was immediately pacified in the chaotic next chapter at Piccadilly Circus, as your character is thrust into a mad wild terrorist attack in London, where scrambling, terrified citizens dash in front of your line of fire and pose a consistent collateral damage risk. I couldn’t help feeling shook up from watching heavily armed assailants mow down innocents, especially in the modern context of acts of terrorism occurring in Europe multiple times over the last decade.
The modern horrors of wartime are viscerally magnified here. Well fleshed out and emotionally scarring are the desolate images of war-torn nations, ruthless military invasions, rampant risk for civilian casualties and brutal interrogation tactics. That said, I do feel more prepared in the event I’m ever captured and water boarded.
Missions are brief, which contributes to the whole campaign attaining a truly cinematic feel that never feels stagnant. One thing the campaign does incredibly well is switching up the formula each mission. I remember the thrill of being able to snipe a feral dog from 300 meters away during a sniper driven objective, (“You monster” says an ally), and trembling as my juvenile character is tasked with defending her family from a hulking minotaur of a man who wanted to rip me limb from prepubescent limb.
Modern Warfare’s campaign is by far one of my favorite storylines in the CoD series, massively aided by a variety of player objectives, characters you can feel a genuine sense of camaraderie with and consistent success in keeping me engaged and on edge..
2. Quick play and 6 v 6 Multiplayer
To me, Call of Duty is and shall always be a cathartic platform for me to whoop on some filthy casual players, and inversely hate my life because I’m not actually that talented when compared to most. I’m not sure why I keep running back to the same pattern of getting a double killstreak and then spending the rest of the time getting my ego checked. But, I digress.
For jumping in boots first and busting some caps, Quick play and 6 v 6 multiplayer modes are my relentless time-sucking addiction. Hours fly faster than 50 cal rounds and I love every adrenaline screaming moment of it. Good call by Infinity Ward allowing Quick play filter so that I can zero in on my multiplayer mode preferences which include Kill Confirmed, Domination, Team Deathmatch and occasionally Gun Game.
Personally, I could enjoy matches on their own until my thumbs wear down to bony nubs. However, Modern Warfare compounds excitement by including Missions and Daily Challenges to implore you to mix up your tactics, rewarding you for achieving multiple killstreaks, assassinating foes ninja-style in a smoke screen, or various other interesting objectives.
3. Special Ops
Mixed feelings regarding Special Ops, but erring on the positive. There is a beautiful companionship that blossoms out of battling dozens of intelligent enemies, reviving fallen comrades and securing valuable intel with a group of silent internet strangers. As a diversion from the blood-pumping action offered by other multiplayer modes, Special Ops comes in clutch.
However, from the many Special Ops games I played, there were only a few where my team actually ever made any significant headway during a match. Immediately, waves of ferocious marksmen are storming the gates and in a few minutes flat I see the Mission Failed screen.
If there was some sort of system that matched your team’s rank with a gradual increase in difficulty, that would in some way solve the issue of how punishing Special Ops can be. I’ll still be jumping in but there are improvements to be made to perfect the program.
Utter customization of firearms has always been a strength of the series and Modern Warfare only expands upon the available flavors with the addition of the gunsmith. With the gunsmith, couch-bound soldiers can beef up their firearms with a variety of stocks, optics, perks and more, each affecting the gun’s performance within five custom load-outs. This all sounds like traditional CoD customization, however it is way more in depth then what has come before. One example of this is being able to change the caliber of bullet the AUG (which is a SMG to start) takes from 9mm to 5.56, which effectively makes it into an AR.
Additionally, armament aesthetic has been further broadened the introduction of gun charms, so now I can proudly pop shots off with a pair of hanging walnuts on the side of my pink zebra print Kilo 141. Styling on ‘em. Work hard enough and you can even change up your stealth kill techniques. Conceivably limitless options offered here. If you want to check out our list of best weapons and attachments click here!
5. Ground War
In assessing Ground War, I have to set aside my broken, wounded pride. Blasting about spraying and praying is an adequate strategy in most of the multiplayer modes, but if you try that in Ground War you will die. You will die so many times, my friend.
No doubt, Ground War is dominated by the sharpshooters, the seekers of cover, the cautious killers of men. I’m none of those things. Matches were in no way determined by my amateur output. I’ll never forget my first Ground War. My team almost immediately faced DEFCON, which means all of our bases were overtaken by hostile forces. For some reason that elicits a swift drop of a nuclear warhead, immediately vaporizing all teams.
Despite my griping, Ground War is a fantastic addition to the series. The introduction of both ground and airborne vehicles in big team combat adds a glorious new dimension to the series. Even better, both have smooth controls that one can quickly pick up and get down to the business of war.
6. Season One
As I wrote this article, Infinity Ward dropped “First Season,” a large horde of brand spanking new content for the masses. We’re talking brand new maps for Special Ops, Ground War, and the 6v6 multiplayer modes. Brand new firepower too, in the form of the RAM-7 and Holger-26. Finally, there are also three new multiplayer modes for your entertainment, including Reinforce, Gunfight OSP, and Infected.
Part two of this drop is the tantalizing Battle Pass, 100 tiers worth of gun charms, skins, finishing moves, points and loads of other loot. I put this drop in the “win” category because Infinity Ward rejected greedy pay to play cash grabbing in favor of a more benevolent approach. The first 20 tiers are free, a little sampler to entice the player to shell out $10 or 1000 CoD points for the remaining 80. Not bad!
7. 2 v 2 Multiplayer
While there are many who appreciate Modern Warfare’s small team rumble, I count myself out of this crowd. The two on two multiplayer mode, to me, fails to hook with the signature gripping nature of every other multiplayer mode. The premise is sound and will no doubt appeal to many, but the experience goes by fast and leaves me feeling unsatisfied.
Also, Infinity Ward needs to fix the issue of players dropping previous to the beginning of the match. During multiple rounds, I was trapped in ruthless two versus one firefights. This was all well and neat when I could win rounds as an underdog, but for the most part it was a savage, unjust beat down that could be prevented with some sort of implemented penalty.
Trials are a forgivable sin in my eyes because of the rewards offered for completion are juicy, but it is so frustrating how unintuitive some game variants are. The Gun Course and Marksmen modes are entertaining enough, if not a bit repetitive, and unfortunately they will prepare you remarkably little for the real business.
Juggernaut teases an enormous amount of fun to be had, suiting up in a metric ton of armor to the tune of driving, hell scream metal music. You start out mowing down scores of mindless meat bags, feeling absolutely immortal as bullets saw the masses in half. However, after 3 minutes of finding a defensible corner to post up in and piling up bodies by the hundreds it gets mind-numbingly repetitive. Somehow, this commercial meat factory-level slaughter becomes monotonous and bland. They don’t stand a chance, and just keep coming back for more!
The worst offender is the parkour type trial that plays like a stripped down, clunky Mirror’s Edge. I understand the game developers likely have an obligation to provide more than 3 modes for a category, but when the final product is this unimaginative I think it’s probably best on the cutting room floor. Burn the whole floor to be safe.
9. Weird Environmental Interactions
I remember, while playing earlier titles in the CoD series, shooting stacks of papers and bottles and being impressed by the way they exploded in a realistic fashion. Fast-forward to Modern Warfare, and little has changed. I’m ultimately disappointed by the progression of environmental interactivity Modern Warfare. While shooting through doors to pierce opponents is a thrill, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect that I should also be able to shoot through walls, or see barriers crumble as the match ensues.
Some buckets move when shot, others stay stagnant. Some lanterns burst, others just become imprinted with a bullet hole. In the campaign there were times I was blocked from walking onto carpets with no obvious obstructions. These are minor critiques but I make them because the rest of the game is so incredibly polished.
10. Lack of Split-Screen Co-Op
I’m fighting against a trend here, but Modern Warfare’s lack of split screen availability for Ground War, Campaign and Online Spec Ops is heartbreaking. People still hang out in person right?
I’m having a fantastic time playing Modern Warfare and my gripes are minimal when compared to how much fun I’ve had. The moving, cinematic experience offered by the campaign stands as one of the best in the series, and the multiplayer is, as always, phenomenal.
Overall Score: 9/10