While the Call of Duty franchise aims to please the hardcore online twitch-shooting enthusiast, there’s also a legacy to the series, providing some of the most heart-pounding, emotional, and action-packed stories and campaigns in the first-person shooter genre. It’s safe to say that Call of Duty‘s Modern Warfare reboot delivers on the best of both those elements, resulting in one of the best campaigns in the franchise and one of the enjoyable multiplayer components we’ve seen from the series.
Much like the original Modern Warfare from 2007, this iteration of the game goes hard on the thematic elements like the collateral damage of war, the psychological limits people are pushed to, and the brutality of it all. You’re still slinking around in night-vision goggles, gunning down terrorists in the streets of London, and helping liberate Middle-Eastern nations (the mission variety is fantastic as usual), but just how visceral and brutal it all is can’t be ignored. The game does a fantastic job to put the bodycount right in front of the player, and surprisingly, asks some moral and ethical questions while you’re wading your way through balaclava-d enemies.
Any other game attempting this would often just fall into the trap of being too bombastic and over-the-top, but thanks to the budget and technical standards of Infinity Ward, the the impact of this is greatly felt. Facial animations and mo-cap performances are, by far, the best the series has seen, with some truly impressive cinematic moments where the game seamlessly transitions from an emotional pre-mission briefing into action-packed gameplay, which in itself is fantastic. Shooting feels meaty and weighty – with bullet impact actually leaving you feeling that you’re shooting ‘something’ rather than a paper target, turning CoD‘s more recent frantic run-and-gun ethos into more of a gunfight.
The multiplayer component of Modern Warfare feels like a bit of a homecoming for the series. The focus shifts back to the franchise’s trademark features: strong maps, solid gunplay, and a focus on strategy, with less bells and whistles and more practical gameplay improvements that’ll please longtime fans the most.
Maps are far more dynamic than in recent entries, giving even the freshest of players an opportunity to compete thanks to tons of routes and more open areas; while weapon loadouts play an even bigger role than before to counter the aforementioned map layouts. Utilising SMGs in tight spaces, sniper-rifles in larger areas, and assault rifles for medium range bouts are all more important this time around, and weapon-junkies will love the focus on ‘feel’ of all the boom-boom sticks.
The standard fare of modes are there, but the new addition, Cyber Attack, is a fun spin on the attack-defend pattern, requiring one team to plant an EMP device in the opposing team’s data centre. The device can be defused, but if it goes off, the planting team wins.
Then, of course, is the return of the fan-favourite Spec Ops mode, which blends the campaign with the multiplayer, allowing you to pick up missions with three other friends in four-player co-op, and tackle extraction, infiltration, and horde-type missions. You can even carry your multiplayer loadout and experience over, which is a nice tough and adds a lot of longevity to the game, given that you can play these missions again and again in a lot of different ways.
Infinity Ward’s refined and refocused attempt to recreate the magic of the original Modern Warfare has worked, and in doing so, added a handful of subtle yet immensely welcome features to enhance the experience, while making it more accessible to newcomers. With the multiplayer back to its very-best, and Infinity Ward delivering one of the best single-player campaigns to date, the franchise is once again pulling no punches, and it’s about damn time.