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  • Will Boddy

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Review

Updated: Feb 21

With hands down THE best campaign to date, an engaging and content-rich multiplayer, and the inclusion of the fun, arcadey special ops mode, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is the CoD title everyone’s been waiting for!


So here we are. One week on, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has taken the world by storm. The alphas and betas practically made the gaming community salivate over the past few months, and upon release last Friday, I think people really got exactly what they wanted; a giant step forward in the way in which they run around a tiny map shooting each other in the back.


Now that’s not to say this CoD is bad. On the contrary, I think it’s terrific. It looks amazing. Both the sound and overall atmosphere are spot on.


It certainly doesn’t re-invent the wheel at all, but there are some really excellent additions here, and several new tweaks that Infinity Ward have added to this CoD that do make it stand a tier above some of the titles before it.


With the game only being out a week, there’s just not being enough hours in the day! I have to say, honestly, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this game has on offer. It’s weird, all I really want to do is just sit down and play it at every opportunity I can get. That’s a luxury I haven’t really felt since at least Red Dead Redemption 2 came out.


But what I have played of this new CoD, I’ve seen a helluva lot of positives, and just a few pretty minor negatives. I’m flying through the campaign and soaking up every little real-life military detail there is (and there’s a lot), learning the maps and getting a feel for the dramatic recoil and weight to the weapons in multiplayer and squadding up in some scenario-based spec ops missions and challenges.


Campaign

With Call of Duty games coming out every single year for the last 14 years now, there are a mountain of campaigns which have taken place all over the world, in many different eras and conflict zones.


From the deserts of North Africa in Call of Duty 2 to the graphically enhanced beaches of Normandy in CoD: WWII. There was the sheer brilliance of how the Pacific was portrayed in World at War and of course Black Ops 1 being set in Vietnam.


Advanced Warfare was when it really started to get weird. Enter: the future. Wall running, jetpacks, massive machines and futuristic weapon variants began to be the new norm for CoD until they stuck WWII in there to break all the double-jumping up.


The exclusion of a single-player campaign in Black Ops IIII meant that this Modern Warfare was intending to go back to the old boots-on-the-ground (literally) gameplay, and have players immersed in a more realistic version of combat.


And my word did the developers deliver!


I, myself, am a CoD campaign kind of guy. They are corny, action-packed, really cinematic at times, and you kind of know what you’re going to expect; a movie-like experience with fairly one-dimensional characters and a fair bit of shooting bad guys in the middle there.


Modern Warfare is exactly like that, but it is also so incredibly mature and stripped back. It tackles a lot of issues only really glossed over in video gaming, and provides a much more in-depth look at modern warfare and the just the horrors of war, while also touching on the increasing issue of homegrown terrorism.


Without spoiling too much, the CIA was trying to relieve the Russians of some chemical gas that was supposedly headed to the fictional country of Urzikstan. The CIA was instead engaged with an unknown organisation who stole the gas for themselves and thus prompts the allied task force involved to call up the one and only, Captain John Price.


The CIA agent you play as ends up embedding with the Urzikstan locals as their country is under brutal Russian martial law, while your SAS character and Captain Price are also dealing with some local issues.

Team Meeting. Image captured in-game

Long story short, all their paths cross, there are multiple little stories going on, and the rush to get the chemical gas back from the Russians or even the local Urzikstan militia spans many different environments.


The campaign is short. Annoyingly short for how engaging the storytelling is and some of the plights of the main characters. There’s your typical sniper mission – but really, what’s ever going to beat ‘All Ghillied Up?’ – a few flashback scenes, and without a doubt the best mission, if you haven’t already seen anything about it, ‘Clean House’.


This mission is super short, and really showcases Infinity Ward’s brilliance and maturity when putting this campaign together. You and a team of elite SAS soldiers infiltrate a supposed terrorist cell in a multi-story building, going level-by-level, door-by-door. With flippn’ night vision goggles on.


The precision and methodical movements are what I assume real soldiers move at. As soon as a door opens, its weapons hot, and fuck me, there are a few touch-and-go moments when you have to make split-second decisions. On the harder difficulties, I can definitely see this campaign being a lot more realistic.


Overall, the single-player experience is a huge leap forward in the mature content it covers and boundaries it attempts to break. The motion capture and facial mapping is spot on, and the overall graphics are top-notch. The story itself will leave you with a few “OMG” moments, and the cinematics coupled with fluid gunplay just makes it a really good time.


Multiplayer

Well, this is what everyone’s been waiting for, isn’t it?!


It’s what CoD is all about, and what it’s so famous for. The multiplayer seems only quite minimalistic on the surface, but when you get stuck in, there really is a heap of content here to keep you oh so satisfied.


I’m a pretty massive noob when it comes to multiplayer. I doubt I’ve ever really gotten any more than five or six kills in a row. EVER. But that doesn’t stop the sadist inside of me from respawning again and again, only to be shot by that same guy as I round a completely different corner.


But I get in, I have a go, and strangely enough, this CoD kind of has me seriously hooked.

There are of course the typical game modes like TDM, Search and Destroy, Domination and a couple of my personal favourites in Kill Confirmed and Free-For-All. There are also a few supposedly being released in the coming months after launch, but it is the new modes that give Modern Warfare that new flavour.


Firstly, Gunfight is the sweaty 2v2 mode where both teams begin at opposite ends of a small, congested three-lane environment, and are ALL kitted out with the SAME weapons and gear, that are procedurally generated and change at the beginning of the next round.


Squadding up with a mate or miking with a random and sorting out some strats would make this mode so enjoyable. I can easily see it becoming an eSports event or maybe just a meme mode, but when your teammate goes down and you clutch it out against the two opposition members, it feels so, so satisfying.


Maybe not so satisfying is Infinity Ward’s take on EA/Dice’s iconic Conquest mode. In Modern Warfare, Ground War showcases a large-scale map with 32 players on a team, with ground and air vehicles, killstreaks and campers.


I applaud Infinity Ward for trying their hand at the larger-style game mode – obviously a first for the CoD series – and while it is very distinguishable from how Battlefield handles, it’s a bit of fun, but it’s also quite chaotic at the same time.


Ground War is obviously the most hyped aspect of Modern Warfare, and while top-tier players will definitely enjoy this mode, personally, I didn’t really have too much fun playing it.


If you’re a sniping god, it’s pretty easy to rack up some long-range kills; maybe just chilling on the roof of a building or behind some cover waiting for people to funnel into a capture point. If you regulate an area, people will always flood on in as well; and at times, they can take you by surprise and even overwhelm you.


There are some pretty cool moments, reminiscent of Battlefield 4 especially, where you and your squad are propped up on the highest point and look down over an area and just rain hell unto those below. It can get pretty hectic like this, especially when there’s just bullets flying absolutely everywhere.


While Ground War is new and kind of exciting to see in a CoD game, man it’s just poorly executed.

Sittin' atop one of the many high buildings in Ground War. Image captured in-game

Honestly, it is messy at times with a fuck load of killstreaks grinding in every few moments, getting sniped in the back, or just mowed down by a dude spamming kills in a tank or APC. Couple that with the sounds and just overwhelming moment-to-moment gameplay, it could be a bit better.

Onto the bread-and-butter of the multiplayer.


The progression is substantially reasonable. You unlock new weapons, killstreaks, equipment, characters and the likes at a steady pace. There are a basic number of weapons, and moving away from the ‘Specialist’ classes in Black Ops, Field Upgrades have instead been implemented that offer some pretty nifty gameplay enhancements.


The guns themselves really are a huge step up from the previous CoD titles! They’ve been revamped to have significant recoil now, really smooth and fluid handling, and they just feel so meaty and enjoyable laying rounds into someone’s chest (or head if your aim’s on point).


Standouts are the fully customisable M4A1, the AK-47 packs a serious punch, the solid and relatively steady MP5, the one-shot kill capability of the AX-50 sniper rifle, the sheer stopping power and thud of the Model 680’s pellets when they lay someone out, the pretty much long-range lever-action shotgun that is the MK2 Carbine, and easily the hero of the entire game: the Deagle (and you’ll find out why).


All weapons have the propensity to be modified to suit your playstyle through the all-new Gunsmith. Muzzles, stocks, underbarrels and scopes are just a few ways in which you could turn your high-firing, mid-range AR into a single shot, super accurate and mobile tactical variant. It really is a refreshingly genius mechanic to see in a CoD game.


Maps have changed a lot this time around, and they’re now more open, not as straightforward, and there is a lot of verticality on offer. As it goes with games like these, the map rotation can get a bit stale after a while, and I really hope the developers come out with new ones at a steady pace. But with only a week since release, I mean you can’t complain too much.


Really, the multiplayer is actually pretty fun. There is a proper sense of progression and wanting to unlock new attachments for guns makes the grind a little bit more meaningful and something to work toward. Unfortunately, the main caveat here essentially revolves around the notion of: why bother trying out some of these other weapons when I’m trying to level up this one I’m already pretty good with?


And on top of that, in a one-on-one gunfight, nine times out of ten, if your rate of fire isn’t faster than your opponent, then you’re dead. Simple. It takes at least 20+ weapon levels to even to notice any real change the attachments make to your weapon too. So, it really is a balance.


If you’re not into multiplayer, or you never really give online much of a thought, there really is a lot to sink your teeth into here, and I think inexperienced players will enjoy all that’s on offer. At its core, it’s a CoD game, but it just feels so much smoother, mature and vastly refined.


Special Ops

So instead of zombies, the coveted Special Ops mode makes its return. It is essentially an extension of the story lain out within the campaign, but it’s co-operative, objective-based and against some pretty well-rounded enemies.


There are only a couple of modes here, most notably Operations, which has four scenarios that are all essentially multi-staged, four-player co-op missions (similar to a Tom Clancy’s: The Division mission) where you may be infiltrating an airport and hijacking an aeroplane, seizing terrorist assets or locating a high-value target.


They unfold pretty well and can actually get a bit hairy at times, especially if you’re just solo queuing and no one really has a mic. Furthermore, there is a class system here and should definitely be utilised at all costs.


There’s a survival mode, but for some monumentally shit reason, the developers have made it exclusively available on PlayStation for 12 months. Why they did this, I don’t know, but it is enjoyable to play this progressively harder wave mode, but be prepared for a long fight; if your team is any good, you can easily be playing for over half an hour.


Spec Ops is like a third sibling; you kind of wonder why it’s there but are thankful for its existence every now and then. The fact that you can play couch co-op is a massive advantage, so calling the boys over and having a Survival party, or just enjoying playing alongside your significant other on the same screen is a huge positive from me.


Verdict

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is easily one of greatest CoD’s to release, and according to IGN, the game made a total of $600 million in its first three days. The hype surrounding the brand-new direction, mature content and Ground War mode certainly facilitated the game’s popularity, and still only a week in, I really feel there is a lot more on the horizon.


With no season pass or supply drops, free post-launch content is such a worthwhile move from Infinity Ward, and it’s that giving back to the community which makes this game stand out. Further map additions, new weapons and modes will certainly keep this game alive long into the years, and fuck me, if a battle royale was to release with these kinds of gameplay mechanics, geez, hold my beer!


All in all, I personally can’t fault the campaign. It touches on some really sensitive content, from genocide, terrorism and a modern look into how military operations are carried out while we all sleep soundly in our beds at night.

Just one of many weapons that only has a small number of available attachments. Image captured in-game

Seeing the new Captain Price, and just any of the actors really, is brilliant, and the graphics truly shine in the cinematics. It certainly has a level of replayability about it, especially in some of the hostage/infiltration missions where you may want to jack the difficulty up and give yourself a real test.


The multiplayer is enjoyable. The additions of a one-touch mounting system for any weapon makes life so much easier on console, and the fact you can reload while ADS is a breakthrough – it’s the little things.


Running and gunning around the small maps, as well as the slightly larger 10v10 and 64 player ones just feels so fluid and refined, not to mention the gunplay and the implementation of a varying recoil system. The weapons all handle fairly different and using the Gunsmith to create a personalised weapon of death is so good.


On the other hand, respawns are easily the most broken aspect of multiplayer; you’ll spawn in and sometimes just die to someone who happens to come around the corner. Your character also does this absurd callout when enemies are near, saying “CONTACT” or something like that, when maybe your reticle hasn’t even landed on them yet, and can sometimes give your own position away.


Spec Ops is really just there for a little add-on, but don’t sleep on it. There can be a lot of fun to be had in the Survival mode, and your loadouts from multiplayer carryover, so you don’t find yourself flailing around with a weapon you’re not used to.


I don’t know what more I can say… There is a lot of game here, and if you haven’t already, and you’ve played any CoD before, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this new addition. Do yourself a favour ay.



Image credit to: https://uk.gamesplanet.com/game/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-standard-edition-download--4252-1



Copyright © Will Boddy 2019

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