Infinity Ward had a struggle to get back onto the top, with the very polarizing release of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Sledgehammer Games seemed to have found the foundation of a formula that worked in elevating Call of Duty’s naturally faster pace and gameplay, and complimented the arcade like structure with its EXO Suits. Black Ops 3 refined the controls by adding a parkour system, to further the player’s range of motion, and tweaked the boost meter by sacrificing the length of your boosting arc by allowing you to boost for a longer duration. Activision has certainly seemed to be on the trend of innovating and improving upon its own formula, installment after installment; Infinite Warfare is Infinity Ward’s next step onwards and upwards for the futuristic era of the franchise, and it certainly plays like the most refined of the three. They have taken Sledgehammer’s core gameplay and have tweaked them in all the right areas to give us a product that appeals to every type of Call of Duty fan. The single player campaign has been thoughtfully created using the path carved out by Black Ops 3’s larger level design for the freedom of movement, but have escalated things onto an interstellar scale. The multiplayer retains the MOBO-like style Black Ops 3 started, but refined the balancing to a closer knit selection of characters so no one Combat RIG feels inherently overpowered than another. And for those willing to spend a little extra, they have even added in a fully remastered version of the original Modern Warfare – complete with its multiplayer maps. It certainly seems like Call of Duty has a lot going for it, and history has shown that a jack of all trades sometimes ends up being a master of few. The end result in this scenario may not be a perfect product, but Infinite Warfare is still the strongest hitter Activision has released in recent years.
Players assume the role of Captain Nick Reyes for the majority of the game; however the prelude has us playing through the motions of video recording of the execution of a former United Nations Space Alliance team, sent to investigate an attack at a weapons research facility on Europa – Jupiter’s smallest Galilean moon. If memory serves, this was one of the quicker ways at introducing the main antagonist of the game – Rear Admiral Salen Kotch, voiced and performed by Jon Sno- I mean, Kit Harington. He plays a comically evil villain with dastardly motivations; quite contrary to the previous two games, where Sledgehammer tried earnestly to have players at least understand Jonathan Irons’ point of view as a more Lawfully Evil character (before devolving into mania). Kotch seems to adopt the Chaotic Evil alignment, making it seem more one-dimensional as far as his short arc goes, and there’s little in the way of development. As a complete antithesis to the antagonist, our protagonist is full of charm, thoughtfulness and respectfulness the moral greys he faces, and the reflections he tends to make with regards to the necessity of some of the decisions of those higher up. . Accompanied with the center cast are supplementary characters that are equal parts stellar and adequate. Ethan – the robot sidekick throughout your journey – serves as one of the more humanistic characters, portraying genuine humour and emotion throughout. The story as a whole is like a typical action blockbuster; the bad guys attack the good guys, acting as the catalyst for the war between factions. That being said, the journey in Infinite Warfare is nothing short of phenomenal, and in the most perplexing way makes for one of the most compelling single player campaigns in a Call of Duty game. Ironically enough, providing merely a simplistic plotline allowed for a grander sense of adventure, despite the short length of the game itself.
It does this by allowing players to have the largest degree in freedom of progression in any Call of Duty game to date. Omitting the prelude and perhaps the first level of the game, as they serve more as introductory/tutorial levels to get players more accustomed to the controls, game mechanics, and of course the new and highly anticipated dog-fighting mechanics, the rest of the single player campaign takes part on the USNA Retribution, and you serve as the acting Commander. Each mission is on a corresponding planet of our solar system, and has you plan out different strategic movements, like obtaining weapon samples, or infiltration, espionage, or straight out warfare. These are all supplementary to the main campaign, but offer a great incentive to wipe out Admiral Kotch’s key members of his SDF organization before taking him on. There’s no ‘correct’ way to complete the game – something that was made possible by having a rather simple storyline to follow.
Each level you do fairly large in size and scope. Some start you off with a partner, skulking and infiltrating an enemy vessel by sneaking through asteroid fields with your grappling hooks. Others show off large hangers for firefights, and of course there are the staple corridor shooting moments, typical in any Call of Duty. Call of Duty takes things to the stars for the first time by incorporating a very fun, albeit highly simplistic dogfighting mode. Most of these missions involve locking onto other enemy fighters, only to take down the big baddie, but there were instances that were similar to the infiltrating missions mentioned earlier, where players needed to go undetected. The level variety in Infinite Warfare is what set it apart for me, and certainly made up for the lack of a deeper narrative. This was also the first Call of Duty Campaign where the entire campaign was played with little to any loading whatsoever; where all levels are seamlessly transitioned and there was next to no wait time between fights. The only exception to this would be when you’re back on the Retribution, but it’s ultimately up to the player to determine if they want a break and take a look around for some of the Easter Eggs on board, or if they want to get right back into it.
Multiplayer is typically one of the strongest modes in any Call of Duty, and is typically the mode that keeps fans playing for as long as they do. As mentioned earlier, Infinite Warfare takes pages out of Black Ops 3’s Specialists characters, only this time around they act as cutting edge military suits – each with unique characteristics. The benefit from this is that you can swap Combat RIGs on the fly mid-match, which is incredibly useful given the adaptive nature of certain modes. There are a total of six RIGs to choose from, with three being locked out to typical level progression. Each RIG is outfitted with a choice of Payloads and Traits. Payloads act as a unique special move for each player once the meter is filled for it, while Traits act more as passive abilities that occur. From my time spent in multiplayer during the CoD XP weekend, I knew FTL was going to be my favourite RIG and it certainly hasn’t disappointed. This particular RIG focuses on faster-paced movement, and as such I’ve tailored my particular RIG to support his FTL Jump payload, that allows you to teleport a short distance, and its power-slide Trait, which gives you a longer and faster slide, and more importantly, allows you to aim down your sights as you slide. Other RIGS satisfy the other archetypes; the Merc is the heavy hitter, which has a Bull Charge ability that lets you charge through enemies with your shield – perfect for close corridors with no way out. Synaptic is another interesting choice, as players can utilize its Reaper payload which turns your character on all fours, increasing your movement and adding in a one-hit melee strike. There are four unique mission teams that you can subscribe to as a mercenary in multiplayer, and all have their own unique objectives you can complete mid match. Some require you to leave your comfort zone and deliberately use specific weapons or RIGs.
Maps for Infinite Warfare’s online consist of typical 3-lane layout, along with other designs to keep rounds fresh. They seem to have paid a lot of attention to the parkour, offering far more wall running paths. Especially in modes like Uplink, these can be necessary in planning an efficient route when taking the drone to its destination, or means of egress when things get too intense. Certain maps also have wonderful paths to wall run around if you feel bold enough; in some cases they end up giving you a surprise for enemies, and in other instances you become over exposed, so a certain degree of caution is advised. There are 13 maps out of the box, with more to come with the Season’s Pass map packs. They all have a unique look to them, taking us to places like a research facility on Europa, a close quarters section of a space station, and a 1950s “main-street USA” locale that sits on a giant rotating torus-shaped space station. Infinite Ward have even remade the Modern Warfare classic, Terminal, reimagined in a futuristic setting on the moon. There are all the classic modes that have solidified themselves in Call of Duty’s competitive multiplayer scene, and new favourites like Uplink make a delightful return. They’re broken up into sections, one of which being the hilarious “Terminal 24/7” which is precisely as the name implies. Competitive’s tab consists of all of the MP modes you would expect to compete in, and those that were present in CoD XP World League Tournament. There are two new modes added on to the roster; Reinforce has a limited respawn, and you must capture three control zones for a win. The way this breaks down, is for every control point you take, you get to revive a teammate, two control zones trigger a timer and all three make for an auto-win. Defender is like a mish-mash of King of the Hill and Uplink, where players who pick up the drone now become primary targets for the entire enemy team. If a player continuously holds the drone, the entire team earns points to secure a win.
From what I’ve played, I really dig the pace and flow of any given multiplayer match. One thing I should note is there are fewer selections of weapons to choose from compared to previous games, however this is addressed with the inclusion of a type of weapons crafting system. There are tiered weapons you can either purchase with in-game currency, or naturally unlock them in a random chest. Each Legendary variant has some impressive perks associated. For instance, the final form for the assault rifle Type 2 is that it splits into two shotguns when it goes into akimbo mode. This is actually a great incentive to play more and earn those intentionally overpowered weapons.
Finally, no Call of Duty game is complete nowadays without some iteration of a Zombies cooperative game. And this year they’ve decided to crank up the absurdity and flavor with the release of Zombies in Spaceland – a goofy 80s themed Zombie mode set in a wacky theme-park. The main antagonist is voiced by Paul Reubens, who you may know as Pee-Wee Aloysius Herman. He plays Willard Wyler – a famous horror director, who gets four aspiring actors to audition for a role that turns out to be a ruse; they are transported into Wyler’s horror film and must survive the onslaught of zombies, and even killer clowns. The main characters are all character archetypes: the jock, the nerd, Sally the modern day woman and Andre, the thug. There’s also a DJ throughout the game that is voiced by David Hasselhoff.
Like any other zombies mode, you survive the ranks and eventually unlock more portions of Spaceland. There are loads of hidden gems and Easter eggs to find throughout, if you can survive long enough. Best of all, if/when you bleed out, you will be taken out of the world to an 80s styled movie theater lobby, where you can compete in arcade games to earn back your way in faster than the natural method. There’s basketball, horse races with zombies, skeeball, and an entire section of arcade cabinets full of classic Activision arcade games. As I mentioned before, the rush mode in Zombies in Spaceland are Killer Clown rounds, and they can be terrifying. You hear their squeaky footsteps and maniacal laughter, and then they explode! The developers really had a lot of fun designing this mode, and it’s just an addition to the main course. Expect hours upon hours of online or split-screen fun.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare doesn’t deserve all the negativity it’s received since the initial teaser. I get it, it’s fun and trendy to hate things nowadays; and the internet has certainly spoken. Currently, Infinite Warfare’s reveal trailer sits as the second most disliked Youtube video of all time, second to Justin Bieber’s Baby, just ahead of Rebecca Black’s Friday music video. For those who actually gave the game a chance, I’m sure they will have realized that it isn’t as bad as it was made out to be. For those interested in the game in any capacity, you’ve a lot to expect. The story isn’t thought-provoking, nor does it try to be. It gives you the same mindlessness that classic WW2 shooters knew, and instead focused purely on design, and level progression which truly are the stars of the show for IW’s single player campaign. The online mode feels like a more refined version of Black Ops 3, with RIGs that keep things competitive, a payload/trait system that works to find a player’s balance between abilities and their own play styles. And to top it all off, this year’s Zombies mode is easily one of my all time favourite; I’m a sucker for 80s themed and inspired media, and this delivers on all fronts. Infinite Warfare delivers a solid science fiction shooter that takes us to wonderfully envisioned planets and satellites in our solar system, a fantastically competitive multiplayer and terrifically absurd Zombies mode. For those willing to spend more, the Legacy edition also comes with a completely remastered version of the original Modern Warfare. Get ready to get All Ghillied Up again.
|Love the pure science fiction, taking us to fantastic settings.|
|The boost and parkour mechanics have been tweaked to a near-perfect degree.|
|80s themed Zombies in Spaceland. Need I say more?|
|The story took a bit of a dip in story-telling in favour of organic progression (which is also a good thing).|
|The campaign is very short this time around.|
|The weapon roster online is fairly limited in model selection, despite the upgrades you have at your disposal.|