Developer: Infinity Ward
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: M for Mature
While Black Ops IV kind of took the world by surprise with a complete lack of campaign and fantastic battle royale mode, Modern Warfare is returning the franchise to its roots, in a manner of speaking. While the battle royale mode is missing in this entry, Infinity Ward is seeking to deliver a fresh, intense single player campaign. Is the series’ reboot worthy of the title, or should it have stayed in the past?
Violence: This will be one of the staples where Modern Warfare hangs its hat. On top of the normal gunplay of any first person shooter, Modern Warfare is filled with disturbing, violent imagery. From people (including children) being hanged and executed to animals and people being hit with poisonous gas and succumbing to its clearly disturbing, painful effects, there is a lot here that can be hard to watch.
Language/Crude Humor: As with nearly any Mature-rated first-person shooter, particularly in a realistic setting, Modern Warfare is rife with foul language. It runs the gamut from milder curses you could see on network television to G**D*** and F***. Expect nothing to be off limits, and the game could say them in up to three different languages.
Positive Themes: You’re literally working to save the world from a terrorist plot that could spark a global war. Individual character stories include everything from honor to vengeance and beyond. Characters will wrestle with following orders or doing the right thing, making disturbing, difficult decisions, and more.
Last year, Treyarch looked at the stats and decided to forego a single player campaign, opting instead to expand their multiplayer offerings with a battle royale and zombies mode. This year, Infinity Ward went back to the well for inspiration, opting to deliver one of the best campaigns in the franchise’s long history.
A shipment of deadly gas has been stolen from a Russian facility. With such a heinous tool of destruction in the hands of a terrorist organization, the world sits on the precipice of global war. Enter Captain Price and a band of allies that come together for the good of mankind. Between Alex, the standard, blonde, American soldier, to Afro-British Special Forces operative Gaz, to female, Middle Eastern, freedom fighter leader Farah, the cast is as diverse as they are well written and acted.
As is classic with Call of Duty campaigns, there are some intense moments. Through fantastic storytelling and impactful world design, you’ll feel every harrowing step of the journey. While they’ve always ratcheted the action up to 11, this is the first Call of Duty game that actually hit my core hard enough to elicit tears. There’s some really difficult content to cope with in here, especially when you consider events in the world news over the last decade or so. It’s worth every minute. It may even be worth experiencing multiple times, a feat few games earn from me.
On top of a great campaign, Modern Warfare brings the noise with a host of fun multiplayer offerings. New to the Call of Duty franchise this time around is Ground War, a massive 64-player game that has players spreading out to capture and hold points across a large area. This comes aided with cross-play, a feature new to Call of Duty that lets players on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC all play together simultaneously. In my experience, this has worked wonderfully, as we’ve had players on all platforms partied up and enjoying the game with no connectivity issues.
Of course, there’s a full suite of modes to enjoy. From the classics like Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Search and Destroy, to new offerings like Cyber Attack and the 2v2 Gunfight, there’s something here for any FPS fan to jump in and enjoy. It’s all fantastic, but I’m really hoping they’ll bring a Battle Royale mode into Modern Warfare in the future. I played hundreds of hours of last year’s Blackout mode and I’d love to have more of that with this new installation.
Map design in Modern Warfare is largely well done with plenty of nooks and crannies to wage war in. I have some serious issues with a couple of map designs, particularly “Euphrates Bridge.” I’ve seen major crushes, both on the winning and losing side. It’s infuriating to have a level where you can spawn to the glint of a sniper rifle if your opponents control the bridge. It’s absurd. Infinity Ward needs to tweak some of their map design.
Spec Ops rounds out the experience with a whole mode dedicated to multiplayer PvE content. Where Zombies has held folks’ attention in the past, these situational scenarios will put you and three others in intense situations where skill and teamwork are required to conquer. They’re a lot of fun, but they can be brutal.
On PlayStation 4, you can also enjoy the Spec Ops survival mode. Here, you’ll fight through waves of AI enemies that get progressively more difficult, sending everything from some normal soldiers to snipers to suicide bombers and juggernauts at you. I’m genuinely frustrated PlayStation locked this down with a year of exclusivity. It’s a blast, and I would’ve enjoyed playing it with friends on other platforms. Everything else in the game is cross-play. Spec Ops Survival should have been, too.
Modern Warfare is a gorgeous game. From the slick cinematics to gorgeous, lifelike renderings of character models, to ray tracing (for PCs that can handle it); this is one of the best looking shooters on the market. The sound design is also top notch, with emotionally driven tracks for all of the action. Beyond that, it appears Infinity Ward has done some extra work to recapture the sounds of gunfire, giving them a more realistic impact. This is a true, audiovisual, multimedia treat.
But it is not a perfect game. Over the course of the last few days, I’ve put in time on all three platforms and I’ve seen some significant issues. On both Xbox One and PC, I experienced hard crashes. For Xbox, that meant it completely shut the system off, requiring a full reboot. I fully expect Infinity Ward to resolve whatever causes those hard crashes, but they’re significant. On top of that, there was occasionally some mild lag or connectivity issues, but that could’ve been the servers trying to keep up with the launch demand, as they seem to have eased off a bit since launch.
This year, Infinity Ward proved they deserve their mantle as the studio that put Call of Duty on the map. With a gorgeous, harrowing, well-told campaign featuring a variety of cast members to an impressive multiplayer suite with new modes and cross-play, there’s very little left to complain about. The game has some bugs, but I’m confident they’ll be exterminated before long. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is back in an explosive way, ruling both the campaign and multiplayer scene for the foreseeable future.
Review copy generously provided by PMK BNC.
The Bottom Line
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is back in an explosive way, ruling both the campaign and multiplayer scene for the foreseeable future.