Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Review

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Over the past couple of years, I have taken a much-needed break from the first-person genre. Since the spectacular Titan Fall 2, the industry has been pumping out game after game with solid if not completely uninspired gameplay year after year. We’ve seen jumps to the future, jumps to the passed a la WWI and WW2 all over again. That brings us to now with Call of Duty’s return to its own Modern Warfare series that debuted back in 2007. It does this with a hard reset rather than a fourth entry in the titular series. At first, I found this puzzling and it put me off a bit, but as press and marketing released of this game, I began to respect the decision. The Modern Warfare series just went bigger and bigger with large drama and setpieces with each iteration. This new start lets Infinity Ward find more realism and drama while still maintaining some old characters and settings. Does this new start offer enough for an old fan to jump back in, let’s find out!

Release DateOctober 25, 2019
GenreFirst-Person Shooter
PlatformsPS4, Xbox One, PC
DeveloperInfinity Ward
Price$59.99
ESRB RatingMature
Players1 – 64 Players

 

*A copy of this game was provided by Activision to FYIG for review purposes*

CAMPAIGN

I just do not buy games that don’t have at least some sort of single-player content – this was one of the few reasons I didn’t pick up Call of Duty’s last outing. It just inst’ an investment that I feel I would like to make when there isn’t at least something I can play again when I put that game in the system a year down the line, regardless of the quality of the multiplayer. I’m really happy to say that Call of Duty more than satisfies in this content with a return of a full-fledged campaign and even several coop modes that I no doubt will return to down the line with some buddies.

Survival Mode offers some great team-based last stands as you start from scratch and customize you load-outs over time.

While the campaign is an expectedly short jaunt it more than satisfies with some snappy pacing and a surprising amount of variety. Rather than keep the player shooting down down the enemy at a constant, the story offers several setpieces and situations that break up the gameplay with a clear highlight being a security camera mission where you instruct a person on how to escape. This variety goes a long way to have the story keep the player on their toes and makes the entire thing fly passed. Another changed adopted into the campaign is slightly open-ended missions – Modern Warfare goes as far as letting us pick which objective to tackle first and even some dialogue decisions.

Call of Duty really stuns this time around with both immaculate lighting and sound.

Obviously, with the mention before, Modern Warfare is going with a grounded and modern (haha) approach. This approach lends itself to taking a gritty look at war and blurring lines and showing hard-hitting things rather than the common macho white guy set-pieces. While COD successfully tackles this approach with impeccable realistic graphics and sound, it doesn’t seem to be quite as hard-hitting or transformative as it wanted to be. In the end, Modern Warfare gives us a short, satisfying, and strangely diverse experience that does more than what I expected from a AAA yearly shooter

MULTIPLAYER

Of course, for COD, single-player isn’t the meat of experience and the reason so many return year to year. That title belongs to the series offerings and modes in the frantic, strategic, and progression based multiplayer. Straight off the bat, the changes that the developers have decided to implement are noticeable – some bad but mostly good.

In the beginning, I found myself being slightly confused as it felt a bit more frustrating and scattered than usual; getting shot from all sides and there not being a noticeable center or push to the battle. I can only assume this is a result of Infinity Ward’s decision to mostly due away with the three-lane system. To those of you who didn’t know, the three-lane system was the developer’s approach to map design with all of the levels for most of the series previous outings. The maps would offer three lanes of travel on the map and created natural pushes from one side of the map to the other while still offering variety. This allowed for a pseudo narrative in a battle between two sides and also allowed for a safe allied space for spawning and short decisions about how to enter the battle. This system was done away with for Modern Warfare.

The developers here wanted to go with a more natural and realistic map design that feel like real places to match its more grounded gameplay and tone. These natural places would then rely on the players to create their own natural pushes and battlefields. While being a brilliant idea in concept it does not always succeed in what it set out to do. When these ideas synthesize and both sides find themselves in these pushes across natural battlefields in throughout structures, caves, and rooftops the game soared and created some incredible highs. Sadly, these highs have come with some lows in the form of some randomness in the levels that sometimes leave the spawning feeling random and the push nonexistent, leading to some spawn kills and some aimless times that didn’t inspire much fun. Luckily these lows are far outmatched by the highs and since launch player’s knowledge of the maps, as well as my own, has seemed to minimize this problem even more as choke points have been realized and utilized.

A demonstration of the surprisingly game-changing weapon mounting.

The are some other noticeable changes in the form of a welcome slower (but not sluggish) pace, less hit points, gun mounting, and a tremendously large arsenal of weapons, upgrades, and progression paths. The past several games had a smaller arsenal that became an easy SMG pick and then a progression of attachments mostly in the form of sights and eventually camos. This time around, the natural maps and lower hitpoints encouraged me to experiment with several weapons, each with a large array of attachments to unlock in the form of sights, barrels, stocks, and even ammunition used.

The Armory acts as the perfect way of looking at and assigning your load-out and attachments.

Multiplayer has several modes that include most of the shooter mainstays, including capturing points and search and destroy, but everyone will no doubt fall into the same modes of team deathmatch and free for all. However, Modern Warfare adds a new mode that single-handedly pushes this game from a recommend into a near must-buy called NVG.

NVG offers an experience heightened by a stripped-back approach.

NVG permanently turns out the lights on each map and has you and your team dawn night vision goggles. Also heightening damage and stripping away the HUD or point markers, NVG offers an exhilarating experience that I have never experienced in multiplayer gaming before. Multiplayer First-person shooters have been fun, but they have never truly felt more than a good first-person shooter. Nothing quite prepares you for the adrenaline of rushing into the blackness with a team, lasers swinging each way, and blasting someone with a shotgun with no point sound or marker to show what you’ve done – just a visceral shot to the chest. NVG for me marks the first time a multiplayer shooter felt like an entirely new experience, all with just a few tweaks.

Of course, as with any major multiplayer game, there will need to be balancing (shotguns have never been more powerful) and polishing (please stop spawn killing), but with a strong foundation and great progression, we have some of the best Call of Duty multiplayer we’ve had since the original Modern Warfare.

CONCLUSION

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare marks my return to a series that, while I fell off, has always had a mark of good gameplay and love in my heart. While I could write endlessly on the balancing of the progression system (it’s pretty good) or the good and bad of each game mode, it really just comes down to how those things mesh and create something more. Simply put, Modern Warfare is the first AAA shooter that I would recommend to almost everyone. It isn’t without its problems or further need for polish and balancing, but Modern Warfare made their formula feel new, and I commend them for that.

ProsCons
Diverse CampaignMap Conflicts
Multiplayer ProgressionUnbalanced Weapons
NVG Mode 

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Graphics
8.5
Audio
9.5
Gameplay
9
Story/Game Modes
9
Value
9
Technical Performance
7
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Jonathan Harris is a children's volunteer, a gamer, and a student at university currently majoring in Film, English, and Japanese based out of Seattle. While currently published in the comic book industry, Jonathan also itches to write about all aspects he's passionate about; paramount being videogames. Playing Crash Bandicoot at the age of three, Jonathan has been hooked since, enjoying sinking himself into a fantastic story or frantic rogue-like all the same (and even for a short time enjoyed a ranking of one of the better players of Hotline Miami).