Release Date: 25/10/2019 Platform(s): PS4/XB1/PC (With Crossplay) Publisher: Activision Developer(s): Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Beenox & High Moon Studios
Following in the footsteps of its counterparts, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare tactfully addresses the nuances of contemporary conflict in this reimagining of the series.
While international warfare has always required a delicate hand, today’s battlefield arguably requires more of a tangible sensitivity to counter the looming threat of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. In a time when the press of a single button can ignite the fuse of war, what better way to bring Call of Duty down to Earth than to revamp the Modern Warfare series and incite poignant discussion about the state of war today?
In this soft reboot, you play as both SAS and CIA operatives as they aid rebel forces in the fictitious country of Urzikstan, which borders Russia and is fighting for its independence. A stash of chemical weapons has gone missing and must be located while an extremist Russian military faction is neutralised. Sound familiar?
The narrative can easily be read as a mash-up of real-world proxy wars and brutal localised conflicts that panders to US sensibilities. Urzikstan is believeable; it could be Syria, it could be Afghanistan, it could be the Ukraine or Chechnya.
Irrespective of the finer details, men and women continually put their lives on the line in black operations around the globe -deniable missions where the rules are no-doubt sketchy but, nonetheless, they get results. Modern Warfare taps into this reality with realism and careful representation.
“These are morally complex stories where there is no black and white, or pure evil or pure good. It’s the gray in the middle of all that, and finding your line is a hard thing to determine.”Taylor Kurosake, Studio Narrative Director
Politics aside, this is well-made game. It’s immersive, engaging and, I’m hesitant to say fun. I’m no stranger to the Call of Duty series. After Infinite Warfare, however, I was grateful for a break from it all. Historically, the series teeters upon an imaginary line of attempted realism and actual farce, often leaning heavily towards the latter.
Modern Warfare, however, is a much-needed change of pace. Gone are the deliberate set-pieces and tired, repetitive narratives. Instead, the game favours well-made scenarios that draw you into the action and actually challenge your first-person shooter skills.
The first mission drops you off in London’s Picadilly Circus: suicide-vest wearing fanatics and terrorists armed with assault rifles are running wild, creating all-out carnage as civilians are scrambling in fear. Armed with only a handgun, you must fight your way through to the next checkpoint, neutralising the threat and protecting innocents as you go.
My Fitbit heartrate actually surpassed 100 as I tried to methodically sweep through the carnage in such a familiar setting, it’s jarring, being dumped into a scenario without warning. The photorealistic environments and captivating sound design really put you in the shoes of the SAS operative, whether you like it or not. What do you expect when you sign up for a self-proclaimed “visceral and dramatic single-player campaign”*?
Arguably, this the best Call of Duty campaign yet. It’s my personal favourite. Perfectly balanced missions offer the player both variety and, for the Call of Duty veterans out there, snippets of nostalgia. There is always something new to experience within each scenario, whether it be a new weapon or piece of equipment – like night-vision goggles or a mortar; equally a different perspective is presented to the player just as often, whether it be that of an SAS operative, a Middle-Eastern freedom-fighter or as an innocent caught amidst the conflict.
In conclusion, the Modern Warfare campaign is a well-crafted game filled with technical innovations and tactful story-telling. I look forward to completing the final few missions after writing this review.
*For the record, I did not take out any civilians during the mission.
A Brief Note on Multiplayer
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer brings exactly what you’d expect to the table. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve had playing Call of Duty online. The weapons are realistic, varied and it’s actually fun to switch up your classes every few games.
- Initially, I seemed to have been stuck playing the same maps over-and-over again. Making use of the game’s filtering system is highly recommended to counteract this and get the most out of your multiplayer experience. There’s loads of maps already on there – just filter it by TDM and you should be able to access them more often.
- For me, I’ve found the new Realism mode to be the most fun: it’s a real test of skill not relying on the game’s familiar HUD. It’s down to your own competance with your virtual arsenal to win at this mode… you don’t realise how often you look down to the bottom-left for reassurance of your ammo/equipment levels. If you’re like me, you may just reload after every round, ‘just incase’.
- The Night Vision maps are worth a look, too… even if I suck at them, I will give them a mention; Ground War is worth a look to get a slice of the Battlefield-esque action that you know and love. It’s carnage and fun to get stuck into.
There’s not much else for me to say about multiplayer here as it’s often down to personal preference whether you’re going to like it or not. Kudos to Modern Warfare for dodging the metaphorical bullet and offering free content , though.
So far, out of the new maps, Shoot House is my favourite.