Game Review

Call of Duty Modern Warfare — ‘Going Dark’, or ‘Not Going Far Enough’?

First off, I cannot call myself a fan of the Call of Duty Franchise. I was never able to stick to its annual release schedule and frankly ridiculous DLC payment models. However, what eventually brought me back to the franchise was its robust, euphoric FPS model. There were 4 games out of the entire Call of Duty lineup that I can say, wholeheartedly, I was a fan of. They were: Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, and now the new Modern Warfare — with its new, edgy sounding tagline, ‘Going Dark’. What does the phrase mean? Does it mean shooting guys in dark and dingy environments, or does it allude to a greater message?

Campaign

Overall, the campaign is like a breath of fresh air — if that breath was a brief puff of pleasant wind in an overall mediocre-looking meadow. Spanning several countries, the campaign attempts to create a fresh take on a tired subject — the war on intelligence. Overall, it impresses — but several drawbacks hold it from breaking through its self-made stereotype, the garbage campaign.

THE GOOD

While obviously inspired, it innovates on several fronts with its missions. Upon opening the Campaign screen, the player is greeted with a well-placed ‘Mature Content Notice’, as there are several segments in the story that are not for the faint of heart. The game does a good job of sticking to its ‘Going Dark’ premise, which to my understanding alludes to how people’s true intentions are never really known, which ties into the game’s proxy war setting. As a ‘reimagining’ of the Modern Warfare franchise, the players get a new Captain Price — whose actor does an exceptional job of portraying the iconic soldier. I remember growing up on Captain Price, occasionally quoting him with my friends — and this new iteration of his character does not disappoint at all. Supporting characters such as Farah, Alex, and Kyle also do a fantastic job of portraying soldiers in very different roles and circumstances. Farah shows us a strong female rebel leader, Alex shows us a soldier working on 2 different fronts, and Kyle shows us the growth of rookie. The new styles of missions that take place within very small environments, such as a couple of floors in an apartment building, are executed beautifully — with heart pounding moment-to-moment gameplay that constrict the action to lightning-fast reactions. The CGI cutscenes are animated beautifully, an obvious leap in technology from preceding entries. Finally, the actual gameplay is engineered beautifully to feel comfortable in both slow and frantic environments.

THE BAD

Unfortunately, the campaign does not innovate enough for it to stand out as a worthwhile game mode. The structure and premise of the game are at odds with one another, where there are proxy wars and wars on intelligence — where the player should feel unsure of themselves and question their own motives. The linearity of the campaign takes away all tension that the series could have had when the player realizes its one set piece after another. For the action movie fan, this is right up your alley — with both explosive and toned-down sections. For the fan of a more non-linear story — this is quite nearly a dealbreaker. While there are not a lot of over-the-top moments that make you roll your eyes (I’m looking at you, Call of Duty WW2 Train Scene), there aren’t a lot of stand out moments either. The bane of Call of Duty missions perhaps are turret/gimmick sections and defense sections — and one mission insists that both be the main aspect of that mission. Other than that, it is mostly just regular dull ‘fodder missions’ where you run from checkpoint to checkpoint in open warfare. While I doubt, we will ever get another mission like Cliffhanger from MW2, the missions that try to innovate, do it quite well, nonetheless. Finally, the Russians. This game’s portrayal of the Russian army granted it a segment on central Russian news, almost a ban, and near vilification from the Russian community. The central villain is comically evil to the point of being annoying, with his hateful speech and disdain for basic human rights — it is difficult for the player to take him seriously as he is incredibly one-note. The game does a poor job of explaining the villain’s ties to the Russian government, which almost caused an uproar from the Russian community because this game seemed to be labelling Russian people as evil.

THE UGLY

In this section, I want to give some thoughts on what could be improved in the campaign. First and foremost, I would love to see more stakes involved, to see how the story changes based on player choice. I want there to be actual consequences on failure, rather than upon death – we get a short quote and it brings me back to the checkpoint. There does not seem to be any weight to the story, perhaps as people are becoming more desensitized to the media — the shock factor that the story goes for sometimes, just does not hit as it should. The Call of Duty campaigns always had the player being led by NPCs, and when the game gives the player some choice, suddenly it becomes the exception — when in a game like this, I would have expected it to be the rule. It is very pleasant seeing the franchise’s departure from the futuristic setting, back to modern day. I believe that instead of expanding vertically, with more graphics, more effects, etc. the game should expand horizontally — accenting player choice. While in real life, a soldier would be expected to follow orders from their commanding officer, Call of Duty should not be compared to real life, but rather as an interesting departure and dramatization of our world.

Online

Following the campaign, it is worth examining the online parts of the game which consist of Multiplayer, Warzone, and Co-op modes of play. I do believe that there is enough innovation here, while also maintaining the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. I’m not that skilled of a player online, consistently top-fragging and razing the entire battlefield — I do believe that I have improved enough with these modes, as there are several aspects of them that keep me coming back.

THE GOOD

Straight away, the online experience now in Season 5, is quite positive. I have had almost no issues with netcode, and the game’s meta keeps changing to keep it consistently fresh. The battle pass system, while a bit tedious, is quite fair in the new-to-Call-of-Duty design, where you must earn everything. Infinity Ward and Activision changed their DLC model, and with each subsequent Season they release new, interesting, and very accessible content. Everything that is not in the in-game store, can be unlocked — and with sensible guidelines. Of course, Activision wants you to shell out your money — but this system is not as egregious as it was in the new Star Wars Battlefront games from EA. The gun customization is phenomenal, with, I think, the highest level of customization, outside of mil-sims. Content is being consistently given out to motivate the player to improve their gameplay and sometimes you even get rewards for not doing anything. It is very refreshing to see a ‘Skyrim-style’ experience system with the guns, where you consistently unlock new stuff and perks for your gun — based on your character’s skill (where the top-tier upgrades are usually locked away at the end) with the weapon. While not all modes of play are accessible at once, there are always fun weekly playlists that are constantly being updated and innovated upon to provide new spins on just shooting. The private bot matches return, allowing for players to try out any mode that Infinity Ward unveiled — or get creative and make their own. Warzone is an amazing addition to Modern Warfare as it constantly ups the stakes with each season, making matches more thrilling with each subsequent update. To my knowledge, this is the only battle royale that has this much content just crammed into a massive shell. Players get the option of standard battle royale with up to 4 players, or a new Plunder mode, where players constantly respawn and the objective is to amass the largest amount of cash from others. From all battle royale games that I have played, this is the only battle royale that has as much variation and freedom as it does. It is quite nice to have the new ‘Gulag’ system in case you get an unlucky drop next to others that gun you down on the spot. Plus, if you have any buddies in your party if they happen to have enough cash — they can simply buy you back into the game and you can continue your fight for that victory. Plus, Warzone is free — so go ahead and try it!

THE BAD

The thing that stands out the most to me is the map structure in the multiplayer maps. Aside from the small gunfight mode maps — most of the maps that came with the game are poorly designed and boring to play on. They employ a standard 3-lane structure, where if the other team is dominating a certain angle — it is almost a guaranteed loss. Map movement is also made very difficult as there are way too many hiding spots that make players near invisible to others. I found myself sometimes stuck in a rut where I take a few steps and immediately get shot. The new maps have found ways to counteract that with many different paths to take, but sometimes the respawn system lets you down and you get gunned down almost immediately. Killstreaks are often ridiculous with the sky exploding with VTOLs, or a missile barrage just relentlessly hurling down on a specific location which often makes winning impossible. These issues combined with the near-invisible hiding spots often ruined my perception of playing online. Luckily, I got into the game after the well-known ‘claymore meta’ was over — because I most likely would have quit. The Spec-Ops mode feels pretty tacked on at the last moment and is in no way a major part of the game. They consist of a bunch of missions that all play out the same way with almost no variation on gameplay. The players face off an entire army with a ridiculous number of enemies and tedious objectives. To my knowledge, this mode is supposed to act as an epilogue to the campaign — but I found myself only clicking on the mode when they had weekly special rewards, such as a new watch.

THE UGLY

The download size at season 5 is becoming ridiculous. With updates to the game being about as large as entire games. If this trend continues, then I don’t think my hard drive can take much more of this game. Hopefully this issue will be addressed in the future because it is already nearing absurdity. Overall, the online is fine as it is, with my main issues being addressed in the ‘THE BAD’ section.


Featured image by: Toxic Player @ Unsplash

Game Review Thumbnail by: Daniel Stuben @ Unsplash

Game Trailer by: Activision

product-image

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

7

I would like to thank the developers who put in countless hours into developing and tweaking this game to make sure it is just right. I am well aware that game design is an incredibly difficult and labor-intensive task, and so far, — this game does not disappoint too much, as a new step in the next evolution of Call of Duty games. I’m quite happy with how this game turned out and am eager to see more of this style of game. And finally, thank you, dear reader, for reaching the end of my review of Call of Duty and have yourself a wonderful day.

Pros
  • - Revolutionary Engine
  • - Relevant Campaign
  • - Fast Paced Multiplayer and Battle Royale Modes
  • - Constant Updates
  • - Active Community
Cons
  • - Campaign Is Lacking In Length And Depth
  • - COD Points System Puts Majority of Cosmetics Behind A Paywall
  • - Night Mode Is Almost Never Played Online

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