The Call of Duty series has been a bit of a “boy who cried wolf” scenario for gamers in the past few years. We all have at least one friend who will swear that it’s better this year, yet when you play it it feels like the same product from the years before. Infinity Ward’s newest title in the long running series may however prove your doubtful thoughts false.
As Call of Duty goes, the game is split into 3 distinct game modes: Campaign, Multiplayer, and some sort of special mode like a co-op mission or zombie survival mode, in this game it happens to be a zombies mode. I’ll cover each section and give them their respective pros and cons. *Mostly the single player campaign will be discussed as I feel it holds the most weight in this title.*
Single Player Campaign
Let’s talk about what Infinity Ward got right this time, because honestly they did do a bit better than CoD devs usually do. I feel awkward saying they actually did something sort of notable with the campaign this time around, because their last game, Call of Duty: Ghosts was utter shit. Not just in terms of the single player, but just about every aspect of it. Infinite Warfare expands on just about everything complained about with their last title.
Our story starts on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which is a very surprising change of scenery. And I should add that it’s actually quite beautiful. The feeling of being on a frigid, barren moon is captured very well and is strongly enforced by showing the precautions our character has to take to keep from freezing in this weather. After sneaking through icy caverns and stealthily eliminating enemy soldiers, our player character is captured by the generic antagonist that is always used to move CoD’s plot line forward.
Except this time our bad guy is portrayed by a famous actor! CoD has never done that before, right? *coughs* Kevin Spacey. To our surprise, (or maybe I shouldn’t say surprise considering his face was plastered all over the ads for Infinite Warfare) Kit Harington is the evil villain with very little motive for his terrorism. Yes, everyone’s favorite Game of Thrones character is now an intergalactic terrorist named Salen Kotch, isn’t that a spectacle. This isn’t really much of an issue, I just feel like it’s done solely for the purpose of garnering attention.
See, I sound like I’m bashing the game, and frankly I am, but Infinity Ward did throw in some interesting and entertaining aspects to their campaign. The story is set up a bit awkwardly but does feel pretty well structured as you go through it.
Taylor Kurosaki may not be a name you’re familiar with, but you more thank likely are familiar with his expansive, well-written storytelling. He’s Naughty Dog’s former narrative design leader, responsible for the adventurous tales of Nathan Drake. Notice that I say former because as of July 2014 Kurosaki is Infinity Ward’s lead narrative designer. He is a strong mind with a knack for crafting dauntless narratives and this is definitely reflected in the many story missions. While it may not be on par with Uncharted, it will still be better than most other CoD campaigns.
I mentioned many story missions, but there’s actually only 7 main story missions, to which you violently react because it seems like CoD is trying to pull a quick one again by making an even shorter story. It’s okay, I get it, I’m very used to that by now. There are actually quite a few side missions added, which is a new step for the franchise, and it’s definitely in the right direction. These missions are just as just as enjoyable, if not maybe a bit more. What really propels the player to want to complete these side missions though, is the list of ranking officers in Kotch’s army, the SDF. Each mission gives you an opportunity to wipe out members and weaken SDF influence. The player can access this list from their personal headquarters on their spaceship that acts as a hub for selecting missions and checking information. Not much more is available to the player from their ship.
Combat still has the same old feeling that has been reproduced year after year, with slight tweaks. These tweaks usually come in the form of adding a new grenade or a few guns that have special characteristics that others don’t. Nothing has really changed this year, but the small annual tweaks are at least a bit interesting this time. The seeker grenade will scurry across the ground to the nearest enemy when thrown which is nothing very special, but at least fun to use. Some weapons have special firing modes, such as the EBR-800 which acts as a typical sniper rifle but can be transformed into an assault rifle if need be. This is useful for many occasions and play styles that one might want to approach combat with. However other transforming weapons don’t seem to shine as well as this one does. Take the RPR Evo which is part SMG, part assault rifle for example, this gun is more useful as an assault rifle 99% of the time because of the range and damage it boasts in this form. Wasted opportunity.
A new movement system is introduced for combat taking place in open space areas. The jump key will thrust you up, while the crouch key lowers you down. Left and right buttons will twist the player left and right, which isn’t anything marvelous, but it does add a new dynamic to combat. Grapple hooks can be used with the secondary grenade button to zip between cover faster, as well as execute enemies.
There I was floating through an asteroid belt, trying to silently eliminate some SDF guards. I grapple to a nearby space rock and am now upside down in comparison to my foes. After peeking out from the rock I send a bullet into each of their heads quickly and quietly. But what is this? Another guard I wasn’t aware of sees the murders and is alerted. This needed to be dealt with and quickly, so I look at him and shoot my hook into his chest pulling each other together so I can plunge a knife into his jugular. Movement still feels very similar but the new aspects are welcomed and prove to make for some badass moments.
It may seem like a bit of a mixed bag, and truthfully it kinda is, but the largest redeeming quality in Infinite Warfare’s campaign is the Jackal assault missions, which I saved for last. High-speed combat and an easy flight control system mix well and create one of the best things this game can offer you. About half of the side quests consist of these outer space dog-fighting missions which are incredibly enjoyable in a simple and almost stupid way. It can almost be compared to the Batman Arkham game’s combat in the way that it’s so simple and easy to pick up, yet addictive and fun. You are given the typical arsenal of machine guns and rocket launchers to eliminate SDF fighter pilots. Systems like lock on and guided fire help the player and make gameplay almost too simple. This brings up a point I have to make, which is no, this section is not incredibly well crafted as a gameplay element. Well it’s not terrible, it’s somewhere in the middle honestly, but I’d be damned if it isn’t one of the most amusing things I’ve ever done in a CoD game.
- Beautiful Sceneries
- Above average narrative
- Decent length campaign
- A few stand-out weapons
- Improved movement system
- Outer space dog-fighting
- Boring Antagonist
- Famous Actor for publicity
- Uninteresting hub world
- Missed opportunities with weapons
I don’t have all too much to say about this aspect of the game because CoD multiplayer hasn’t particularly interested me since Modern Warfare 2. I played it for a few hours just for the sake of this review and I have to say that it’s nothing special.
The specialist system added in last year’s Black Ops III in re-imagined as “rigs” in Infinite Warfare and does absolutely nothing to improve the system. In fact, it almost worsens it. While you now have access to an active and passive ability at the same time now, most abilities are either ripped right from Black Ops III or are just plain boring. Most weapons, while strong, don’t really have a unique feel to them. The FTL rig’s special weapon, “The Eraser”, is a direct rip of the Annihilator from Black Ops III’s Seraph specialist. Another downside to this system is that none of the character’s have any sort of personality like the specialists did. It added an almost comedic element, à la Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch. Specialists would argue and throw insults at each other. Infinite Warfare throws this all in the trash and fills voice lines with generic war cries and random military chatter.
Mobility is handled the same way it was in Black Ops III. Like, exactly the same. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it just fees like more of the same.
Score streaks feel very generic as always. Weapon attachments are generic. Nothing new there. Rigs are generic. It’s all generic and boring to say the least. This stuff was fun years ago, and probably still is if you’re new to the series, but as someone who has been playing since Call of Duty 4, it all feels stale.
The one thing that doesn’t feel generic is the newly designed loot system. It doesn’t feel generic because it’s more bullshit than it’s ever been. This started in Sledgehammer’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare with weapon crates that hold customization pieces and weapons with special skins and attachments. Players can grind to receive prizes or pay real world money, but there’s no advantage to prize weapons so hey, no harm no foul. Black Ops III continued the trend in typical CoD fashion and did exactly what Advanced Warfighter did. But yes, of course, leave it to a CoD developer to decide to only change the one thing that didn’t need tweaking. Now weapons received in crates add special bonuses to your guns that will allow them to have added accuracy or faster fire rates. These crates can be grinded for or bought in an instant to allow players to have an edge in play. Paying for an advantage is the last thing anyone wants in a multiplayer game is the last thing anyone (besides a teen with their mom’s credit card) wants. This hasn’t gone unnoticed and has caused a bit of controversy for Infinity Ward.
- Same Call of Duty multiplayer experience
- Same Call of Duty multiplayer experience
- Dull characters this time around
- Unfair pay to win weapon system
Zombie slaughtering is just as fun this time around as it has been in the past games since World at War. This has always been a bit of an unsung hero for the series, but that may just be in my personal opinion. I know for a fact that the community revolving around this portion of the game is very dedicated to it and usually buy CoD for this reason. Cult following would be the best way to describe it.
Spaceland is the setting of our co-op adventure, it’s an 80’s space themed amusement park that holds many games and attractions, many of which are available for interaction. We play as the actors starring in the director Willard Wyler’s film “Zombies in Spaceland”. Each actor plays off a trope from that era: The jock, the valley girl, the arcade nerd and that flashy tracksuit rapper. The whole premise is cheesy and plays off of it very well by throwing in essential 80’s music from bands like R.E.M. and Run DMC. David Hasslehoff even makes an appearance. That’s right. The Hoff is the park’s DJ and it is every bit as incredible as it sounds.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s incredibly enjoyable, especially with friends. It plays similarly to how all the others have, but has new gameplay elements. Elements such as the ticket system which allows players to play arcade games and complete challenges for tickets which can be exchanged for prizes like weapon upgrades and grenades, work very well. The team that worked on Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer should have taken a hint from the zombies team, because they know how to actually innovate on an old concept.
I’ve had a lot of fun times playing Zombies with friends, it’s tense at times but leaves just enough room to laugh and enjoy your time with it. This is where I find the most replay value in Infinite Warfare
- Great setting and atmosphere
- Innovative new gameplay elements
- Perfect for playing with friends
- David Hasslehoff
- Honestly, none. None at all.
Overall, Infinite Warfare is a decent package. The campaign is solid, pretty lengthy and helluva lot of fun. There are a few innovations here and there that make combat a bit more intuitive. Multiplayer is horse shit to me, but I guess if you have enjoyed it in the past few year’s CoDs, you will enjoy it now. And what I really see myself keeping this game for, is the Zombies mode. If you have friends that you know play this mode, hit them up, you’ll love wasting hours with them mowing down herds of zombies. It’s an incredible time. In the end it boils down to this: If you are an avid fan of Call of Duty, you will like this game. If not, maybe consider it for the campaign and zombies mode.
*Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was reviewed on a PS4*