Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare: Crikey, it’s November already and we have the 14th game in the Call of Duty franchise out in time for Christmas 2016. This is Infinity Ward’s first CoD title since Jason West and Vince Zampella left the studio after the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts and formed Respawn Entertainment.
From the humble PC beginnings with the first game and its superb expansion, United Offensive, with the medipacks to the sequel which also came out on original Xbox, including the introduction of healing through hiding in cover. The game has become increasingly popular with each entry in the series, crossing numerous hardware generations and selling millions of copies every year.
For Infinite Warfare, as you will have seen from the trailer on TV and on Youtube, it’s time to go to space, with the live-action style trailers used over the past few year with the players using real weapons.
Thankfully this time around, unlike Treyarch’s bonkers Black Ops series (BO3 at least), things are a bit more refined. This feels a little like Sledgehammer’s Advanced Warfare, which happened to be the last title I actually *liked* in the series since the very first game.
The writing and campaign are surprisingly good. You are part of a coalition whose job it is to save the solar system and the Earth from the SDF (Settlement Defense Front) led by Admiral Salen Kotch. The opening mission sees you setting out to destroy a weapon, but end up getting caught in the last moments by the enemy and, Call of Duty-style, the three-man team is wiped out. Then you head to earth where there is a parade. The automatic defences start firing on your own ships and the Captain gets killed on the Retribution, which in turn puts you in charge of the whole operation. Now it is up to you to run various missions, capturing and destroying enemy strong points and inevitably take out Kotch.
The Retribution serves as a hub, as such. You visit the armoury before each mission, where you can select the standard load-out or put something together from what you have unlocked so far. Then it’s off to the mission, then return and select the next one, and so on. The mission structure on Infinite Warfare is pretty good, but the main ones each lead you through various corridors, either by stealth or out-and-out force depending on the mission. There are also space combat battles which are best described as Wing Commander-Lite – you just lock onto a target and shoot at the reticule that is in front of the tracked ship. These are fun and a welcome change of style and pace from the main boots-on-the-ground assignments. There are also extra missions which are optional, such as destroying chemical weapons on a ship, assassination of SDF leaders, taking out squadrons which are attacking stations and so on. These add a bit more depth to the story and can unlock extra perks for you during play, I must admit I have enjoyed doing them as they tie-in nicely.
All in all, I feel there has been a good amount of work put into the campaign which is a welcome change after the past few releases which just felt tacked-on in the last few months of development. Memorable moments this time round are the small section of sniping while floating and hiding through an asteroid field, then getting into the ship, sneaking through after getting a uniform to then inevitably being discovered and fighting your way out.
The visuals are really nice – plenty of varied locations you’ll visit throughout the missions, the space ones being decent, too, with different backdrops. The framerate feels stable and fluent with no noticeable stutter, whether you are in a room full of enemies, or shots and missiles are being fired from both sides during the space combat sections. It is exactly what you would expect to see from a CoD game – corridors leading to larger open spaces with flanking positions.
Audio is what you would expect from a AAA release, too: guns all sounding like they have a decent thud behind them, regardless of whether they are ballistic or energy-based. Everything has full voice acting with an option to enable subtitles if you need to be in a quieter environment. It also includes an all-star cast featuring Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones, Spooks: The Greater Good, Silent Hill Revelation 3D), Brian Bloom (The A-Team reboot), Claudia Christian (Babylon 5) and David Harewood (Homeland, The Night Manager) to name just a few. And you even have David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider) who voices the DJ in the Zombies mode!
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.
So, the multiplayer……..
This for me is where things start going downhill for a few reasons.
Firstly, I will state that it is well put together and CoD players will feel right at home. Maps have choke points and multiple entry ways when playing hardpoint maps. It is something that you have seen since Modern Warfare; solid and what you would expect from the franchise.
The thing is, however, it is just the same as prior games. There is nothing new or innovative at all. The game modes are exactly the same with similar styled maps and no vehicles. The people that have been playing for the past 10 years are feeling right at home, with many hitting ‘Prestige’ already a week after release. Over-confidence with the development of the multiplayer is also it’s downfall. You can see they have just played it safe. It feels and plays exactly the same as it did when Modern Warfare was released in 2007 and every title since then. The unlocks trickle in and there are so many guns, scopes, secondary weapons, combat rigs and camo to unlock through progression.
Next up, the matchmaking is way off. New players are going to find this extremely tough. Putting one or two new level 1 players in with Prestige and high level players is an act of cruelty! You have no chance of learning the maps, as when you start moving… BANG, you’re dead! yep the campers are back in force taking people out seconds after they spawn. Lower level new players should be grouped together to give them a chance to get going & learn the maps and get a few unlocks.
The weapons feel way out of balance. Granted, this seems to be an issue every year on release. The same can be said for the spawn points where you can be spawned back in, only to be in an enemy player’s sights. It will become more levelled-out with patching, but at this moment in time, the playing field doesn’t feel too even.
Another crazy thing with the multiplayer is that if you buy the game on Steam you only play with other Steam users and the same goes for Windows 10 store buyers. Why Activision or Infinity Ward think this is ok is beyond me. Even GOG Galaxy which is DRM free is allowing cross network play with Steam gamers on games like AvP Classic. Both versions are connecting to Activision servers so it just makes no sense splitting the PC community up.
Zombies, this time round is a pretty mad section. It has an ’80s feel about it – Zombies in Spaceland. The characters are parodies of ’80s movie stereotypes and the whole thing is set in an Amusement Park. It’s the same thing as previous Zombies, but with a different theme – wave after wave moving through the area and unlocking extra weapons and so on. It is pretty tough playing solo, but find three other players to Co-Op with and it can be great fun.
To sum up, I really feel that the series is just coasting from year to year, now. It really needs a bit of a break. Ubisoft aren’t releasing an Assassins Creed game this year. While we have the forthcoming Michael Fassbender movie, the videogame is been given time to breathe, and will hopefully come back with something new and innovative for the series in the future. I feel Call of Duty needs to be doing the same thing. Year after year with little-to-nothing new, it is becoming a bit stale. It feels like they are running out of ideas. They are hiring extremely well-known, high-profile actors for voice work to draw the crowds in, and playing it safe with the multiplayer component.
Zombies this year is fun and wacky, while even better playing is the Co-Op with others. The campaign is REALLY good and has had a lot of work put into it. If this is your thing, then the game is well worth purchasing. If you want the same old multiplayer without even looking at the campaign, then go for it.
Personally, I feel hard pushed to recommend this. Bundling Modern Warfare with the Legacy Edition only feels like they are gouging more money out of players and is not cool. Modern Warfare Remastered, I feel, is superior to this new title. I think the reason it has been bundled for crazy money is they want people to buy and play the new game, and not just the remaster. Hopefully the remaster will receive an independent release in the future.
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Developer: Infinity Ward
- Publisher: Activision
- Players: Single, Co-Op & Multiplayer
Writers: Brian Bloom and Taylor Kurosaki
Cinematics Producer: Sylvain Doreau
Music: Sarah Schachner
Captain Nick Reyes: Brian Bloom
Captain Ferran: Claudia Christian
Admiral Salen Kotch: Kit Harington
Voice: Claudia Black
DJ (Zombies in Spaceland): David Hasselhoff
Sgt. Omar: David Harewood
Private Kashima: Eric Ladin
A.J. (Zombies in Spaceland): Ike Barinholtz
Lieutenant Nora Salter: Jamie Gray Hyder
Corporal Brooks: Jason Barry
Andre (Zombies in Spaceland): Jay Pharoah
ETH.3n: Jeffrey Nordling
Voice: Jim Pirri
Boats: Joanna Sotomura
Admiral Raines: John Marshall Jones
Voice: Misty L Dini
Gator: Omid Abtahi
Willard Wyler (Zombies in Spaceland): Paul Reubens
Sgt. Maynard Griffin: Robert Baker
Sally (Zombies in Spaceland): Sasheer Zamata
Poindexter (Zombies in Spaceland): Seth Green
Captain Bradley Fillion: Conor McGregor
Additional Voices: Craig Fairbrass
Kloos: Heiko Obermöller
Australian Soldier: Martin Copping
Private Todd Kashima: Patrick Mölleken
Gerald: Ethan Korver
Havoc: Jeffrey Pierce (uncredited)
Quartermaster: Beau Stephenson (uncredited)
Vice Admiral Caleb Thies: Peter Weller (uncredited)
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!
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