Going back to basics pays off
By Gieson Cacho // The Mercury News (TNS)
Game Name: ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: First-person shooter
Developer: Infinity Ward
Rating: M, for Mature
With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the series returns to what makes it great. The team leverages the nostalgia from fan-favorite characters such as Capt. John Price and throws it into a world that’s evolved since 2007, the year that the original title launched.
The reboot re-establishes modernity to Modern Warfare by emphasizing urban warfare, chaotic terrorist assaults and covert operations. The narrative focuses on three playable characters: Alex, a CIA agent; Farah Karim, an Urzik freedom fighter; and Kyle Gaz Garrick of the Special Air Service.
The three come together as they search for a Russian chemical gas that has gotten into the wrong hands. The investigation will take players to different locales across Europe and Asia. It puts players in the role of Gaz, who has to storm a terrorist safe house and clear the place floor by floor. That’s a tense experience in close quarters when a wrong move could be mean death.
Elsewhere, stealth becomes vital as Alex infiltrates a Russian stronghold in order to cause a pivotal diversion. Players will need silenced weapons and disguises to get through guarded areas. Farah has the most unconventional missions as they explore her dark childhood amid war.
Although Modern Warfare emphasizes urban warfare, the game still has trademark action-movie elements. A sniper level will teach players how to use scopes and account for wind while taking a shot. In another stage, players will use a laser pointer to mark enemies for drone missiles. The diversity of missions keeps the gameplay fresh while Infinity Ward writes a tight, effective narrative.
As for multiplayer, the current Modern Warfare benefits from years of development on that side of the franchise. Players can choose between competitive and cooperative modes. After that, they’ll encounter several rule sets, customization opportunities and a solid progression system. Infinity Ward doesn’t rock the boat and maintains the frantic, quick-twitch combat that the series is known for.
Modern Warfare multiplayer is still a blast to play as long as players improve their skills and post respectable scores and stats. As always, the competitive mode forces players to sink or swim. Players will have to learn the fairly polished map design that’s aimed at creating a flow. They’ll have to figure out sniper points and potential ambushes around corners. At times, some contests can feel too hectic as players respawn and enter roiling gunfights. If players are looking for another style of multiplayer, they can check out the new mode, Gunfight that pits teams of two against each other. It’s a mode that requires teamwork and planning but also ratchets up the tension as every move matters.
Meanwhile, the cooperative mode is beefier this time around by extending the narrative from the single-player campaign. Instead of battling zombies, players focus on defeating the successor of the Al-Qatala terrorist group. This takes them through several difficult battles, where teamwork and the right loadout can mean the difference between failure and success.
Modern Warfare feels like a polished game from yesteryear. A renewed focus on what made the franchise explosively popular is a smart move for Infinity Ward and the other teams involved in the series’ future, but at the same time, they could have done more to experiment with the series on the multiplayer side. Gunfight is nice, but it would have been good to see the series continue more of the changes such as the battle royale mode in the previous entry.