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The Call of Duty franchise has taken players on quite the ride and I think it’s interesting to look back at what has transpired along the way. From the battlefields of World War II to the Vietnam war to modern warfare to futuristic warfare, the franchise has definitely veered off in different directions over the years. From the typical cogs in the machine just doing their part to augmented soldiers with cybernetic abilities – players have decimated hordes of zombies and exterminated aliens – needless to say, it’s been one of hell of a rollercoaster. But despite the different conflicts, tonal shifts and style changes, the core of what makes these games so much fun has always remained intact. It’s everything around it that’s changed over the years.
In my opinion, Infinity Ward has developed some of the most exciting games in the series. In fact, all their titles up to and including Modern Warfare 3 are excellent. Ghosts is where they lost some steam. It’s not a terrible game by any means but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as their previous titles. Regardless, it’s just one misstep in a decade of otherwise amazing titles and I was still looking forward to playing their next entry, Infinite Warfare. Developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in November, 2016 and certain editions come with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.
Infinite Warfare is another entry with a cinematic-style campaign set in the future and instead of taking you to different locations around the globe, the campaign takes you to different locations around the solar system. After the Earth was stripped of its natural resources, the nations formed the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) and established colonies elsewhere in the solar system to gather resources. The plot primarily centers on a conflict between the UNSA and Settlement Defense Front (SDF), a hostile faction consisting of former UNSA colonies that seek total control over the solar system.
The plot, itself, is okay but it’s the characters that kept me engaged. I was more interested in them than I was in the actual conflict. The writing is pretty good, several characters are well developed, and the performances are excellent. This is definitely one of the more dramatic and emotional storylines in the series up to this point. I still say Black Ops tells the best story with Black Ops II trailing right behind it and I would say Infinite Warfare is next in line.
The cast of Infinite Warfare is comprised of some notable talent including Kit Harington and David Harewood and I think one of the best performances comes from Brian Bloom who plays the protagonist, Nick Reyes. Infinite Warfare is Infinity Ward’s first foray into the Zombie world and the mode features the talents of some big names including Seth Green, Paul Reubens, Pam Grier, David Hasselhoff, and Kevin Smith.
Right off the bat, I want to say I think Infinite Warfare is much better than Ghosts but the action is not quite as consistent as that of some of Infinity Ward’s previous titles like Modern Warfare 2 and 3. There’s plenty of enemies to shoot but the action does slow down frequently to convey story beats among other things. If you’re a veteran of the series, you should know how it goes. You’ll be forced to walk from A to B from time to time, follow NPCs around during certain segments and you’ve got your scripted stealth sequences. The campaign also doesn’t offer the same amount of customization options as that of Black Ops III.
So I guess the ultimate question is what does Infinite Warfare do? What’s its gimmick? What makes this one different? Outer space is the big gimmick. Floating around in space and flying around in space. That’s the draw here and Infinite Warfare does carry over some things from some of the recent titles like boost jumping and wall running. I think the gunplay is excellent. The weapons look and feel cool, you’ll get to use both ballistic and energy weapons and the audiovisual feedback is great. Energy weapons are more effective against robots and enemies hit with bullets often result in satisfying blood puffs. Certain weapons can obliterate foes resulting in them exploding into a bloody mist. It’s very satisfying stuff.
Although the customization in the campaign is not on the same level as that of Black Ops III, you will earn rewards for completing missions including suit upgrades and weapon attachments and you can customize your loadout before jumping into most missions and certain locations you travel to contain armories where you can unlock equipment upgrades. At a certain point in the story, Nick becomes the commander of the carrier ship Retribution. This is where you end up in between missions and is where you can initiate the next mission, view logs, customize your loadout, and view the most wanted board which shows you all the high-value SDF targets you’ve eliminated throughout the campaign.
One of the more interesting aspects of this campaign is that you have the option to complete side missions. They come in two forms, Ship Assault and Jackal Strike. Ship Assault missions mostly consist of your typical run and gun action. You assault and/or infiltrate a ship and some even give you the option to sneak around on your own. Jackal Strike missions let you fly a Jackal around different locations and engage different enemy ships including fighters and Destroyers. I don’t think the side missions are spread out enough because I completed most of them early on. Furthermore, they can get a bit repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy flying around in space engaging enemy ships as much as the next guy but that’s all the Jackal Strike missions are. It just feels like the same thing every time. The big incentive to complete these side missions is the rewards.
Outside of flying around in the Jackal and floating around in space, Infinite Warfare does not feature a big variety of set pieces. At least when compared to some of its predecessors. Much of the campaign is your typical run and gun action and there are some really cool firefights peppered throughout. I think one of the most memorable is set in Geneva. SDF forces invade and you have to move through the streets and buildings engaging soldiers and robots. It’s reminiscent of some of the more chaotic battles in Modern Warfare 2 and 3.
I do think the difficulty has been ramped up a little compared to some of the more recent previous entries. You can die quickly here if you’re not careful so taking cover is often crucial for survival during firefights. Infinite Warfare comes with the typical Call of Duty difficulty levels but also features two additional difficulties that need to be unlocked. Specialist and #YOLO, otherwise known as “you only live once”. Specialist is extremely challenging. There is no health regeneration and damage to different parts of your body will result in different penalties. It can be quite intense. #YOLO is similar but the difference is that if the player dies, they have to start the campaign over.
This is another campaign that takes you to a good variety of locations. You’ll shoot your away around SDF Destroyer ships, a Lunar Terminal on the Moon, a mining colony near Mecury, a weapons lab on Europa, and a refinery on Titan. The environments are mostly linear as expected so you and the action are always contained. It’s your typical mix of tight, open and vertical spaces and the bigger firefights are set in more open-ended areas. During most battles, I noticed there was always plenty of options when it came to routes and positions.
I was actually able to join one multiplayer match but most of the time, I would sit in the lobby for a while waiting to join a game so I didn’t really get to experience much of the multiplayer gameplay. I was also unable to engage zombies with other players which was very unfortunate. I would typically sit in the lobby by myself. Sometimes other players would join but not enough to start a match. Luckily, the mode can be played solo.
For Infinity Ward’s first attempt at Zombies, I think they did a really good job. Its not too different than the previous Zombie stuff but it is very atmospheric. The maps are based on different movie genres and are set in different locations and time periods like 1950’s California during an alien invasion, the seedy streets of 1970’s New York, a 1980’s theme park, a slasher-horror style lakeside camp in the 1990’s, and an off-world military outpost where you’ll engage the aliens known as Cryptids which were introduced in the Extinction Mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Zombies also features a Boss Battle mode where you can simply fight the bosses of each map.
If you’ve played the previous Zombie modes, you should know what to expect here. Multiple players can team up to survive increasingly difficult rounds or scenes of zombies. You shoot and kill zombies for points and cash which can be spent on new weapons and access to new areas among other stuff. Zombies will sometimes drop temporary power-ups and pick-ups like ammo and cash. You can deposit money into ATMs and you can buy Up ‘N Atoms which are basically self-revives. When you die, you’ll end up in the Afterlife Arcade where you can play games for Soul Tokens which allow you to return to the map.
Weapons in multiplayer and Zombies do level or rank up as you use them. You will earn experience and rank up as you blow away zombies and reaching certain levels unlocks stuff like customization options. As you kill zombies and spend cash, you’ll fill up a meter and when it’s full, you can activate one of five cards which grant you a bonus. You can build a deck to use in matches and most of them need to be unlocked. If you run out of cards during a match, you’ll have to pay a fortune teller to re-fill your deck.
The Call of Duty games are known for their excellent audiovisual presentations and Infinite Warfare is no exception. The game looks amazing and the pre-rendered cut scenes in particular look incredible. The weapon models look great and weapons sound good when fired, the environments are diverse and detailed and the game features some beautiful backdrops including distant planets and the gorgeous Geneva cityscape. The soundtrack consists of a mix of dramatic and intense tunes that do fit what’s happening on-screen and the music often helps elevate the more dramatic elements in the story. On the technical side, the game ran great and I encountered no major problems.
Apparently, upon the release of the initial trailer for the game, it was heavily criticized by the community out of frustration with the direction the franchise was moving in. So I guess I’m in the minority that enjoys this new direction. I’m all for space battles, futuristic warfare, and augmentation. Despite the initial backlash, Infinite Warfare reviewed rather well and I did enjoy my time with it. Granted, I think Infinity Ward has made better campaigns but this is still a fun time and certainly doesn’t dip as low as Ghosts. At least I don’t think so. I also think this might just be the best story Infinity Ward has told so far. They did a great job with the Zombies mode and I found it to be very atmospheric. But I have to say, I’m a little sad to see that nothing like the Special Ops mode in Modern Warfare 2 or 3 has returned. Infinite Warfare may not be my favorite game in the series but it’s got some cool firefights and memorable sequences and there’s enough here to keep players coming back for a while.
I would recommend Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. If you’re not a fan of the direction the franchise has been moving in, it’s probably safe to say you might be better off skipping this one. But if you do enjoy this new direction or just love the franchise in general, I don’t think Infinite Warfare will disappoint. It’s still a Call of Duty game at heart. It’s still a linear, guided, flashy action-packed first-person shooter experience. Except now the action takes you to outer space and different planets and Moons. Definitely check it out.