Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: HOOORAH! RATTATATATATAT!!!! RELOADING! BOOMMM! BRRRRRRTTTTT! “RPG!!!”
Compared to other present-day military shooter franchises, Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare series has always excelled in delivering an evocative story, solid gameplay mechanics, and immersive multiplayer in one tight package. So to those who were worried whether this 2019 reboot of sorts would live up to the legacy which many gamers regard as the gold standard when it comes to military shooters, I say this:
You can calm your tits. 2019’s retelling of Modern Warfare delivers on all fronts.
The Longest Day
The guys at Infinity Ward heard your prayers and have delivered one of the most enjoyable Call of Duty games to date with a campaign mode that’ll put some Hollywood military blockbusters to shame. I’ve always been a proponent for good lore and in my opinion, one of the best FPS campaigns in the past years have always been Respawn’s Titanfall 2.
How does this year’s Modern Warfare size up to it? Pretty darn close.
While we are littered with countless first-person shooter games in the market, very few have managed to invoke such emotional attachment to its characters like Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare series do. Everyone felt that tug in their heartstrings when they saw General Shepherd unload his Magnum onto the player and Simon ‘Ghost’ Riley in Modern Warfare 2 or John “Soap” MacTavish succumbing to his injuries in the third instalment of the original series.
Those were some heavy-hitting stuff that would numb anyone invested in the franchise from any form of emotional reaction onwards. Against all odds, Infinity Ward basically went “Oh lemme make you cream your pants one more time!” with this 2019 iteration.
The original Modern Warfare games had faceless soldiers adorning its covers but with this soft reboot, it’s our favourite cigar-chomping Brit front and centre. What better way to reinvigorate their biggest and most popular series by putting its most loved character Captain Jonathan Price as the main focus, right?
This soft-reboot of Modern Warfare sees Captain Price in his prime as he tries to stop an impending disaster caused by proxy wars involving the United States, Russia and the fictional country of Urzikstan. Words such as “foreign intervention”, “terror cells” and “foreign allies” were used in almost every other sentence but don’t for a second think that the story told to be as cliche as what you’d see in the evening news.
The campaign here serves an updated retelling of an age-long issue of wars being fought not only on the frontlines, but right in the combatants’ backyards. When Modern Warfare 2 was released ten years ago, the gaming world was left stunned by the infamous “No Russian” level where the game’s main antagonist, Vladimir Makarov, along with his mates aimed the muzzles of their machine guns and sprayed bullets onto an airport packed with bystanders.
This year’s edition not only managed to equal it but also topped it with the involvement of chemical weapons as well. Needless to say, many gamers and reviewers were immediately put off by this, claiming it as being unnecessary, unpalatable and of bad taste.
But that’s the reality of war – that the biggest casualty of war isn’t usually the combatants, but innocent people caught in the crossfire. This is as real as it gets.
Stages were designed to challenge players regardless of skill level and while it took me longer than average to finish it – I played mine on hard – I firmly believe it can be completed under seven hours on an easier difficulty setting.
However, never once during the 9-hour-or-so campaign did the game felt as being a drag. The story was paced perfectly with non-intrusive cutscenes between levels and I’m happy to mention the absence of quick-time events in the campaign. As players march through the storyline, they will get to know several main characters which would serve as major players in the grander scheme of things, and where the sequel would lead us to.
Without revealing too much about the plot, while this year’s game serves as a soft reboot for the franchise, those who know the original source material could easily piece many things together. In essence, this chapter forms a coherent story and timeline that fits well in the canon Call of Duty lore.
Gunplay-wise, Modern Warfare feels like what a CoD game released at the end of a console generation should feel like. As expected from a CoD title, we are presented with a wide selection of weapons, each dealing a unique, satisfying feel to the senses and it multiplies by ten each time you hit your target.
The pray and spray approach doesn’t work in Modern Warfare as the AI is much smarter in countering your push and flanking routes. This forces you into more tactical approaches, seeking cover and using the PUBG-like ‘mount’ function to aim while still remain in cover.
In all, the campaign mode for this year’s Modern Warfare lives up to the franchise’s legacy by delivering a tightly scripted story alongside highly challenging, diverse yet enjoyable levels.
Multiplayer is as solid as one could expect from a CoD game by Infinity Ward. The most solid to date? To each their own but this is the most fun I’ve had on a CoD game since forever.
Just like in the campaign mode, the shooting mechanics in this year’s Modern Warfare by far offers the most satisfying gunplay to date. Thanks to the superb sound effects team at Infinity Ward, the guns in Modern Warfare feel extra punchier compared to any CoD – or any other military shooters – I have played before.
Let’s not stop at just the guns, shall we? You’d have to personally experience the terrifying “BRRRRRRRTTTTTT!!!!” sound of an AR-10 Warthog Precision Airstrike whizzing above you during a frenetic gunfight to fully appreciate what Infinity Ward has created here.
Right of the bat, we are presented with a very balanced arsenal consisting of everything from your standard sidearm, to the ever-popular assault rifles and the return of the beloved Javelin, now aptly labelled as the JOKR. Just like in previous CoD games, you get to create your own build to suit whichever mode you so prefer.
But let me talk you through what has been my favourite multiplayer mode this year: Ground War.
Essentially Modern Warfare’s take on Battlefield 1’s Conquest mode, Ground War sees a lobby of 64 players in a 32v32 setting battle over roughly fifteen minutes to capture five different points on the map.
Each captured point contributes to a scoreboard which, once it hits 250 or whenever the timer runs out signals the end of the round. If a side successfully captures and hold all five points simultaneously, a ‘Defcon’ warning pops up which starts a countdown to a nuke launch which would end the round prematurely, granting the win to whichever team holds these five points.
In this clip below, you’ll see me camping comfortably from a vantage point in one of my Ground War matches. You’d instantly realize I have poor to mediocre mechanical skill but it does not stop me from racking up kills purely by superior positioning and downright criminal sense of fair play.
— Kenn (@kennleandre) November 2, 2019
While indeed the 64-player, 32v32 setup is very impressive I feel that Infinity Ward could easily fit another 36 players into the lobby to complete a 100-player shoot-fest. Perhaps future maps would be introduced to cater to this scale.
For those who feel their mechanical skill is lacking and ain’t up to scratch, fret not. The various multiplayer modes in Modern Warfare were designed to fit a variety of approaches which *should* cater to every player of varying skill levels. You don’t necessarily kill enemies to be of use to your squad and are still able to contribute with the proper setup.
Lastly, for those who are concerned about the game’s cross-play aspect which sees all console and PC players being lumped in a same server together resulting in a lopsided game, your worries are valid and for ease of mind, players can choose to opt-in or out in regards to that feature.
Act Of Valor
For all of Activision’s method of annualizing its series to the ground, at least the company have the common sense to let Infinity Ward release their vision of a soft reboot involving their most successful Call of Duty series to date. Modern Warfare keeps its core gameplay intact without any needless fluff while delivering the best in single-player campaign storytelling and multiplayer engagements.
No amount of surprise flashbangs and random shotgun sprays can stop this reboot’s plan in bringing together veterans and newbies alike. I, for one, welcome its return with open arms.
- An interesting rehash and retelling of an already loved franchise.
- Brilliant gunplay & controls.
- Sublime multiplayer.
- Ground War is fun as hell.
- Superb audio design.
- Some story elements may discomfort many.
Final Score: 90/10