The latest Call of Duty iteration is brought to us by none other than the developer that pretty much started the modern definition of this ridiculously popular franchise: Infinity Ward. Known for launching this series into stardom with Modern Warfare, does Infinite Warfare mark a solid first step for Infinity Ward’s first current gen-only title?
I’ll be a broken record if I even try to explain or touch upon how the game plays. Much like every other modern entry, controls are fast, tight, and as close as it gets with a controller to “twitch” shooting. It’s what each entry does with these controls that matters, and that is usually a matter of era. Infinite Warfare takes place in the future, and while the credit actually has to be given to Sledgehammer’s Advanced Warfare for daringly kicking off the exo suit movement suite, this game follows suit with some tweaks. For one, wall-running and shooting has never been better implemented, turning the wall-run itself into a sort of “auto” engage, which allows for far more precise aiming rather than just asking to be picked off. Overall mobility, however, is not as fast as Advanced Warfare, and very closely matches last year’s Black Ops III. In terms of the campaign, this means very little, as the campaign more intelligently focuses on cover-to-cover combat and vehicular (or more accurately, flying) combat. There is a level of engagement in the Jackal that is unexpected and a pleasant overall seasoning. Then we move back into multiplayer, and it becomes abundantly clear Treyarch is the winner in multiplayer design: it doesn’t seem Infinity Ward understands how to code their spawn system. In a sort of literal circle-jerk-around-the-map garbage of a spawn system, you will be frequently shot in the back. Whether you know the map or not, prepare for gunfire to come from behind almost as often as it does from the front. It’s a very infuriatingly painful experience (and consequently a huge mark on the game), as the spawn system continues to control the overall outcome of matches except one particular game mode: Frontline, in which everyone spawns on their “side” of the map. But now that we’re moving into game modes…
I’m not going to lie: one of the things that impressed me about Black Ops III was the amount of content they packed in, something I found surprising for a first-person-shooter. Infinite Warfare doesn’t quite hit those highs, but finds itself still pleasantly ample. The campaign is expectedly short, but lasts longer for those looking to complete the numerous, optional side missions. Zombies, a mode I admittedly spend the least time in overall, is intelligently designed like Black Ops III, but takes on an identity all its own without the use of celebrity faces, and even employs a clever self-respawn system to ensure matches last longer. However, I do still recommend playing with friends. And finally the bread-and-butter of content: multiplayer. It’s a slightly abridged version of Black Ops III, having fewer rigs, less guns, and less overall loot unlockables. In the end, though, this game still exceeds the content of most recent first-person-shooters, mostly due to the depth of its novelty mode.
While it’s become far enough in the life of the current generation consoles to see games maximizing their capabilities, Infinite Warfare is sort of showing where the plateau is at. There’s very minimal improvement graphically over either of its current gen built predecessors, and close inspection shows off the same low-res textures used to keep the game’s resources focused on ensuring everything continues to move at breakneck, 60fps speeds. While the campaign does enjoy a more overall solid framerate than either of its predecessors, the best way I can describe the visual and aural presentation is “business as usual”. The campaign’s story development, though, does maintain a high level of engagement due to its well thought out “deployment” storytelling, and deploying creates a sort of calm before the storm that makes the campaign an actually enjoyable roller coaster.
I’ll start by saying the bad: the multiplayer experience just can’t hold a candle to Treyarch’s efforts. It’s an awful experience, and it boils down to the spawn system that seems to be designed on paper, but poorly tested in reality. Who is even testing this and saying, “yea we get shot in the back a lot, it’s good to go”?! It may be different if you constantly play with friends who watch your back, but the vast majority of the fanbase is playing with “randoms”, and the spawn system Treyarch coded is much more favorably designed for random play. On the flipside, I have a tough time faulting much else about this game, as the campaign does hold its own with a pleasant pacing strategy, even if the game’s overall content falls behind last year’s Black Ops III. It may get dinged for not pushing boundaries, but that doesn’t mean the entire game is bad, either.
I give Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare…