With a new year comes a new Call of Duty. This time around it is original creator Infinity Ward’s turn at bat, and they’ve decided to bring warfare to the future with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, dropping players into a war between two factions from Earth and Mars as they fight for complete dominance. While the game treads familiar territory, overall it’s an excellent entry in the long running franchise.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Developed by Infinity Ward / Published by Activision
Available on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PS4.
*Review code provided by Activision
In Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, players step into the shoes of Captain Nick Reyes, a strong, smart soldier from the Special Combat Air Recon (SCAR) who serves aboard the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) warship Retribution. After a surprise attack from the Settlement Defense Front (SDF) – a insurgent military group from Mars – kills the former Captain of the ship, Reyes is called upon to lead the counterattack against the SDF and put an end to the war before it’s too late.
Despite dealing with subject matter that’s common in sci-fi and has already become the focus of most modern first-person shooters, Infinite Warfare‘s plot is surprisingly engaging, fun and well-written, and is also one of the best so far in the series. In comparison to the previous entries that briefly touch upon the cast of characters and prefer to go right into the action, the characters and story in Infinite Warfare are fleshed out, with well-rounded characters that are believable, full of depth, and personality. The plot is also pretty easy to get into and entertaining, full of explosive moments and excellent visuals, and the villains, while flat and somewhat generic, are interesting thanks to the performances of Kit Harington and company.
It’s also quite a good-looking game, with solid character modeling and mech design, excellent scripted moments and animation, explosive and beautiful lighting and special effects, and on point sci-fi aesthetic and environments. Playing about in space has never looked and sounded so good.
In regards to how it plays, fans of the genre and series as a whole will find that it’s pretty much what they expect from the series, though there’s a couple of new additions and improvements here. As before players take on waves of enemy combatants and mechs as they progress through semi-linear stages, jumping, shooting, using sights, and seeking cover as they engage periodically in combat. The controls are as solid as ever and borrow heavily from Advanced Warfare and Black Ops III, also allowing players to quickly dash from cover to cover, wall run, double jump, and more. The controls are easy to get a hang of, and quickly become second nature.
Among the new additions to the classic formula is the ability to peek from cover to take shots by moving close to the edge and aiming – which is great and was a long time coming, a grappling hook to quickly navigate through Zero-G environments, which is practical and works quite well, and a new focus on stealth, as some stages give players the option to sneak about and gives them a visual indicator that lets them know how aware enemies are of their presence, so that they can avoid combat or take out enemies silently.
Then there’s also a big focus on space combat as well, as players will frequently hop onto a Jackal – a special fighter ship – and engage in high-octane aerial battles against rival fighters, warships and more. The space combat sequences play out like a lighter, streamlined version of Wing Commander or other classic space sims, with players having access to two main weapons and a subweapon, and a lock-on system that takes out the difficulty of chasing and shooting at the same as it puts the Jackal on autopilot so that players can concentrate on shooting. The aerial combat is a welcome addition in the series, and while there’s a bit too much of it, especially as it’s prevalent in the game’s side missions, it’s a good break from the ground fighting.
The campaign does have some issues though, and they are problems that have plagued the series for a while. Among the issues is the random checkpoint saving, that while great at times – as it saves players from having to redo sections if they get killed, occasionally saves at the wrong time too, forcing players to restart the whole mission. In one stage I actually reached the final segment, a point where if the player doesn’t escape into an evacuating ship, the whole place explodes. I wasn’t aware of this as I slayed enemy after enemy, and the checkpoint saved right when I finished off the last foe. Within three seconds, I exploded and died a fiery death, and the checkpoint would load up right on that spot, causing a loop of death and destruction that forced me to restart from scratch and lose progress. It was upsetting, and I’m sure it’ll happen to quite a few people. Other issues would be the A.I., with partner characters clumsily walking right up to enemies and getting shot up, or enemies ignoring your presence. The latter aren’t really big issues, but sure do break the immersion.
Once the fantastic main campaign is done, then the rest of the experience begins with the multiplayer options, which are sure to keep players busy for quite some time. First off there’s regular multiplayer, which comes with all the bells and whistles you’ve come to expect from the franchise, taking the futuristic combat and bringing it to the masses by introducing new combat rigs – somewhat similar to what was previously seen with the classes in Black Ops III. Here players can select from various powerful rigs, granting players a unique ability they can use in combat, as well as the usual selection of customizable weapons, secondary equipment, skins and more. The biggest difference in this edition however is that players will be earning weapons and parts through the collection of keys, and can use such parts to create new unique weaponry, giving players tons of options when it comes to selecting their tools of the trade. It takes a while to get used to as players can literally build what they want, but it’s an excellent addition that gives players even more options to customize the way they play according to their strengths.
Then there’s Zombies in Spaceland, the new zombie map for Infinite Warfare. Here players travel back in time to the 1980’s, where they take on the role of four period-appropriate youngsters – a nerd, jock, valley girl, and rapper – as they attempt to survive the undead in a sci-fi themed theme park at night. This mode is excellent, addictive, and full of awesome references, and while it lacks the futuristic features like double jumps, wall running and more, it’s a good time. It also brings some cameos as well, like David Hasselhoff as the DJ and Paul Reubens as the evil director, and there’s a surprising number of things to do, items to collect, and secrets to unlock, which is a nice touch.
At the end of the day, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is an excellent entry in the long-running first-person shooter series, and one that fans and newcomers will really enjoy. While it feels familiar to other games in the series and some issues hold it back, entries like this one keep the franchise from getting stale thanks to its solid plot, phenomenal campaign, and entertaining multiplayer offerings.