Well it’s that time of year again and we have our annual portion of COD. This year’s title, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare has caused quite a stir amongst the gaming community so what’s the deal? Is it as bad as we feared or are we pleasant…ok I see no point trying to pretend otherwise so I’ll cut to the chase, it’s pretty grim but does have one redeeming factor.
When Call of Duty Infinite Warfare was revealed to the world it faced an almighty backlash from fed up, frustrated gamers who couldn’t stand the thought of yet another futuristic themed Call of Duty title. The reveal trailer was very amateurish too which didn’t help and Dice presenting a top notch reveal trailer for Battlefield 1 sealed the deal for many. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare’s trailer was in fact one of the most down voted videos in YouTube history.
We were able to spend a bit of time with the beta and that left many equally unimpressed. With the game’s worldwide release we can finally look at the campaign which I had hoped might at least stop Call of Duty Infinite Warfare from being a complete flop.
With Infinity Ward abandoning Call of Duty Ghosts they looked to start afresh on a new franchise and in a year where gamers have been blessed with some fantastic campaigns like Gears 4, Doom, Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1, they certainly had their work cut out for them. Things started off quite well with a tense opening mission and an introduction to this year’s bad guy, none other than Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington who leads the Settlement Defence Front (SDF), a Mars-based terror organisation with impressive resources.
In Call of Duty Infinite Warfare’s campaign, you are Lieutenant Reyes, a United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) Navy pilot. You find yourself under attack on Earth and you must try to bring the situation under control. You find yourself in space and are promoted to the command of your very own star ship, the “Retribution” after the previous captain does something rather silly. From there it is up to you to take the fight to the SDF.
All in all the voice actors have done a good job I thought, and whilst the dialogue is well written for the most part I did struggle to relate to the characters at times. I found parts of the story pretty ridiculous if I’m being honest as I don’t see a newly promoted captain who is in charge of a beat up ship abandoning the crew to deliver some payback. If they wanted Reyes to be at the sharp end of the action then perhaps they shouldn’t have written him into the command position. In any case the bridge does at least bring some welcome down time in an otherwise hectic story.
Another odd point I found is Reyes struggling to lift objects to allow your band of merry men/Women/Robots pass by the obstruction whilst the presumably strong robot looks on. There’s a few instances like this scattered throughout the campaign that broke the immersion for me and instead left me wondering why they wrote things to play out that way. It’s as if someone fiddled with the story for the sake of getting the player to press a button.
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare has also given us playable space combat. Now whilst I can’t really fault Infinity Ward’s bravery in trying to add some new features to the Call of Duty series it didn’t feel particularly fun. First off the flight controls weren’t inverted as default which was a bit of a pain in the backside but it also just felt a bit too arcade and simplistic for my liking. The HUD lacks any helpful information that would assist you in playing these sections with more thought. It felt a bit like someone said “let’s do this” and it was just casually tacked on. It’s not terrible by any means but it could have been done so much better.
The frustrating thing is that the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare campaign does have moments where it’s a joy to play and the space setting allows for some truly interesting gameplay mechanics (I don’t want to spoil those surprises so won’t go into specifics), I just wish that they had been brave enough to compliment the new gameplay with a more thoughtful approach than the arcade-y one they decided to take.
The Campaign will probably take you around 6-7 hours which seems to be the standard these days. I don’t see it deserving the high praise it’s received from some quarters of the media and whilst it’s not the disaster I feared it might be I don’t think it’s anything particularly special. I struggled to remain interested at times but overall Call of Duty Infinite Warfare offers a fairly solid single player experience. It’s not great but it’s ok.
The Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Multiplayer doesn’t fare so well I’m afraid. First off, I’m not a fan of the battle rig system that gives you different attributes. It takes away something from the gunplay which in my opinion should be front and centre in any Call of Duty title.
I did like the introduction to the multiplayer but the weapons just felt soulless to me and there are some balance issues which can easily be sorted via a patch at a later date. The biggest problem I had was with the actual gameplay. Yet again players have to contend with wall running and double jumps and the fact of the matter is that Call of Duty Infinite Warfare just doesn’t do it as well as previous titles or Titanfall 2 for that matter.
The map design plays a part in this too as none of the maps feel particularly fun to play. There are so many alley ways to cover that it’s hard to know where the enemy will come from. Couple that with the fact it’s easy to kill people and it just becomes a bit of a turkey shoot that lacks any fun.
When you add the kind of verticality that the wall running and double jumping offers along with the map design I feel you need to give players time to react to shots that are fired and you just don’t get that opportunity. Sniping has been tweaked and is once again too easy. All in all it’s a bit of a mess and fails to maintain the standard of past titles.
The Redeeming Feature:
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare has one massive redeeming feature this year which caught me by surprise as it’s something I typically don’t bother with. Zombies in Spaceland is great fun to play through either with friends or on your own. The game mode is set in the 80’s and is introduced in a frankly brilliant way.
I loved getting my hands on some of the classic weapons and genuinely had a blast playing through this mode. The levels are beautifully created and offer a respite from the futuristic setting and it really stands out. If you find yourself with a copy of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare then I highly recommend you give this game mode a whirl as it is one of the best Zombie modes I have played.
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare fails to meet the standard of past titles and the series desperately needs to leave the future behind. Whilst some parts of the game are better than expected the multiplayer fails to live up to the standard set by previous games in the series.
The 80’s themed Zombie mode shows what Developers are capable of and I just wish they applied the creativity shown with that mode in the story and multiplayer modes. The double jumps and wall running are detrimental to the core gameplay along with poor map design. the weapons in the multiplayer lack any real personality .
It’s hard to see a future for Call of Duty in its current form and feel that only by going back to basics can the series be saved. This is especially apparent when you fire up Modern Warfare Remastered. With three development studios working on the franchise there’s no real excuse for all three to be churning out the same game wrapped in a different skin each year.
I’m confident that next year will see the series return to a more familiar setting and to be honest I think it has to in order for the series to survive. Activision can’t be that deaf and blind that they haven’t noticed what people want surely? Activision desperately need to start listening to the community and Call of Duty is in dire need of an up to date game engine as it’s really showing its age with plastic=y appearances and poor lighting/particle effects and bland textures.