Modern Warfare brings us back to some of the very best first-person shooter experiences that I can remember from years gone-by. There is a lot of game here too, something for everyone. If you love a good storyline, Modern Warfare has it. Do you want a Battle Royale? It has that as well. Lots of games try to offer everything to everyone, and they fail, Modern Warfare though, almost, succeeds completely.
I am going to break this review down into smaller sections focusing on the three main parts; campaign, multiplayer, and co-op, as well as touching on graphics and audio.
Calling all Duties
Bottom line: Modern Warfare is an excellent addition to the Call of Duty franchise. The story felt like a serialized TV show, and most of the multiplayer action is fun. There are few places where the game falls, but not enough for me not to recommend it.
- Graphically stunning
- Excellent gunplay
- Audio has amazing depth
- Voice acting is above par
- Spec Ops is my new favorite game mode
- Some story issues
- Multiplayer modes are sporadically poor
- The story mode is a little short
Gorgeous visuals and sounds
|Category||Minimum specs||Recommened specs|
|Operating System||Windows 7 64-bit (sp1) Windows 10 64-bit||Windows 10 64-bit|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-4340 or AMD FX-6300||Intel Core i5-2500K or AMD Ryzen R5 1600X|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or AMD Radeon HD 7950 – DirectX 12||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 or AMD Radeon R9 390, AMD Radeon RX 580 – DirectX 12|
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare requires some beefy hardware. While you can enjoy this title on console as well, playing on PC was easily the most rewarding way to play. The game is gorgeous; there is no other word that suits it as well. Each of the cutscenes is so close to the uncanny valley that it could easily pass for a blockbuster movie.
I'm not sure if Claudia Doumit, who plays Farrah Karim, lent her motion capture to the game as well as her voice, but if she did, it was very well done. You could see real emotion throughout the story in a way that draws you in and connects you to the characters.
It's clear that Elliot Knight, who plays Kyle Garrick in the game, did his MoCap and it looks so much like him, it's a little creepy.
The game seamlessly switches from cutscene to gameplay, as well. The picture at the top of the review is straight from the game, and the quality is like that throughout. All the playable areas in the game are vivid and detailed as you move around them. From the debris on the ground, to the clouds in the sky, everything looks like it was created to be super detailed.
According to Infinity Ward, the audio is something the company is very proud of, and rightly so. It has been layered to produce a depth to the sound that you rarely hear. At specific points in the game, I would stand still, turn the volume up, and see what I could hear. There were gunshots, of course, but a considerable variety. The sound of gunfire inside a building when your character is outside is distinct from the sound when you are inside the same building.
You can also hear background noise not related to what you are doing, like dogs barking in the distance or generators running. These things are built below the main audio track and add depth and realism that you can appreciate when you are in a good set of headphones.
Engaging story makes a return
Infinity Ward brings the single-player story back in a big way in Modern Warfare. The game is similar to the original in name only, though it does share some of the same characters. The story is new, with elements from a more modern setting.
The story has enough gameplay elements in it to keep you engaged for the entire length. There are short parts where you use a long-range sniper rifle and have to allow for the wind and distance, or playing the level entirely in night vision goggles, and they stand out as ways to break up the feeling of playing multiplayer levels with bots.
I completed the medium difficulty campaign in about nine hours, but I wasn't hurrying. If you tried really hard, you could cut that down to six. Don't try too hard, though, as the game has some breathtaking scenery, and you may miss something if you rush through.
The game tells a compelling story of problems facing the world today. Infinity Ward has tried to capture the shadow of global terrorism in Modern Warfare, sometimes successfully, frequently unsuccessfully. While the story is compelling, it is out of necessity, sensationalized.
Infinity Ward has tried to capture the shadow of global terrorism in Modern Warfare, sometimes successfully, frequently unsuccessfully.
Infinity Ward said it wanted us to think, and not just play the game. This sounds noble but only involves putting story hooks into the game that are uncomfortable. There are several sections that you are made to be an active participant in, that could have been a simple cutscene. They would still have the same power, but you wouldn't have to do distasteful things.
There is one particular scene — only one of two where you get to play as Farrah, the female lead — where you are in the body of a seven-year-old girl, and you have to stab a man to death. It's a brutal scene and not one that needed me to control it. The same setpiece could have played out in a cutscene and had the same emotional impact. It felt like Infinity Ward wanted to make an uncomfortable scene for the hell of it, with no real aim.
The story is satisfying to complete, though, and does leave a lot of room for a Modern Warfare 2, or even DLC story missions to further the plot. The acting, as I mentioned earlier, was excellent, especially from the actors of Farrah and Captain Price. The motion capture shows a lot of emotion in the faces of the characters, and, except for "Generic CIA Man Number 3," I did feel a connection to the main characters.
Competing in online multiplayer
As you would expect from a company that has been making multiplayer games for over a decade, the multiplayer experience is excellent. The gunplay throughout the entire game is solid, but in multiplayer, it really shines. Whether you are playing on PC with a keyboard or on a controller, the controls are snappy, and the guns feel solid with a great sense of kinetic energy. In the beta, the guns suffered from too much recoil in an attempt to make them realistic, but the latest builds have a much better balance.
The multiplayer is split between the classic Call of Duty modes — team deathmatch, domination, and the others — but with some new modes thrown in for good measure. Cyberattack is a little like search and destroy, but using computer hacking instead of a bomb, and the night vision mode offers deathmatch from a unique perspective.
With the night vision mode, you have new challenges, where people hide in the light instead of the dark, and any random car or streetlight becomes a potential hazard. I would have liked to have seen more interactive aspects on the map for this mode, though. If a map relies on the use of light, then you should be able to adjust the light as you play. Being able to turn fuse boxes on and off is something you do in the campaign, and would translate well to this game mode.
You heard me; camping is a legitimate gameplay tactic in ground war.
There are several new games that didn't work for me, though. 2 vs. 2 is a particular low point, though you may find it engaging. I found the maps to be too small with too few choices, limiting the replayability a lot. In several of the maps, there are really only two ways to move; through the middle or on the flank. The game then becomes guessing which one your opponent will decide on.
The 10 vs. 10 deathmatch, on the other hand, suffered from the opposite problem. There was so much going on, and the maps created such strong pinch points that it was impossible to enjoy it. 10 vs. 10 is a race to the first killstreak, and once you have it, you can chain them forever and make the game hell for everyone.
It also had issues with spawning locations. The map I played only had one spawn point, and it was in one corner of the map. Once the game had flowed away from the spawn point, you had to run the full length of an extensive map to get back. A squad spawn would be extremely helpful for a game mode with this many people.
Ground war results in frantic action
As a game mode, ground war deserves its own section and is likely to get a lot of playtime from people buying the game. Essentially Infinity Ward's Battle Royale, ground war is a 50 v 50 game of domination, and I loved it. Unlike a lot of Battle Royale games where the only aim is to be the last person standing, ground war is all about capturing and holding areas while killing the enemy to build up points.
This changes the entire dynamic when compared to, say, apex legends. In ground war, killing isn't the only way you can help. You can help by transporting teammates safely in the different vehicles, or by capturing control points. You can even help by setting up a defensible position and protecting a control point. You heard me; camping is a legitimate gameplay tactic in ground war.
On all three of the ground war maps I have played, there are plenty of lines of sight for snipers, but there is also plenty of room to avoid those snipers. No one style of play seems to get overshadowed by another in ground war, an aspect I enjoy. Even the constant killstreaks aren't as big of a deal here, as there is plenty of space for you to stay away from them.
Ground war may have been my favorite game mode of Modern Warfare, and I will still likely play it a fair amount, but the final type of game mode has won my heart. Spec Ops
Co-op play in Spec Ops
Spec Ops is a genuinely cooperative game mode in Modern Warfare. It's a four-person team taking on a specific challenge that you either accomplish or die trying. I got to play a Spec Op mission with another journalist and two players from Infinity Ward, and it was easily the best part of the game for me.
Spec Ops feels like you are in a four-player raid team, and it's the highlight of Modern Warfare.
We played a Spec Op where you had to fight through an airport to retrieve a nuclear warhead, then extract it to a safe location. It sounds simple, but each of the Spec Ops is intense, throwing wave after wave of high-powered enemies at you.
It is possible to do some of the mission we played in stealth mode — using silencers on all of your weapons and avoiding the juggernauts — but the game gives you ample opportunity to mess that up and have to fight your way through.
Each member of the team has a specific role that offers you bonuses that the team kept calling supers — the medic has an instant revive for the whole team, for example — that adds so much more flavor to your character than you would typically get from Call of Duty.
Spec Ops feels like you are in a four-player raid team, and it's the highlight of Modern Warfare for me. I can see myself coming back to it time and again as they add more to the game in DLC over the coming years.
Should you buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?
Modern Warfare feels like a return to form that made Infinity Ward such a name in first-person games. The story is good, though hampered by Infinity Ward trying a little too hard to be edgy. I don't like the term edgy, but it fits. You can make people think without making them feel gross. It's a fine line, and one I don't believe Infinity ward entirely walked correctly.
That being said, almost all of the multiplayer gameplay felt compelling, with just the right balance for all the types of game styles players have these days. If you are someone, like me, who likes to run and gun with an MP5, that's ok. If you want to hunker down in the bushes and take people out from a distance, that's ok too. The balance is there, so no one feels like they have an advantage.
The two significant additions of ground war and Spec Ops round out a great new Call of Duty game, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Infinity Ward moves the story forward in upcoming DLC.
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