"Peace to the Fallen."
It seems pretty appropriate that I write a review about a game, that is basically focused on the heroic sacrifice ideal of war. It is a captain's job to get his men home, says the lead character Nick Reyes, not always captain, not always replies someone else. It's an early exchange, perhaps in the first hour or so of the game but it drives home the point that this particular Call of Duty, wrapped in the trappings of Science Fiction - which honestly could be more at home in Mass Effect, or Wing Commander, is actually more of a war story than Advanced Warfare, Ghosts, or Black Ops 3.
"Peace to the Fallen."
Considering the date, yeah, I find that appropriate. I'll be back in a minute or two.
Not-so Infinite Warfare
I'm not really sure why they called it Infinite Warfare, because I could have done with a dozen more sorties and at least 3-4 more story missions even though it took me 22 hours to complete the campaign. I was actually enjoying the campaign of the game, and I want to keep this spoiler-lite. There's something different about this year's CoD and the deck, like Reyes' struggle against the SDF (Settlement Defence Front) is stacked against it, because for many die-hard CoD fans it is Sci-Fi rubbish. Yet, for me, who really wasn't fussed about Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3 beyond a certain point - this CoD is more boots on the ground CoD than previous iterations, barring the superb Modern Warfare series.
Yes, there are boost jumps and wall-running, which are in Titanfall 1 and 2. Yet, they aren't needed unless there's a specific point in the scenario that requires you leap a gap with your boost jets. You won't be boost jumping, flipping around walls and boost-sliding like you did in previous CoD games starting from Advanced Warfare.
There's an achievement for staying boots on the ground for 2 minutes or more too.
This year's CoD has a story, and you know what, barring the obvious over-the-top SDF who are almost cartoon-like in their pure evil, it isn't a bad one. There are cut-scenes galore, interesting set-pieces and a bombastic Wing Commander, Battlestar Galactica style to the whole game.
It's also seamless, with loads covered by animated briefings and cut-scenes that let the rest of the game sneak in behind the scenes.
It's one of the best looking CoDs too, runs gorgeously fast and has a lot of interesting stuff not found in the previous games.
Nick is a SCAR pilot, one of an elite team of ground, air, and space trained combatants that wield cutting edge tech. You very quickly find that you are thrust into the role of leader and as such you get your own ship, a ship you can explore some of and make choices which side missions to undertake as you progress through the story. None of these side missions are throw-away missions either, they harken back to a day of games like Wing Commander where you had objectives to fulfil when you were in space dogfights.
Simply, CoD IW is a bit of Mass Effect, meets Wing Commander, meets Modern Warfare with some Titanfall thrown in. It's a mix that works really well and thanks to the seamless nature of the game you can find even a small side mission breaks down as follows.
Choose mission on the map table, go to armoury aboard the Retribution and pick your loadout for both you and the Jackal (most of the time). You can customise your weapons here and make sure you bring the best kit for the job.
Launch from the hangar deck, this bit is very Battlestar Galactica and it's just like being in a Viper on the launch deck from that show. Again, there's a lot of interactivity here, you prime the engines, you hit the launch sequence and you transition away from the Ret. You get chatter from the Tower and from your wingman, Salter, and she's pretty great if you ask me.
Depending on the mission you might just do some space dogfighting, and the controls for the dogfights are spot on as far as I'm concerned. I found them extremely responsive, allowing for fairly cinematic engagements and pretty intense (fun) battles. Or you might have a protracted side mission where you begin clearing enemy fighters from a bigger ship, then infiltrate that ship, fight through it and head to an objective. Once that's achieved you probably have to escape the ship and do some more dogfighting in the Jackal before you're home free and get to land on the Ret.
I had more fun with this iteration of CoD in campaign mode than I have ever done in the new CoD games. It is in many ways a pity it's got CoD attached to it - this would have been better as a stand alone, new series of potentially awesome Sci-Fi shooters, Activision's own Halo basically.
It's pitch-perfect for me, a good story, a great setting and some kick-ass visuals. The voice work and a stellar cast (Claudia Black for one) helps bring this one to life. Then you have the animation, sound, music and overall aesthetic design - it all comes together nicely and combined with a slick frame-rate it delivers a pretty impressive campaign. As previously mentioned it took me 22 hours or so, I explored the Ret, I did a ton of side missions (unlocking cool stuff for me and the Jackal), collected weapons in the campaign mode (which are then available for you in the armoury) and followed the story to its impressive conclusion.
I wanted boots on the ground, cool weapons, interesting set-pieces and space battles that took me back to a day when I used to play tons of Wing Commander. I got all that, and then some.
The controls are familiar and there's a wealth of customisation to get the control set you want, the gunplay is pitch-perfect and on the harder difficulties there's a real sense of challenge. This is a harder CoD than before.
It's also single player, no co-op.
Finally the star of the show is a robot soldier called E3N, he's the best character in CoD: IW. Play it, you'll see.
Zombies, in Spaceland
Not content with shaking up single player, Infinity Ward have also taken a bite out of Treyarch's zombie mode. Zombies in Spaceland is fun, quirky, interesting and boasts a ton of stuff that's different to Treyarch's modes of the past. It can be played co-op with your friends (up to 4 of you can play) and there's a huge area to explore, secrets to find, easter eggs to discover and some seriously cool weapons to play with - many of them making a return from the campaign.
I don't want to say too much about this mode, because honestly, discovery is the best part of playing zombies with your mates. You can play it solo, but it will be hard, not impossible, just very hard. New enemies and new surprises await.
The intro is also definitely worth it, good stuff.
It would take another huge review to cover this in depth. Infinity Ward have taken a leaf from Black Ops 3 and AW though it seems. There's less boost jump madness and wall-running than in Titanfall 1 and 2 (or the previous CoDs) but it is still there in MP. You have combat RIGs which are basically your classes, there's one for any kind of player - stealth, out and out assault, and an all rounder. There's also a mass of modes that would take up the rest of the review to detail.
A good selection of maps to begin with offers a variety of tight engagements, medium range skirmishes and some long range battles which are especially suited to the the new stand-out mode for me. Frontline. It's basically a team deathmatch, only this time you spawn at a HQ when you die, so you can't really be shot in the back by some mouthy 12 year old screaming about all the things that he's done to your mother.
I'm not sure about this kind of MP, since I'm more co-op orientated, but if you want PvE then you can play with bots across the modes, and on the Veteran bot setting you will get a pretty solid challenge. It's good fun to have a few rounds with friends against the A.I. - takes me back to the old days of Quake when we used to do that.
I've had no real lag issues either.
I'd need to spend a lot more time with the MP and to be honest, I'd rather hit up the campaign again and play through that. That part of the game shines for me and they could have added another 10 hours onto the campaign mode, kept Zombies, put in Spec Ops from the old CoDs and removed adversarial all together - but some of you out there may well like it.
If you dislike CoD and what it has become though, then nothing is going to change your mind, not even this review.
Me though, I like Infinite Warfare and for a showcase game on the Xbox One for example, it really does look good, runs fast and is a hell of a lot of fun. Those are my criteria for a game that gets in my 'Worth Getting' bracket.
Not a Must Buy, but for me, not a Must Drop like a Hot Rock either.
Stay tuned for the Modern Warfare: Remaster review soon.
"Peace to the Fallen."
Over, and Out!
Big thanks to Xbox for the code, cheers!