REVIEW – Activision and Infinity Ward were crystal clear in their attention, when they announced the next episode: Infinite Warfare: while Electronic Arts looked back in history with Battlefield 1, they continued the war in the future. While multiplayer usually dominates the series player base attention, I’d like to advise players to give a chance to what I believe to be the best and most exciting, fully realized campaign mode of the entire franchise.
Calling the next Call of Duty “Infinite Warfare” may have been one of the less creative ideas ever – to put it mildly. Oh my Gosh! We had Modern Warfare, Advanced Warfare and now… Infinite Warfare! Wow, just wow! No wonder, that players everywhere were pretty disgusted at the title and it’s understandable that they were fed off with the semi sci-fi setting as well. I mean basically those are the main features we had quite a while from the Call of Duty titles itself and other series as well, like Titanfall 1 and 2 (the latter which just out as well).
Activision’s hype machine also kind of both missed the mark and was perhaps too low key for its own good. It’s one thing to not overhype a title in such a series which get its yearly incarnations every year, and it’s another thing to not bothering to give us some really cool trailers and informative gameplay videos. All in all I have to say that had low expectations for Infinite Warfare – to put it mildly. Then, I started the game…
Infinite Warfare world and storyline basically feels like a mix between Battlestar Galactica, Killzone, Halo and of course, Call of Duty. Mankind has gone into space – if only within our solar system. Unfortunately for us, humans can never live in peace anywhere – not even is space. Earth’s colonies, called Settlement Defense Front are a bit like America was in real history in the 18th century when they rebelled against United Kingdom. In this near future, they have coalesced into a highly militarized faction that calls itself the Settlement Defense Front. They are a rebellious military group that has colonized the solar system and they fight against their home planet Earth, held by the United Nations Space Alliance. Yet, as always it’s an interplanetary war for resources.
Still, Infinity Ward it tells the story of that war in a personal way, which follows the fate of Lieutenant Nick Reyes, a courageous and die-hard Special Forces soldier and pilot who never gets a moment respite and always gets promoted in the heat of the battle, on the battlefield. The great vision of the developers was to improve the story and characters in a way that it makes you care much more about the action sequences themselves. You some very emotive scenes to help you walk in the shoes of Captain Reyes.
Another novelty, is that although players must follow the tale of Infinite Warfare, you have some freedom in the way you complete your missions, what kind of side missions you choose.
You know nothing, Kit Harington
On the other hand the SDF we have a cool (in both sense of the word) leader played by Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington, with a performance that’s… well hard to get. Looking at his acting I wondered, whether he’s a chillingly lifeless psychopath kill or he’s just bored silly while reading his lines in a mo-cap studio in Los Angeles. Whichever is the case, he leads personal surprise invasion that decimates Earth’s fleet – because, hey every battleships of Earth is in the same place for a parade – and United Nations Space Alliance are left with only two ships to launch a desperate last-stand counter attack. Guess who’s in charge of one? Yes, of course, you…
Still – besides some small clichés, like that – Infinite Warfare possesses a tight blend of narrative exposition and well executed set pieces. The game also poses an interesting take on our future, especially while thinking of recent headlines regarding advances in spaceflight and colonization of other planets in our solar system and let’s not forget the heart breaking terrorist attacks either.
The game doesn’t lack humor either. The hero has a mechanical sidekick: a robot companion, named Ethan (formally spelled ETH.3n, and it’s short for Enhanced Tactical Humanoid 3rd Revision), who is without doubt the funniest character of the game, who delivers a comic relief in such a grim war story.
Ethan is also capable of human-like emotions and responses, and he isn’t dull-witted at all. He never joke when it’s wrong, and he’s also a capable fighter. But when the captain asks Ethan what the Navy’s solution to a tough fight is, Ethan replies, “Send in the marines.”
To sum up: when you step into the campaign mode, you instantly feel to be submerged in some sci-fi blockbuster as the creators carefully tell an emotional, powerful and realistic story of this futuristic war among humans. Given that Infinite Warfare is a first person shooter, so telling an interactive and engrossing story can sometimes go wrong but fortunately this is not the case thanks to the realism used by the narrative team – especially the actors. You feel their pain, their emotions and the repercussions of these choices which is a real highlight to the single-player campaign. Happily this is backed up by the amazing gameplay which helps in your transformation.
In space no one can hear you COD
The combat of Infinite Warfare feels like a Call of Duty game, even with the futuristic setting so whether you’re engaging in the clever cover mechanics, taking on an enemy squad or going ‘man to man’ or man to ‘crazed robot’ with one the bosses, it feels just right. While the game is set in the future, the twists added by the creators does set it apart from previous Call of Duty titles which is how it should be. This includes elements such as wall runs or using your boost pack on the battlefield to get the edge on your opponent.
You have also some cool new weapons to play with added to the game which includes both primary and secondary ones that help create that sci-fi blockbuster atmosphere from standard hand guns to more powerful submachine guns to my personal favorite, an energy shield that can even be used as a melee weapon. Supplement it with executions and some really challenging boss battles against powerful bots which does require you to find and exploit their weakness, the campaign mode in Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is truly an impressive one.
Commander on board!
It’s a passing touch on reality though as the game soon takes to the skies, showing off its seamless transitions between levels as you reach orbit, board your ship and start the game proper. The usage of this solar system-jumping battleship as a home base is one of the more important differences this year. Missions can be undertaken on its bridge, creating a far more seamless feel to the action. As an alternative of levels bookended with fades to and from black, here you talk with your crew about what to do next, fly to your choice, shoot it, and then fly back and chat about how it went. Then you can choose something else. It’s an encouraging and constant presence, and the lack of obvious loading screens has great effect on the flow and pace of the action. It almost feels like non-stop marathon compared to the previous game’s single episode chunks.
You’ll observe I talked about choice earlier, because this is the most open, almost non-linear COD so far. As Captain Reyes you preside over your bridge map, choosing between core narrative objectives and side missions however you want. The best news here is that non-crucial objectives are just as worth your time as the main bits, with many unique moments and surprises.
Let’s play together
The core of the multiplayer component is based in this futuristic world that allows for all the levelling, bonuses and thoroughly enjoyable online fun plus Combat Rigs which are basically the ‘classes’ in the game. These Combat Rigs have their own pros and cons, including the ability to customize your characters which gives the player some great ownership.
Each rig focuses on a different type of combat, including payloads plus the ability of traits which give you bonuses on the ‘battlefield’. So depending on your play style, e.g. if you’re a gun runner or prefer a stealthier approach, there’s a rig that can be tailored for you. Another new feature incorporated is Mission Teams which allows teams to be ranked and even awards them with bonuses and additional XP, including unique items.
As ever the multiplayer is robust and fast, while keeping an eSports necessary consistency from the last game. Wall running, for example, is barely used in the single player but makes a cameo simply because it has to. The online action actually feels more streamlined here, using six character archetypes called Rigs, built around a range of special weapons that charge over time. Maps are tightly designed and I found each with a selection of very obvious flashpoints for teams to clash over. Given that this mode will be patched and tweaked in the weeks after release though I’ll not say much more, but it’s still consistently on par for the series.
You face a learning curve when it comes to figuring out which weapons are the best, but they fall into the familiar categories of pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles, heavy guns, and assault rifles. This gives Call of Duty fans plenty to like and plenty to learn. The zero gravity combat adds a sci-fi feel that modern-war diehards don’t really like. But I felt that Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer definitely felt like Call of Duty.
Zombies in Spaceland is a big bonus in Infinite Warfare, as it’s the first time Infinity Ward has tackled the co-op gameplay mode that Treyarch has always put in its Call of Duty games. In contrast to the serious Infinite Warfare, Zombies in Spaceland is as goofy as can be. The Valley Girl will gag zombies with a spoon. You can make zombies dance on a disco floor and cut them down with lasers.
When you die, you can play 1980s arcade games such as Pitfall. You can team up with multiple players and try to survive as long as possible in an abandoned theme park. You have to conserve your ammo yet make sure your friends stay alive. You can revive them, but if there are zombies about, they’ll take you down. As you go up in levels, the slaughter becomes more intense. It becomes just as intense as Infinite Warfare.
Time was the essence
Thinking of, we should be somewhat thankful for Call of Duty: Ghosts, which was a creative disaster. It helped Activision to make a step back and give its studios more time to work on games. And it also forced Infinity Ward to take risks.
Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is another first person shooter in this stuffed market but what it offers is one of the most unique experiences of this genre in 2016 which includes exceptional gameplay, a fantastic story and also pretty good multiplayer. It’s definitely my favorite Call of Duty to date and Infinity Ward hasn’t pulled any punches when it came to the creation of this game.
At times, the single-player is quite emotional and even poignant to an extent but where it excels is through its powerful narrative, direction and on the whole an excellent cast – even if Kit Harington himself is a bit stiff, but perhaps it’s on purpose. Ad once you’ve finished the excellent single-player campaign, you’ve got hours upon hours of multiplayer fun left to take you well into 2017.
We received the review code from Magnew.ltd.
+ Top notch campaign with varied levels and great story
+ Solid COD gameplay, both single, and multiplayer
+ Looks very good on PS4
– Kit Harington’s acting is a bit “strange”
– Some levels are a bit repetitive
– Walking on the spaceship is a bit pointless
Publisher: Activision, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Infinity Ward
Genre: First-Person, Shooter, action
Release date: November 4, 2016