Friday, November 11, 2016

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Review (XONE)

Call of Duty has gone into outer space before and dabbled in science fiction a bit in the past, but Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare goes full bore into the sci-fi genre and I couldn’t be happier with it.  It combines elements of Mass Effect and Halo with the fantastic Call of Duty gunplay to create one of the best campaigns in the series since Modern Warfare.  Some series fans are upset that Call of Duty is no longer rooted in realistic warfare – either historical or contemporary – but all I’ve wanted for the longest time is Call of Duty in space and now I have it and it is just as wonderful as I’d hoped.  Top the campaign with the Call of Duty multiplayer we’ve come to expect – both online or offline with bots! – and a zombies mode and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is an incredibly solid and fully-featured package all around.  See all of the details here in our full review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Activision        
  • Developer: Infinity Ward
  • ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
  • Genre: FPS
  • Pros: Insane set pieces; great gunplay; sci-fi setting; incredibly polished presentation; tons of content; Ethan; offline multiplayer with bots!
  • Cons: Overwhelming at times; follow the leader is getting old
  • MSRP: $60
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes place in the far future where man has conquered space travel and created settlements and colonies all over the solar system.  Mankind has used up all of Earth’s natural resources by this time and must rely on the space colonies to mine materials to send back to Earth.  In a scenario that should be familiar to every sci-fi fan, this arrangement creates distrust between the colonies and Earth and a hostile faction rises up to take control of the mining outposts.  While the Earth’s main fleet is gathered at Geneva for a military celebration, the enemy faction launches a surprise attack that devastates the fleet and leaves only a couple of ships still capable of fighting.  Your character is suddenly and unceremoniously promoted to captain of one of the ships, and from there you’re jetting around the solar system and fighting bad guys in the craziest Call of Duty campaign yet.

That last bit – that you are captain of your own capital space ship – isn’t executed as well as you’d hope.  The game does let you choose what mission you do next, but that is about all of the actual captaining you get to do.  The missions are already planned out and you’re just along from the ride.  Between missions you can walk around the ship and talk to the various crewmembers, some of which do actually have meaningful and interesting things to say, but you can just as easily plow through the missions and not talk to anyone and not miss much.  The best moments with the crew happen during missions anyway as your robot squadmate Ethan trades verbal jabs with everyone and proves to be more likeable and human than any of them.  Seriously, Ethan is great.  When he saves you after a certain mission, I gotta admit I get a little misty eyed.

The meat and potatoes of the campaign is still made up of the traditional boots on the ground FPS combat we’ve come to expect from the franchise, but with some sci-fi twists.  Your weapons include the expected familiar looking rifles, shotguns, and rocket launchers but there are also energy weapons and fantastic new sci-fi toys to play with to take down enemy robots and assault mechs and such.  The gunplay feels absolutely fantastic and shooting stuff is just plain fun here. 

The missions follow the traditional Call of Duty formula where you have to follow an A.I. character around and do what they say, which I have to admit is getting kind of old at this point, but the sheer ridiculous amount of crazy stuff the game puts you through makes it all worth it.  You’ll see giant space ships crashing into the ocean and causing a tsunami.  Buildings crumble around you and blot out the sun with smoke and dust and debris.  You’ll scamper around on the outside of massive space ships and fight enemies in zero-g.  Oh, and did you know you can fly your own space fighter ship and dogfight in this game?  Every single mission has several “Holy shit” moments where something amazing happens and your jaw hits the floor.  Because Call of Duty fully committed to sci-fi this time around it allowed the scale of the battles and set pieces and everything else to become absolutely massive.  You will see awesome stuff in this game, guaranteed.

With that said, though, I also have to admit that the game oftentimes feels kind of overwhelming.  There is so much stuff going on all around you that you get sort of overloaded, though that isn’t a specific problem with Infinite Warfare as Call of Duty has been doing exactly this sort of over the top craziness for a while now.  It makes me physically tired to play through these games.  I only bring this up because I also played through Modern Warfare Remastered at the same time and the difference in tone and scale between the two games is massive.  Modern Warfare is more straightforward and has simpler missions and lets your role in the gameplay shine through more rather than constantly taking control away from you to make sure you see all the pretty explosions.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy what Call of Duty has become, but it is also nice to play a game without being totally exhausted after every mission.

In addition to the decently lengthy campaign you’ll also find competitive multiplayer and the zombies mode we’ve come to expect from the franchise.  I’m not going to say much specifically, though, because much like reviewing sports games (which you can read my article about here) reviewing multiplayer online games sucks.  Reviewers never get it right because hardcore fans will find a million things to complain about and make our positive initial impressions look dumb.  It always happens.  So instead I’ll just say this – My favorite part of the multiplayer is that you can play offline with bots.  Not everyone likes to go online and get trash talked by 12-year olds as you get shot in the back constantly, so being able to experience multiplayer offline is an amazing feature. 

The presentation in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is pretty stunning.  The game looks absolutely crazy bonkers good and runs at a rock solid framerate.  As I said above, the sheer scale of the game is incredible now which leads to some very, very impressive space battles and explosions and set pieces the likes of which we’ve never seen in a COD game before.  The sound is also very, very good with solid voice acting, great music, and some of the best weapon and explosion sound effects in the business.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has had a rocky road since it was announced as some series fans were mad it was going full sci-fi and others were upset you had to buy it to get Modern Warfare Remastered and, thus, the reception has been pretty cold and negative, but don’t let that noise fool you.  Infinite Warfare is good.  Very good, in fact, with one of the best campaigns the series has had in years on top of solid multiplayer modes and awesome presentation.  If you want an awesome FPS single-player campaign, buy it.  If you want to play excellent multiplayer either online or off, buy it.  If you want both of those things, you’ve probably already bought it.  I had a great time with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and can easily recommend it for a purchase. 
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Activision.