Ricky Church reviews Call of Duty: Modern Warfare…
The latest installment of the massive Call of Duty franchise brings Modern Warfare back with a bang. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a surprisingly fresh reboot of the beloved series that changes it up. While the gameplay mechanics remains similar to the other entries, much more emphasis is placed on the campaign’s story and characters over the grand spectacle the previous Modern Warfare games are known for. It even takes a deeper dive into darker and morally complex places than perhaps any other Call of Duty game to date. It’s an intriguing step in the right direction to retain interest in Call of Duty and, of course, pretty enjoyable to play as well.
Modern Warfare follows a group of highly skilled soldiers, counter-terrorism/intelligence operatives and freedom fighters – both new and familiar to fans – as they try stopping a terrorist organization and fascist army from spreading chaos in the Middle-East. It’s not a wholly original plot, even for a Call of Duty game, but whereas the action, cinematic set pieces and explosions took precedence before, the drama is the highlight of the game’s campaign. The reboot isn’t afraid to slow things down to focus on character interactions and raise the tension. In one level the player has to quietly raid a house full of terrorists, but it’s not the ‘shoot ’em up’ level some might expect, instead making it a largely quiet affair where you are unsure who is and isn’t reaching for a gun when breaching a room, forcing you to take extra care not to shoot any civilians.
The level that will be the most memorable, however, is ‘Hometown’, which takes Modern Warfare 2‘s ‘No Russian’ mission up a notch by placing players right in the shoes of a young child as her town gets gas attacked, a level which somehow gets more intense as the family has to flee from several soldiers indiscriminately killing anyone. It’s a moment that doesn’t just speak to the character’s traumatic past and why they fight, but to how far Modern Warfare goes with its story and themes. Yes, this game does actually delve into some themes as it examines the grey morality between fighting terrorists while still holding a moral code and deconstructing what makes someone a freedom fighter or terrorist. Granted, the game doesn’t delve very deeply into the issues, but it also doesn’t land on a side of the moral argument, instead leaving it at how there are no easy answers to these problems.
This is compounded by how Modern Warfare allows the player to make specific choices at various points, such as firing on potential enemies, submitting to torture to save a life or executing someone in cold blood. The choices adds a new element to the gameplay that raises the tension for players. Other levels include a nice mix of all-out assaults and stealth, keeping the gameplay fresh throughout the relatively quick campaign. None of the dramatic moments would land nearly as well as they do without the graphics in the game. The visuals are simply astounding, from the way you sneak through the moonlight, the muzzle flashes of your weapon or how a face changes expressions. The level of detail is incredible and it is without a doubt Infinity Ward’s best looking Call of Duty yet.
Of course, the biggest draw to any Call of Duty game is the muliplayer aspect. The multiplayer is fun and features some cool level designs that can keep players moving throughout a match. There are plenty of game modes to mix things up and take part in while the Special Ops actually have some story missions that take place post-Modern Warfare as well as a survival mode against an onslaught of enemies. The detail even in the multiplayer portion of the game is great as all the levels are rendered very well and runs the online experience quite smoothly. As always, players will find a ton of variety in multiplayer through the levels and ability to upgrade and customize their gear, though the game does go a little far with some of the bonuses you can receive, such as the use of white phosphorus as a killstreak reward.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a great reboot to the franchise. While it doesn’t delve too deeply into some of the heavier topics, the game still treats them with a good amount of respect through the focus it places on the characters over the action set pieces. The visuals are outstanding and the gameplay, whether the campaign or multiplayer, is entertaining and keeps you engaged. It is definitely a return to form for Call of Duty.