Typically, when a new Call of Duty releases we all rush to the multiplayer and are never heard from again. Infinite Warfare changes this playground by bringing us one of the most thrilling first person shooter campaigns to date. If you love shooters, or simply science fiction, Infinite Warfare is not a game you want to miss.
Infinite Warfare opens with honestly two of the greatest scenes I’ve played in any shooter. The second mission of the campaign finds a way to blend the classic “D-Day” mission from a rivaling franchise and the heart pounding fear of Modern Warfare 2’s controversial mall mission. By doing so you are instantly engaged in a chaotic world that will be hard to rival by any other game. The atmosphere alone was worth playing, and sitting in front of my screen with my headset on had me instantly applauding the developers the second I made it through. They found a way to raise the intensity of the action oriented game and put emotion into a typical ambush style combat system we are used to. The added cries from civilians as they run to cover down your sights, the enemies dropping from all location, and a grand finale of an absolutely massive ship crashing down right in front of you is simply insane. I will say it again, these missions alone are worth experiencing, not watching or streaming, but experiencing. Put yourself in these shoes, you won’t regret it.
The story itself plays the stereotypical cards correctly, but keeps things fresh with some minor changes. Earth is again lacking resources which has set forth a grand exploration of the universe. A new group named the Settlement Defense Force are a collective that has massive numbers capable of taking on anyone they want, and somehow we disrupted them and became a target. The story opens by explaining any way between the SDF and us is a losing battle due to numbers, but due to some heroics and very emotional journeys we might have a chance.
The main character is named Reyes and he is quickly promoted to captain of a massive ship after an early encounter kills a current captain. This is where dynamics change for the franchise. By controlling the ship you get all kinds of new options. Instead of simply being sent on missions in a linear fashion you can choose when and where to go. A mission statistic will tell you’re the chances of completed the mission, and any perks you might earn from completing it. This is handy for advancing through the campaign at your own pace, and finding a way to do it comfortably. If played carefully the game will last anywhere from 5-7 hours which is fine for your typical COD, but this one was so good that I wanted it to continue.
The story also does a great job of making us care about characters again. It hasn’t been since the franchise lost Ghost that I cared at all about any of the characters. Yet in Infinite Warfare I find myself wanting characters like Nora Salter, Reyes right hand person, to keep chugging along and not die in heroic situations. Even secondary characters like Audrey, which only appears for a small tidbit, feel very personal and worth listening to. ETH.3n (Ethan) is a robot that will have you laughing as he saves the day, and the next thing you know you care about a robot more than some human characters. It’s not to say there are not typical action hero types though. Some characters are bluntly bland and expected of the franchise, but the core group has been done really well.
Ethan also introduces you to the most thrilling addition to the series, space combat. He becomes your co-pilot every time you jump into a ship and trust me you will want to do this more than anything. Instead of linear gunner situations, the mode combines that with actually allowing you to pilot ships in space battles. The battles are just as epic as ground combat with enemies flying all over, massive ships being taken out, and counter measures to defend your ship from attack. Every mission allows you to upgrade and adjust your ship for upcoming missions which will change dynamics as you play. The ability to actually pilot and be a part of these intense situations, instead of simply picking enemies off from a gun seat in a Humvee, is so amazing.
The game itself also changes many dynamics in core combat such as being able to shoot out massive windows which will then suck out all nearby enemies into spaces. There are many moments where you are reminded you are in space when gravity is shut off and you are forces to leap and float mid combat. This was a little more frustrating, but refreshing for the series. There were a ton of ideas implemented and only a few felt a little off, the rest felt well done.
The biggest difference I noticed with the game is that it isn’t focused on you defeating all the enemies in a zone. If you were to sit back and just pick off enemies, you would eventually run out of ammo and die. Instead the game focuses on an old-school mechanic of forcing you to move up in order to advance. This means clearing out enough enemies for you to move a little bit up, slowly pushing them back. The down side is that you could technically just sprint past certain areas to clear it. Even if you were to die as long as your break the “checkpoint” of the area you wouldn’t have to deal with it.
Breaking from the campaign is when we head into multiplayer land, but first we take a stop at the new zombies mode. Typically when zombies are included in a COD game and Treyarch isn’t behind it the mode feels tacked on and rather useless, like Advanced Warfare did. I was expecting something similar to happen here which could be why I’m so thrilled with it.
Zombies in Spaceland, the first map for the mode, is set in a theme park that is designed after space. The story takes place as a character by the name of Willar Wyler is making “realistic” horror films, this one set in the 80’s and at this theme park. The concept opens up the possibility for future maps to literally go anywhere they want. Spaceland however, is a beautifully detailed world that has everything down perfectly. The 80’s theme is set in stone with a throwback style cartoon, perfect character stereotypes, and even music that encourages the 80’s horror movie vibe. It is done so well in every way. The level design itself adds all kinds of new perks and is designed just like a Treyarch map with a circular design implemented in all aspects. New perks include player cards that build up perks when you kill zombies and gain points. You can burn the cards up and get more from in-game locations. There are also collectable things all through the map that you get with tickets, and of course secrets to unlock bigger things. The level utilizes the 80’s theme to also create traps for zombies, such as a laser dance floor in the middle of an arcade, or bumper cars that wipe out entire hordes.
I honestly found the 80’s theme fun, and the park itself is fun to be in either way. New perks such as allowing the entire team to open a door, instead of one person dumping their entire bank on it, is a great addition. The weapons are laid out in a way that advancing is a little easier with the proper strategy, and the first area of the mission is a grueling wait as people collect points and can quickly move on.
It’s a shame that this same style of depth and commitment didn’t come to the game multiplayer. This is the only segment of the game that I found to be uninspired. Infinite Warfare online seems like it was trying to be like Black Ops, but they changed a few mechanics in order to simply be “different.” Personally I would have been fine if it just used Black Ops 3 mechanics as I loved the game. Instead what we get is a slower clunky mess with rather lackluster level design. There are a few levels where I have had fun, but a majority of the time I’ve found myself frustrated. If you hated the jumping in previous games, Infinite Warfare only encourages you to hate it more. When shooting enemies it often leads to jumping battles and whoever has the lag compensation on their side will win.
For comparison sake, at the time of writing this, I am in the top 5 percent of players on the Modern Warfare remaster with a positive K/D. I’m like that with every COD title. For Infinite Warfare I struggled to simply win 5 online matches and my K/D is below 1. Perhaps I am having a hard time converting, but I don’t see why. I’m learning the levels, I’m just somehow losing the battles and it makes no sense to me as a player.
That’s not to say that there isn’t something there. The levels are visually stunning and perks are rather interesting, but nothing really feels like it is living up to the intensity of the rest of the game. If they had gone with what IW does best, a ground based shooter, I think this game would be amazing. The multi-tier design does no favors, and the added features seem like more hassle than anything. Basically you are to choose between 3 different classes called Rigs, each with a small difference in approach, and then you will unlock special perks based on that class/rig. Two perks include guns such as a the Claw which shoots bullets horizontally which bounce off walls, allowing you to shoot around corners. The second being a Vaporizer, which will eliminated enemies instantly on contact.
The online has been improving slowly over time with better connections, which has improved the playability greatly, but it still hits pockets of annoying losing streaks. That isn’t fun for anybody. I’m not a person that hated the jumping mechanics in Advanced Warfare or Black Ops 3, but Infinite Warfare totally changed my mind and makes me wish it had a game mode where the mechanic was stripped out. Not so much because the game is broken, but because Infinity Ward is great at “boots on the ground” gameplay, and it shines through in this title. If this were designed to be that type of game I think I’d be having a lot more fun.