Bravo-6 went dark,
I went to A&E.
As always, I try to remain impartial to my judgement given my system and launch day issues of particular games. However, given the common issues with this game, they will play a role within this review when speaking on behalf of PC players. This review will be segmented accordingly as there is plenty of meat on this bone and I know I will only scratch the surface.
Here ye! Here Ye! – Gather round as I tell you of a time lost to many, tis the Fifth day past the Eleventh Month of the seventh year past the millennium… or November 5th 2007 to the layman. The Xbox 360 is whirring away, spinning the disc that separates the boys from the men. Little did anyone know that within that 4.7GB DVDROM were written some of the most quotable lines ever to grace the years of everyone who has ever slept with your mum.
Little did we know that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare would become a cultural phenomenon and a goliath of a game that even years after its initial launch, pre-owned copies were still being sold -and bought- at the same price the game launched at. With memorable characters and a storyline that -for the time- took the gloves off and showed the true horrors that modern warfare could ultimately bring to the table, if it ever went far enough.
A series with its ear to the ground, telling us truths about the world that you never truly knew. Through interesting and complex characters, missions that -at the time- made no sense, but ultimately soon would.
Four years we waited. Men died and men cried. Characters we came to love, taken before our very eyes. Plot twists and turns with action set pieces set to dazzle the mind. Loose ends tied up. It is November 8th, 2011… Modern Warfare has ended. Press ‘F’ to pay respects.
The years were not kind to Call of Duty as they desperately tried to keep a new series alive to ultimately chase a market trend in order to remain relevant… It is May 30th, 2019… The rules have changed…
Imagine if you will: My surprise when I initially heard that they were rebooting this sub series of culture, something so deeply engrained in mind and memories of those who played it. The shock, people built entire careers out of playing this particular game series. A series that launched a standard shooter into the spotlight. The mould to which all games of a generation tried to be. When I say “Modern Military Shooter” – You think CoD. The audacity. How dare they? How dare they make it better!?
They’ve only gone and done it.
Modern Warfare takes all that its predecessors built and does it better. We have surprise reveals. We got Action Set Pieces that are realistic. We got the horrors of war. We got a game, that if it failed – would have been an excellent prequel.
You start this game off doing a Night Op as one of the series protagonists Alex. This operation consists of stealthily entering a Russian compound in order to steal a toxic gas that plays a key role in the future of this game. This stealth op however goes from “turn off that light” to danger close pretty quickly as you turn the compound into sheer rubble quicker than you can launch the game. All of this to aid in the search for the antagonist: “The Wolf”.
After a brief run around that introduces you to some of the new mechanics like opening doors – you’re met with the startling realization, you’re not the only one who wants this gas as on your way out you get a taste of the meaning “Danger Close” and the compound is third partied. These would be terrorists soon come to the shock that they just attacked US Soldiers and make haste with the gas before starting a war.
You then find yourself in London – Picadilly to be precise – in the back of a nice, black “Totally not undercover cops” 4×4 in control of Sergeant Kyle Garrick as he and a group of other S.A.S operatives track a terrorist threat in London.
The proverbial hits the fan however when walking down the street and a man jumps out the car. Your ambush is ambushed and Picadilly soon turns into a warzone with terrorists killing innocent civilians, holding them hostage in order to publicly execute them whilst causing as much destruction and mayhem as possible. I feel I should point out… this is gameplay, this is not a cutscene.
During all this we are introduced to a new character: Kate Laswell, CIA liaison to the US Forces and S.A.S. Laswell calls in the big guns. The man who told us that Barvo-6 was going dark, Captain John Price. This is not the price we grew up with however. This is a new Price – one who takes his gloves off.
As Price shows up in London admits all the chaos, we learn first-hand just much different this man is – rather than try to defuse a human bomb hostage, Price throws him off a ledge. The needs of the many. On top of all this we learn Price has a new Catchphrase if you will: “you broken?”
I feel we need a small recap in order to understand what is going on – so here are our key players so far:
▪ Kate Laswell – CIA Operative who brings the team together
▪ Kyle Garrick – British S.A.S Operative tasked with taking down the terrorist forces in London
▪ Alex – CIA Operative who works under Laswell
▪ John Price – A man who needs no introduction
Urzikstan… Budget Iraq circa 1990s. Meet our new key player – Farah: leader of the Urzikstan rebellion against Russian oppression. Alex goes to meet Farah under the orders of Price and Laswell. This is where we learn of our the second antagonist: General Barkov. Here we are treated to a literal exposition dump. Who is Barkov? What has he done that makes him the bad guy? How have the people of Urzikstan suffered? All of this to make the rebel cause seem more sympathetic.
Now not to spoil anything here but… Ladies and Gentlemen… We got him. The Wolf? Domesticated. Off to the Embassy with yourself. That is until the riots start. “The Butcher” – Yet another antagonist. This game blurs the lines in that it will not back down from showing the horrors of war. The Embassy gets raided. Price and Garrick get shot out the sky and crash on the roof. Moral choice: The Butcher kills a woman and tells you to open the door, let him in. After that… a child. Are you going to open the door now? Don’t and he blows the child across the glass… I didn’t open the door clearly… I thought it was a bluff. I was wrong. Yet, the mission continues.
What follows next is a series of large scale shoot outs and clever use of tactical fighting through mortars, snipers, air strikes and overall king of the hill tactics that result in you losing your new hostage. What follows is a race and a mystery: Who was that third party during the initial compound raid? Where is The Wolf? Does he have ties to Barkov? From here on out is it just fan service, comedy, guest appearances, mystery and brutality. Have you ever been Waterboarded?
Modern Warfare mixes story and gameplay together in a new and exciting way, giving us what can only be described as an experience in storytelling and graphical fidelity. Everything looks great, feels great and has its place. This is one long interactive cutscene that will leave you hungry for the next chapter in both story and gameplay. This experience however will show you things you never wanted to see. Imagine waking up under rubble to see your dead mothers bloodshot eyes as she lays there lifeless and you – a little girl cry at her limp lifeless corpse wishing for it all to end, only to then be hit with a chemical air strike, people being gunned down in the street and your home being invaded by a stranger who kills your father and has no hesitation on killing a child. Only to have to kill him and two other men in order to try escape. Thats no right – No Russian was tame in comparison.
To end this section as easily as the game: “The story continues in Spec-Ops”… Thats a lie – Spec-Ops is nothing more than a glorified horde mode. Find the Jammers, survive the wave, do this four more times. Infiltrate the military base, steal the data, mark the boxes, Exit. Find the VIP, Survive, Exit. Thats the first 3 missions in Spec-Ops. There are only 4, neither of these continued the story in any meaningful way and were deliberately ramped in difficulty in order to pad out playtime.
Having gushed over the story like a fangirl, I feel it’s time we talk about the gameplay. Now.. you are going to do some absolutely amazing stuff. Remember the reveal trailer? Well – It’s that. Beautifully crafted experiences with golden gunplay and excellent care put into crafting the overall experience. Weapons having recoil and spread is a first for a game in this series. Even though the guns you pick up in game are usually limited to the AK, M4, Uzi and a selection of shotguns, they all act, fire and feel different – turns out the Uzi is pretty slow and the AK kicks like a mule.
Then we have just have to talk about the proper Night Ops. The Town House Raid introduces you to what can only be described as Military Simulation. Night Vision, Laser Sights, Formations and claustrophobic corridors make for an intense situation. I recommend putting on the subtitles just to see what is being shouted by the residents. Moving room from room, breach and clear, never knowing what is round the corner or under the damned bed. I died more times that I like to admit to that guy.
Slowly and methodically moving through a hospital in order to disarm tripwire traps, pushing up a corridor whilst mounted machine gun fire hails down range, testing your CQB at every turn just to get behind the gunner. Running through a mansion with supressed weapons, shooting out every light source and picking your targets carefully in order not to alert the enemy. Pushing through underground tunnels in order to find your target whilst dealing with limited light sources and enemies jumping out at you. This game punishes you at every push if you are not prepared.
Thinking I was the hardest thing since diamond I thought “Hardened – can’t be that bad right?” Wrong. This game lets you know it wants you dead and it makes it clear from the start you are in for something different. All the movement in the game can compound upon this with the slide mechanic – too many times did I slide right into a guys face only to be met with a Call of Duty quote.
Crossplay however – now that’s a barrel of laughs. Sitting in an Xbox party chat on PC with some friends talkin’ mad smack whilst playing some multiplayer: Priceless. Some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Scottish Call of Duty.
You know what a gym and a Call of Duty lobby have in common? Sweat. The difference between a CoD Lobby and a Gym? Well Tyrone at the gym won’t sit there and scream at you in a way that either somewhat resembles coherent language or you straight up don’t understand. That being said I was a huge fan off the multiplayer Beta: loved it I did, best 2 days of my life and I got off Universal Credit. Both of these – Surprises. I was never a fan of the Call of Duty series as a whole so this was a huge surprise to me.
This is by far some the sweatiest, campiest, most toxic, vile, wretched and deprived places I have ever been – and I’ve been to Glasgow nightclubs.
The maps we got in the Beta were some of the best maps I have ever played, bar one. This however cannot be said for the maps in the full release. These maps are built with camping in mind. To put atop this: Claymores are a level one item and it is impossible to bait them out meaning you either accept your impending death with sodium – or avoid them. Question for the class: How do you avoid something that hides? – You don’t. Maps seem to have been designed to be the least amount of fun that could ever grace our hard drives. Facilitating campy playstyles and overall toxicity in the new in game chat feature.
As well as this, there is a player limit on how many people you can take into a party. Now Ground War is a huge 64 man game mode… and I can take in a party of 4 plus myself. I would say that taking say.. a whole 32 man team into the lobby would be excessive but limited to 5 people… in a game mode that mirrors Battlefield multiplayer? That’s just odd.
Whilst streaming I was hit with some nice criticism about the multiplayer by friends and views. With phrases such as:
slipperyrodgers : maps are taken from the single player what feels like directly with minor balancing changes made but at the same time too many nooks to hid in and spawns can be shakey like most cods are at launch
slipperyrodgers : i hacked a claymore today from the bottom step and died as soon as i got it – Takes too long to be viable
Not to beat down a dead horse – as it were – but to briefly hit on a few points from my own Multiplayer Beta Review that still stand true:
▪ Weaponsmith is a solid addition that adds great depth to the guns.
▪ Recoil and Spread is a welcome edition making the game more skill based – even if the difference is negligible.
▪ Cyber Attack is still a fun game mode – despite the sweat.
▪ I have high hopes for the future.
There is not much to say about the performance of this game other than to comment on how nice it ran on the high preset with a render scale of 1.5X Native. This was something I never even noticed at first but once turned to a 1:1 ratio (native 1080p), Over 90fps for everything… well, almost.
Cutscenes were horrid. Noted by everyone who played on PC – nothing breaks the experience more than slideshows. Clearly the cutscenes were being used to hide loading screens but that is still no excuse. Trying to follow the story with huge pauses, A/V Sync issues and even stutters made it very hard to concentrate out of sheer frustration. This was the worst part about the whole experience on PC. Despite just how good the game looks – it cannot save it from the ire of the PC community in this regard.
Overall performance was good – even in huge action pieces the game remained stable and did not crash or stutter during gameplay, not a hang not a freeze. This was a welcome surprise after seeing the cutscenes act up like they did. The game would only really seem “jittery” after a cutscene for about 30 seconds. I assume it was still loading some assets.
It is nearly impossible for me to go below 60fps on this absolute unit of a game. At just under 120GB of Hard Drive space I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that big – the closest is Rainbow Six: Siege at 103GB.
Overall this game is a welcome entry or reboot of the Modern Warfare series – giving us a new, more realistic look at what modern warfare truly is. With Night-Ops and almost photorealistic visuals are some of thee most beautiful visuals to grace a Call of Duty game. Long gone are the white skins of the older games and the jagged edges.
Apart from the obvious issues on PC, everything in the game runs like dream. Though the story has some beats that people are complaining about, I for one try to keep my reviews as unpolitical as possible. With this review – expect the same. The story was hard hitting and memorable, the multiplayer has more sweat than Usain Bolts trainers and Spec-Ops… I mean.. It’s a thing. Not a very good thing but a thing nonetheless.
If I were to recommend Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (which I am) – I would recommend it wholly on the Story mode. Multiplayer and Spec-Ops are only good with friends and remain tolerable at best. If I were to rate this out of 10? Solid 7. Spec-Ops and Multiplayer let this game down a fair amount but with the news that there will be no season pass and all DLC will be free for everyone, I feel that Activision Blizzard are making a very consumer friendly move that could benefit the future and longevity of the game and its overall playerbase.
*since publishing this review many things have changed in 1 life game modes that make those particular modes less infuriating thanks to a patch by the developers*
Our other video game reviews can be found here.