CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE Review – It’s CALL OF DUTY 16
Developed by Infinity Ward
Published by Activision
Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One
What is there to say about Call of Duty that hasn’t already been said? Every year we go through the exact same cycle. A new Call of Duty is announced, and everyone loses their shit about how it’s just the same thing/completely jumped the shark. This, of course, leads to a chorus of even snarkier critics retorting with, “well of course it’s the same/of course they needed to do something different, It’s Call of Duty!” Approaching release, various articles will be written declaring this Call of Duty officially dead/back and better than ever. Then the game comes out and gets near-unanimous praise from all the usual suspects. News will leak about all the goodies in store for us in the DLC packs. Opinions will be thrown around that all the doomsaying/hype was totally incorrect and that the game is actually wonderful/terrible. People will be shocked that it had that one scene that shows that war is bad. Pundits who have never played a video game will state that it was far too graphic and unsafe for kids/poignant criticism that everyone should experience. The sun will rise, then set, and in the end, Activision will be a billion dollars richer.
This is the media circus we all watch with mouthfuls of popcorn every year. It’s fitting; if Call of Duty isn’t going to change, why should the rest of us? Might as well just dust off my older reviews, change the headline, and call it a day. Shit, why not? I’m just going to say the same thing I do every year. For you see, dear reader, I am not above all of this. I am not the wise man sitting outside Nero’s palace as Rome burns, begging people to abandon their foolishness before the fires consume us all. No, I’m just sitting here playing my fiddle with the rest of the band.
The part I play in the annual Call of Duty banquet is small but consistent. Ask me in January, and I’ll tell you I’m not a fan of Call of Duty. Nevermind that I’ve played all of them. I’ll keep this opinion up until June when we see our first peek of gameplay for the next one. I’ll say something along the lines of, “I mean sure, it’s Call of Duty, but this one looks surprisingly good. Dare I say, even different!” Then the game will get closer to launch and I’ll come to believe that perhaps this one really will be the one that changes things. Then I’ll play it and find it to be, surprise surprise, a Call of Duty game. I’ll have my fun, but lament to those close to me that it’s so similar to the rest. I’ll give it a 3.5/5 (4/5 if it had a zombies mode), and put in another 50 or so hours after I publish.
I’ll break down the basics of how my review goes. I start by mentioning that I’m one of those strange creatures that plays Call of Duty for the singleplayer. I’ll gripe that Call of Duty pays less attention to its story than it used to, forgetting that the campaign has always been about 6 hours long. I’ll talk about how the new mechanics are fun, but don’t change the fundamental Call of Duty run and gun gameplay. I’ll talk about the mature themes, and how any kind of serious message is lost in a haze of hyper-macho gun shooty military fun times (gotta let the indie crowd know that I’m one of the good ones). Then I’ll go on to talk about the Multiplayer. I’ll say it’s the same basic formula, but the formula works. There aren’t enough maps and game modes, but those will be made up for with DLC. It’s still as fun and frantic as ever, but I’m not good enough at it to truly enjoy it. Then I’ll talk about the co-op mode. If it’s not zombies, I’ll call it a vestigial waste of time. If it is zombies, I’ll call it better than the main game.
We can season for flavoring based on what this specific Call of Duty is trying to go for. This year, we get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This is the 16th main franchise Call of Duty game. It is technically a reboot/prequel for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This time around, they are going for a more gritty and realistic take on modern-day man-shooting. This was also their bend for Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: World at War. Together with your team of 3-5 other special ops soldiers, you’ll embark on various missions to stop a bad guy from doing a terrorism. This time around, the skippable “disturbing scene” is where you torture a guy for information. Just like the time you put glass in that guy’s mouth in Black Ops. The big twist is that one of your team is a lady. Kind of like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
So yeah, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a Call of Duty game. That doesn’t make it bad. Despite all my snark, I understand. These AAA yearly releases are a lightning rod for controversy and criticism, but they serve a purpose. Call of Duty isn’t made for a gamer like me that plays 3 new games every week. It’s an easily and infinitely digestible package for someone who buys a few games a year. It can be played for 20 minutes when you get home from work, or 8 hours on a weekend. There’s enough variety to constantly switch between modes, but the modes are similar enough that the switch isn’t alienating. There’s a continuity of mechanics and modes between games so that returning players don’t feel any kind of friction settling in. It’s a product, and a good one.
So all said and done, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a Call of Duty game. It doesn’t have zombies though, so I’m giving it a 3.5/5.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is what you expect. For the last 16 years, the franchise has delivered solid shooter action. This is no different. Fans will love it, casual gamers will enjoy it, indie snobs will revile it. And the world will keep on spinning.