Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is not as bad as many gamers have made it out to be. It’s by no means the best first person shooter of the year – I wouldn’t even shortlist Activision’s latest shooter for that accolade when games like Rainbow Six Siege, Battlefield One and Titanfall 2 have also launched this year. However, the media and public is making Infinite Warfare seem as if it’s worst first person shooter in the history of shooters. To put quite simply, they are wrong. Activision took a bold step by trying to take a jump into futuristic warfare in space, and it didn’t pay off. They took a risk that didn’t work out, and these things happen from time to time. Perhaps this is exactly what the company needed to remind itself that Call of Duty is not the be all and end all of FPS titles. They need to continue providing high quality single player campaigns and multiplayer experiences that keep gamers coming back for more. Despite being the second bestselling console game of the year (with FIFA 17 being the best), Activision will understandably be humbled by Infinite Warfare and hopefully go back to the drawing board next year. Despite all of this, Infinite Warfare is still quite an enjoyable, casual shooter that will still allow you to rack up a KDR that makes you feel like a pro.
The campaign mode is probably the most disappointing actually. I’ve always enjoyed CoD campaigns, even though they have often been over the top and somewhat unrealistic. Especially when you compare it to what DICE have done with Battlefield 1’s campaign and the approach they have taken to portraying war, it makes Infinite Warfare’s campaign seem lazy and outdated, even if it is set in the future! Perhaps it would be unfair of me to compare Battlefield with Infinite Warfare. After all, one game focuses on space warfare with mechanical robots and space ships, whereas the other is a depiction of historic war. My main issue with Infinite Warfare’s campaign was that it was simply too slow. Considering how CoD is known for fast-paced action and primarily designed for people who cannot sit in one place for too long, the campaign slows things really down at times. The second half of the campaign is certainly better, but why should I have to wait until then in order to begin enjoying my experience?
You play as Reyes, the best looking pilot in the United Nations Space Alliance, who becomes the captain of a space ship that eventually gets taken over by space villains, the Settlement Defence Front. Apparently the planet Mars already has terrorists and are capable of committing space crimes. If I didn’t know any better, the SDF seemed to be training to become elites within the First Order from Star Wars. Either that, or they were trying to recreate moments from Star Trek. The SDF is led by none other than Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington, who uses his English nature to sound even more evil. It’s a shame that I cannot picture him as anything other than Jon Snow, so I couldn’t take him seriously enough. Harrington isn’t the only man to make his debut in video games, with actors from 24 and Homeland also making appearances within the Call of Duty campaign mode. I don’t think that recruiting stars from TV shows or movies will define CoD’s success, but it’s still quite nice to see stars appreciating video games enough to make appearances in them.
The SDF want what most other villains in movies and games wan total anarchy and to strip everyone of their freedom. But of course, your American nature requires you to be the patriotic hero whose job it is to crush the SDF and to protect the rights of mankind. It’s amazing how the writers of CoD always manage to throw in this type of character no matter where the location or what period it is. Infinite Warfare is Activision’s hardest attempt at exploring sci-fi themes in a CoD game. However, when you can hang around space without dying, hear sounds that are happening in outer space and crash into things without breaking every bone in your body, it’s hard to take this game seriously. Even many of the weapons at your disposal are at best, pea shooters that do very little damage.
As mentioned before, CoD is supposed to be a fast paced game. I should be able to put three, max four bullets into someone quickly before moving onto the next victim. However in the campaign, this is just not possible as the weapons are too weak and enemies are well armoured. It becomes a waiting game as you hide behind cover to regenerate health and reload. It just didn’t feel like a CoD game. The gadgets probably have something to do with that. In the past we have seen some pretty crazy tech in CoD games, but this takes things to a whole new level, with auto-lock on shotguns, robots that automatically scout and kill enemies, drones that don’t require controlling and laser cannons all featured within the campaign. They are the powerful weapons though, and for most of the time you’re playing with boring space weapons that aren’t even worth mentioning.
One of the new features of Infinite Warfare is the ability to fly. In previous CoD games, you’ve been able to control killstreaks in the air, but Infinite Warfare actually lets you fly your spaceship and take part in aerial battles in the Jackal. Some of the missions in fact are based around aerial dogfights. Unfortunately, controlling the spaceship isn’t as exciting as I would have hoped. I don’t want a simulator; this is not what CoD is about. However I want some sense of realism, and I don’t feel that the game has the right balance. The controls are a little too sensitive, which made it very difficult to target opponents. There is no real training mode either for the flying gameplay, you’re just expected to know, with some useful hints randomly appearing during flight mode. Also, considering that you’re in space, it’s very difficult to get spatial awareness as enemies and fighter ships can be coming your way from literally any angle. The HUD and radar does a poor job in assisting you. It becomes a real nightmare when playing on a harder difficulty.
Whilst I wasn’t impressed with the single player, the multiplayer was still quite enjoyable. Was it as enjoyable or competitive as Black Ops 3? No chance. Is it as competitive as Modern Warfare Remastered? I don’t think so, but that’s only due to gamers holding onto nostalgia. Personally speaking, I think Activision made the wrong move by releasing MWR with Infinite Warfare’s Legacy Edition. It has torn people between playing that, or Infinite Warfare. MWR is old and outdated. The franchise has evolved since then. It has new competitive features that have helped shape the CoD franchise into such a huge eSports phenomenon. When I go on my friends list, out of all of the people playing CoD, half are sitting on MWR and the other on Infinite Warfare. I’m not sure how this can be good for Infinite Warfare. Activision’s latest game has to be given the eSports push, not MWR just due to nostalgia.
Infinite Warfare contains the much loved Pick 10 system, allowing gamers to choose how they want to go into battle. If they want three attachments on their primary gun, it can come at the expense of no tactical equipment and less perks. If they want to go in with more perks, they can do so. As long as you have picked no more than ten options, you’ll be able to customize your loadouts in infinite ways.
Infinite Warfare also marks the return of Rigs, which are specialist characters. Stryker as an example is essentially an engineer who can use his abilities to build turrets and provide intel about nearby enemies, whereas Synaptic is a fast character who can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Each Rig also has a Payload and Trait, which allows you to more easily identify what kind of character you’re up against. As an example, you can use Phase Shift, which lets you escape from a dangerous situation in battle (basically exactly like Titanfall 2, where I think the ability in that game is also called Phase Shift!). Essentially, Rigs are perks to compliment your Pick 10 perks and weapons.
I loved Black Ops 3’s pace. I preferred the fast pace nature of the game, but that’s probably because I felt that I had reflexes that could cope with most situations. Infinite Warfare however slows the gameplay down a fair bit in comparison, and it’s not something I am a fan of. More casual gamers may prefer this, however I’d like to go back to a faster paced shooter as that also brings out the best in gamers who are playing with Scuf controllers and Astro headsets. I felt that in Infinite Warfare, the eSports gaming accessories were less needed. There’s no doubt that Infinite Warfare has a lot more spawn choke points. It’s the one aspect of CoD that I hate. Professional players are capable of choking you into a situation that is impossible to get out of, and then the game is practically lost. Infinite Warfare doesn’t do us any favours in this department. Once you’re choked into a corner, you may as well quit and find a new match. Host advantage also makes a triumphant return, with the host clearly having a significant advantage over the rest of the players. You can often tell who is the host due to them sponging the most bullets.
The maps in Infinite Warfare aren’t bad. They are certainly not the best that I’ve seen in a CoD game, but I think a lot of that has to do with the overall space theme of the game. You can double jump, wall run, use your Rigs to get to places faster etc. All of this just doesn’t sound like CoD. Without sounding like a broken record, all of this is very much Titanfall, and CoD doesn’t need to be anything like Titanfall in order to be successful. What’s even more frustrating is that you can only wall-run in specific spots, even though it clearly seems as if you should be able to wall-run in other places. The mechanics are therefore unreliable and you’re better off staying away from walls unless you know exactly what you’re doing. My favourite map is probably Breakout, which feels more like a map made for eSports, with better balance, symmetry and the ability for gamers of all types to exercise their skills in SMG run-and-gunning, mid-range assault rifle warfare or even sniping. Perhaps I just need more practice with the other maps, but I felt that the BLOPS 3 maps were better designed for competitive matches.
Infinite Warfare’s saving grace is Zombies in Spaceland. As you’d expect, this is essentially the return of zombies, but in a space setting. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of CoD titles, as you can participate co-operatively with friends to take on hordes of zombies whilst trying to survive as long as possible. It’s a mode where you and your team will die a lot. However each time you die, you will come up with new ways to take on that wave, and will want to attempt it again. It’s a mode where you’re constantly learning and getting better. To add a brand new twist to zombies, Infinite Warfare puts dead players into an afterlife state where they can win their way back into the real world by taking part in arcade games! It’s completely wacky, but it’s such a fantastic way to keep you preoccupied when you’re dead, as you’re working your way towards making yourself ‘undead’. It also features David Hasselhoff as a DJ – what’s not to like about it?!
Especially with the inclusion of zombies, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is one of the most content-filled CoD games to date, and definitely the most content-packed game if you buy the Legacy Edition. Granted that not everything in the game will appeal to the masses, however I applaud Activision for trying something new. A lot of the issues that are within the multiplayer component of the game can hopefully be patched, and despite the lackluster campaign mode, thankfully that’s not the main attraction of CoD in the first place. There’s a lot of pressure on Activision to deliver a high quality CoD next year, since I’m not sure how forgiving fans may be with two average CoD titles in a row, especially with competitors releasing fantastic content. Having said that, with CoD being Activision’s most lucrative baby, I have complete faith that 2018 will be a much better year for the CoD community.
Review copy courtesy of Xbox.com