Infinity Ward is up to bat this time around for Call of Duty and they take us to space in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
The campaign is set on a future Earth that’s been stripped of its natural resources, forcing humanity to establish colonies and outposts out in the solar system in order to survive. The United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) and its defense force; the Solar Associated Treaty Organization (SATO), find themselves at war after being attacked “Pearl Harbor style” by the Settlement Defense Front (SDF) of Mars.
You play as Lt. Nick Reyes (Brian Bloom), a Tier 1 Special Operations pilot of the Special Combat Air Recon (SCAR). Nick is the senior surviving officer of the UNSA carrier Retribution, so he gets a brevet promotion to Captain (kind of like Kirk in Star Trek). You must bring the fight to the SDF, who are led by the villainous Admiral Kotch (Kit Harington). Alongside Reyes are his wingman Lieutenant Nora Salter (Jamie Gray Hyder), SATO Marines Staff Sergeant Omar (David Harewood), robot soldier E3N “Ethan” (Jeffrey Nordling), as well as the crew of the Retribution. Unlike every other Call of Duty game, it’s more than just “boots to ground”. The game is set in space and you get to fly around in starfighters called Jackals. It reminded me a bit of Wing Commander, a game that I would love to see get the remaster treatment (I know that Star Citizen is coming out, but it’s just not the same thing). In fact, the combination of ground and space combat in the campaign kind of reminds me of the 90s show, “Space: Above and Beyond” (damn you Fox for ending the series on a cliffhanger and not renewing it!). The voice acting is superb, and I especially liked Ethan’s performance. He may be a machine, but he’s been programmed with a pretty wicked wit and sense of humor that makes him one of the more standout characters of the game. Kit Harington’s casting as the antagonist just didn’t pass muster to me, especially after we got the likes of the massively talented Kevin Spacey as the antagonist of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Graphically speaking, there’s no denying that Infinite Warfare is a beautiful game. The game starts off with a combat drop on the Jovian moon Europa. If you look up as you’re making your way across that icy world, you can see Jupiter leering over you and dominating the sky. The rest of the visuals are just as good. In one of the missions, you have to infiltrate an enemy carrier that’s being repaired in the middle of an asteroid field in order to steal a prototype Jackal fighter. The insertion of you and your assault squad and the sneaking around that you must do amongst the moving asteroids is one of the more visually stunning things that I’ve seen in a video game. The character models look almost photorealistic and it feels like we’re one step closer to having games be indistinguishable from live-action movies.
Multiplayer ModeIf you’re looking for new and different when it comes to your multiplayer experience, I’d recommend playing TITANFALL 2, as multiplayer in CoD: IW doesn’t bring anything new to the table. In fact, multiplayer in Black Ops 3 is far superior. CoD: IW still uses the “Pick 10” system for customizing your avatar. The only difference is the introduction of “Combat Rigs” (“Warfighter,” “FTL,” “Merc,” “Phantom,” “Stryker” and “Synaptic.”). The Rigs take the place of the Specialists from BO3 and can be individually customized with different Payloads (powerful weaponry or abilities) and Traits (persistent abilities that strengthen your character’s play style). Mission Teams have also been added. These are basically different unlockable factions within the multiplayer which give you objectives to fulfill while running around killing other players. These help you to level your character and weapons, as well as allow you to earn new weapons and skins exclusive to the faction. Mission Teams make is so that even if you lose the match, you still gain something if you’ve met your objective.
Infinity Ward chose to play it safe with the multiplayer and added no new modes outside of the typical Team Deathmatch, Domination, Capture The Flag, and Free-for-All. The controls also haven’t changed at all, so you can feel free to jump in and start blasting away without any significant learning curve.
Zombie Mode this time around takes us to the 80s, as if in a demented John Hughes movie. It’s set in a theme park and the players assume the identities of standard 80s stereotypes that we’ve come to love (or hate): Poindexter the Nerd (Seth Green), A.J. the Jock (Ike Barinholtz), Andre the Rapper (Jay Pharoah) and Sally the Valley Girl (Sasheer Zamata). The players are all aspiring actors and are trapped by director Willard Wyler (Paul Reubens) in one of his movies, where they must survive hordes of zombies and other monsters before the last reel runs out and they get sacrificed. It has an 80s soundtrack that’s played by a mysterious DJ (David Hasselhoff) that aids the characters in their bid to survive and escape. Unlike my nephews, I’ve never been a big fan of this game mode, but I did have fun with it this time around and am willing to play more of it.
While I can give the game a high score for the way it looks and plays and how fun and engaging the storyline is, I was very disappointed with the “more of the same” feeling that the multiplayer left me with. Infinite Warfare is the 13th game in the franchise and it kind of feels like it. It’s the same reason that I stopped buying my beloved Madden games: they all felt the same–not so much an individual game as much as yearly DLC and roster updates. To me, the only reason to buy this game is to get the Modern Warfare remaster. As I pointed out, this is the 13th game in the franchise, so Activision is doing something right since they continue to pull players back into the fold year after year…however, it would be a bad thing if they let complacency set in so much that they forget about doing any kind of innovation to the FPS genre, which is something that I feel is going to be needed, sooner or later.
I give Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare 3 out of 5 killstreaks.