Prior to writing this review I looked back at the six Call of Duty games I’ve played—The Modern Warfare trilogy, Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, and now Infinite Warfare—and I realised something.
All of my good memories of CoD can be traced back to the Modern Warfare games. I could discuss how ‘All Ghillied Up’ is one of the best levels of any game, or the pros and cons of ‘No Russian’, for days. Sadly, bar some recollections of a dog in Ghosts and a now inappropriate turn by Kevin Spacey in Advanced, nothing comes to mind from this generation’s entries. Whilst the sequels to Modern Warfare don’t hit the heights of the original, they bring you back into contact with memorable characters you want to follow. Unfortunately without Price and Soap to paper over the lack of originality, the newer titles are just the same old stuff. Take cover. Push on. Watch comrades die. Played a Call of Duty game? You’ve played all of them. It’s just different scenery.
To be fair, Infinite Warfare does provide some cool scenery. The main reason I borrowed the game is that it’s set in the future and I had the chance to do what I call ‘space stuff’. Making the transition to space from the ground is pleasingly seamless, and the Jackals you tear around in look cool. The only issue I have with them is that they move much like people. It’s odd, as I didn’t get any impression that they were mechanical as they turn on a dime and don’t have a strong feeling of acceleration/deceleration. The cast all look very life-like, with some impressive motion capture, but my favourite character was a robot. Take from that what you will. Everything else is as you’d expect; lots of acronyms, the odd oohrah, and a bad guy that sets his stall out early but isn’t fleshed out at all.
“But Infinite does what CoD does, which is take a passing glance at deeper ideas as it shoves you towards the next set piece”
It took me roughly 8 hours to finish the campaign. As I reclined to take in the credits (I do it with every game), I’m suddenly presented with the option to play messages from characters I lost through the story. These messages, to each comrade’s loved ones, are a pretty heavy way to wrap up the game. You’d imagine that’s a pretty sombre and emotional ending, and it would be…if the game had done anything to earn it. There’s a lot of talk about duty and loss but none of it hits home. I expect a bit of drama in these games, and maybe a character I’ll miss. But Infinite does what CoD does, which is take a passing glance at deeper ideas as it shoves you towards the next set piece, leading to something intended to be emotionally charged coming across as a late and heavy-handed grab at emotion.
In 2014 Activision arranged a new rotational cycle to give developers Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games more time to work on games yet keep up the yearly release. A sound plan right? Judging by Infinite Warfare—a pretty and competent game that is as deep as a puddle—it hasn’t helped.
Note – I didn’t play the multiplayer part of Infinite Warfare. I borrowed the game from a friend and had no intention of getting into online play with Battlefront II on the horizon!