Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, developed by Infinity Ward is the soft-reboot of the highly popular series that pushed CoD to the frontlines. The game takes familiar characters like Captain Price and puts them in a, wait for it, an even more modern setting. Just like the previous Modern Warfare trilogy, you’ll be playing from different character’s perspectives in a linear campaign, unless you choose to play multiplayer.
I was a big fan of the MW trilogy back when it came out. The games pushed the envelope for what a story-driven FPS could do, and it took a lot of risks along the way. Remember ‘No Russian’? Yeah, that was a crazy time. So imagine my unsurprised face when I saw that the 2019 reboot was getting blasted with the same level of skepticism and controversy. I’m not going to talk much about that part since I’m primarily concerned about the game itself.
Story and Narrative
Let’s start with the story then. The game follows the CIA and the SAS as they team up to stop a threat that’s brewing war in the fictional country of Urzikstan. Throughout the majority of the campaign, you’ll be switching between the 2 sides, in classic CoD fashion. While the campaign is short, it does everything you expect a Modern Warfare game to do – shock and awe with a little bit of space left for morally ambiguous questions. And since the game uses a brand new engine, everything from the animations to the muzzle flashes is heightened to achieve realism. It’s no surprise that the game attracted the controversy that it attained.
The campaign is one of the more memorable ones form CoD’s past installments. It achieves so by keeping it as real as possible, complete with CoD’s stylistic presentation. Just like the previous trilogy, there’ll be many moments and cinematics where you’ll be hearing Captain Price dropping exposition like a boss. And you’re not gonna complain about it. It’s just one of those things that you can earnestly expect Call of Duty to drop on you.
Performance on (PS4) Console
Getting to the game though is a major hassle. After installing from the blu-ray disk, I was obligated to download a bunch of more assets to even get into the game. Activision and Infinity Ward have made the decision to take the modular approach, so users can install only the parts they want to play. So, as I wanted to play the single-player campaign, I had to download a hefty 20GB+ campaign pack to even start the game. The same goes for multiplayer and Special Ops modes. A big chunk of that does go into the high-quality, pre-rendered assets for the cinematics – something that I think hinders the installation process.
Coming to performance, it’s smoother than ever. Owing to the new engine’s optimization prowess, the game targets (and for the most part holds) 60 fps on consoles. I played the game on the PS4 slim, and framerates only dropped where I most expected them to – during heavy environmental destruction and around fires. This wasn’t something new so I was mostly fine with it. I’ve primarily played FPS games on PC, so moving around and aiming with a controller definitely felt like a downgrade. Kudos to the team at Infinity Ward though as they’ve included a ton of settings to change sensitivity as well as the intensity of aim assist. There were some instances though where textures took their sweet time loading in. I’ll chalk that up to the increasing size of games and the PS4’s aging hard disk.
Level Design and Visuals
As I mentioned, the Modern Warfare series has always taken a lot of risks for realism, but the 2019 reboot takes it to a whole new level. One particular mission – Clean House, received a big amount of flak for that. The level takes place inside a 3 storey hose, and throughout the mission, you’ll be using night vision. What’s interesting about the mission is that by the use of night vision’s green tint, it strips away most of the “gamey” visuals and assets. Couple that with realistic character animations, and you’ve got an almost photorealistic rendition of an actual night raid. The game also has a light morality system that doesn’t affect the story. So there are moments where you’ll be tricked into shooting civilians. I can see why it received as much criticism as it did, but I can’t argue against it making for a really cool mission.
A lot of the other missions also reminded me of classic missions from the original trilogy. You’ve got your assist missions, sniper missions as well as a full-on assault on fort mission. I also like that the game doesn’t go overboard with its visuals, instead choosing to take a more realistic, if quite cinematic, approach.
The game looks gorgeous on both consoles and PC. While I personally haven’t played it on PC, the implementation of raytracing via NVIDIA RTX is something truly astounding. For a game which targets realism so much, and has a ton of fun night missions, you’ll want to play this with RTX On.
I also dabbled with the multiplayer modes, but I must admit – a controller for FPS games? That too for online PvP matches? Count me out. I did play a couple or so matches before giving up on my non-existent skills. But it was fun while it lasted. The signature fast-paced matches took me back to the days of MW2’s glorious deathmatch modes, but that’s all it did – trigger some happy memories.