Friday, 7 July 2017

PC Game Review: Call of Duty - Infinite Warfare

Reviewed by Alyxx

Year: 2016
System: PC
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher. Activision
Genre: First person shooter

When I initially heard about Infinite Warfare I wasn't all that hyped about it. It seemed marketed as a bit of a "back to the basics" kind of game, but of course once I heard about the story taking place in space, I was on board completely, being the sci-fi nut that I am. Of course, for the same reason I can't say I have any kind of hype for the next Call of Duty going back to WWII, but I'm glad on behalf of the people who wanted it. It's just not my cup of tea and I really hope the next Call of Duty will stay in the future as I love seeing what these games can offer in terms of futuristic content. So without further ado, let's take a look at the latest and hopefully not last sci-fi installment in the ever-running Call of Duty series!

The Campaign

The graphics and locations in Infinite Warfare fully take advantage of the setting and provide some truly spectacular and gorgeous setpieces.
Infinite Warfare's story campaign centers on a singular character this time. Nick Reyes (Brian Bloom), a soldier who is fighting for Earth in a battle for the resources of the solar system, where a group of Martian colonists who calls themselves the Settlement Defense Front (SDF) are waging war on Earth, lead by the charismatic Salen Kotch (played by Kit Harrington). You soon become captain of the warship "Retribution", and join a crew who set out to drive back the SDF forces.
Your crew consists of the "brobot" E3N (affectionally called Ethan, voiced by Jeffrey Nordling), easily one of the most memorable and likeable robot characters in recent history, Admiral Fredrick Raines (played by John Marshall Jones) who is a mentor to Nick, Lieutenant Lora Salter (played by Jamie Gray Hyder) who is Nick's wingman, Staff Sergeant Usef Omar (David Harewood), Corporal Sean Brooks (Jason Barry) and Private Todd Kashima (Eric Ladin) who all assist Nick in some of the missions. The other notable crewmembers are the Navigator Victor "Gator" Diallo (Omid Abtahi), Captain Maureen Ferran (played by Claudia Christian, famous from Babylon 5), and Chief Engineer Audrey "Mac" MaCallum (Claudia Black).

For the first time in the series, the missions are laid out in a more non-linear structure where you actually get to choose if you want to do a side mission or a story mission. Although the story missions technically are more linear, and the side missions offer no real reward beyond some loadout options, it still helps give you some choices on what kind of mission you wanna do next and feels a bit progressive for the series.

Space combat is a lot of fun in Infinite Warfare, feeling reminiscent of classics like Wing Commander and Descent.
Some of the missions require you to pilot a space fighter in a style similar to Descent and Wing Commander, usually with the goal of either taking you to an objective or taking out enemy fighters and cruisers. It helps break up the gameplay and fits well with the sci-fi theme of the game. The fighter kinda moves a bit unrealistic in the sense you have absolute control of where the spacecraft is facing at all times using your mouse, which kinda gives it that same feeling of 360 degrees control from Descent. It's definitely a lot of fun playing these segments and it really did remind me of oldschool space shooters like the aforementioned Descent and Wing Commander and even Star Fox.

Otherwise the missions follow the typical Call of Duty structure where you go into large setpieces, and overall the campaign definitely feels like it has a ton of production value behind it. The series has always been known for its cinematic flair and it's really strong in this game with a lot of cutscenes feeling like it could belong in a big budget movie, especially with the stellar voice acting from the aforementioned cast, especially Brian Bloom as the protagonist Nick Reyes does a great job, and Claudia Christian is stellar in her role, who almost feels like she's playing the same role she did on Babylon 5. The badguy who's played by Kit Harrington sadly doesn't get nearly as much buildup and screentime as I would've liked, and by the time you get to fight him it kinda feels a little anticlimatic.

I also didn't like how there was no co-op option in the single player campaign, especially when Black Ops 3 had it. I mean, that would've made the campaign a lot more interesting to me and I think more Call of Duty games should offer co-op campaigns.
That being said, overall the campaign is an absolute blast, if not feeling a little short and it gets a little intense on the millitary stuff. I would've preferred a bit more focus on characters and character buildup, similar to Ghosts' focus on building up the characters and their relationship with the badguy. Infinite Warfare feels a bit like a rethread of Modern Warfare's focus on the military operations over the characters and the badguys being pretty lacking in character. While the badguys in this game, even the lesser ones obviously have had a lot of backstory put into them and even are given their own portraits, I feel this is all a bit wasted since none of it really matters in the final product.

The Multiplayer

I'm not gonna lie, finding people to play with in Infinite Warfare can be a problem sometimes. And this sucks because it's not really a problem with the game itself and more with people just not playing it. I think it's a shame because once you do get into a match, it still feels like Call of Duty and it's as fun and fast as it's ever been. Similar to Black Ops 3 you're offered different specialists to play, although this time they're called "rigs" and are essentially robots you control. I'm a bit iffed you're not able to play as a female, although you can give your rig a female voice. To me it just feels a bit lazy to not offer gender options.
Anyway, each of the rigs have their own set of abilities, and you can even choose between multiple abilities now, giving each rig 3 offensive and 3 tactical abilities, which gives a lot of variety to the gameplay. The rigs are also each focused on different playstyles, offering everything from raw speed to accuracy and stealth, which makes it feel like there's no stronger or weaker rig, all of them simply offer different boons to different playstyles, which gives incentive to mix it up now and then if you wanna try a different playstyle.
The weapons are a bit lacking in akimbo options, sad to say, but not as bad as Black Ops 3 thankfully. There are also a lot more weapon varieties to pick from, similar to Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3 you can purchase supply drops from the Quartermaster using either in-game points or real life currency. Whether you're a fan of these microtransactions or not doesn't really matter to me since you can easily get most good gear just by saving up points. The chance you'll find a weapon that suits your playstyle and preference is really high.

Making custom emblems was unavailable at first, but paid off as it has a lot more options this time.
The modes on offer are Team Deathmatch, Free-for-all, Domination, Frontline, Defender, Gun Game, Infected and Ground War, with hardcore modes of TDM, FFA and a mosh-pit of several modes being available. Sadly only TDM seems to really have any players, if at all.
In addition to multiplayer there is also a Zombies mode, which has a bit of a throwback retro feel to it, with each episode taking place in different decades, with episode 1 taking place in an 80's fun fair, complete with a load of awesome 80's music. The second episode takes place in the 90's in a rave, and the third takes place in the 70's. The zombies mode is pretty much the same as it's always been and doesn't really offer anything new. It's fun in bursts but since I've never been any huge fan of this mode I can't really recommend getting the game just for this. However if you really like the zombies mode from previous installments this likely won't disappoint.

Graphics and Sound

Hey, I can see my house from here!

Call of Duty IW is an absolutely gorgeous game. It also runs very smoothly on PC and feels a lot better optimized than earlier titles. Some of the textures look a bit blurry up close, even on high settings but overall I think this is one of the best looking games in the franchise. The designs are also really cool and I especially love the locations and setpiece designs. My jaw dropped a bit on the first few levels of the game and the game never ceases to lose its cool factor all the way to the end, constantly throwing really large and impressive visuals at you. It really does feel like a bit of a rollercoaster ride at times and you'll definitely get your money's worth in this regard.
Sound-wise the game also really shines. The weapon sounds are really satisfying and beefy overall the sound design is really polished and well done. The music is not really memorable sadly but the music selection in the zombies mode is awesome with a ton of badass 80's tracks, including Every Day Is Halloween by Ministry among others.

STORY: 7/10
Failed to engage me in some of the characters, and some uneven pacing made the story itself a bit mediocre, however the acting and variety in gameplay saved it for me.
Responsive for the most part although during some moments of the game it felt like the mouse sensitivity dropped for no reason, which was a bit annoying.
Absolutely gorgeous. My jaw dropped multiple times during this game. I love the different locations and space just looks enormous as it should! Facial animations are stunning and makes it feel more like watching a movie at times than playing a game.
SOUND: 8/10
Sound design is excellent and the voice acting is stellar. Sadly the music is not that memorable and mostly feels like background noise but the music selection in the Zombies mode is excellent.

Overall Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare doesn't deserve the hate it gets. It just happened to not be the game that the fans wanted, but personally I think it's still one of the better games in the franchise and like Ghosts I can't help but feel it's going to end up a bit underappreciated and underrated by the fans.