In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Activision have tasked Infinity Ward with the unenviable duty of managing to fill in the boots of a series that, across three titles, was lauded for strong new storytelling methods within first person shooters of its age and solid multiplayer that built up the sizeable following that Call of Duty as a franchise enjoys today. While the single player may have stumbled in living up to some of the expectations that they themselves placed upon it, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare manages to keep in the spirit of its inspiration while giving enough of a refresh of its tried and tested multiplayer (with a lot of lessons learnt from the Black Ops branch) to definitely come as a recommended game for any fans of the series, current, lapsed, or newly intrigued.
With the announcement of the soft reboot of the Modern Warfare series came the promise of a more mature look into the fog of war that surrounds modern conflicts and an all-round push for shades of grey on all sides than an out and out black and white conflict. While the writers have given their best go at achieving this, the frenetic pace of Modern Warfare unfortunately leaves much of the punch of many of these moments to not land with the potency required to really get one thinking.
While there are stand out sections during the campaign that really made one feel awkward (in a good, thought-provoking way, with a contrasting pair of interrogations where you play as both interrogatee and later interrogator standing out in particular) other moments that would have had a lot more weight if given time to be built up to, like in a long-running series covering similar content matter like Homefront, end up feeling like being there for the sake of it and not to help drive a point across.
Perhaps the largest, but most hard to avoid, issue to be had with reaching this goal of showing multiple sides to a conflict is that, while you can paint certain factions and characters in those shades of grey for there to be a narrative that drives forward at the pace needed in a first-person shooter, you require that one big bad that we can all get behind taking down. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, this position is taken by a Russian General named Barkov, who is used as a constant threat throughout to drive the actions of the various protagonists against. Unfortunately, with this comes a great villainizing of the Russian troops below him and it is only in the epilogue, which plays out in the game’s spec ops mode, (and the exception of one old familiar face) that we get to see Russian troops in any different light than the “big bads” TM. This stands in contrast to the remaining cast for which many internal motivations and beliefs are explored.
Each of these characters has a different theatre of war that they operate within, and while their backing and weapons are similar, the approaches of their missions vary widely.
Where Call of Duty: Modern Warfare shines, however, are in the missions that borrow just the right amount from some of the great flash points of the former trilogy.
Features include: Knowledge of all things geeky. “Over 9000!” achievement points in World of Warcraft. Groantastic Puns. Marking out for canadian heels.
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PC, PS4, Xbox One
25 October 2019
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