Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PS4) Review
If you want to break down Call of Duty, there could be three distinct generations of the game: Call of Duty 1-3 were historical, Call of Duty 4 through CoD: Black Ops 2 which could be basically the modern to near-future era, and finally from Call of Duty Ghosts to now (Infinite Warfare) as the futuristic era. These aren’t hard and fast breakdowns as Black Ops 2 did have some future stuff in it, but it helps to generalize where the Call of Duty series has been and where it might go. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a bit of an odd game when it comes down to it, but I am overall glad to have played it, despite a few growing pains here and there.
Infinite Warfare places you in the boots of Nick Reyes who is a Lieutenant in the SCAR (Special Combat Air Recon) division, which is basically the space Navy. There has been a cold war between Earth and Mars when it suddenly becomes hot with a surprise attack by Mars and the villainous Admiral Salen Kotch as they take down most of Earth’s defenses and space ships. You’re thrust into your own command of a ship, one of the two left remaining in the fleet, and are trying to buy time for Earth.
If you take out the “space” bits from my plot summary above, this is a pretty generalized story. Actually, Kotch, for as much as Activision was like “YO, WE GOT JON SNOW AS THE VILLAIN!” during their press announcements for the game, is a total non-factor and barely shows up in the game at all. The reason this story doesn’t become completely boilerplate however is due to the characters, both major and minor, that inhabit the campaign.
While Reyes himself is a tad Captain America-esque in my view, he does come across as a pretty interesting character, whom is generally more chatty than past CoD protagonists. His pal Salter has a good sarcastic charm to her and her relationship with Reyes is slightly more easy going than past partnerships in CoD games. Sgt. Omar comes across as a pompous jackass at first glance, due to some of the writing and the actor playing him (David Harewood) usually cast in those roles. However, he does have a good character arc and redeems himself fully, which is nice to see some personal growth in these games. Finally there is “ETH.3n”, or Ethan as they refer to him. He’s a new robotic soldier in your squad who has some amount of sentience but comes across as one of the best Call of Duty characters ever created. He has a homespun way about him, due to the actor’s Tennessee origins, and is able to just roll with some of the abuse he faces from certain members of the game.
The actual nuts and bolts shooting of Infinite Warfare is almost the same as it ever was, but there are a few new additions. The biggest one I noticed was how you acquire guns. In practically every past CoD game (not counting Black Ops 3 which I haven’t played), when you start a mission you start off with whatever guns the developers see fit to give you. In this game, you can change your loadout before missions usually start, which lets you pick your favorite guns. You also can pick up unknown weapons as you play and they get scanned into your armory. Then for the next mission you can select that weapon and it will be available to you. You can attach various attachments to it like silencers and scopes, like usual, but it does help give you some customization for how you want to tackle the missions.
Mission structure is generally the same as in every Call of Duty, but in Infinite Warfare you’re able to do side missions if you so want. These missions are bite-sized missions, if a story mission takes about an hour, the side missions only take about 15 minutes, if that. You get perks for completing the side mission content and you’ll unlock additional attachments for your gun and your ship. There are a few quirks here like zero-G fighting (in space), or a few limited stealth sections, and they are pretty fun, even if short.
Ship combat is completely new here and it’s mostly “fine”. It’s not the most fully featured thing in the world, but you can duke it out with enemy fighters in space or in atmosphere and shoot them down with your mini-guns, cannon shots, or missiles. You can also lock onto targets where the game takes some control away from you, to let you focus on hitting the reticle for the enemy ship. You can customize your ship a bit with a few different weapons, but battles generally play out the same way. None of the flying parts of the game are particularly difficult but it does help break up the pace from the usual CoD affair. It’s more about knowing when to back off from an enemy ship, or to pop your flares to avoid a missile strike, than any type of real dog fighting that a more typical flying game would have.
There are some new weapons and items to use as you go through the levels. Several guns have alternate firing modes, with one gun being able to split from an assault rifle to dual-akimbo SMG’s, and another going from a sniper rifle to an assault rifle. New items include a shock grenade (for robot foes), a droid that shoots enemies alongside you, and a hacking module that lets you control an enemy robot for a few seconds and really do some damage to surrounding baddies.
Side missions do bring up a bad thing I noticed and that was that this game is short. If you just mainline the story missions in the game, you could probably finish it in under 4 hours easy, especially if you’ve played CoD games before. The side missions add about 2 or 3 more hours, but the game itself feels “light”. It’s not a huge criticism but it was something I noticed when I got to the end game and thought “Where’s the rest of the game?”
Another odd aspect is this whole concept of a deck of cards target system in your captain’s room. You can go into your estate room and look at this wall of listed enemies and their ranking in the enemy organization. They are assigned card values that determine how important they are, with Salen being at the top. It’s a system that is reminiscent of Mercenaries or Crackdown, but here it feels completely lifeless. There is literally no narrative or gameplay hook to get the card targets, and frankly, if you do all of the side missions they’ll be killed anyway, aside from the two story-based ones. The targets almost always pop up as “fighter ace” during the flying missions, or the captain of some ship you’ll inevitably destroy. Why have the system at all, if you can’t target a specific enemy, or have any backstory on who they are (aside from a short paragraph), or if there is zero personality to them at all? I can understand what they were trying to do but this thing has zero life to the overall game.
Multiplayer and zombies make their perfunctory return here and I give a collective “shrug” to both of them. The multiplayer is the same as it ever was quite frankly and there isn’t much to be said about it. Although, the new classes (which I think were an idea from Black Ops 3) are here and they each have their own special ability. There are a lot of different game modes, so if you do like CoD multiplayer, you’ll find some good stuff here.
As far as the zombies mode, I was never a huge fan of it, and I continue to not be a big fan of it. It’s always just seemed really hackneyed with celebrities doing voices for the hell of it, and not for any real reason. Also the gameplay never grabbed me in any of the zombies modes before. You build a deck, that is equivalent to perks, but that is about it, aside from the future amusement park setting. Still, if you like this mode it’s more of the same, for good and for bad.