Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Review: Infinity Ward’s re-imagining of a true classic sends the franchise in a bold new direction
Played On: PS4 (Original)
*All Photos shown below were taken by the author*
There’s no iteration of the Call of Duty more iconic, influential, and impactful to gaming than Infinity Ward’s 2007 hit Modern Warfare. Being the fourth game in the entire franchise, Modern Warfare not only gave fans an in-depth story that introduced the iconic duo of Captain Price and Soap MacTavish, but to revolutionize the multiplayer formula and set a new standard to what online multiplayer would be. Many fans even cite Modern Warfare as the best in the series, so in a time where remakes have nearly become the new norm, is it surprising to see the series return? Modern Warfare actually got a updated remaster a couple years ago when it came with Infinity Ward’s last game Infinite Warfare, but that wasn’t all they had planned.
Infinity Ward clearly wanted to return to the series to give fans something new – thankfully. Rather than just simply remaking the game, their new game, also called Modern Warfare, is more of a re-imagining. There’re some aspects that tie back to the game that changed everything, but make no mistake, Modern Warfare makes strides of its own that are strong and make the game set a new standard once again.
One of the biggest things that made fans love the original Modern Warfare so much was the meaty campaign that introduced them to one of gaming’s most iconic characters – Captain John Price (voiced by Barry Sloane). While Price makes a valiant return, as does Campaign Mode in general after being absent in Black Ops IV, he isn’t with the same crew or dealing with trying to kill Makarov as the game is basically set in an alternate timeline. Instead, Price and the SAS find themselves partnering with the CIA and the, fictional, Urzikstani Liberation Force to retrieve chemical weapons that are in the hands of criminal warlord Barkov (Konstantin Lavysh). Alongside Price is Sgt. Kyle Garrick (voiced by Elliot Knight) and they receive help from CIA operations officer Alex (voiced by Chad Michael Collins) and rebellion leader Farah Karim (voiced by Claudia Doumit). Together the four of them must put an end to Barkov’s plans and destroy the chemicals before they are unleashed and cause a global war.
Honestly, it’s incredibly refreshing to be playing a Call of Duty campaign of this caliber or any campaign at all for that matter. Infinity Ward definitely put some tender love and care in creating a new, cinema-caliber story that fans can sink their teeth into. The graphics are literally out this world and Price has never looked better. From the life-like environments to the realistic character designs, Modern Warfare is easily the best-looking game in the entire franchise. Looks aren’t everything, though, and would it really be a great Call of Duty campaign without fast-paced action, versatile missions, and a story filled with emotion and controversy? Thankfully, Infinity Ward brings their “A game” and delivers a strong campaign filled with everything fans could want and more.
It was actually interesting to see Price be on his own without the normal crew behind him, but everyone plays a big enough part in the story to make it great. His almost father/son relationship with Kyle is great, Farah’s personal ties to Barkov are incredibly interesting to see unfold, and while Alex is a tad bland, Collins puts in a strong enough performance to make him memorable. The missions they go on are incredibly versatile and allow players to do things that they haven’t done much of or at all in a Call of Duty game. Missions aren’t simply just running from point to point anymore and it was great to have a legitimately challenging campaign that players can’t simply run and gun their way through. Taking cover and remaining stealthy actually play a big part in surviving in the battlefield and there’re even other aspects that are relatively new to the franchise. With players having to do things like find oil canisters to make their silencers, make dialogue choices that changes how things play out, and even solve some environmental puzzles, there’s a lot of versatility in missions that’s really great to see. There’s even some great use of the more realistic looking night-vision – especially in the Going Dark mission.
Overall, the game has a much more realistic and grounded tone to it that’s very refreshing to see and that desire for realism actually creates some moments that are, no joke, tough to watch. The Modern Warfare series is no stranger to controversy and they definitely don’t hold anything back here. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ve seen such a gruesome aftermath to killing enemies since World at War and the game touches on some pretty relevant and heavy subjects. Things like the horrifying effects of using White Phosphorus, water-boarding, children in the middle of a warzone, and public terrorist attacks are touched upon in the game and I find it admirable to see a big-name franchise like Call of Duty not just expose them to these real-life war horrors, but have characters acknowledge the ethics of what they’re doing. After players choose whether or not Kyle will watch Price use someone’s family for interrogation, there’s actually an interesting conversation between the two about whether what they did was right or wrong. Alex and Farah share similar conversations and it’s interesting to see the series actually have this debate.
Farah’s story is actually one of the campaign’s greatest strengths as it’s very deep into her rise as a rebellious leader and how Barkov’s rise to power has greatly affected her life. Never in my life did I think Call of Duty would ever have you play as a child in the middle of warzone, but that’s exactly what happens here and it’s incredibly effective in showing the horrors of war. From having to fend off a soldier that intrudes her childhood home during an invasion to her time as Barkov’s POW, you really empathize with Farah’s struggles and desires to stop Barkov for good and to end her people’s suffering. Everyone else plays their own part in wanting Barkov to be taken out and it leads to some incredibly action-packed moments that call back to the original series in some very big ways.
Alex’s sniper mission feels like a heavily extended version of Price’s mission in the original and fans even get to see that Nikolai (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) makes a strong return. More importantly, though, the biggest surprises come at the game’s end with Price discussing a new team for a new mission that includes some familiar names and faces. The reveal that Kyle is actually Gaz in this timeline was total shock to me and the possibility that we could be not only seeing Soap again, but possibly some redemption for Simon “Ghost” Riley – you could say that I’m already campaigning for another iteration of this story. Regardless if it ever happens or not, Modern Warfare offers the kind of campaign that sets new standards for what a Call of Duty campaign can be and is innovate in the new ways it challenges players.
Infinity Ward also reinvigorates the multiplayer formula they created so many years ago with some excellent fine tuning. On the surface, online multiplayer is pretty much the same as it always is and fits what players expect it to be. Cool maps, lots of guns to customize and choose from, and plenty of different game modes, both new and old, that allow players to take on the world in plenty of different ways. However, where Infinity Ward shines is in how they made technical changes that really make the experience much smoother. There’s now an opening cinematic cutscene of you and your teammates arriving into battle, respawn times are much faster and they done a great job having more adaptive spawn points so there is virtually no spawn camping, and, best of all, you can continue to customize your class in game. So, if you just couldn’t beat the clock in changing your scope or adding a silencer, you can still do it even if you’re mid-match. One of my favorite additions, though, has to be the ability for players to filter out which game-types they want to play so that they only get to play want they want to.
Specialists also make a return and allow players to not only go into battle with different skins, but also trade in the ability to use killstreaks, which are really awesome this time and include the return of the nuke, for the ability to use Specialist streaks that allow for players to utilize more perks. Specialists also play a part in Spec Ops mode, which brings players together to come tough challenges in an effort to earn that three-star rating. Infinity Ward also brings some rewards and tier systems that have been seen in more modern shooters, like Fortnite and Apex Legends, and gives players the ability to earn rewards by ranking up. In short, the best way to describe multiplayer in Modern Warfare is that it’s the online play you know and love with that good old label of new and improved imprinted right on it.
Just as the Modern Warfare series changed the scope of what Call of Duty can be, Infinity Ward’s reimagining of the series does just the same and has some heavy improvements that bode a bright future for the franchise. It contains all of the controversy, faced-paced action, characters, and heart of what fans would want in a great Call of Duty game with some finely tuned mechanics that make a return to the series incredibly refreshing. Whether or not we get to see Captain Price’s story continue, and I hope we do, it’s great to see him again as well as the franchise truly return to form.