Infinity Ward are back and this time following in the footsteps of rivals Treyarch for the Call of Duty crown with the latest yearly game Call of Duty Infinite Warfare. A lot can be said about yearly releases but one thing has to be clear, with massive budgets and a free reign to explore new avenues the COD franchise has certainly been through many periods of war and knows how to reinvent itself. With EA’s Battlefield 1 going back in time to the World War I period, Infinite Warfare takes the fight well into the future with space battles and warp speed ships being the norm here. It’s also a perfect excuse for artistic freedoms to venture beyond the confines of realism. That said, the reality is the game has a well established template which it eagerly and unashamedly follows here where the only differences on the surface are the players on the stage.
Infinity Ward are providing a stellar experience here what with a comprehensive single-player campaign that has you shoot your way through various assault missions on foot, in space and in spacecraft which can be used on the ground or in space. A fast and furious multiplayer mode that again follows a distinct template. A co-op survival Zombies mode where players can team up or go solo to see how long they can survive against waves of the undead. So that’s quite the offering and what’s really neat is being able to swap between modes at leisure on or offline. This fact alone puts the game way ahead of its peers with their online only modes locking out players who’d rather just fight against bots or join with local friends.
The campaign mode is a pretty epic affair as you can expect as players take on the role of Lieutenant Nick Reyes across the local star system. It’s one hell of a roller-coaster ride of emotion, set-pieces interpersonal dramas and catastrophe. You’ve got all bases covered here which actually steps beyond the likened Michael Bay movie comparisons which are usually levelled at the campaigns. The Plight of Reyes and crew is well told and with a number of secondary characters that really grow on you (special note goes to the rather cool AI controlled robot Ethan) leaves you pumping and ready for the next mission. It’s a dark and foreboding story about survival and brutalities of war and whilst there’s not a massive amount of depth or back story to the characters, the execution gives you just enough to feel affinity for them – something that’s not so easy to do when it’s pretty much wall to wall action from start to conclusion. As always there’s some incredibly well directed set-pieces and surprisingly those set within outer space are equally engaging even if a little cliche.
Story aside, the gameplay is top quality from years of experience so nothing to really complain about here in the slightest. However, with the artistic freedoms available has meant a new range of weapons which can be picked up and deployed during or prior to each mission in the hub area. There seems to be a far wider range of weapons and grenades this time which are conveniently placed for each skirmish making for some extremely satisfying moments. The hub area on board your main ship is a nice touch as well as players can pick and choose when to embark on the main story or undertake side missions which involve infiltration of enemy ships or epic space battles. Whilst there’s little variety here it’s still nice to have the choice – oh and there’s upgrades up for grabs too on completion of these extras which helps.
In a nutshell the story is a full on experience of high quality with excellent scenes, scenarios and action that keeps you well hooked from the get go. Infinity Ward has certainly embraced any criticisms to present one of the best single player campaigns they have ever created – although admittedly this is rather subjective. What perhaps shows off how far we’ve come is the inclusion of the remastered Call of Duty Modern Warfare, a game which released way back in 2007 and it’s clear when juxtaposed with Infinite Warfare how far we’ve come in terms of story telling and game design without straying too far from the core shooting mechanic.
Visually Infinite Warfare looks fantastic with vibrant colours, massive explosions and excellent lighting effects all against some impressive sky-boxes such as planets when in space or swirling clouds when on the ground. On Xbox One it runs buttery smooth with only momentary dips in frames here and there, but none too impacting on the gameplay. It’s a varied looking game across a range of themes and handles the responsibility with perfection. There’s some well produced cutscenes here as well which bring to life the characters outside of the game engine although this time we don’t get to see the rendered Kevin Spacey or equivalent in action. That said, it’s good to see British actor David Harewood in action
, Kit Harington as the token bad guy and even F1 racer Lewis Hamilton making an appearance as an engineer. Further delving into the rather long list of credits reveals the likes of David Hasselhoff voicing the DJ in the Zombies mode believe it or not. There’s little to fault here basically, with a massive assault on the eyes and ears it’s incredible to see what a big budget can do for a video game and here it just feels like none of it has been needlessly squandered.
In terms of length the main campaign comprises of some 30 odd missions should you want to beat them all offering a healthy amount of hours play time for lone offline players. A specialist mode is unlocked once the end credits roll to try again with extreme difficulty where you have to scavenge for health and weapons to survive (although according to the Xbox One stats only 8% of players have actually beaten the campaign at this juncture to see it in action).
As mentioned there’s offline local play for the Zombies survival mode which is one of the coolest mini-games for a first person shooter even if not entirely original. And then the multiplayer against bots which can last until next years game at least as you level up and get better gear. Obviously these mode are far more engaging when playing online with others but at least all bases are covered here for those who don’t want to get shot to pieces or want to practice before jumping in. Again, there’s not much to be said about the multiplayer simply because its a polished affair offering plenty of options to tailor the experience to suit your play style. So if you want radars off and no wall-running powers then you can do so.
To conclude, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is a massive game which easily feels as epic as Treyarch’s Black Ops III and in some ways surpasses it with its big set-pieces and dramatic moments. It’s a dark story and one that will be hard to top. There’s really nothing to fault here aside from whether the style or setting appeals to you or not – there are lots of COD haters out there for whatever reasons but even so, it would be hard to find fault in the campaign here no matter what your stance is. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare is an excellent game and one that is a no-brainer for fans and shooter fanatics alike. If this is your first venture into a COD game whilst it might lack the realism of some of the earlier games like the aforementioned Modern Warfare, its grandiose spectacle is probably enough to bowl you over and then some. This is what non-tactical shooters should offer and be about for this day and age of gaming…Period.
Review code supplied by Microsoft Xbox.