What? We’re late? Oh, right. Well. Better late than never though, right? I avoided Infinite Warfare like the plague during its release – something I sorely regret now – but my other half gifted it to me for Christmas. Over the last few days, me and Infinite Warfare have been bonding while my family wonders where I’ve gotten to. Answer: The man-cave!
I’ll be honest and say straight away that I didn’t really like the look of Infinite Warfare when it was revealed. Sure, it looked pretty and promised some grand set-pieces, as is the norm with the franchise, but the futuristic direction in which Call of Duty was headed didn’t really do it for me. Until I actually played it, that is. And, man, what a bloody game.
The world is in a bit of a pickle as the population has been breeding like rabbits, so now Earth is low on resources. The human race has since reached out to other planets and their moons in search of minerals to ship back to Earth. It’s not as simple as that, though, as there’s the SDF that is hell-bent on doing in the dirty Earth dwellers. See, the SDF – the Settlement Defense Front – is a huge army/organisation/space North Korea that was once a part of Earth’s effort to colonise and farm the planets in our solar system, but now wants nothing to do with Earth. It’s a ruthless organisation, and that’s putting it lightly.
The game starts with you and a few others on a mission that goes tits-up. Enter Kit Harington’s Salen Kotch. This guy’s a total menace and he sends a very clear message to Earth: “Piss off, you’re not welcome!” Erm, yeah, that’s me paraphrasing a little, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. After this incident the SDF launches an assault on Earth and you’re thrust into the throes of battle until a chain of events leads to you, Reyes, becoming the Captain of the Retribution ship.
From this point on, the progression of the game’s story is all down to how you want to play. You’re presented with a map of the galaxy with little icons to indicate different missions. There are the main missions, and then there are the side missions where you can pilot a Jackal fighter jet or take on one of the SDF’s starships. I did a couple of each but found myself wanting to make my way through the story, so I ended up hitting the main missions one after another. There are pros and cons to this system. The pros are that you can potentially extend your playtime by a few hours by taking on the extra missions, and that you’re given a little more freedom than past games allowed. On the flip side, however, if you do plough through the story, you’ll be done and dusted in a few short hours.
It’s a shame, really, as the story is actually really, really good. I didn’t expect much from Call of Duty in space, but the characters and their dialogue are still so rooted in realism that I forget the silly sci-fi stuff going on in the background. Then there’s Ethan, Reyes’ trusty robot sidekick. He could have easily been a silly character that we’d have mocked, yet he wasn’t. In fact, I actually liked the hunk of metal more than most of the principal cast, and there are a few poignant scenes with Ethan and Reyes that, I thought, just didn’t belong in this ultra-macho franchise. Brave new world…
I can’t say that I have too many complaints about the single-player game. I enjoyed it from start to finish, though I wasn’t really fond of the Jackal missions. My main gripe with Infinite Warfare’s tale is how underutilised Kit Harington is in the game. The dude’s a superb actor, as any Thrones fan will attest, yet he barely has more than a dozen on-screen minutes. Heck, you’re only actual face-to-face interaction with him is over in a matter of moments.
I’ll not spoil the story for you, but I will say that come the end of the game I was a little shocked in the direction that Infinity Ward had taken, so much so that I thought I must have fucked up and somehow missed the true ending to the game. Nope, that’s not the case. They really did it, and I applaud them for it. Play the game, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Gameplay is your standard Call of Duty affair: lots of guns, lots of shooting, and now there’s the series standard booster jetpacks and wall-running. I can’t say that the gameplay stood out and amazed the socks of my hairy feet, but it wasn’t any worse than any past game. There were a few standout moments, like when you must hold off a small army of robots while waiting for rescue. It was a truly tense mission that tested my limits. Honestly, I’ve never died so much in a Call of Duty game, but you know what? I didn’t mind. It never felt cheap and I was always ready to dive back in with a new strategy, something I’ve not really done in a Call of Duty game before.
Onto the presentation. It’s a looker, that’s for sure, but after having had Battlefield 1 blaze my eyes out, I can’t say it’s the most incredible thing I’ve seen in the genre. It’s still perfectly serviceable and I really dug the high-quality cutscenes. In fact, I looked forward to them. I know, I’m weird; I actually play Call of Duty for the story. Sick bastard…
Multiplayer is… Well, I don’t even know where to start to be honest. It’s been a long time since I’ve bought a Call of Duty with multiplayer in mind. Thinking on it, Black Ops 1 was probably the last time I was properly invested in the online component; the following games I’d only jump on for some Zombies with mates. Don’t think that means I don’t know a thing or two (old man speech incoming…) as I still gave the multiplayer a fair go and didn’t do half bad. The thing is, though, I just don’t get the appeal of these microtransactions and loot boxes and all the other crap that’s been shat out onto what would normally be something I could play for an hour or two.
Aside from the microtransactions and other stuff I just didn’t like, the multiplayer was… Weird? It didn’t feel like Call of Duty, but instead a mish-mash of other games. Not to mention some pretty poor maps and glaring balancing anomalies – some of which I’m betting are deliberate. To be honest, I downright despised the multiplayer. It didn’t offer anything to keep me coming back as I’m not one of those people who is obsessed with leaderboards, online rep, or any other arbitrary nonsense.
For me, Call of Duty has always been about the single-player experience. Infinite Warfare’s campaign was a genuine surprise and instead of feeling like I got Infinite Warfare as a side game to Modern Warfare Remastered, I think I actually prefer Infinite Warfare and now see the latter as the nice little extra that it is.
And finally, Zombies. My word, what a mode this has turned out to be. I could probably get away with reviewing the zombies mode as a completely separate entity but, alas, I’m not allowed. What I will say is that it’s taken another silly turn. There’s the now-standard celebrity cameos to give the game some, er, credibility? To be fair, who’s more credible than The Hoff himself? The gameplay is the usual shoot zombies, board up broken windows, buy guns, argue over who will buy the first door, get downed, scream for help, wait to respawn in the next round. You know the deal by now, surely. There are a few new bits and bobs to keep this year’s Zombies fresh, though I shan’t be spoiling anything. Hey, if the multiplayer was a stinker, this is the saving grace. Well, this and the single-player campaign.
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*Reviewed on PS4 Slim.