I’m primarily a single-player kind of man. I rarely get overly involved in anything multiplayer. I haven’t been invested in a Call of Duty’s multiplayer since Call of Duty: Black Ops, and that’s because I was a bum at the time and had nothing else to do with my life.
These days, things are different. I don’t have the endless hours to pour into the multiplayer grind. I’m also at that stage in life where organising online play with friends isn’t as easy as it once was. We all have careers now (except for Sam, he just has a dead-end job) and some even have kids and wives, some even have girlfriends they enjoy away from their wives. Good on them, I say.
So for me, Modern Warfare was all about the single-player experience, much like when the original released in 2007. I wasn’t big into multiplayer back then, so I never got into Call of Duty 4’s online suite. I enjoyed the grounded, gritty single-player campaign. It’s the same with the reboot, too.
Modern Warfare is a reimagining of the original Modern Warfare series. There are familiar names and faces, as well as some new additions to the cast. Most of the old guard aren’t actually in the game, though it’s hinted at the end that Captain Price’s team will become established in the next entry – if there is a second one, that is. I really enjoyed Modern Warfare’s campaign, but the political undertones haven’t gone down well with some, and that could push Activision and Infinity Ward away. It’s unlikely, but it could happen. Who knows.
Much like in previous Call of Duty’s, you play as a couple of different soldiers throughout the campaign. The first is an English lad called Kyle, who is introduced during one of the game’s early levels that sees London in the grip of a terror attack. It was quite the introduction. I’ve played hundreds of games, and whenever there’s something terrible going on, it’s almost always in a place I’ve never been to. To have such a horrific scene take place in the country I once called home was jarring, to say the least.
I’ve never played a war game and thought “yeah, I’d like to go to war,” despite what some politicians would have you believe. Conversely, I’ve never played a war game and thought “I’d hate to be in this situation in real life”, at least not until I played through the London level in Modern Warfare. It’s graphic, gruesome, and I’ve no doubt that it barely scratches the surface of what real-life combat situations are like, but all the same, it put the fear of war into me. We really do live in a shitty world, eh?
As blockbuster movies have evolved and matured over time, so have blockbuster video games. There was a time when we’d be happy to just shoot nameless faces for 10 hours and call it a day. Those days are long gone. Now we’re getting games that compete with the silver screen’s offerings. Call of Duty has always been a bit of a poor man’s Michael Bay movie; cheap thrills, explosive set-pieces, heroic killings in the name of freedom. Modern Warfare, while not completely free of those tropes, does at least push things forward a notch for the series with some brilliantly realised cinematic cutscenes that are acted to perfection by the cast. These also serve as a showcase for the game’s fancy new game engine. You’ll see cinematics transition seamlessly into gameplay, which helps maintain the illusion that you’re a star in this big-budget production. At least until you die and some pretentious quote is splashed on the screen, that is. Thankfully, the loading times are super quick, so dying isn’t as much a pain in the arse as it used to be.
If you’ve played a Call of Duty campaign before, you should know what to expect from the gameplay. You shoot people, they shoot you. You move from one place to another and you kill everyone along the way. Sometimes there’s a divergence, though, and it’s at these forks in the river that I dare to get excited. The regular moment-to-moment gameplay is fine, but it’s been done a million times before. But when the game presents something a little different, it’s a chance for Call of Duty to be something more. For instance, in one level you’re told to pinch something from a car’s motor to use as a makeshift silencer. Great, I thought, until I realised that you only get to do it two or three times in the entire game, and it’s only during that particular level. A wasted opportunity, I thought.
Then there’s my favourite level where you’re able to take a sneaky approach to hit three objectives in one large area. You can go loud and proud if you like, but stealth is the preferred option – and it works, but only in this level. Try and stealth your way through any of the other missions found in the game and you’ll be disappointed. It’s a shame, but it’s not the first time a Call of Duty game has presented a gameplay feature in one mission, only to throw it away in the next and never return to it.
With a running time of around 6 hours (I played on regular difficulty) it’s a little on the short side, but I suppose the main focus for most will be multiplayer. That being said, there’s a great reason to replay Modern Warfare’s story at least twice: Achievements and Trophies! For the first time in the series, all of the game’s trophies and achievements can be earned by just playing the single-player story. It’s not easy, mind you, as you’ll have to complete the entire game on the ‘Veteran’ setting, and some of the trickier achievements may come down to blind luck, but it is at least doable without having to grind online. I appreciate that. It might seem like a small thing, but as a man with just one Platinum trophy to his name (my bio is a lie!), I appreciate the chance to get another.
Multiplayer… I’ve not explored it all that much at the moment. I’ve played a few rounds with my colleague Jeremy, and I’ve spent some time at a friend’s house playing his PS4 copy (I played the story on the Xbox One X… sue me…) but I’m just not interested in it. The usual game modes are all there. Search and Destroy is there for those looking for a slower, more tactical game. Domination is a team-based affair, yet there’s always a few dickheads who are just playing for kills and not for the objective. You know what’s what and you don’t need me to tell you. I just don’t find much joy in it.
What I was looking forward to was the Spec Ops mode. I must have played the hell out of the Spec Ops modes in Modern Warfare 2 and 3 without ever getting the maximum star ratings. I thought I’d do better this time around, only to find that my interest diminished when I found out that they are only playable online. At this time, Spec Ops missions can’t be played solo, nor can you and a friend buddy up to play together. If you want to play as a twosome, the game will put you with two other random players. It’s bullshit, basically, and I can’t say I’m best pleased about it. Why would these missions need to be online-only? At the end of the single-player campaign, the end screen even says “The story continues in Spec Ops”, but it doesn’t mention that you might have to play with a mouth breather, a child and Herbert the Pervert. The only part of Spec Ops that can be played offline is a survival-type game mode that is brutally harsh. Like, when Jeremy and I teamed up to try it, we were killed within 10 seconds five times in a row. A complete piss-take, then.
If you were looking to buy Modern Warfare for its single-player offerings, I’d say wait for a sale. You’ll get between five-to-six hours with the story mode, and more if you play it again for the trophies/achievements. And that’s it. The rest is online multiplayer. Great if that’s your kind of thing, shite if you have a life.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare PS4 Review
Overall - Good - 6/10
Modern Warfare is a decent enough game that’s let down by its insistence that we all get online and play together. I don’t always want to play with other people. Sometimes I just want to play with myself, or maybe just one or two of my mates.
The single-player campaign is superb, the multiplayer is more of the same, and Spec Ops is a crock of shit due to the online-only nature of it all.
- Campaign is fantastic
- Graphics are clearly a step-up over previous games
- Acting and mo-cap work for cutscenes is a definite high point
- Multiplayer is familiar and there’s cross-play, too.
- Spec Ops game mode is locked behind online play
- If you’re a single-player gamer, you can get this one done with a weekend rental
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Reviewed using Xbox One X, PS4 Pro