Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Review- A Fun Leap into Space

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Posted November 11, 2016 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Infinity Ward

Platforms: PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One

Release Date: November 4, 2016

The Call of Duty franchise has been headed towards the future for some time now, ever since it made the leap from World War II to present day combat in Modern Warfare. Building on the past three games (Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, and Black Ops 3), this latest iteration in the franchise from Activision and Infinity Ward takes the next logical step and sends Infinite Warfare into space. It doesn’t venture into Halo or Gears of War territory (yet) by introducing alien races or creatures, but it does take combat off of Earth and puts you in command of your own starship to move about the solar system. Battles will take you from the moon Titan and to the edge of the solar system above Pluto to an asteroid perilously close to the sun. Earth isn’t completely forgotten, but it’s only one area where this far ranging conflict between the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) and the Settlement Defense Front (SDF) takes place. It gives the campaign a distinct sci-fi feel, with the game giving nods to another space oriented game franchise, Mass Effect, as well as the Alien movies and the television show Battlestar Galactica. And it pulls it off quite well.

And if the campaign weren’t enough, there is the solid multiplayer and a fun take on the Zombies formula that fellow franchise developer Treyarch has done so well. In all, it makes for a nice package for shooter fans, and holds its own against other recent shooters like Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, and Gears of War 4.

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The campaign places you in the boots of Nick Reyes (Brian Bloom), who gains command of the ship Retribution after the captain is killed during an attack staged by the SDF on Geneva. The SDF is led by Salen Kotch (Kit Harrington), a man who will do anything to destroy who he perceives are his enemies. Reyes, under the command of Admiral Raines, takes on missions to hunt down Kotch and his cronies, even having SDF commanders attached to a deck of cards much in the same way the US did with the leaders of Al-Qaeda. Working with him is comrade in arms Nora Salter (Jamie Grey Hyder), the Marine sergeant Omar (David Harewood), and the robot E3N, called Ethan (Jeffrey Nordling), who may be one of the most likeable robot companions ever put in a game. The rest of the crew form a solid cast of characters as well, and it hurts when you lose someone, as you know you will in a game dealing with war. The voice acting for all the characters is done very well, helping you to gain an attachment to them. Harrington’s Kotch does come off a bit shallow though, feeling at times too much like a stereotypical villain with a British accent. We never get much backstory on Kotch or why the SDF felt they had to break away, but it doesn’t really impact the game itself as all we really need to know is that there is a conflict and our guys are on the right side of things. More nuance would have been nicer, but the Call of Duty games have never really been known to give their bad guys a huge amount of depth, and Infinite Warfare is no different in that respect.

So with the campaign having a decent cast of characters and a well done, albeit a familiar, story, How does the game itself play? As expected, the boots on the ground gunplay is as smooth as ever, with the vertical movement carrying over from Advanced Warfare and Black Ops 3. The weapons are nicely varied, with some sci-fi elements, but nothing too outlandish that it wouldn’t have some basis in reality. In addition to a nice array of guns, you get some nifty gadgets as well, like the Seeker bots, little spider like robots that home in on an enemy and then explode. you also have at your disposal drones that open fire on your enemies, a hacking tool that allows you to take over an enemy robot, and various grenades, including an anti-grav grenade that has your foes floating helplessly in the air for easy pickings. You’ll also become familiar with your Jackal, a fighter craft that launches off the Retribution in the same way the Vipers launched off the Galactica. The flight controls can take a little getting used to, but once you have them down there isn’t much problem in maneuvering. Locking on an enemy target helps the craft nearly fly itself, though you’ll need to switch between weapons when one overheats. You have flares to stave off missile attacks, and your own compliment of missiles for you to use. A supply droid can be called in during battle to resupply you, so ammunition shortage never becomes a real issue. That doesn’t necessarily mean the space battles are a cakewalk, as there are plenty of targets flying around for you to shoot at while they are shooting at you. It makes for a fun intensity in battles, keeping them exciting and fun while not having them overwhelm and frustrate you.

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The campaign, while not as long as the previous two entries in the franchise, has a decent length (it took me around 8 hours for a playthrough). There are seven main missions (some of these can take some time to do) and eight side missions (six of which need to be done prior to the end of the campaign) to tackle. Each mission shows on your map on the bridge of the Retribution, like your star map does in the Mass Effect games aboard the Normandy. Each mission contains a brief summary of what is entailed as well as your percentage for a successful completion. Those percentages increase as you successfully complete other side missions. In between you can visit your cabin and check out messages and information on your computer or examine a board showing the cards representing the SDF commanders. You can also walk back to the ship’s break room where you can watch telecasts about your missions play out on a big TV screen. It doesn’t have the depth of a Mass Effect with its conversation wheels and stores to buy items from, but it does offer you the option of a little downtime before heading into the next fray. Overall, the campaign stacks up nicely against other campaigns in the series, and was quite enjoyable to play. There are no branching paths or collectibles, so whether you replay the campaign will depend on whether you enjoyed the story or not.

Of course, the campaign is not the only thing that Infinite Warfare has to offer. The multiplayer is solid and robust, containing eight modes and thirteen maps at launch. The modes are your standard fare (Team Deathmatch, Domination, Free-For-All, etc) and are done well so that veterans of the series should enjoy them. Newcomers can face a steeper learning curve, depending on your overall skill in first person shooters. While all are solid, nothing really stood out to me, like the Conquest or War Pigeons mode in Battlefield 1 did. To outfit yourself you have six combat Rigs to choose from- Warfighter, FTL, Merc, Synaptic, Phantom, and Stryker- and can choose your loadouts for guns, gadgets, and perks accordingly. Only three Rigs are open at the start of the game, with the other three unlocking as you level up. There are four mission teams you can join, with only one available at the beginning and the others opening up as you attain a higher rank. You’ll be given objectives from your team leader (such as make a kill by a headshot or get 3 kills using three different weapons) and accomplishing these increase your rank and gain you keys to unlock battle chests which give you different skins, weapons, perks, etc. The maps are nicely laid out and aren’t too big that you have a lot of area to traverse before encountering an enemy. Spawning is a bit of an issue at launch, as it can be inconsistent. Sometimes you’ll spawn in a safe zone, while other times you’ll spawn directly in front of an opposing player. Those who don’t play multiplayer often will find themselves increasingly at a disadvantage against higher ranked and more skilled players. It does create some balance issues in the teams, which hopefully will be rectified down the line.

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Infinite Warfare also marks the first time that developer Infinity ward has tackled a Zombies mode. Taking a cue from Treyarch, Zombies in Spaceland features four different characters to be played either solo or co-op. This is a much lighter in tone take on the Zombies, featuring more cartoony type visuals with its 1980s amusement park setting, rather than the grittier tone of Shadows of Evil, the Zombies mode from Black Ops 3. The story is set up that a mad director of horror movies has kidnapped four people filling out your typical stereotypes. There’s the jock, the nerd, the sassy Valley girl, and an MC Hammer lookalike. Each is voiced well with plenty of humorous banter as they go about surviving waves of the walking dead. There are a nice variety of weapons to choose from, and purchasing a box of candy from a certain vending machine nets you a Revive token. The Revive token is used if killed in a room bordered by a snack counter and an arcade. The neat thing is, all of the games in the arcade are playable, everything from Ski-ball to water gun races to old Activision Arcade videogames like Pitfall. They’re just a diversion before you jump back into zombie killing, but they’re a fun way to take a little break in between. Players also have five Fate and Fortune cards that can be activated once a meter is filled. These cards grant perks like faster health regeneration or setting fire to attacking enemies. In addition to zombies you’ll also have to watch out for running clowns that will explode once they touch you. The amusement park setting and cartoon cut scene at the beginning make this Zombie mode more fun and funny to play, and make for a welcome change from the more intense and spookier versions that came before. But don’t let all that light heartedness fool you- this zombie mode is still quite a challenge for a solo player, making co-op your best bet if you want to advance far into the park.

In all, Infinite Warfare is another solid entry into the Call of Duty franchise. It may not attain the heights of some other current shooters, but it still offers fans and newcomers alike their money’s worth. The campaign is very well done and enjoyable to play, with well voiced and likeable characters and cool space battles. The Zombie mode is fresh and funny, offering a nice dose of humor into the creepy gameplay and giving you some pleasant diversions should you have a Revive token before getting back to the bloody killing. The multiplayer is still as solid as it’s been for the series, though there’s nothing that really stands out. Fans will most likely be pleased by this entry, and there is enough here to make it worthwhile for newcomers to take the plunge. It may not be as complete a package as Black Ops 3 was, but this is still worth your time, even in a market crowded by shooters as it is.


About the Author

Thomas James Juretus