The rush I feel when running around with a digital firearm must be how a ‘Murican soldier feels when there is oil close by, delivering all kinds of freedom one bullet at a time. I never thought I would want this, never watched the trailers until after it was released, and I resisted all temptations in bothering to look up the gameplay and features. The day after my wedding my new wife surprised me with a brand-new copy and I suddenly got a little excited. I married the right woman because I have been getting a lot of entertainment value, and not once have I been bored. COD is one of the most well-known franchises around, and is typically popular among different age groups all around the world. There have been so many installments over the last decade alone that they usually suffer from some sort of fatigue, with quantity taking precedence over quality. Modern Warfare has seen a return to form, and I can only hope that it will get better, but I won’t need to wait for the next release as there are continuous updates and extra content being added periodically.
(“Say hello to my little friend!”)
As everyone should know by now, COD is an FPS that normally pits two small teams against each other with varied modes that present different objectives in order to win, is played online, and also features a free-for-all mode for those that prefer to be the lone wolf, or those that like to shoot everything that moves. Everything about this game has seen improvements and it looks like so much more effort was put in to every little facet to give us the most realistic depiction of war that a game of this generation can bring. Within Modern Warfare’s main menu, I can choose to play the campaign, multiplayer or the new Spec Ops feature. Before jumping right in to the madness of multiplayer I thought I would give the campaign a go.
I didn’t expect much from a game that usually focuses more on the online aspect of things, but the story mode was pretty solid. The narrative itself just focused on the typical good guys vs. bad guys, but I was taken around the world and watched how the war between both sides unfolded through the eyes of different soldiers. It wasn’t all clean or pretty, and there were many moments where I questioned what I had to do, but overall, it was a very interesting slice of the cake, albeit a pretty small slice.
The missions ranged from infiltrating suspected terrorist hideouts, using night vision gear and stealth to get the drop on enemies, to sniping attacking waves of bloodthirsty nutters, and even full-on open battle. The dogfights were tense, fast-paced and filled with everything that you would see in an action movie. The voice acting, dialogue and facial animations were done brilliantly, making me feel like I was a part of those movies. The visuals were gritty and almost life-like, with so much detail on the guns, showing the signs of wear and tear, and I sometimes felt like I was right where the character was standing. No matter the environment I was in I was always taken aback by how fantastic it all looked. Every firefight was a display of flashing lights, explosions, turmoil and dust clouds. I could almost feel the weight of every shot, and each one rang out with a nice, crisp sound.(“Pew Pew…MURICAAAAA!”)
All of these details transferred over to the multiplayer very easily, with no dip in quality, and this is where I found the bread and butter of the entire game. Beyond the typical modes that we have all seen before, there have been many new additions to the roster, and they just keep coming. I haven’t even played them all yet, so I can’t say for sure how good they all are, but the ones I have played so far have been really good. The modes can be separated into “Core” and “Hardcore”, which makes a few big changes all round. The Core version of any game mode just allows you to play everything in the standard way. There is a map in the corner of the UI which reveals the location of your enemies whenever they fire a shot (unless they have silencers), and it can take a few well-placed shots before your opponent is put down. Core gives you full visibility of your ammo count, available kill-streaks and so on. Hardcore is a lot more difficult for those that would be conditioned for Core. You have no UI, it takes fewer shots to kill someone, health recovery is much slower and there is no map.(“Quick! Look over there! Tyre’s!”)
I prefer Hardcore because I believe that I shouldn’t need to empty an entire clip into someone just to get stabbed and die and if everyone just turns into a frickin’ terminator then I would rather take my chances in a more realistic setting. When I joined my first lobby, I started with the standard Team Death Match, deciding to just work my way round those that were already familiar until I got comfortable enough with the new maps. They were a lot to take in at first and I probably looked like a scared kid lost in a LIDL, running around just searching for safety, jumping at every sound, shooting at a leaf because it moved, only to get killed by some asshole sliding around a corner.(“SHIT, SHIT,SHIT!”)
Once I got into the other modes, such as Capture the Flag, and the mode where you have to use night-vision goggles, I wondered why it took a developer so long to add in something more creative. Sure, Capture the Flag is nothing really new (remembering you Timesplitters), but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. There is a lot of replayability with so much on offer and it’s hard to get bored when you can just create a playlist of your favorite modes, always prioritizing joining a lobby with a free space. Very rarely have I ever joined in the middle of a game, and even rarer still have I found a lobby that lacked numbers.
COD has always been the ideal drop in/drop out FPS, with fast action and condensed maps that allow players to get into some brutal shootouts. The newer maps are nothing special, but they aren’t bad. They take a lot of getting used to because they are a little bigger and have so many more avenues for traversal. It makes it a lot easier to ambush unsuspecting campers and find a good spot to pick off stragglers. Over the last few months there have been classic maps added, such as Rust and Shipment, and new ones that could become classic themselves.
There are no season passes and no need to pay for new content, everything will be free going forward, which is a nice little touch from a franchise that would walk out of your living room with your TV whilst you were still watching it, a “surprise mechanic” of their own. However, it is possible to purchase a battle pass, which grants you access to cosmetic skins and other gifts, but it offers no competitive advantage because it is for customization only. Speaking of which, customization is a lot more expansive, and everything is unlockable by just playing the game. By making use of a weapon, getting kills specifically, you will build the experience of that weapon which allows you to select different attachments, skins and some other design options to make it unique. There are so many different scopes, stocks, magazines and more to change the stats of a weapon to suit your playstyle better.
I would make use of an assault rifle, and go between close and mid-range combat, since it doesn’t require me to be very accurate, just quick on the draw. Gunplay is very tight, and each weapon feels great, but whenever I feel like one just isn’t doing it for me anymore, I’ll switch to something new and start doing badly with that one too. Everything else is very similar to the predecessors, and fans of COD will know their way around without hesitation, but players not so familiar with the franchise could still find something to enjoy across the many maps and modes, and Battlefield fans may also find themselves at home the new “Ground War” mode.
Taking a leaf from the developer DICE, Ground War puts you in the middle of a huge map with two large teams taking over command posts, climbing into vehicles and a lot of fucking snipers on rooftops. What’s not to love when you get picked off from across the map by some 9-year-old kid that sings loudly into his mic and screams at his parents? Really, is it worth missing? No, it really isn’t, because I’ve already muted that little hellspawn so I can enjoy my limited time in peace and quiet as I shout obscenities at the screen for playing like a retired Stormtrooper but blaming everyone else anyway.(“We’re losing and it’s everyone else’s fault!”)
The gameplay flowed well, with no stuttering or lagging that I noticed. As soon as someone was shot dead, they just died with none of this outrunning the bullet bullshit that used to happen. The only thing I would say is that the sound of footsteps really needs to be reduced, by a lot. Hearing someone sprinting from two floors up is just superhuman, and if I can hear them then they can hear me and it makes sneaking around a bit of a gamble. Unless you are not paying attention it’s almost impossible to ignore the elephant feet of each player as they sprint around and make enough noise to wake the dead.
A frustrating element of online play, and the only one that bothers me, are the kill-streaks on the smaller levels. They are already chaotic, and small enough that everyone is shooting each other all over the place. People are spawning randomly in the middle of gun fire and getting shot dead almost instantly, but it’s made all the more annoying when there are chopper gunners, airstrikes and VTOL jets blowing the place up, shaking the screen violently over and over again, and getting turned to mincemeat when out in the open because there is no safe haven from the death machines in the sky. They could cancel kill-streaks for the smaller levels and have people focus on their guns and grenades, especially if there is an objective, which gets ignored by the try-hards that just want the most kills.(“Come on Bro! We still have 3 bars to hit up!”)
There isn’t much I can say about the Spec Ops side of things. It’s a co-op set of missions where you face waves of enemies and I honestly only played it once or twice. I kept getting sucked back into the multiplayer because I wanted to go back to my favorite maps and play against other people. I do plan on getting back in to Spec Ops, but from what I’ve played so far it seemed alright, nothing amazing but it’s still something else for me to do and I won’t turn my back on the extra stuff.
I can’t believe that I have spent this much time playing a COD game, not since the first Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 or the first Black Ops. I felt like I had already seen everything that COD had to offer and that they were just like FIFA, updating the graphics slightly and pumping out more to get kids buying them in order to have the latest version. But I will admit that I was wrong this time around, and I have hope that there will be further improvements going forward. For now, there will be new maps, guns and more in the upcoming months, and it’s all for free. I still think that purchasing a battle pass is a decision that only the mentally insane would make, but at least I’m not forced to make a purchase in order to get the full experience, or to get ahead of someone else.(*Cough* Battlefront 2 *Cough*)
The graphics and sounds are just phenomenal, despite how loud it can be sometimes, and the campaign missions are worth playing, if only there were more. I haven’t encountered many salty players, and when going through a playlist you can find yourself in a different lobby, so there is always a good mix of skill levels. I would recommend this game to anyone even remotely interested in the FPS genre, even if you’re a fan of Battlefield or Halo; this still has plenty to offer. There is still some room for improvement and I’ll be happy to see what comes next.