• Jesper Ingemansson

Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

I reviewed Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 last year, and while I did like it, it's got nothing on this year's title. For years, many years, the fans of the annual FPS shooter franchise has been longing for it to feel fresh, perhaps even meaningful again to some, but each new title has had an absence in those aspects, something that truly stings in the eyes of a veteran fan like me after witnessing the glory days of the series before. Things do happen for a reason, though, and in my opinion, it happened for Activision to finally make a robust comeback, with this year's Call of Duty game, one that'll hopefully change the franchise forever after the impact it has had. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is back, though not in the way we'd expect - it's been rebooted to feature new yet still familiar characters, as well as storyline, all finally powered by a brand new and vastly upgraded next generation engine. With this new installment, Activision and Infinity Ward are aiming to deliver the best Call of Duty take yet. I've now played several hours of each mode in it, and I've come to a final conclusion.

Platform: Xbox One S. Introduction The first scene of the game definitely does not hold back. Two terrorists from a group named Al-Qatala, the Wolf and the Butcher, are seen giving a speech to their soldiers for their upcoming mission. The next few seconds reveals that the recording is being watched by some of said soldiers inside a van, loading their weapons, and stepping out of it shortly after, with the final shot being of one of them standing in the middle of a street, in front of several people while holding a device, and slowly raising his hand. The screen abruptly cuts to a white text which reads "24 hours earlier", followed by another text that reads "Verdansk". 

The first mission is called Fog of War, and introduces me to one of main characters in the game, Alex, a US marine that is part of a mission in locating highly toxic gas from the Russian army, Verdansk apparently being the current location for it. Things take a turn for the worst while there, as Alex end up being the only surviving marine, and unfortunately loses the gas, now being in the hands of terrorists that stole it. It's one of the best openings in the series, and it serves as a small taste of what's to come: a very brutal and serious campaign, but also game as a whole. Visuals/performance I'm having a huge smile on my face as I begin writing this part, cause (and I can't stress this enough) this is by far the most graphically different and impressive Call of Duty game I've ever seen & played. I never thought I'd see the day where a Call of Duty title is more like Battlefield than...well, Battlefield itself, technically, while having the soul of Call of Duty at its base. 

The biggest change obviously comes in the form of the new game engine, one that was severly needed, as when I look back on past titles and then look at Modern Warfare, it's almost like looking at an Xbox 360 game VS an Xbox One game, which isn't applied to just visuals. The game isn't just super realistic now either, it feels a lot better to play. Weapon models are extremely detailed and perform just like real guns, with the smoke and muzzle flash looking almost way too authentic for being in a game. Right next to weapons sits the character models, and they truly do not disappoint, thanks to some God-like work put into them, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if I ever mistook them for real people, as they look insanely detailed. 

The Call of Duty franchise has gotten a major overhaul with Modern Warfare, especially in the lighting & general visuals department, with great texture work, detailed shadows, amazing volumetric lighting, some terrific level design, massively improved effects and more. Motion blur is in the game but can be toggled off and so can the film grain filter. I couldn't believe my eyes in some scenes, everything just looks so good, and it really feels like a true next generation Call of Duty, which is something I've wanted to see for so long. Due to the clear & high resolution textures, every wall, weapon, character, and so much more, looks terrific. 

Visual fidelity isn't the only upgraded part of the game, since Infinity Ward has gone above and beyond with the audio design of the game as well, essentially giving us the best sounding Call of Duty title yet by very far; paired with some of the most well designed animations I've seen, the sound of reloading a weapon is a lot more clicky, loud & realistic, footsteps have a very authentic sound to them and can be heard from inside buildings & from afar, while effects like gunfire (especially), explosions and such like are tremendously improved from other titles as well. 

Character voices are done by amazing voice actors, especially for Captain Price, and might be the best work they've done in that department so far, with voices that fit the characters perfectly. The game seems to be running in a native resolution of 900p, but can also drop down slightly, though never away from within 900p. The framerate can have a tendency to flutctuate a tad, but I saw an overall fairly stable experience while playing all the different modes. 

Ground War and Spec Ops are probably the modes that drop a bit more than others, but it was still clinging onto 60fps through it all most of the time. Most drops occur when there's a lot of enemies around, and when there's just generally a ton of action going on. No bug has been present in my playthrough, which is awesome. Long load times are a thing of the past with this year's Call of Duty, with them only lasting around 3 seconds, which is very nice. Gameplay Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is first and foremost a first-person shooter, just like every other title in the franchise, but this one is much more than just that. There were times where I asked myself: "Am I playing Battlefield 6, or is this some new franchise?", as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an experience that mixes ultra realistic gameplay with the foundation that's been in Call of Duty games since the start. Yet, it feels completely different compared to older titles in nearly every way at the same time, and in this scenario, it's entirely for the better. 

The longer I play it, the more I notice all the smaller (yet kind of subtle) changes - bodies are drastically improved, they behave in a very realistic way & will really look like they're taking a hit when shot, the blood effects are very good looking and will visibly fill the air around a body in a gunfight, doors are now a big part of the game due to how interactive they are when opening/closing them (I was able to slowly open it in order to get a sneak peak of what's in front of it, while running into a door slams it open, and some are even destructable), the ability to reload a weapon while aiming down the sight is now possible, as well as that entering a multiplayer match now works in the way of arriving by different vehicles, almost as if you're going to play a mission in the campaign, so one match can for instance drop you in it via a helicopter, and one via a truck. 

It's probably pointless to some people, but it helps bring more immersion to the multiplayer portion. People wanted change, they wanted a new engine, and most importantly, they wanted a true modern Call of Duty game that uses "boots on the ground" gameplay, and that's where Modern Warfare comes in. Upon first getting to control Alex in the opening mission, I right away noticed that there was something going on with the movement & general pace of the character, and there is, as it's now more focused on feeling realistic, as if I'm actually controlling a body. It feels heavy and immersive. The most noticable change in my opinion is the gunplay, and my God, does it feel good. 

Guns are extremely realistic - recoil is punchy, super accurate, and sees the player having to truly try to control the weapon being used. It's a day & night difference when compared to older titles, but not only that, it's more tactical as well and can be compared to Rainbow Six or even Battlefield at times due to the way the operator you use can behave: an enemy could be running down a hallway in any second, and to secure my defeat in the battle, I'd be able to mount my weapon on practically any wall in order to get more stability, giving me an advantage over the enemy, and grenades are now thrown in a more tactical way, too. 

Sure, some might argue that the core gameplay is the same, and while it is, why would we need it to change too much? When it all comes down to it, the Call of Duty games are FPS shooters, and that's what this is - a FPS shooter but with upgraded gameplay for it to feel more tactical, realistic, and serious. Modes like Ground War and Spec Ops introduces us to vehicles like tanks, ATVs, cars and helicopters, which is a huge change-up, but more about that below. Campaign The campaign in Modern Warfare is widely changed now thanks to the reboot of the series, but still contains familiar characters from before like Captain Price, Nikolai, General Shephard and even briefly mentions Soap. While I wasn't hoping for a reboot, this game has definitely changed my opinion about it. 

The campaign centers around Captain Price, but equally as much features Alex, Farah & Kyle, and I really like how much variety there is between missions - one part of a mission might let me play as Alex and later nicely transitions in a cut-scene to Captain Price or Farah instead. The story is a reimagining of the original one and tells the tale of Price, Alex, Farah & Kyle's mission of tracking down and stopping General Barkov and the Wolf, as well as finding a stolen shipment of Russian gas. During the last moments of the terrorist attack in Picadilly, London, Kyle is saved by Captain Price while trying to enter a building that is containing hostages strapped to bombs. 

The pair enters the building and finds the hostages, but the timer on one of them is about to go off, so Price makes a very tough but ultimately easy decision to throw the civilian off the platform they're on in order to save everyone else, including Price and Garrick. This is just one of several brutal and gut-wrenching moments in the campaign, cause as a matter of fact, it's actually insanely controversial. When it's going as far as seeing a father and his son get shot, it's safe to assume that the game is trying its best to make you feel guilty as well as bad, and it sure does, which is something I haven't really felt in a game for quite some time. 

Most of the story is based in Urzikstan, but is not limited to just that as we get to visit places such as Russia and England as well. After losing the Russian gas in Verdansk, Alex is deployed in Urzikstan to help a resistance/rebel army gain a upper hand over Barkov, the General of Russia's army, pretty much, that has tormented Farah and Hadir as children, the leaders of the rebel group. While Alex is helping Farah and Hadir, Kyle & Price are occupied in the search of The Wolf and the Butcher. We jump from different locations at times all over the globe, with different point of views, such as what happened to Farah & Hadir when they were kids. 

It's in short one of the best and most cinematically perfect campaigns of any Call of Duty game ever made, but it's at the same time very short, only lasting a few hours, and while there is around 14 missions to go through, most of them aren't long. It's filled to the brim with top-of-the-line action scenarios, great characters, and nostalgia. The cut-scenes that play between missions are probably the best looking ones I've ever seen, and could strike as watching videos of real people, as that's how jaw-dropping it looks. They're filled with amazing performances by actors, and consist of some of the most cinematic moments in any game. Missions are highly dynamic, and everything happens very smoothly. 

For example, opening a door together with your unit is done in a way that almost makes me feel like I'm watching a movie. I really loved playing through the missions where I got to use night vision goggles. The campaign ends in a way that'll make every veteran Call of Duty gamer feel goosebumps, and is for sure the best ending in a while. I can't wait to hear about the sequel! Spec Ops When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 dropped, it came with the debut of a Spec Ops mode, where 2 players either in split-screen or online took on several different campaign-like missions, facing off against AI/bots. In them, the two players had to complete a set of objectives in order to complete them, and it was actually a very nice addition to the series, one that I myself played a lot of. Some missions were different, and saw the two split up, changing the dynamic by letting one player sit in a helicopter while covering the other player that is going through enemy-filled streets, for example. 

With Modern Warfare in 2019, the beloved mode is back and it's ready to set the bar high for co-op gameplay in shooters, but is really as good we were hoping for it to be? Well, the short answer is yes, but a part of me wants to say no. Let me explain: the mode is simply a lot of fun, and brings players together like never before, but it's lacking when it comes to bringing a mode that is complete as a whole, as there's only around 4-5 missions available right now, with more to come later on as DLC. The only way to unlock the achievement for completing every Spec Ops mission is by waiting for the new missions, and I'm pretty sure that means that the mode was a bit rushed. 

Either way, it's almost as good as in past titles, it's just a bit lacking, but not only that, it's VERY hard, going as far as not being able to complete them since my team hasn't been the best, and they're impossible to complete while playing alone. I think they should've toned the difficulty down a bit, or we should at least be able to choose the difficulty ourselves. The mode sees players entering different locations within Verdansk, set after the singleplayer campaign, and the maps are very big so a choice of traversing it by foot or in vehicles is there. 

It's almost like playing the campaign, if it consisted of gunning down endless amounts of enemies, using vehicles, defending objectives, and failing miserably many times. The missions are fairly well made, with objectives that make sense. I've been longing for a mode like this in Call of Duty again, and while I wanted it to be as good as the ones in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 & 3, I'm happy with what we've gotten. Multiplayer Whether or not it's the highlight of the games for you, there's no denying that it's the most popular mode by far. With Modern Warfare in 2019, Infinity Ward has done the impossible, they've created a multiplayer portion that even I, an achievement hunter that sometimes needs achievements in order to find a game enjoyable, finds a LOT of fun in, even though it, strangely enough, doesn't have any achievements (MP). I think it's the best multiplayer Infinity Ward has ever done, and I think that's due to how similar it is to the days of Modern Warfare 1 & 2 from last generation. 

First of all, there are so many different weapons to choose from, like the M4A1, M13 & AK-47 assault rifles, the MP5 & P90 SMGs, M680 & Origin 12 shotguns, MG34 & M91 LMGs, Kar98k & EBR-14 (M14) DMR/Marksman rifles, Dragunov & AX-50 sniper rifles, as well as the Riot shield and knife, with there being 30 of them in total. Each being highly accurately detailed & designed, and each one being entirely unique in how it handles, as every weapon is extremely realistic to use. 

An M4A1 is easier to handle but may not be as powerful as an AK-47, though with the right attachments may prove to be better in other ways, which brings me to the Gunsmith, the section where I'm able to customize my guns, and woah, this sure is the right game for weapon enthusiasts. Every weapon starts in level 1, with no attachments at all, but as I use one more and more, leveling it up by gaining XP with it, I begin unlocking all kinds of different & useful expansions to it. 

There's a very high amount of different styles to every gun - if the will to use an ODEN with a 4.0 flip hybrid sight, integrated silencer, Sleight of Hand perk, 50 round magazine, and a tactical foregrip, is there, that's possible, but there's combinations for every kind of player. Some styles focus on damage, and some on stability, for example. Now, the game did have problems with weapons that were too powerful, like the 725 shotgun, the M4A1, and the Claymore, but they've been patched with the latest update. They really were way too OP, though, so I can definitely understand why it happened. The core MP gameplay is the same, it's a PVP based formula, and it features the same modes that are in every Call of Duty title, pretty much, with the exception of Gunfight, a new mode that focuses on 4 players, 2 VS 2, in smaller maps. 

I've played several matches of the mode and I really enjoyed it, it brings a different dynamic to the game. It's very intense as well. Killstreaks make a return, and there's very many of them, such as the good old UAV, airstrikes, choppers, juggernaut, sentry turrets and more. Character customization is...kind of there? I mean, I was able to change colors on the clothes of my operator, but that was it. Speaking of operators, they're not like in the Black Ops series, as they're basically just for show, since they do not have any sort of unique skill to use during matches. They're pretty cool, though, and are all unlocked by different requirements. The multiplayer portion is fairly well balanced but is also full of campers. 

I really don't get people's huge concern about it, however, cause I really do not see it as that big of a deal. I adapt to the situation, and strike in a different way in order to overcome the camper. My lack in concern applies to the maps, too, cause I honestly like them all, I think they're some of the most original and better maps Infinity Ward have designed. They're different, they make it possible for people to shoot from all kinds of open spaces, but they're very good either way. The biggest new addition to MP is definitely the debut of Ground War, a large-scale warfare focused mode that also introduces the current generation of Call of Duty games to the use of vehicles, and if I'm not mistaken, that hasn't happened since Call of Duty 3. Ground War is huge, it's filled with vehicles like cars, ATVs, helicopters & even tanks to use, and it works so well. 

Sure, compared to Battlefield V, it looks low-budget, but it still does a great job in holding its own ground in the war...pun intended, sort of. Maps are very big, there's currently around 4-5 of them. It's a mode that I honestly wasn't really expecting, but it's a great new addition to the game. All in all Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a beautifully spectacular return to form for the franchise, with gorgeous and very upgraded visuals thanks to the new engine, one of the best campaigns ever made in the series, where cinematic gameplay, over-the-top action sequences, amazing story, is the norm. While very short, the overall enjoyment factor makes up for it. With the foundation that the old Modern Warfare game started, Infinity Ward has managed to build on it and create a truly amazing and extremely realistic reboot, one that shines almost way too bright with its great multiplayer mode, packing a terrific amount of weapons, killstreaks, maps, Ground War and great gameplay. Hugely different in terms of realism and gunplay that feels so good compared to older titles, it's almost like comparing a current generation title to a last generation one. Spec Ops is back and it's very good, but I feel like it could've been better. All this is powered by performance that is fairly stable, but that could've been optimized more. 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is available both digitally on the Microsoft Store, and physically in retailer stores, with a base price of $60, all the way up to $100. Are you interested in buying the game? That can be done here: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Microsoft Store. A review code was provided by Activision for review purposes. This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson, and is based on his honest opinion about the game.

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