I think it’s fair to say that, not many games have received the same level of crushing pressure than Infinite Warfare. Not only have the developers had to wrestle with its YouTube campaign trailer’s titanic down-voting, but also the incredibly strong competition too. Enormous giants of the genre such as Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 don’t come around too often; for Call of Duty’s sake, this year isn’t exactly the most ideal for their timing. Gone are the days where fans would simply welcome a new Call of Duty with open arms. The community wanted significant changes in the series, turns out they weren’t particularly fond of them, and are therefore now demanding it returns to its roots.
Judging by Black Ops 3’s success last year, it’s of no surprise that Infinite Warfare has taken a few inspirations from their formula. Gliding, sliding and wall running all feature in both the campaign and multiplayer segments. As do the inevitably included supply drop style crates. Somewhat surprisingly however, is the third segment of content, which as a first for Infinity Ward, is none other than Zombies. Before that though, you’ll likely want to jump into what is probably Infinite Warfare’s best content, the campaign.
Following the story of Captain Reyes, Infinity Ward has set up the campaign in what they claim as a ‘plausible future’. After the colonisation of the solar system, the human race has, somewhat expectedly, split into differing factions. The two prevalent ones being, Earth’s United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) and Mars’s Settlement Defence Front. Splitting off during a war years ago, The Front, and its radicalised followers are led by the fanatical leader, Admiral Kotch. Toughened by years of living on environmentally hostile planets, their feelings of superiority and self-worth are apparently more than enough reason to wage war against Earth’s finest.
We join the plot in the latter stages of its arch; what with Call of Duty gameplay being rather well suited to explosive finales, it tends to work well for the resolution! However the downside being that we lose out on a lot of exposition that would do the narrative a world of good. The short amount of time we get with each character, be they antagonistic or not, sadly never feels quite enough. The select few we do get to spend some time with, gratefully tend to steal the scenes however. Ethan, or ETH.3n as he’s (it’s) more accurately known, is by far the most charismatic character on offer, which errs on the side of irony, what with it being a robot and all. The voice work and delivery of the characters is mainly spot on and pretty much always convey emotion and feelings; however it’s the high profile faces where things slightly differ.
Kit Harrington’s Admiral Koch feels a little too one dimensional for the prolific actor he is; despite his face being excellently well rendered, his seeming lack of emotion makes his limited scenes fall a tad flat. On the topic of limited scenes, spotting the notorious Connor McGregor, outside one of the initial cutscenes anyway, unfortunately takes a little work. On the plus side, there’s always the bewildering inclusion of a certain Mr Hamilton. Not that it detracts from the gameplay at all, it’s just an odd situation to be in, where you have to pause your game and wonder if Lewis Hamilton just spoke to you on your spaceship.
Whereas CoD’s basic premise of, ‘go over there and shoot baddies’, hasn’t particularly changed, there are some truly stand out moments during the campaign that have been missing in the past. Once you get a few missions in, you’ll open up a galaxy map, wherein you’ve got the option to pursue some side quests. It may not exactly rock the world of gaming, but having optional things to do in a Call of Duty campaign felt fresh. Mission design has also been greatly improved too; with essentially three different archetypes during the game. There’s of course, the classic run around and occasionally boost jump your way to victory type. Also, in the same vein as Call of Duty Ghost’s early space mission, there’re some zero gravity battles where you’ll use floating debris and asteroids for cover, and if this weren’t enough, there are several fully fledged dog fighting missions too. Yep, you’ll pilot your Jackal (spaceship) in some surprisingly intense battles; you’ll take down destroyers, engage with other fighters and generally be a flying ace. It’s a bold move to include something so radically different into a CoD title, but it pays off, it not only breaks up the pace, but shows the team can do other things too. It wouldn’t be a huge leap from IW’s campaign to something akin to an RPG.
Once you’ve run through the campaign, there’s the small matter of the competitive multiplayer to delve into. In regards to your enjoyment of it, this’ll largely depend upon your feelings of last year’s jumpathon, Black Ops 3. Much like BO3, Infinite Warfare’s movement system is very much ‘3D’. Boost jumps, slides and wall runs are all par for the course here and in order to compete, you’ll pretty much have to join in. Much like the Specialists of last year, the multiplayer features ‘Rigs’ this time around. Each Rig is home to three, mostly offensive, abilities to pick from which’ll charge over the course of the match; on top of this, you can also pick one of three passive traits too. The now usual pick ten system returns as well, allowing you to create a loadout of perks, weapons and attachments tailored to your own strengths and abilities.
For better or worse, weapon variants are back in a sense; regarded as ‘prototypes’, each has a different level of rarity, being either common, rare, legendary or epic. Whilst you can receive these randomly from opening supply drops, you can also (very slowly) work your way towards crafting them yourself using Salvage. Unfortunately purchasing them this way, unless something changes, is going to take an untold amount of time. After prestiging and levelling up one of the four factions to its maximum level, I still don’t have nearly enough to purchase just one of the many epic variants. This really has to change in order to realistically build up a decent collection of weapons. Another way to acquire some decent variants, as well as calling cards, camos and other cosmetic items is through the ‘Mission Teams’. With four different teams to choose from, they’ll task you with completing a small objective during each game to level them up. Whether it’s getting headshots, kills whilst crouching, kills with certain rigs etc. It’s a nice addition that can help break some potential monotony, on top of grabbing some extra loot too.
Maps are generally smaller than you might expect, creating many opportunities for being shot in the back, of which we all enjoy! But after getting to know them a little better, staying out of the hot spots becomes a little easier. Whilst it’s very reminiscent of Black Ops 3’s offering, there are some quality of life improvements that’re very much appreciated. For example, instead of getting caught on, and pushed around by teammates, you’ll now sort of, slip past them instead. Another notable feature for anyone who plays Hardcore, is that the accidental team damage now thankfully ricochets back on to you. Finally meaning that, gone are the days of teammates killing you and pinching your care packages!
Once you’ve exhausted the campaign and become stressed at the online multiplayer, there’s now a new, for Infinity Ward at least, Zombies mode. Playing quite a lot like one of Treyarch’s finest, Zombies In Space doesn’t exactly take itself too seriously. Set in the 80’s, you’ll play as one of four stereotypical archetypes such as the ‘jock’ or ‘nerd’ and of course battle through an assortment of themed enemies. Disco zombies, exploding squeaky clowns and more await you in Hasselhoff’s theme park, there’re retro arcade games to play, guns to rank up and of course, easter eggs to solve. On top of some truly excellent music that DJ ‘Hoff treats you to, the vibrant 80’s theme runs throughout. Neon pinks and purples adorn stages and walkways, whilst the shambling hordes are dressed for the party of a lifetime.
The graphics in general are as always, some of the best around, the facial capturing and animations are something to behold, and the lack of a generic loading screen between missions makes a welcome change. The art style itself works incredibly well too, a rescue mission comes to mind where due to how quickly the asteroid you’re on is spinning, the day/night cycle is reduced to minutes. On top of how visually stunning this looks, this same level is also home to a decidedly atmospheric section at the start which is more than capable of raising the hairs on the back of your neck.
Packed with, by far the best campaign in recent years, an incredibly solid Zombies mode and multiplayer that’s very (although perhaps overly) similar to last year’s Black Ops 3, Infinite Warfare is more than worth a try. In terms of multiplayer, I’d say that the salvage is far too slow to earn and the time to kill is a little on the quick side too, however it’s also much better in Hardcore modes than recent entries. If you enjoyed Black Ops 3, you’ll probably get along with IW’s multiplayer, if you’re into Zombies’ modes; you’ll almost certainly find something to like, and if you’re a fan of solid, refined single player content, you’ll love the campaign.