The Call of Duty franchise is making a return to one of its most successful settings. After a brief dalliance back to World War II (and another entry in the popular Black Ops series), Activision is once again bringing the fight to the modern stage. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is available now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Details
A modern take on modern times
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare truly lives up to its name when it comes to the topical backbone of the game’s setting. Other recent titles in the franchise focus either on the past (WWII) or the near future (Infinite Warfare). However Call of Duty: Modern Warfare could almost be taken straight out of the headlines of today’s newspaper or social media timelines.
The plot and setting of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare bounce between two primary locations. In real-world London it puts a lens on the actual issues of violent terrorism that is a growing concern in that part of the globe. Conversely, the fictional country of Urzikstan is likely a stand-in for war-torn Syria.
The exceptional narrative weaves so many heavy elements. Suicide bombings in London, a ruthless Russian general in the midst of a proxy war, and chemical warfare threatening countless innocents in the Middle East. The plot is engaging and the writing is on point, leading to a very thrilling story to say the least.
The gravity of war
Setting its campaign against these pressing real-world problems certainly lends Call of Duty: Modern Warfare some gravitas. Recent criticisms of its multiplayer campaign have some calling out Modern Warfare for a lack of perspective regarding the more horrific elements of combat. However, its narrative certainly brings them to light in a more artistic and thought-provoking manner.
There are a number of gut-wrenching moments in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaign that many players will balk at. The game does not hold back any punches when shining a light on the blurring lines of right and wrong in wartime, and the story is better for it. Those who choose to ponder the implications of their actions will likely take a lot away from the experience.
The best Call of Duty campaign in years
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has one of the most enjoyable single-player campaigns in any recent Call of Duty game. It’s not just the narrative that makes it outstanding though. The campaign shines from a gameplay standpoint as well.
The length of the single-player portion of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is perfect in my opinion. It will likely take players 4 – 6 hours to complete, depending on skill and difficulty settings. It’s just long enough to tell a great story without dragging on and overstaying its welcome.
The pacing is perfectly on point as well. There is a great balance between cinematics, slower tactical situations and puzzle-like scenarios, and all-out gunfights. I love how the campaign features scenarios like a slow investigation of close quarters or a stealth escape from a terrorist-filled office building. They offer variety and break the monotony of constant, frantic gunplay.
All-in-all, the single player campaign is the best part of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in my opinion. It’s short, but perfectly suited as a self-contained adventure that doesn’t require a dozen sittings to complete. And great news for my fellow trophy hunters—the Platinum trophy is easily achievable playing only the story mode!
Multiplayer and Co-op modes
Naturally Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is built around its online multiplayer offerings. They are the biggest draw for the franchise year in and year out. I’ll touch on them here as well, although frankly, unless you are entirely new to the franchise, you’ll likely know what to expect.
The multiplayer component features the gamut of competitive modes that you would expect from the series. One notable mode is Ground War—a 64-player skirmish between 2 teams in a bid to defend control points, complete with vehicles at players’ disposal. I find these sprawling matches enjoyable in the sense that there is more freedom in deciding how to participate without feeling the stress of failing to follow in line with the strategy of a smaller team.
“Realism” matches conversely dispense with the HUD, creating a uniquely strategic experience. Co-Op scenarios are available as well, including a horde-mode inspired mode in “Survival”, where players work together tackling waves of enemies. Note that Survival is a timed PlayStation exclusive, so if you want to play this mode at launch you’ll need to be on the Sony platform.
Overall, the multiplayer component is about what players would expect. A few new innovations, but mainly the same gameplay loop as previous years—for better or for worse. Camping is as much an issue as it ever was, and maps can wear out their welcome with no recourse for avoiding them through user voting.
The game will have microtransactions as well, however the store does not appear to be running at launch—so it remains to be seen what will be offered and how intrusive or appealing those offerings might be.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a return to amazing storytelling with a compelling single-player campaign
If you have burned out on competitive multiplayer in games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, there may not be a reason to jump in here. However, the single player portion of the game is fantastic, and worth the price of admission in and of itself. In short, it reminds me of games I loved in the early 2000’s, where narrative still reigned supreme and everything else was just the gravy on top.
Of course there’s fun to be had in multiplayer if that’s more your style to be sure. However beware that the usual trappings are still there, including camping exploits, the occasional toxic chat environment, and inevitable microtransactions. That said, there is a wealth of variety in modes and options to keep the action fresh.
+ Spectacular story campaign
+ Excellent narrative pacing
+ Huge game mode variety
– A few multiplayer pitfalls such as camping exploits
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5