Call of Duty – Infinite Warfare

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The last time Infinity Ward headed a Call of Duty game was Ghost, and I liked Ghost better than any of the games that came after – it was just long enough and it didn’t spend too much time getting lost in ill-constructed upgrade systems or branching paths. Instead, Ghosts offered a blockbuster experience with tons of variety – not all of it worked and some really did not fit into the Call of Duty mold, but it was a fun game.

Infinite Warfare has a lot of that – it has a few upgrades, but they are all passive things you get automatically and silently. You get to pick your loadouts, but in true Call of Duty fashion the weapons are all similar enough – and you change them frequently enough – that it does not matter much.┬áThe problem with too much player customization is that it becomes difficult to balance challenges for the player and a specialized character tends to approach problems in their preferred way, so in a sense the game opens up more possibilites but individual playthroughs are prone to being less varied – much like Ghosts, Infinite Warfare errs on the side of variety.

Now, it is where Infinite Warfare gets this variety that it becomes a bit odd – early on, you are promoted to captain a battleship and somehow still take part in dogfights and infantry assaults with marines – thematically and gameplay-wise it feels more like Mass Effect. Missions swap between the dogfighting and different styles of more traditional CoD – shooting, ultimately it is still a linear game and it feels like it could have gotten even more actual variety out of not pretending otherwise, but the core gameplay is solid enough to hold it. But it is hard to connect what is mostly a sci-fi experience to the military shooter legacy.

And the setting and gameplay is not the only place where Infinite Warfare diverges from its predecessors, the story goes more for high drama than a more subdued military recollection, and it does not really work. That’s not to say that other CoD games have not failed here, or that the series even at its height was some sort of literary masterpiece, but at least Modern Warfare had a sense of self. All the communication was wrapped in faux-military professionalism, the bomber mission had a cold distance to it that spoke volumes (and it did so without being as overt as the controversial “No Russian” mission of MW2) and when the nuke was dropped halfway through the game it did not ask us to empathize with a silent protagonist but rather dwelled on the sad fate of one soldier forgotten among many. Infinite Warfare, by comparison, throws a series of characters at you in a desperate bid to familiarize you with them only so they can make heroic sacrifices later – even without the legacy of a more subdued commentary on modern military, it feels shallow and taints a mechanically interesting part of the game.

There is still a very solid core of shooting there and the variety in gameplay – while not as great as in Ghosts – is compelling enough that it is a very enjoyable game, but it is a shame when you can see the ending an hour before it happens and the delivery almost makes you want to stop playing.

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Posted on Nov 30/16 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »