Call of Duty – Infinite Warfare Review: Excellent single-player marred by lacklustre multiplayer

The announcement of the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare remaster, and its subsequent inclusion in the “Legacy” edition of Infinity Ward’s latest instalment in the Call of Duty franchise, Infinite Warfare sent mixed signals.

Sure, it was an obvious choice of game to remaster — Modern Warfare contributed greatly to the establishment and popularisation of the franchise. However, it also seemed to hint that publisher Activision wasn’t completely confident about the 2016 iteration.

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Did Infinite Warfare need Modern Warfare to reach its ambitious sales targets? Or is the strategy merely to milk more out of the franchise than Activision has been doing already? The answer could be either or both. I can say for certain, however, that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare isn’t without its faults, but is a good enough game on its own.

Infinite Warfare’s single player experience (no co-op story this time) can be a memorable one. While the game’s traditional boots-on-the-ground combat is broken up by spaceship skirmishes, Infinite Warfare covers more familiar ground than you would think.

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The infantry combat is traditional Call of Duty fare — linear set pieces that don’t offer much room for creativity or exploration. Take too many hits and your screen turns red, requiring you to go prone in a corner (assuming there is a corner near you) before popping out again to pull the trigger. The most variety you will experience is in a zero-gravity skirmish in space, or while using gadgets such as robot hacking tools and calling in air strikes to a designated location.

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Fortunately, the action is well paced, there’s some good banter between the cast and there’s always a cut-scene waiting for you at the end of a gunfight. These range from being good to great, but you can count on consistency in terms of quality and production values. The voice/performance acting, facial animation technology and par-for-the-course writing ensure that you’re never disappointed by one of Infinite Warfare’s pre-rendered cinematics.

 

Space combat is a neat addition to this year’s game, and it’s something we’ve previously not seen in the franchise. Don’t expect a simulation experience, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how well Infinite Warfare does space battles. Skirmishes occur in open space, skies and at times, a mere thousand feet off the ground. These involve eliminating fighters as well as capital ships using various weapons at your disposal (there’s one for each purpose), while boosting and hovering to create the ideal angle of attack. The arenas feel bigger than they are thanks to clever use of screen space, field-of-view and over-the-top visual effects, which together create tremendous visual impact.

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The mix of infantry and spaceship gameplay, along with consistent writing, palatable story and good performances from its cast (which includes John Snow and a robot, “Ethan”, who is almost as good a companion as Titanfall 2’s BT) result in Infinite Warfare’s campaign being better than it has any right to be.

 

In what has become a fixture with Call of Duty games, Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer is split into two experiences: the four player co-operative Zombies mode, and more traditional player-versus-player multiplayer. “Zombies in Spaceland” features a whacky ‘eighties theme and is set in an amusement park. Expectedly, there’s a bizarre backstory involving a deranged horror movie director, budding actors and David Hasselhoff (the DJ who plays rad ‘eighties tunes). There’s a lot to like about Zombies in Spaceland, and even more to discover in the form of secrets, easter eggs and power-ups.

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Call of Duty games are often purchased by players for its multiplayer. Infinite Warfare has a multiplayer mode, and this fact is probably the only good thing about it. The transition from its impressive-looking single player to multiplayer was a rather jarring experience. The latter looks extremely bland, with a lot being sacrificed in terms of visual fidelity (possibly in favour of performance).

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The gunplay isn’t particularly different from other Call of Duty games, and while some attachments such as the Ram Servo (allowing energy weapons to bounce bullets off surfaces) mix things up a bit, but it’s not enough to make Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer feel fresh or unique. The unimaginative combat is accompanied by a convoluted progression system and microtransactions.

The movement systems from recent Call of Duty games return, so you can slide, wall-run and double jump your way through Infinite Warfare’s arenas to obtain a tactical advantage. The maps feature specific areas which let you use these movement options — more so than in the campaign. However, moving around in Infinite Warfare doesn’t feel as fluid as it does in Titanfall 2, and the former’s almost-claustrophobic maps and focus on close quarters combat will feel restrictive if you’re coming from Respawn Entertainment’s shooter.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a game you’ll want to get for its campaign and Zombies modes, but unless you’re a die-hard Call of Duty faithful, you’re not likely to find its multiplayer particularly engaging.

RATING: 7/10

The good

  • Campaign and Zombies
  • Space combat
  • Production values

The bad

  • Unimaginative multiplayer
  • Gunplay lacks any real variety
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