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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaign review

We give our verdict on this year’s campaign.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Credit: Activision

We all have our opinions on the juggernaut known as Call of Duty. Its popularity is polarising but at its heart, it’s a good series. I have a fondness for its campaign modes and while they’ve been increasingly lacking, this year’s title is a reboot of the much loved Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Given that last year they decided to skip the story mode entirely, here hoping this is a return to form.

On a covert mission to recover a deadly gas, CIA operator Alex is attacked and finds the chemicals stolen by persons unknown. His boss, Chief Laswell, requests the assistance of SAS Captain Price in recovering these deadly chemicals and preventing war with Russia. In London, SAS Sergeant Kyle Garrick is following a lead on potential terrorists when London falls victim to a massive terrorist attack. Rendezvousing with Captain Price, Garrick manages to contain the situation and they discover a connection between this attack and the stolen chemicals. They travel to Urzikstan and ally with the freedom fighters and their leader Farah Karim. She agrees to help them find these deadly weapons if they help her push back the forces led by the Russian General Barkov.

Watch the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare story trailer below:

As with most Call of Duty titles, you play as multiple characters throughout the story. Alex is your typical American soldier, driven by his failure in his mission to recover the gas and he vents his frustration to his boss. His boss, Laswell, understands the situation needs something…..less than legal and brings in Captain Price. Price is as pragmatic as we know him to be but there is depth to his character to come later. Alex is the character we are meant to inhabit. He’s new to this life and his growing relationship with Captain Price takes him down a path of blurred lines and potential war crimes, to a point where he has to question his own actions. This is handled very well and gives a reason for Price’s actions. “We get dirty so the world stays clean”, a statement Price makes and it sums up his character perfectly. Farah is trying to save her homeland and the story that involves her family goes deeper than expected and works brilliantly, without compromising the story.

This reboot is easily the darkest Call of Duty title to date. The attack on London is pure chaos and I was confused as to who was an enemy and who was a civilian. This is a driving force throughout the game, there are several portions of the game when you don’t know when to pull the trigger. These are tense moments and I wasn’t expecting this level of tact from a Call of Duty title, it’s wonderful. A horrific gas attack on a town manages to be more shocking than the infamous “No Russian” from Modern Warfare 2 but the most shocking moment of the game comes in the form of an interrogation, even Captain Price gives you the choice of participating. Call of Duty always tries to do moments like this and while they are mostly successful, they are let down by bombastic missions. This games opts for a more level story, there are many large scale shoot-outs but it understands its overall tone and does it respectfully. Impressive stuff.

View some Call of Duty: Modern Warfare screenshots in our gallery:

As far as gameplay goes, the mould is pretty much the same. Shoot and shoot some more, then throw in a few gameplay changes and return to shooting. No matter your opinion on the series, it’s hard to deny Call of Duty feels great to play and this is no exception. It helps that there are excellent animations throughout the game that make you feel more like a character and not like a floating gun.

A major criticism of the series has been its unchanging engine. In it’s defence it always delivered a good looking game but people wanted something new. Infinity Ward certainly listened and this iteration of the IW engine is something to behold. From lifelike character models to incredible facial capture, every character feels real. This helps bring you into the world they are trying to immerse you in. Levels are built better than ever and the texture-work is perfect throughout. The highlight has to be the lighting. This is some of the most impressive lighting and volumetrics I’ve seen in a long time. The soundtrack is a mixture of good and great tracks and voice acting is fantastic across the board. Technically, it’s an outstanding package.

Watch the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare PC trailer below:

The campaign isn’t quite the Call of Duty I expected. While I miss the days of WWII Call of Duty, this game reflects the modern war perfectly. It never feels like the game is saying “look at this bad stuff”, it’s more nuanced than that and the extra character development helps even more. The biggest issue is the length of the game. It feels as though it’s pushing you through the door to move you forward. It needed an extra hour or two to flesh out a few plot points that were breezed over and the ending was a little abrupt, a larger scale battle at the finale would have been great. It’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. It plays like a dream as expected but there was one glaring issue. The pre-rendered cutscenes had horrific slowdown, though all in-game content was completely fine. Curiously, these glitched scenes work fine when viewed separately. As a whole package, the campaign is a highlight in the series and a glimmer of hope for its future.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer.

Publisher: Activision Developer: Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Beenox, High Moon Studios Release Date: 25th October 2019 Reviewed On: PC Also Available On: Xbox One, PS4

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