At this point, the Call of Duty franchise really needs no introduction, especially with its latest release, Modern Warfare, being the sixteenth installment in the long-running series. After so many annual releases, it’s only natural for originality to have run its course, even for a game that thrives on constantly adding new and futuristic battlefield gear, mechanics, and weaponry. As such, it was only a matter of time until the Modern Warfare storyline was rebooted. Despite some initial hiccups (which is apparently the trend for new triple-A titles these days), Modern Warfare successfully breathes new life into the iconic sub-series, allowing long-time fans of the game to revel in the presence that a refreshed Captain Price provides, while inviting new players to jump right into the fray.
Dark Enough For Night Vision Goggles
Modern Warfare brings with it an all-new single-player campaign that ignores much of what players and Captain Price have been through in the past twelve years. That said, there are still plenty of nods to characters and other situations from the previous titles to provide veteran COD players with fond nostalgic memories of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 days.
This new story begins with a bang. Literally. The first scene features a suicide bomber stepping out onto a highly-populated street in London, setting a distinct tone for what players are in for during the roughly six to eight-hour-long campaign. Players take on various character roles throughout the game, including Alex – Aka “Echo 3-1” – who is a CIA operative specializing in high-threat covert missions, as well as London Anti-Terrorism Officer, Kyle Garrick (longtime COD fans knowing him better as “Gaz”), who joins up with Captain Price to put a stop to the terrorist group known as Al-Qatala. It’s your standard linear narrative featuring the war-torn landscapes, massive explosions, and stealth operations that we’ve come to expect from the Call of Duty franchise. However, Modern Warfare takes it up a notch by delivering a far more immersive, realistic, and heavy story than we’ve seen from previous titles.
Remember the “No Russian” level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2? Of course you do. Multiply the level of controversy from that scene by ten or so, and you have 2019’s Modern Warfare. Beyond the initial shock of the suicide bomber, players are put into some pretty tough and dire positions. This is a gross oversimplification, but from being waterboarded, to using a mother and son as a bargaining chip, to playing through an entire level as a young child and witnessing the graphic, first-hand horrors of war, Modern Warfare puts players through an emotional ringer above and beyond anything it’s done before.
Shot In The Foot
Although the game is genuinely worth picking up for the campaign alone, there were some mechanics that I had issues with. The voice acting is superb… when it comes to the main characters. Otherwise, it’s just your typical repeated dialogue from the other NPCs. Hearing, “I got a visual,” six times during a quick firefight adds zero value, especially when the AI marksmanship from your teammates is about as effective as a Stormtrooper.
There was also a game-breaking issue encountered during one of the game’s later stages. I happened to mistime the cutting of a wire while diffusing a bomb, which resulted in the game throwing me to the blue PlayStation "unknown error" screen. Apparently, at that exact moment, an update for the game was pushed to my console, causing me to cease my gameplay for 15-minutes while the update downloaded and installed. Upon re-entering the game, I found that my progress for that level was completely negated thanks to the save file being corrupted. Thankfully, I only had to replay that specific level, but I was literally at the end of the level before receiving the error. I would wager that this won’t be an issue for many other players, and that I just happened to make the wrong move and the exact right time. But based on the initial rocky launch of the game, it was certainly a concerning thing to happen for such a high-profile title.
The Real Reason You’re Playing
Of course, there’s more to Modern Warfare than just the campaign. The game’s multiplayer modes are undoubtedly where most players will be spending their time. From Ground War - which features large-scale battles of up to 64 players and is reminiscent of the Battlefield franchise - to Cyber Attack - which feels like a hybrid of Search and Destroy and Black Ops 4’s Blackout Mode - Modern Warfare brings a handful of new game modes that are sure to keep players busy.
My favorite multiplayer mode is Gunfight, which pits teams of two against one another in small, cage-like maps with each team being given the same random assortment of weapons, and the last team standing taking the victory. There is a fine balance between chaos and strategy, making Gunfight an incredibly fun and quick game mode to play when you don’t have the time to dedicate to a longer Ground War session.
Special Ops modes also return to the franchise, allowing players to take on co-op challenges with other players. “Operations” provides players with multi-stage challenges as they take on the Al-Qatala army. There are currently four multi-stage Operations, but more will be added in the future. “Missions” are ranked levels that act as a way for players to hone their skills with weapons and killstreak usage. Finally, “Survival Mode” (a personal favorite) returns with more wave-based hordes for players to take on together. An important note though: Survival Mode is only available to PlayStation 4 players until it unlocks for everyone else around this time next year.
Answering The Call
Having refused to play any Call of Duty title since 2013’s Ghosts, it was Black Ops 4 that brought me back to the franchise. However, it’s Modern Warfare that is keeping me here. With a solid campaign with strong characters and refreshingly fun and new multiplayer modes, Modern Warfare successfully made me fall back in love with the franchise that held my attention throughout my college days. Assuming that Modern Warfare 2 follows a similar blueprint, the Call of Duty franchise should continue to be an annual success (until it eventually needs to reboot for a third time).
A PlayStation 4 copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was purchased by TheGamer for this review. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is now available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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