call-of-duty-infinite-warfare

PREVIEW / Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PS4)

 

As a self-professed Call of Duty fanboy (hold your groans, please) it has caused me no end of pain to find myself less than optimistic about this year’s offering from Infinity Ward, the similarly named Infinite Warfare. To make sure my complaints are backed by conclusive evidence, I decided to give the beta a go, to reassure myself that my misgivings were unfounded and that Call of Duty would live to fight another day.

 

That one, compulsory shot of me doing something unrealistic with a sniper rifle.

That one, compulsory shot of me doing something unrealistic with a sniper rifle.

 

The first thing that struck me upon firing up the beta was how familiar it felt. The interface design is reminiscent of 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, which in my eyes is only a minor infraction simply because I was rather expecting Infinity Ward to stick to what they felt worked best. What was a little more concerning was that I was also getting a hint of the Modern Warfare series, as well as 2014’s Advanced Warfare, and I’d yet to even crack open the multiplayer content: my point is, there comes a time when familiarity is the Achilles’s heel of a franchise, and so I laid my hopes upon the content itself as redemption for this slight stumble.

 

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Through it all, the perks remain the same exact colours from almost 10 years ago.

 

I was eager to jump into the multiplayer: I had enjoyed last year’s Black Ops 3 in spite of myself, had even grown accustomed to the new vertical “fluid” movement system, and was interested to see what Infinite Warfare would bring to the table. And I’ll admit, with regards to pure, unhindered gameplay, I was not disappointed. The mechanics were as was expected, and whilst I did not feel as though the maps had been tailor-made for wall-running quite like Black Ops 3 I feel as though this was an intentional effort to force emphasis on grounded combat. Of course, the central issues with jetpack reliant gameplay were as present as ever, insofar as many of the better players had learned to avoid gunfire through controlled jumping and wall-running, but I respect the fact that Infinite Warfare made some motion toward combating this.

 

No dabbing, whipping, or nae-nae-ing, thankfully.

No dabbing, whipping, or nae-nae-ing, thankfully.

 

With regards to the recent trend toward pre-designed specialist characters from which the player must choose, Infinite Warfare essentially carried the banner raised by its predecessor: a choice of 6 unique “combat rigs,” each tailored to a different style of combat, underpins the customization system that the game offers. As in Black Ops 3, each rig has its own individual weapons or abilities, although Infinite Warfare adds a wider range to choose from, in an effort to accommodate an equally wide range of play styles. I gave each a try, and was rarely left unhappy; it is a system that has been proven successful by a host of FPS games aside from Call of Duty, and one that the franchise has picked up without a hitch. My only complaint is that there are a few abilities that are frankly more powerful than they ought to be, but after seeing similar opinions voiced elsewhere I suspect that this may be remedied.

 

Because 1 mini-gun just didn't quite cut it.

Because 1 mini-gun just didn’t quite cut it.

 

Infinite Warfare also offers a slightly more substantial weapon customization system than its predecessors, allowing the player to craft improved variants of existing weaponry in exchange for salvage. The weapons themselves were as unremarkable as they will always be, although I did appreciate the decision to include a mixture of physical and energy-based ammunition types for guns that looked and felt like futuristic versions of the weapons we know from previous games; I’ll pass no comment on the inclusion of a few of those exact weapons in a class named simply “classic,” or the way in which each of those all-too-familiar weapons had been renamed to pay tribute to their origins. You’ll catch my drift when you see the picture below.

 

The "TF 141?" Really? I think we need to stage an intervention.

The “TF-141?” Really? I think we need to stage an intervention.

 

I could carry on in much the same way for a good few thousand words more, but I feel as though I’d be missing the point. By now, you get the idea: Infinite Warfare is a mostly well-balanced first person shooter which has taken the core principles of previous Call of Duty installments and trimmed their imperfections. The gameplay is frantic as ever, and the maps are all in the typical 3 lane design that we expect from a Call of Duty game – why, then, am I hesitating over my keyboard as I type this?

 

Let's hope this extra large cat brings an extra large amount of luck, eh?

Let’s hope this extra large cat brings an extra large amount of luck, eh?

 

It all comes down to my opening paragraph. The Call of Duty franchise is in its thirteenth year, and after some incredibly successful formative years, the teenage iteration of the game is suffering from a bad case of repetitiveness; the fact that I’m seeing so many similarities to previous entries has gone beyond even expectation and is starting to wear thin. The problem is a bit of a Catch-22: the futuristic direction is losing its appeal, no doubt, but to turn back the clock would be to lose the speed and frenzy of the fluid movement system and potentially make the gameplay seem sluggish.

Call of Duty has painted itself into a corner, and whilst Infinite Warfare is by no means a bad game, it may potentially be a small step in the wrong direction – that being said, I found very little to complain about in the days that I spent playing the beta, and so I’m hopeful that Infinite Warfare will shake off the shadow looming over it and deliver the Call of Duty game that we as fans are looking for. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is coming to console and PC on November 4th. Premium versions of the game will also include a full remaster of 2007’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the campaign for which can be accessed now by anyone who has pre-ordered both games.

 

 

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