Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is many things. It’s a top-class first-person shooter, it’s a visual feast, it’s a triumph of single-player narrative adventure, it’s a pant-wettingly exciting multiplayer game, but it’s not Call of Duty.
It’s a sci-fi shooter with more in common with Microsoft’s Halo and EA’s Titanfall series than the classic military FPS franchise that it is aping.
To be fair, though the Call of Duty series went off the reservation after Modern Warfare 3, narratively backing themselves into a corner that could only be solved by channeling Michael Bay. Over the last thirteen years the series has taken us from the D-Day landings to dogfighting in space.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the first game from the franchise’s original developer, Infinity Ward, since 2013’s Call of Duty: Ghosts. It’s really three games in one. First you have the single-player campaign game, then you have the Zombies in Spaceland distraction, and finally the multiplayer game.
If you purchased the Legacy Edition (which I recommend you do), you also get the superb Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. This addition is worth the ticket price, alone, if you’d never played it before or want an awesome bit of nostalgia.
Whilst EA have taken their Battlefield series back to the First World War, Activision have continued the Infinity Ward Call of Duty storyline, pushing the game even further into the future.We have jetpacks, we can wall run and we now have a grapple as well. If this sounds a little like the pilot modes from Titanfall 2, you’d be right.
There is no doubt in my mind that Infinite Warfare is a sci-fi shooter. Although, whilst we may have jet-boots, the developer has, thankfully, stopped short of giving us laser guns. The idea is to project present technology into a future setting. The guns, whilst futuristic, behave the same as contemporary weaponry. Even your capital ship, the Retribution, has an old-school battleship vibe about it. Also, the game is constrained to our solar system, so there’s no aliens.
The Call of Duty formula has, however, been tweaked to give us zero gravity shootouts and, perhaps the biggest departure yet, aerial battles in the Jackal fighter craft. Yep, space-ship battles. Some of the missions have you blasting defences from the cockpit of your Jackal, before landing and continuing the assault on foot. This is all seamless and pretty impressive, adding another dimension to the campaign.
In the future Earth’s resources, have been depleted. The people of Earth now rely on colonists mining the solar system for survival. Protecting Earth’s interest is the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA). Unfortunately, the Settlement Defence Front, led by Kit Harrington, playing one of the most unconvincing bad guys ever, wants to mess it all up.
Cue Commander Nick Reyes, all-American hero and Captain of the UNSA Retribution. He and his rag-tag crew set out to take down the SDF and its leader Admiral Salen Kotch.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ought to win an award for the amount of stunt casting employed in the single-player game. I’ve already mentioned Game of Throne’s Kit Harrington, but the cast also includes Babylon 5’s Claudia Christian, Aussie Farscape/Stargate/everything sci-fi veteran, Claudia Black, F1 champ Lewis Hamilton and Irish UFC fighter Connor McGregor.
Moving away from the linear path of previous titles, once aboard the Retribution, you can choose your missions. These take the form of optional aerial-base Jackal Strikes and Ship Assaults.
There’s still a main mission structure for game progression, but it’s up to you how you proceed. Whilst I see what they are trying to do. I found the carefully scripted movie-style progression of the Call of Duty games part of its charm. Now we have a load of missions that, whilst being very good, don’t really add anything to the story.
Thankfully, the Infinite Warfare plot, whilst a bit hocky, is engaging and the campaign is full of great set pieces. Of particular note is the mission Operation Dark Quarry, which has you and your team assaulting a mining colony on an asteroid that has been knocked out of position. The rapidly rotating asteroid’s surface is periodically being boiled by the sun. You must stay in the shadows and avoid the “daylight” period if you don’t want to be cooked. There’s also something pretty awesome with stealthily approaching a starship by zero-G EVA within an asteroid field.
For many, it’s the multiplayer aspect of the Call of Duty games that is the main draw. And in this respect, Infinite Warfare does not disappoint.
The incredibly popular Zombies mode returns. Whilst the appeal of this now tongue-in-cheek co-op mode is beyond me, teams of friends can take on a Zombie-infested theme park with a distinctive 80’s retro feel, including an appearance by the Knight Rider, himself, David Hasselhoff. You spend your time boarding up windows, shooting waves of zombies whilst upgrading your weapons and opening up the level. If you’ve enjoyed previous COD Zombie game modes in the past, you’ll like this one.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer mode is about as polished a multiplayer shooter you can get. As a multiplayer game, all my whinging about jet packs and wall running go out the windows. The finely honed vertical gameplay allows for some spectacular gunfights. It’s the Call of Duty multiplayer that you remember, but on steroids. It’s fast and unforgiving.
All your favorited game modes return including Kill Confirmed and Domination with the addition of Frontline (players spawn at their base) and Defender (capture the drone). Customisation is carried out via your combat rig, a tactical combat suit build for a particular role. You can also craft your own prototype weaponry.
The visuals do not disappoint and, on the PS4 Pro, are crisp and with absolutely no sign of any jagged edges. The framerate is flawless running at what I’d guess to be 60fps. The graphics are pretty breathtaking and polished beyond believe, but you’d expect nothing less from Activision’s flagship franchise.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a formidable package, especially if you pick up the Legacy Edition with the Modern Warfare Remastered. The single player campaign is a lot of fun and packed with excitement. I’m not sure how much more future warfare the series has in it, though. The multiplayer game is excellent as ever and the zombies, well it’s there is you like a bit of left-field undead slaughtering co-op.
Released: October 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Pro), Xbox One
Developer: Infinity Ward