The gaming juggernaut that is “Call of Duty” faced a cultural lull over the past few renditions. The yearly military shooter, published by Activision and developed by a rotating series of studios, suffered from low sales with its past three titles “Infinite Warfare,” “WWII” and “Black Ops 4,” and the gaming world as a whole started to doubt the longevity that the franchise had left.
It seems as though developer Infinity Ward, the same folks who made the first two games, as well as the series’ most popular section of games with the “Modern Warfare” series, listened to the gripes and complaints of both critics and fans alike and decided to take the series back to what made it the cultural landmark in the first place.
Serving as a soft reboot and a throwback to the first revolutionary title in the series, “Modern Warfare” features the same brutal campaign, modern and “realistic” gunplay and themes like espionage, betrayal and distrust in government that made “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” such a revolutionary hit back in 2007.
Unfortunately, an incredibly weak set of maps that encourages unbalanced playing methods tanks what is otherwise a triumphant return to form for the series, and it spoils the incredibly fun gunplay, intense and thought-provoking campaign and the beautiful technical achievements.
The game features three modes: single-player campaign, multiplayer and co-op play. The single-player campaign is some of the most fun I have had with a “Call of Duty” campaign, and it also provides the most thought-provoking gameplay moments of any game in the series.
Civilian casualties, moral and ethical tensions and many other themes are addressed, and the variety of locations and gameplay opportunities provide for one of the most diverse and interesting campaigns I have played since “Titanfall 2.” The campaign is undoubtedly a high point of the franchise and game.
Though I haven’t had much time to dive into the cooperative modes, such as the return of the once popular Spec Ops mode, the little experience that I have had has been mostly positive. The missions are fairly basic, and there were some weird glitches upon starting up the mode, but once the core gameplay kicked in, I found myself having an absolute blast.
Unfortunately, the core conflict at the heart of “Modern Warfare” lies in arguably the most popular section of the game, the multiplayer. The gunplay and weapon variety is incredibly diverse and smooth. Every single weapon has its advantages and drawbacks, so every single play style has a weapon that will fit the player perfectly.
Despite some early overpowered weapons (I'm looking at you, 725 shotgun), most of the guns are fairly balanced, and the variety of extras, like perks that enhance gameplay in certain ways, throwables like grenades that add a layer of unpredictability, and items like airstrikes and supply drops that serve as rewards for killstreaks, create a vast arsenal of gameplay options for every player.
Unfortunately, the maps, the playgrounds in which you can play with all of these toys, are some of the weakest the series has ever seen. An overabundance of rooms and corners encourage camping, or hiding in a corner and waiting for people to round the corner to shoot them, which is infuriating to an insane degree. Maps like Picadilly are a haven for spawn camping, when enemies wait at the spot where players spawn into the game to kill them.
This weak set of maps is even more frustrating considering that the ability to vote on which map comes up next, a staple of previous installments, has been removed from the game. Only a select few maps are even remotely fun to play, and even then it is only select modes.
Overall, “Modern Warfare” is a fun game that recalls what makes the original titles in the series so successful. The campaign is terrific, the gunplay smooth and fast, and graphics and sound top notch.
It is a shame that the map set is so terrible because any and all great work with the gunplay and style is null and void when you don’t have a great playground to explore them in. This series is heading in the right direction, but a much more balanced series of maps is going to be required for the series to return to all of its former glory.