Impressive graphics, campaign in new Call Of Duty

Returning with better graphics and a campaign that should stir up a conversation, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare sees the franchise's best release in recent memory.

Last year's Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 skipped the single-player component to leverage the popular battle royale and class-based shooter fad.

With Modern Warfare, developer Infinity Ward returns to what defined the series and first-person-shooter genre - gritty military action.

The game is a reimagining of 2007's Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, bringing back fan favourite character Captain Price in a bombastic single-player campaign that lasts about six hours.

The story sees Price and his team of special forces soldiers tasked by the American military to track down a stolen shipment of dangerous chemical gas. Supporting their mission from the Middle East is CIA officer Alex, who agrees to help rebel leader Farah Karim fight off Russian forces occupying her state in exchange for her assistance.

All the hallmarks of the series are here - stealth missions and large-scale battles peppered with heroic one-liners and platitudes.

The campaign delivers on thrilling set pieces. One level sees the player defending a compound from waves of hostiles at night with the only source of light coming from flares you shoot in the sky, illuminating your advancing enemies for only a minute at a time.

If this sounds familiar, it is because it might be based on the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the events of which were written in the book 13 Hours and later turned into a film directed by Michael Bay.

  • FOR

    • Call Of Duty's best graphics and sound

    • Thrilling story campaign

    • Player-versus-player (PvP) modes are varied


    AGAINST

    • Narrative choices

    • Punishing difficulty in cooperative mode

    • Not everyone enjoys PvP mode

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: From $79.00 (PC; PS4, version tested; Xbox One)

    GENRE: First-person shooter

    RATING: 9/10

Other parts of the campaign put the player on the receiving end of being waterboarded for information. In another, the player can make a choice to take the life of a terrorist after information has been extracted from him.

While there is no doubt war is horrifying, I often questioned during my play-through if this level of realism should exist in a medium best used for escapism - especially with Call Of Duty's new game engine, which renders the best character models, facial animations and lighting effects the series has seen. Graphical fidelity is so good, the actual gameplay often looks better than the pre-rendered cinematic cutscenes between missions.

Elevating the visuals are the sound effects - every gunshot and bomb explosion is so punchy, it will probably leave your neighbours in shock and awe. The game's master volume by default seemed to be set much higher than that of other games on my PlayStation Pro.

The high-quality audio and visuals carry over to Modern Warfare's player-versus-player (PvP) and cooperative modes.

Veterans to the series will notice the movement is slower than in previous instalments. But Call of Duty's twitch-reflex-based action remains the same. If you are new to it, expect to not see where the bullets come from, die quickly and die a lot.

On the bright side, when you do die, the game offers an option to copy and try out the load-out of the player that killed you. This allows you to learn about your enemy's play style and also see what guns and perks are available to acquire.

There is a game mode for everyone, from 6v6 team matches to quick close-combat 2v2 modes and large 32v32 battles with vehicular combat.

If PvP is not your cup of tea, there is Special Ops, a cooperative mode which picks up where the story ends. You and three friends (or online strangers) can team up against AI enemies while completing objectives. However, Special Ops' main problem is its unrealistic use of infinite spawning enemies.

 
 

Challenging as it already is to coordinate with three other people, it gets frustrating when you and your group have no control over the tide of the battle as an endless horde of enemies rains bullets and grenades in your direction.

You will enjoy Modern Warfare's single-player experience if you can get past the violence and appreciate that the product is offering a harrowing insight into what soldiers have to experience in battle.

Couple that with a multiplayer component which is one of the best in the industry, and it is hard not to recommend Modern Warfare to fans of blockbuster military entertainment and first-person shooters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Impressive graphics, campaign in new Call Of Duty'. Print Edition | Subscribe