Holy crap, who would have thought it. A Call of Duty game with a bloody great story? Colour me surprised. Last year I made a point to play each Black Ops game, and came out the other side feeling “meh” about what Geoff Gerstmann described as one of the best Call of Duty campaign’s in recent years. Infinite Warfare blows all that away by making characters that you care about, and backstory’s worth listening to, all whilst giving you the freedom to pick what missions you go on, and how you attack levels.
As the name implies, Infinite Warfare is set in the far distant future, when humanity has developed faster than light travel and is able to colonise the whole solar system. No reason is ever given (or hinted at) as to why we haven’t expanded past our own solar system, but each of the planets and moons suffice for good, varied destinations. Mars, a settlement which has a population matching Earth, wants freedom from the oppression of Earth, with their own SDF (Settlement Defence Front) proceeding to start an all out war with Earth’s Army, the UNSA.
The first thing I found odd about the campaign was how few inter-stellar warships the UNSA had on hand. After a parade which shows off all of the ships on earth, and after “half” of them are destroyed from an initial bombardment, Earth is left with just 4 ships. Maybe the team at infinity ward were going for more “realism”, feeding off modern times where there are a limited amount of battlecruisers roaming the seas at this very moment in time.
Regardless of the jaunting amount of army vehicles, the graphical fidelity on display is absolutely astonishing, as usual I might add. Whilst I wasn’t a massive fan of Black Ops 3 last year, I consistently reiterated that it’s graphic’s were amazing. Infinite warfare takes those strong art assets and stretches them further, giving epic space battles, explosions, lasers, and even massive scopes of playable areas, with some ground fighting eventually taking flight to space itself. These massive expansive environments are full of detail, and whilst some areas may harken back to Doom or other space horror games, it’s not through the fault of infinity Ward’s trying; there just isn’t much you can do with a massive metal spaceship, eventually, all metal walls are going to look the same.
Graphics only go so far, and it’s the amazing characters that Infinite warfare has you fighting alongside that truly helps to elevate this campaign above the rest. You’ll be introduced to your ship and crew fairly quickly, and whilst it all feels a little too contrived to begin with, you soon start to like the back and forth between each crew member. Everyone has their own personality, and own background that shows itself in new and subtle ways. You can tell this crew knows each other, so nothing is laid out like typical games; it’s only through subtle cues that you notice two characters relationship to one another.
*Note: Skip over the next paragraph if you don’t want spoilers*
That’s only the start. Throughout the campaign your playable character (Captain Nick Reyes) is constantly struggling with the decisions he has to make, wanting to never lose a friend of colleague. Towards the end of the campaign most of your characters will unfortunately pass away, due to the extremity of this war and your characters decisions, but it’s with each sacrifice that you realise each character has more personality than any age that came before, with each of their losses feeling genuine and true. It hits home even harder when the credits role, and you get to listen in to each characters death letters to their loved ones or the captain himself. This sentimentality caught me off guard, so much so I felt choked up, bringing fantastic personalities to all characters, no matter how big small their role was in the campaign. I mean, the game was able to make me care about a robot companion for christ sake, if that doesn’t show you how detailed and well thought out the cast are I don’t know what will!
It cannot be understated how well Infinity Ward nailed the story then.
Gameplay wise it’s the standard Call of Duty affair albeit with some space battles thrown in and a “hub” world whereby you can choose to do as many (or as few) side missions as you’d like. This freedom is welcome, as some players would like to just run through each main mission, not caring about the side objectives of taking down key SDF members, or rescuing resources needed for Earth. Space battle settings are vast and varied, with multiple obstacles to avoid whilst shooting ahead of enemies to damage and kill them. These sections, whilst varied, can be tough, especially should you forget to fire your flares at the right time to avoid homing rockets. I found myself having to revisit these missions multiple times due to silly deaths on my part.
Weapon variety is certainly pushed up a notch, especially given the fact infinite warfare is set in the future. You can choose from normal bullet based weapons, energy based ones, and special weapons, all of which have different advantages against different enemies. The Energy based weapons for example will kill a normal human foe, but will take it’s time to do so, where as the same weapons will take down a robot fairly quickly. Before each mission you’ll need to choose your weapons, with the game usually picking the best recommended one for you beforehand, so it shouldn’t be too hard to pick the right weapon for the task at hand.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Infinite Warfare. Managing to complete the game within 3 days, I constantly wanted to come back to it, even when I was away. There are the typical Call of duty tropes sprinkled throughout, for example never ending enemies in some sequences, but otherwise the game’s campaign manages to do something it’s never done before: making you care. Previous games may have had an end of the world scenario taking place, but not once did you feel it was real or that anything would happen should you failed. Infinite warfare managed to make me care about my actions, pushing me on not only to see the conclusion of the game, but to also see more of the crew that I fought alongside. I know Infinite Warfare hasn’t sold well, but if you can pick it up for cheap, do so; it’s certainly something special, and deserves to be played.