Oh, Call of Duty. We get a new game from you every year. We all complain about the iterations coming too frequently and not giving us anything new. And then we all buy you anyway in record numbers every year. I’m one of those suckers who buys into the campaign every time, mostly because I keep hoping to have that same experience I had the first time playing the original “Modern Warfare” so many years ago. I picked up the latest Call of Duty game, interestingly titled “Infinite Warfare”, with high hopes of having another roller coaster thrill ride that I haven’t had from this series in quite a long time. While it didn’t nearly reach that high standard, it succeeded better than a few of its predecessors but sadly falls into the category of “more polished than fun”.
This review will be covering the campaign only for “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare”, which I played on the Xbox One. We will review the online multiplayer either in a later review or on an episode down the road.
The biggest difference between this and previous games in the series is the setting. Space seems to be the next logical progression after the “modern” and “advanced” settings of the previous games. It really made “Advanced Warfare” feel like a precursor, which was very welcome in terms of loosely connecting these games together. What’s interesting is that the tone still feels completely focused from the perspective of the military. One might look at trailers of “Infinite Warfare” and assumed the sci-fi vibe would be prevalent, but it still acts very much like a Call of Duty game. I think this is a good thing, however, as it could have easily strayed into unbelievable territory. Instead, the setting feels nearly plausible, although I can’t imagine what the next step for the series would be.
The story takes place in the distant future where the Earth’s natural resources have depleted, and humanity has had to expand its inhabitation to other planets. A radical force known as the Settlement Defense Force (SDF) has broken away from the United Nations Space Alliance (USNA) during a war of secession. Basically, all you have to know is that you are one of the “good” guys (UNSA) and you’re fighting against the “bad” guys (SDF). While it seems trivial to speak of the plot of Infinite Warfare in such a diminutive way, there’s simply not much more to it.
You play as Nick Reyes, a newly-appointed commander of the UNSA Warship Retribution. Your mission is to defend Earth from the SDF as well as take the offensive on other planets in our solar system. You do so on foot for the majority of missions, but this game offers something new: space flight combat in crafts known as Jackals. As a huge fan of flight combat games, this was the highlight for me. The space battles were intense with bullets spraying everywhere, and having the ability to strafe in a fighter was a ton of fun. It made me wish that we had an entire game focused on this play style.
The on-foot combat is very much what you would expect from a Call of Duty campaign. The controls are tight and fluid, and the variety of weapons (which are completely customizable) is prevalent. Grenades include the standard frag grenades, but also include shock grenades (which stun robotic enemies), gravity grenades (which suspend enemies in mid-air), and even spider-like grenades that track down and attach to enemies before finally exploding. You also have the ability to launch drones to help you fight, and you can also equip a hacking tool to turn enemy robots to your side. I really appreciated that I never felt like I had to “push” my way through areas like I have in previous installments. I was able to clear out enemies before advancing, which is how I prefer to enjoy my first-person shooters.
Outside of our hero, Captain Reyes, there are numerous other characters. Most of them are standard, expendable soldiers and military executives with very little character development, but one in particular stood out. You have a robot sidekick named Ethan, who exuded human characteristics better than any other android character I’ve seen in a video game. He had emotional range and really felt like he was part of a team instead of your typical monotone-voiced robotic companion. He even moved and reacted like a human, which took some getting used to. Actor Kit Harrington (of “Game of Thrones” fame) also lends his voice and likeness as the primary antagonist, Admiral Salen Kotch. Sadly, he’s severely underutilized, and was nothing more than mustache-twirling leader with no real motivation other than domination. Even towards the end of the game, you never really have any satisfying payoff. Plus, why couldn’t there be even one line from a character telling him that he “knows nothing”?
“Infinite Warfare” is more than just another Call of Duty game, but just barely. The series has stagnated for me and made me wish for more interesting narratives. I want to care about the characters and have set pieces with grander scales. It’s worth a rental to run through the 6-7 hour campaign, but unless you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the multiplayer with your friends, I would recommend avoiding a purchase. Your hard-earned money would be better placed towards a different FPS developed by some of the former staff of Infinity Ward. If you’re not sure to what I’m referring, let one of my previous reviews “fall” in your lap.