The Heavy Gravity Of War
Campaigns in the Call of Duty series can often be distilled down to a series of setpieces, clichéd villains, telegraphed twists, and ridiculous monologues punctuated with excessive explosions. In Infinite Warfare, you still get some of all that, but if you’re not careful you might also find yourself shedding a solitary tear for the brave soldiers and their sacrifices in the brutal war against the Settlement Defense Front. While the characters are cut right from archetypal cloth, real empathetic weight seeps through the story from beginning to end. Nothing is lost in terms of gunplay or the big moments, either; you still have a diverse roster of weapons to choose from, and the shooting is on-point.
Surprisingly, Game of Throne’s Kit Harington as a critical commander of the enemy forces is the one notable misstep in the cast, as he fails to create tension or animosity as an antagonistic presence. Other characters, like the robot-soldier Ethan are surprising in a good way, as often the wisecracking sidekick trope is the stuff of annoying nightmares, but he’s handled masterfully and ends up stealing every scene he’s in.
Along with the solid boots-on-the-ground combat the franchise is known for, Infinite Warfare features flight missions in your jet-like Jackal that task you with shooting down other fighters, taking out enemy starships with cannons, and placing flares at the right moment to avoid enemy missiles. This isn’t some tacked-on gimmick just to add a wrinkle to the established conventions, and I enjoyed many intense moments dodging debris while attempting to get a lock on enemy ace pilots. You also venture into the void of space without your ship during several segments, providing a taste of zero-gravity combat to go with the rest of the in-space meal. While the zero-gravity combat is a good deal less compelling than the rush of adrenaline the Jackal fights provide, it doesn’t feel forced or out of place.
Weaponry feels rooted in realism, despite adding energy weapons and other elaborate future design tech to the mix. The weapon tech is somewhat dialed back from the flashy laser beams and other futuristic fare found in other recent Call of Duty titles. The mobility suite mirrors Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, offering boosted jumps, slides, and wall-running, and these elements are again more of an accent than essential. Mobility seems to almost hearken back to much older games in the franchise, with these elements mainly providing some alternate traversal options on maps. As I vastly prefer a slower experience to the frenetic pacing of Advanced Warfare, the pace of combat here suited me quite well.
Multiplayer offers massive customization. You can create some fairly standard kits right off the bat, including stuff built for newer players that have trouble keeping a scorestreak going. I was fairly pleased that there are lots of weapon and class options for new or lapsed players to get in the mix and not feel like they’re dragging their team down, while still letting more experienced players shine without devolving just a chaotic shootfest.
All of the now expected multiplayer modes are available, from traditional team deathmatch, hardpoint, and kill confirmed to more exotic offerings like infected, gun game, or defender, where players attempt to hold a ball in a lethal game of keepaway. Tired of getting shot in the back after you spawn? Try Frontline, which has fixed spawn locations. Whatever your playstyle, there’s a mode for you, and we’re almost at the point where I think there may be too many game modes if we keep going – Infinite Warfare might be at the perfect temperature in terms of options.
The Zombies mode takes many of the same features of the film-noir undead romp of Black Ops 3, tones down the difficulty a bit, and offers players more substantial upgrades to take from game to game. The journey now takes place in an amusement park and is infused with ‘80s music, characters, and secrets. David Hasselhoff as the mysterious DJ, killer exploding clowns, and tracks from bands like R.E.M and Blondie make this mode feel like a unique experience despite implementing many of the mechanics from Black Ops 3. Zombies is a fun, nostalgia-laden co-op experience that’s accessible without needing a hardcore team to make steady progress.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare features a compelling single-player experience with plenty of optional missions for those looking for more, and robust multiplayer modes for players of every style, whether you’re leading the scoreboards in kill confirmed or goofing around with friends taking on an alien invader in an over-the-top amusement park.