Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Review (PlayStation 4)
The Call of Duty franchise has taken some amazing turns in its long and storied history. It reinvigorated WWII-era shooters in a time when the market was flooded with them, and it took shooters into the modern era and revolutionized competitive multiplayer with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Though Call of Duty has made itself comfortable in the far future a few times already, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare puts everything in a new perspective. Those who shied away from the idea of Call of Duty in space are ultimately missing out on a stellar package comprised of three great, extensively varied and exciting modes.
Taking the futuristic theme and running far beyond the confines of our own Earth, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes players to a time when space colonies spread throughout our Solar System are a reality. The main factions here are the UNSF, who represent the interests of Earth, and the SDF, who are a collection of militarized separatists aimed at destroying Earth’s influences. Players take on the role of UNSF officer Captain Nick Reyes as he and his subordinates carry out missions against the SDF. Infinite Warfare drives home the SDF’s villainy with some familiar Call of Duty story themes: One ruthless, smart and charismatic bad guy unites an army of other bad guys, steals a massive prototype weapon and promises to establish a new order by crushing the old one.
Perhaps the most awesome difference between Infinite Warfare and its predecessors is the arena of space as the setting. The game literally travels our star system, exploring some breathtaking takes on the moons, planets and interstellar installations scattered throughout. It’s just as amazing to see the imagination at work in the technological marvels of a UNSF or SDF battle carrier as it is to look up to see the the vast stretches of Jupiter in the skies from the frozen grounds of its moon, Europa. The battles across space and celestial bodies easily make for Call of Duty’s most dramatic and visually stunning theaters of battle yet.
Much of Infinite Warfare’s single-player is split between ground combat and air-to-air or space engagements in the UNSF’s primary fighter, the Jackal. Both have some fantastic elements. The guns in this game take far more creative leeway than any futuristic Call of Duty so far. With the introduction of energy weapons, you get to see some fantastic stuff like the energy sniper rifle that can convert into a full-auto assault rifle mode or the assault rifle that can break apart into akimbo short-range sidearms. The Jackal is a pretty straightforward affair that often involves dogfights against varying enemy ships in free floating combat. It’s a hectic spectacle that feels refreshing in between ground combat missions, though the Jackal missions are a bit simplistic in comparison to the variety you’ll see elsewhere in the campaign.
New to Infinite Warfare are side missions to explore. In between missions you can explore an interactive hub that lets you access previous missions, character dossiers and various upgrades you’ve discovered. When you’re ready, a situation map acts as a level selector to the main campaign and side missions. Side missions lack the robust cinematic flair of the main campaign, but each one is still a full-fledged level with opportunities to score new weapons, perks and gear for your arsenal. Simply put, there really are no boring missions in this game. On one you might be out in an asteroid field, using the space debris as cover to engage and infiltrate an enemy destroyer. In another you’ll be fighting off renegade synths in a mining colony on an asteroid that’s being actively pulled into the sun. Infinite Warfare doesn’t just play with the opportunities of its scope; it spreads out and explores how we interact with its environments in dramatic fashion.
When you’re finished up with the campaign, you’ll find the standard multiplayer and Zombie modes waiting for you. Zombies in Spaceland is probably the funniest and most surprisingly extensive Zombie mode to date. Players take on the role of one of four actors talked into being in master filmmaker Willard Wyler’s newest horror creation. It’s not long before Wyler springs a trap that transports all four actors back to the ‘80s where they must survive a zombie onslaught in an abandoned amusement park. The game follows the common formula of Zombie mode at its core, with players killing zombies in waves, boarding up windows, gaining money and accessing new areas and features of the park as the difficulty picks up. However, there’s a lot more to this one than meets the eye.
Throughout the park are literally hordes and mounds of Easter eggs spread between little and big sidequests that help improve your ability to survive. There’s an ongoing story to be unraveled between all the interactions depending on how far you can make it. We played over and over again, and still discovered new things each time as we fought with our pals to survive. Whether you’ve enjoyed Call of Duty Zombies in the past or not, Zombies in Spaceland will continue to reward you the more you dig into it.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer is another solid showcase, though it brings less innovation compared to the single-player or Zombie mode. This time around, players take on the character roles of unlockable combat suits known as RIGs. These play like Operatives from Call of Duty: Black Ops III in that each of them has a payload to unlock during combat. They run from familiar things we’ve seen before like the Warfighter’s Overdrive, which increases player speed temporarily; to altogether unique options like the Merc’s Bull Charge, in which the Merc deploys a shield and runs over anyone in his path. Each RIG comes with a passive ability as well, and players can change and swap payloads and abilities to complete their favorite playstyle.
That said, multiplayer in Infinite Warfare is meant to be a uniform and balanced experience for the sake of competition, and it feels like some seriously great options were left from the single-player campaign for the sake of achieving that goal. Some incredible weapons miss out on the Multiplayer fray and Jackals are completely removed from the equation. It’s not that the multiplayer isn’t fun --- it is and it will satisfy that competitive lust of its player base for a good, long time --- but for all the innovation Infinite Warfare brought to the table in the other two modes, multiplayer definitely feels like the one that played it safest.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will definitely be divisive among those who’ve followed the series faithfully. Flying through space and engaging enemies on every front in the solar system is an often breathtaking experience that makes the campaign fascinating and interesting. Meanwhile, Zombies in Spaceland delivers an amusing and deceptively in-depth Zombies experience that will have you hunting its secrets session upon session and still never unraveling it all. Multiplayer feels like it stayed in its comfort zone rather than moving forward, but it still stands as one of the better competitive experiences on the market right now. For all it accomplishes, and with very few drawbacks, Infinite Warfare feels like a full and diverse package that does the Call of Duty name proud.
This review is based on a digital copy of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.