It’s a loooooong time ago, but weirdly I still remember playing the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on my Xbox 360. I remember thinking how awesome the visuals were and how somebody FINALLY nailed multiplayer, by giving people incentive (the leveling system and unlocks) to keep on playing.

Sure, some games had decent multiplayer, but none could match up to Modern Warfare’s slick presentation and great gameplay. It was like a One-Two punch from Tyson, a killer combo.

Does the new Modern Warfare have that killer instinct?

What is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is an FPS for the PC, Xbox One and PS4. It’s developed by Infinity Ward, published by Activision Blizzard. It’s a soft reboot (or reimagining) for the series, as despite being called Modern Warfare (which was what Call of Duty 4 was called) it’s not a remake.

Instead, what Infinity Ward has done is transplanted some of the more famous personalities from the series (such as Captain Price) and placed them into contemporary settings. Their backgrounds may seem similar, but returning characters are completely new. Think of Modern Warfare as a Call of Duty that’s set in a parallel universe to the original game.

A new modern Modern Warfare.

It starts off like a movie…but then again, that’s no different from all other Call of Duty games. A Spec Ops team is inserted clandestinely to recover and scuttle a cache of bioweapons.

Like all good plans, things don’t go as planned and before you know it you’re swept up into a morally gray war where the heroes aren’t always the good guys and the bad guys aren’t necessarily wrong.

Having seen the game in action at TGS, I thought I pretty much knew what to expect from the game’s single player mode. I expected to be shocked (and I was) but I also have to hand it to Infinity Ward from not shying away from portraying the ‘good’ guys to be as ruthless as the ‘bad’ guys they’re after.

In one of the game’s earlier missions, the SAS goes on to raid a house filled with terrorists. As cool as the initial premise is, it soon becomes evident that women and children are present too. That means you’ll have to go on killing women in hijabs (Muslim headscarf) or mothers with kids, if they as much as touch a weapon.

It’s shocking and I honestly think Infinity Ward succeeded in showing that there’s a horrible and ugly side to conflict, even if you’re in the right.

Infinity Ward is careful to point out that not all Muslims are terrorists; you even aid a Muhajideen-like group against their Russian invaders (shades of the Afghan War aren’t subtle here) and one of them (their female commander, Farah) even joins the crew for a few missions.

Russians on the other hand don’t get a break.

They’re painted as the essential bad guys, with the Russian army using chemical weapons and murdering civilians with no qualms. In a flashback episode, you even play as a young Farah as she’s hunted by a Russian soldier intent on capturing her after killing her father in their house.

Back in (solo) action.

Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare®_20191104195656

After the lack of a campaign in Black Ops 4, the one in Modern Warfare is like a splash of cold water to the face. Refreshing and invigorating.

While Black Ops 4 started to bring back the series to its roots, it’s Modern Warfare that nails it. This is old school Call of Duty, the Call of Duty from 2007, waaaay before the series dabbled in futuristic weapons and warfare.

There are no fantastical or futuristic guns here; everything’s rooted in reality. You’ll wield assault rifles, SMGs, LMGs and other hardware as you progress and it’s as fun as ever, especially with the series’ silky smooth gameplay.

There are also a ton of set pieces to break up the usual stage objectives. One has you setting up an ambush for an escaping terrorist leader, sniping targets with a high powered rifle. Another has you sitting in the cockpit of an assault helicopter, as you rain down death on Russian soldiers converging on your allies.

Honestly, I love these change ups and REALLY wish there were more of them in the campaign.

The original Modern Warfare had a ton of memorable missions (‘All Ghillied Up’ – where you and Captain Price had to sneak into Pripyat and ‘Death from Above’ – where you’re in a AC-130 gunship providing cover) and while this new Modern Warfare has its share of awesome moments, none of them are as great as the original’s.

In fact, the campaign in Modern Warfare feels like a major step back from Infinity Ward’s previous Call of Duty title; Infinite Warfare. Modern Warfare’s campaign is linear, with zero customization options or incentive to replay.

I really wish that Modern Warfare aped Infinite Warfare’s campaign structure as the campaign in Modern Warfare (as fun as it is), feels like a devolution in some aspects.

Multiplayer madness.

Modern Warfare’s multiplayer offerings are pretty much what you’d expect from the series, though Blackout (the Battle Royale mode from Black Ops 4) doesn’t make the cut.

Instead, Modern Warfare’s taking aim at another shooter series (*coughBattlefieldcough*) with its much beefed up Ground War mode. Incidentally, it’s also the most fun.

Ground War has you capturing (and holding) various points on the map, just like Battlefield’s Conquest mode. The maps aren’t as large as the ones in the Battlefield series (one of the few drawbacks) though they’re much bigger than regular Call of Duty maps.

New to Modern Warfare’s Ground War mode are vehicles, which ups the fun factor tremendously. Instead of just infantry combat, you’ll now need to content with vehicular manslaughter as well. Coupled with the killstreaks and perks, what you get is carnage on the battlefield as all hell breaks loose. Unfortunately, environments aren’t as destructible (again unlike Battlefield) which is a damn shame.

The rest of the multiplayer offerings are standard fare, though Modern Warfare does mark the return of the previously MIA Spec Ops co-op mode. I wasn’t expecting much from it to be honest but it did surprise me with how fleshed out it is.

There’s a narrative behind it (continuing the story of the single player campaign) and the missions (though limited) actually are fun and feel like those in the single player campaign.

No matter what mode you play, Modern Warfare has crossplay, which means you’re potentially playing with players from other platforms too. It’s a game changing addition for the series as the player base is now finally unified, instead of walled off as before. Finding a game is easy and fast due to that and I don’t see that changing well into the future.

The bottom line.

Is Modern Warfare the best Call of Duty yet? Yes and no. The campaign isn’t (I prefer Infinite Warfare’s) but the multiplayer definitely is.

If your whole reason for getting the game is to fight others then hell yes, this is the greatest Call of Duty game yet. On the other hand, single player games will find the campaign a bit of a disappointment (shocking moments notwithstanding) with its linearity and lack of memorable set pieces and missions.

You’ll find that there’s s whole lot of love that’s gone in the multiplayer modes…but I just wish that single player modes got of some attention too. As it stands, the campaign is a once and done affair (especially if you start on Veteran difficulty), which is a damn shame.

TLDR:

Great multiplayer…decent (but linear) campaign.

The Good.
– Awesome multiplayer modes.
– Great, smooth gameplay.
– Spectacular visuals.

The Bad.
– Linear campaign.
– Not enough Spec Ops missions.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.

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Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.