‘Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’ is the best installment from Infinity Ward in years

Infinite Warfare developer Infinity Ward had something to prove with their latest entry into the Call of Duty series. After the mess that was “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” fans were understandably skeptical when Infinity Ward announced their latest title last year. Infinity Ward has responded with one of the best Call of Duty campaigns in years, a return to form from Infinity Ward’s glory days in the Modern Warfare series.

Infinite Warfare continues the science fiction trend put forth by the past few entries in the series, this time taking much of the action into the outer reaches of our solar system. In the campaign, you take control of Cmdr. Nick Reyes, a hot-shot fighter pilot and combat specialist. Early in the story, you take command of the UNSA Retribution, a massive capital ship whose captain was killed in a defense of Earth in a surprise attack by the Settlement Defense Front. The SDF is led by Admiral Solomon Koch, portrayed by a cartoonishly-evil British-accented Kit Harrington. After a Pearl Harbor-like attack on Earth, Reyes and crew set out to defend Earth and take the SDF down.

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The overarching story and main missions are standard fare for the Call of Duty series: flashy, bombastic and very high budget. The strength in this year’s title lies in the nuance of its writing and character development. Side characters are well-developed and realistically written and the game quickly garners an emotional connection with the Retributions’ crew. E3N, Ethan, is an AI soldier with a quick wit and disarming charm and is a standout character throughout the game. It was a great decision by Inifinity Ward to portray Ethan as being very close to human. Infinity Ward has written the best cast of characters Call of Duty has seen since “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.”

The single player also breathes life into the gameplay. During certain missions, players pilot a Jackal, an agile space fighter plane, which is immensely satisfying to fly and shoot in. Extended sequences of zero-g combat are engaging as well.

With of all these positive additions to the single player experience, it is a wonder why Infinity Ward decided to play it as safe as possible with Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer. The movement system is carried over from “Black Ops 3” completely unchanged, which in itself would not be a huge problem if there had been other significant gameplay changes. As it stands, the multiplayer is disappointingly similar to “Black Ops 3.” The maps are serviceable, but none stand out as particularly great, except for perhaps the remake of the classic “Modern Warfare 2” map, Terminal. Some of the guns are interesting in concept, such as an SMG which splits into two as an alternate fire mode, but in practice the gun play is largely the same as the last title. All the standard game modes are present, plus a new mode in Frontline which spawns players at a home base rather than the alternating spawns of other modes. This adds little to the overall experience, which is as safe as it is dull.

Zombies mode has been historically only successful in the hands of developer Treyarch, who have upped the ante over the past few years, offering more complex gameplay and level design in Black Ops 2 and 3. Infinity Ward’s take on “Zombies” is an `80s-themed science fiction theme park with characters just as over the top as the level’s theme. “Zombies in Spaceland” is a worthy level, with just as much depth, fun and discovery as anything Treyarch has offered over the years. Infinity Ward’s “Zombies” is worth the attention of any zombies fan.

Should you play it? Yes.

“Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” represents a return to form for a developer that had lost its way in recent years, and the best new Call of Duty in years. It is worth any fan’s time and money.