It’s the game that a lot of people want, but also the game that a lot of people won’t actually get, unless Activision start to sell it separately. A little like when Nintendo remade Ocarina of Time for Nintendo 3DS, or when Sony proudly announced that Crash Bandicoot would be remade for modern hardware, Modern Warfare Remastered is a nostalgia trip.
That’s an odd thing to say for a game that isn’t even 10 years old, but it’s actually quite surprising how true it is for a lot of people. Oddly enough, I’m not really one of them. I loved the single player campaign when I picked it up in 2008 after getting my PS3, but the end of that year was jam packed with other games that I sunk my teeth into instead of spending dozens of hours with the multiplayer.
That doesn’t mean I don’t get flashbacks to those days when I’m stuck in an infernal firefight on Bog. The buildings that run down one side of the map are full of chokepoints, but the shipping container laden wasteland that makes up three quarters of the rest is just as hellish to try and fight in as before. The control point on that little heap of trash is just as much of a pain to actually capture when under fire from seemingly every angle. It’s not my favourite map in Remastered, not by a long shot, but others are much better examples of the game at its best.
That might be an overly negative note to start on, though. There’s a joy to this game that can seemingly only come from another era of gaming, a certain roughness round the edges of the level design that I don’t feel in more modern shooters. This comes from before every stat was checked, before every kill location was logged, every footstep mapped. The map designs can be flawed, but they’re also freer, their less refined form giving them a certain charm.
The same is true of the actual gameplay itself. It takes a while to remember that I can’t slide into cover, I’m amused at how sneaking up behind someone for a melee kill doesn’t trigger a bespoke animation, the guns aren’t as polished and neutral in their handling, and you’re limited in your selections and what attachments you can apply. Even the loadouts aren’t as rich and varied in the pre-Pick 10 era.
Yet some of them are horribly overpowered. Martydom and Last Stand, both of which allow you to strike back after your death, either by dropping a grenade or pulling out a pistol and having a few moments to fire back, were both last seen in Modern Warfare 3, and good riddance. There’s a self-serving sense of gratification when you get to hit back like that, but it’s not really a good piece of game design.
Similarly, the Attack Helicopter killstreak reward for getting seven kills in a row is so very powerful. You don’t get a choice here, with a UAV for three kills, an airstrike for five and a chopper as air support for seven. That’s all there is too it; there’s no second guessing whether or not you think you’re good enough to get the 1000 points needed for that an unmanned drone, settling instead for something of lesser value.
There’s just that moment when it all clicks back into place. Playing several matches back to back across the range of maps in the remaster, I’m getting my arse handed to me a lot of the time. Kill Confirmed – a mode that has been retroactively added in – helps to level the playing field, so it’s more about the team and not the individual, but still, it’s only in the penultimate round that I ‘get’ it. I get to enjoy catching people from behind, dropping airstrikes on them, having a helicopter racking up the kills for me and my meandering around the map seems to always catch the enemy on the wrong foot. It’s a great feeling.
It can also be terribly silly. We end up with an overfilled Free For All on Container. Already, as you look around and wait for the timer to tick down, you can see half a dozen other players, all picking their targets and waiting to strike. We’re let loose and it’s sheer, brilliant mayhem that lasts just a couple of minutes as one person manages to get that early streak, call in an indiscriminately targeted airstrike and gets the chopper to kill everything in sight.
Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy the current crop of fast-paced shooters, revel in some of the seemingly infinite customisation and litany of unlocks that are afforded to players… and yet it’s hard not to pine for these simpler times.
Modern Warfare Remastered is part of the Legacy Edition releases of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, though we, like everyone else, hope it gets a standalone release. For some of our thoughts on the Infinite Warfare Single Player, head over here or come back first thing tomorrow morning for our scored review of the full game.