I have never advocated war, except as a means of peace.
-Ulysses S. Grant
“The following is a contributor post by the ABXY Mage.”
At the turn of the millennium, the Medal of Honor series dominated the WWII, FPS landscape. However, that changed in 2003 when Call of Duty dropped onto the battlefield. By showing multiple fronts throughout the cinematic campaign, and developing an AI system that favored teamwork with your squad over the lone-wolf maverick, Call of Duty began to change the formula. It was in 2007, though, that the franchise, thanks to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, would take first-person shooters another step forward in the evolution of the genre.
The game starts you off as new recruit to the British S.A.S., Soap MacTavish. You’ve just arrived on your first day of your new assignment, and it’s time to meet your team and prove yourself through some training exercises and a time trial. Deemed fit for duty, it’s time for your first mission.
Lead by Captain Price, the team must infiltrate a Russian cargo ship in the Bering Sea; an informant has given information that the ship is carrying nuclear cargo that must be secured. After helicoptering in and dispatching the crew, the container is located and opened. Inside the container is a nuclear weapon and a manifest written in Arabic. Unfortunately, before you can secure the weapon, Russian MiGs bomb the ship, leaving you and the team barely able to escape alive.
This is where the game, for the first time, puts you in the position of a character elsewhere in the war. You now find yourself somewhere in the Middle East, you are the president of an unnamed country, and you’ve become the prisoner of rebel radicals. The opening credits roll as the rebel leader speaks to a crowd of supporters on the radio and television, and you, bound in the back of a car, ride through the war-torn city. When you arrive at your destination, you are face to face with the leader. He finishes his speech and, on live television, he assumes command of the government.
Captain Price has a new mission: you and your team must go to Russia and extract the ultranationalist informant that gave you the intel about the nuclear weapon on the cargo ship. Unfortunately, the informant is being held in a Russian town that is completely occupied by ultranationalist forces. So, under cover of dark, your squad must meet with Russian loyalists and sneak into the village, secure the informant, and helicopter back to safety.
Back in the Middle East, you enter your third point of view: U.S. Marine Sgt. Paul Jackson. Intel from an informant for the S.A.S. (the one you rescued in the previous mission) says that the new president of the unnamed country, a ruthless killer named Al-Asad, is in possession of a Russian nuclear bomb. The invasion was already about to begin, thanks to the televised execution, but this means the threat is even greater than originally anticipated; it could put hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk.
Modern Warfare’s story jumps back and forth between Russia and the Middle East, and between the U.S. Marines and the British S.A.S. It’s a modern day, realistic, nuclear-threat-laden depiction of an international war on terror with nostalgic, cold war themes. Its multiplayer also changed the FPS genre with its addition of RPG like progression elements that would be copied for years after.
Can you stop Al-Asad, as well as the Russian ultranationalists, in time to stop a deranged madman who has risen from the dead and acquired nuclear weapons?
If you thought the graphics were good the first time around, then you will be rather pleased with the remaster. Everything is better fleshed out and more detailed. The water effects, for example, in the cargo ship level are wonderful. And, explosions look very realistic throughout. It’s really, pretty much exactly what you want out of a remaster. A few details, in some areas, are actually a little less crisp than in the original, but it appears to be an artistic choice to fit the rest of the game’s major changes. Either way, it definitely looks far better than the 2007 release.
Speaking of explosions, as would be the case in a real war, battles are surrounded by explosions, bullets whistling through the air, debris spraying, horns and sirens, yelling, and aircraft flying overhead. It really gives you a feel for the insanity that must go on in these situations; it has to put you on the brink of sensory overload. Of course, this is just a game, so you remember that only some of that stuff can actually hurt you, and you focus on the mission. Maybe that’s what real soldiers have to try to do too…
As I said before, several parts of the game, when you’re in battle, are almost overwhelmingly full of the sounds of war. As you would expect, the guns and grenades all sound distinctly different, and (I assume) quite realistic. Added to that, taking a certain amount of damage will cause the outside world to begin to fade out, overpowered by your heaving breathing. Certain explosions will cause loud hums that will drown out all other noise, disorienting you. There are also several languages and accents that are all, at least, convincing and well done. The game also allows you to hear the footsteps of your enemies when they are close. But, be careful because they can hear you, too. So, pay attention.
British composer, Stephen Barton, wrote most of the music for the game, and it does a combines instruments and themes from both east and west. Sometimes, it even combines the two influences. It includes quite a bit of percussion which, unsurprisingly adds more tension and urgency to tense moments. There aren’t any tunes that will get stuck in your head, but that’s not what you want or need out of the soundtrack of a game like this. It isn’t incredible music (though that isn’t to say it’s bad, either), but it fits the game near-perfectly.
Being a remaster, one can only hope that the game would not be filled with glitches, freezes, clipping, lag, or long load times. Fortunately, Modern Warfare Remastered meets the expectations here. Even the few areas that have load times are short, give animated visuals, and usually include some voiceover about the story. The only place where there are any waits is in the multiplayer, and even there it’s not any worse than other online shooters.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare made waves when it released in 2007, mostly thanks to its multiplayer progression system. The entire premise was built around a level-up, experience point system like in RPGs. You start at level 1 with an extremely limited weapon selection, and with nearly every level gained, you unlock either a weapon, a set of challenges, or a perk–special buffs that can be equipped. The various perks fit different play styles, weapons, and scenarios, so the more you can unlock the better, even though you can only equip a few at one time.
The weapons come in the form of several classes, and a wide range of designs and specs. Each weapon can also equip an attachment. These are unlockable through the completion of various weapons challenges. In addition, your weapon and sidearm both have unlockable camouflages as well.
So, how do you gain XP? Well, in a multitude of ways. Of course, every kill in a match gains you points. Winning matches adds to your total as does the completion of the various challenges. There are a few other ways to earn XP, but you can discover those on your own.
In addition to the legendary multiplayer, the game features a criminally overlooked single player campaign. Besides the story on multiple fronts, the single-player mode also stands out for a couple of other reasons. Mainly, it had a unique way of keeping waves of enemies coming until you reached certain points, not allowing you to “clear the field” and rest. The game also emphasized teamwork which means you can’t just run off and be a one-man army; you need your squad and they need you.
Modern Warfare Remastered‘s campaign forces you to use a variety of weapons and play styles, adapting to the situation at hand. Two of the game’s most memorable mission include a flashback that requires you to use stealth and your sniper rifle to infiltrate an abandoned city overrun with ultranationalists, and a mission in which you operate three different sized guns in an AC-130 aircraft. You have a group stranded in a small village being taken by enemy troops, and it’s your job to clear a path for your brothers to get out. For a first-person shooter, it really does a great job of providing gameplay variety throughout the campaign.
The twin-stick FPS genre just happens to be inherently inaccessible for some gamers; it’s just one of those genres. It’s what some people love about it, and unsurprisingly, what others hate about it. For those who are maybe in the middle, however, Modern Warfare Remastered does a great job of slowly introducing you to the style. There is a tutorial at the beginning, with some parts optional, that teaches you the basics of the various weaponry and how to use it effectively, and all in risk-free training drills.
Not only does the campaign offer multiple difficulty settings, but after the tutorial, the game has you run through a combat drill, which upon completion leads to the game suggesting which difficulty setting it thinks you should begin with. The difficulty goes up and down depending on the mission and how you prefer to play, since again the game forces you to use a variety of weapons and tactics. And, even in the most difficult spots, it never feels like the game is cheating you. Depending on the level, there are sometimes even a variety of ways to progress, and difficulty can be determined by the choices you make. The different challenges, of course, add more difficulty when you want it, and the multiplayer allows you to start your progression over with Prestige Mode, adding even more depth to that section of the game.
There was a time when Modern Warfare’s multiplayer was considered the most addictive gaming element out there. While that time has passed, if you can catch players on Remastered now –and you still can–it’s just as worth playing a few rounds as it ever was. The previously mentioned Prestige Mode also adds replayability to the multiplayer side of the game as it allows you to get a special “bragging rights” icon as it sets you back to level 0 to once again climb the ranks and unlock all of the weapons and perks.
While many games could be in a Hall of Fame for their multiplayer modes, it is usually the single player that will define a truly great game over several years or decades. Modern Warfare Remastered proves that this COD story not only holds up, but is still meaningful and engaging, and it kicks off the Modern Warfare trilogy. If the multiple difficulty levels aren’t enough, there are collectables that unlock “cheat modes” that add all kinds of weird in interesting layers to the game. But focusing on the basics, the gameplay variety and required use of multiple styles and weapons really give this game a level of replayability that the majority of first-person shooters just fail to achieve.
Believe it or not, in 2007, having a video game set in a modern (even if fictional) war was actually pretty rare, the FPS landscape still flooded with WWII games. Modern Warfare influenced a slew of games with its multiplayer and again, believe it or not, the genre is better off for it. There are only so many games that really stand out and really stand the test of time when it comes to the best FPS games, and that’s because of their influence and uniqueness in various capacities. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered reminds us all that this is definitely among those greats.
My Personal Grade: 8/10
Modern Warfare is definitely one of the most memorable first-person shooters in gaming history. Anyone who has played it can vividly recall ‘All Ghillied Up,’ ‘Death From Above,’ or even ‘Mile High Club.’ Thanks to its interesting story, it gave new life to a genre dominated by science fiction and seventy-year-old wars. It also helped Call of Duty become a household name, for better or worse.
Taking place partly in the desert of the Middle East and partly in the forests and fields of Russia really keeps the game from feeling repetitive, and the different missions and requirements to use multiple weapons and strategies keep the game from ever getting stale. Entertaining and engaging from beginning to end, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is a much-needed update to a modern classic.
Aggregated Score: 8.0
The ABXY Mage leads a double life of unfathomable hipness, if his expertise in jazz is any indication. Music maker, fandangoist, writer, you can find this hip cat as ABXY Reviews on Twitter and on YouTube.
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