Let’s not beat around the bush – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare made the first person shooter genre what it is today. Although not as fundamentally important as the original Doom, Quake or Halo, Infinity Ward’s masterpiece brought trash-talking frag fests into the mainstream.
It was pitched at the perfect time, as gamers began to discover the potential fun to be had taking their consoles online. Of course, it wasn’t the first game to have done this. Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network had been around for several years, though Modern Warfare marked a pivotal breakthrough.
Those who recall rigging up their PlayStation 2 or original Xbox online will know it wasn’t the smoothest or most intuitive process. However, with a brand new generation of hardware and network infrastructure, Modern Warfare allowed gamers to dive straight into the action. After coming home from a long day at work or school, you could go from front door to warzone in less than a couple of minutes.
Compared to Battlefield – Bad Company launched less than a year later – it also offered a quicker, more streamlined format of play with a focused series of game modes. Instead of lumbering across huge maps and fighting for territory, Modern Warfare dropped players right at the centre of the action every time they spawned. It was essentially fast food in first person shooter form, that you could dive into time and again for some quick and dirty fun.
Brought to modern systems by the unsung heroes at Raven Software, Modern Warfare Remastered comes at very interesting time for the Call of Duty franchise. Year after year, we’ve slowly pressed into the future with an array of wacky weapons and gadgets to bolster our loadouts. When you factor in Pick 10, jetpacks, wall-running, and a MOBA-inspired focus on player builds, today’s Call of Duty experience is a far cry from what is was back in 2007.
It’s not the series’ best launch to date, but Infinite Warfare still enjoys a sizeable player base. For others, recent sci-fi frolics have only strengthened their longing for that classic, unmolested Call of Duty experience that once set the world on fire. That’s where Modern Warfare Remastered comes in.
Just don’t expect to fall in love with it straight away. Even once you’ve adjusted to the limited player mobility, there’s a slower, more defence-driven rhythm you need to fall into. Where recent instalments have you rushing at the enemy team from all sides, Modern Warfare’s maps are built around narrow chokepoints and cramped interiors with the occasional open area, often situated smack bang in the middle of the map.
Aside from age-old techniques such as the “dropshot”, there’s next to no room for trickery here. No fear of being constantly outflanked by players with their wall-running antics and obsessively tuned loadouts. Instead, Modern Warfare takes us back to exactly what first made Call of Duty the world-beating behemoth it has become.
Revisions to the actual core game itself are few and far between. Kill Confirmed has been retroactively added as a playable mode, and there are now options to fight against bots and customise your profile with calling cards and emblems. The rest is very closely matched to the original.
The five default loadouts do good job of showcasing potential future options, including a sniper, marksman, and shotgun-wielding blitzer. However, against players who’ve had a good few hours to experiment and explore the various perks, weapons, and attachments on offer, expect to find yourself outgunned – at least in those first several matches. As more guns start to unlock, you’ll get a better feel for which ones suit your playstyle best.
Compared to more recent entries, the loadout options available are scarce. We’re talking one attachment per weapon, and a perk slot dedicated to tertiary weapons like C4 charges and rocket launchers. It’s a little surprising, though helps to dispel some of the confusion when it comes to class building. With such limited choice, it ensures a more even playing field, even with the enhanced health and damage afforded by perks like Juggernaut and Stopping Power.
Killstreaks are also been pared right back to just the traditional three: UAV, airstrike, and chopper. One of the reasons I lost interest in Call of Duty was the constant need to do my homework between matches, poring over an amalgam of killstreak (or pointstreak) options, considering which ones were best.
On the flipside, as they’re killstreaks and not scorestreaks, this can lead players to focus more on kills than the objective at hand. Although they can each be countered in some sort of way, nothing beats picking off seven enemies only to watch a chopper fly in and mow down everything in its path.
This inevitably leads to overly defensive playstyles with campers rife throughout Modern Warfare many years after its debut. Although sniper rifles have taken somewhat of a backseat in later instalments, here they should be one of your go-to guns once more as they easily drop targets in no more than two shots. In other words, prepare to be quickscoped time and again – although you may have forgotten, that’s the way Modern Warfare has always been.
The hoops Activision has forced fans to jump through means that the current playerbase are mainly veterans, not the Christmas morning cannon fodder we’re sometimes used to seeing online. They appear to be a much more talkative bunch, too. After several months of playing team-focused games like Uncharted 4 and Overwatch, I’ve encountered only a few people conversing via voice chat. In Modern Warfare Remastered it’s more commonplace, as if the old guard had been waiting all this time to dust off their headsets.
Of course, everything has been given a thorough spit and polish courtesy of Raven Software. Each of the ten maps available at launch – the remaining six are coming for free later this year – benefit from improved lighting and textures while managing to preserve their original aesthetic. Although calling them classics sounds like marketing talk, they’re incredibly well designed even if a little rough around the edges.
Modern Warfare’s campaign has undergone an equally extensive overhaul, visually speaking at least. Character models look especially excellent and it’s surprising to hear just how solid the dialogue and voice work was the first time around. We’ve discussed the singleplayer campaign in more depth previously, but it’s still excellently well-paced and doesn’t linger in one spot for too long, wedging various set pieces between the usual corridor shootouts.
There’s just so many moments that stick out, from sneaking through the ghostly ruins of Pripyat in “All Ghillied Up” to the invasion of a Middle Eastern dictatorship, capturing the zeitgeist of the mid-2000s. In many ways it was just as defining and influential as the multiplayer it accompanied, cementing the perfect partnership.