Sunday, April 07, 2024

First Play Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered [2016]

Note this review is for the 2016 release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, a remastered version of the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from 2007 and not to be confused with the 'reboot' Call of Duty: Modern Warfare from 2019. 

In 2007 Infinity Ward left the WWII era behind after phenomenal success with Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 and brought the franchise to the modern day for their third game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It was quite a gamble to break from the comfort zone of Nazi-occupied Europe and leap into present day warfare, but it paid off. CoD4:MW was even more of a success, garnering countless awards from arts organisations and gaming publications. By 2013 it had sold more than 15 million copies.

In 2016 a remastered version of CoD4:MW was released with special edition copies of that years Infinity Ward release Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The remaster was developed by long time Call of Duty franchise assistant developers Raven Software who have made some of my favourite games. So rather than purchase a digital version of CoD4:MW to replay at some point in the future I decided to obtain Raven's remaster instead. 

The remaster itself is perfect because other than obviously superior visuals, there was no discernable changes. I was once again able to to wield many of the incredible tools of war used today such as manning the weapons of an AC-130 Gunship, which flies above the battlefield and fires 105mm rounds that decimate the enemy; make big explosions with Javelin missiles, which drop straight down to hit the thinner top armour of tanks; and cycle through a small arsenal of both light and heavy personal weapons featuring a variety of scopes and augmentations.
Unlike the previous Call of Duty's, Modern Warfare presents one continuous story. You hop between perspectives of a British S.A.S. soldier and a U.S. Marine 1st Force Recon operator. These leaps continue the progression of the story. Although I recalled many elements of the story since I last played, I had forgotten how a very effective tool the different perspectives were in telling it. The story itself isn't quite Tom Clancy but it still one of the most dramatically cinematic and exciting video-game plots as you can get, revolving around stolen Russian nukes and Middle-Eastern terrorists. The game is enhanced by Harry Gregson-Williams and Steven Barton's score lending a Hollywood class accompaniment to the experience.

The best thing here is the combat and gameplay. It's as much a linear and corridor shooter as its predecessors but the speed at which you need to perform actions is increased significantly. There many more enemies than the WWII CoDs and they're smarter too thanks to some refined AI. The bastards usually know to stay in cover. And they also know that you, being a well-trained soldier, aren't going to fight in the open, so they fling dozens of grenades and fire RPGs at you. They are trying to flush you out. Most cars explode and will kill you if you are standing beside them so one has to MOVE! Stay still and you die; Movement is life.

Fortunately, your squad-mates also benefit from some audacious programming. In this CoD game you're not in command either; you do the following not the leading and you're treated like a grunt from the start by your teammates. Speaking of: watch out for Billy Murray (The Bill) playing a decedent of the WWII CoD's Captain Price and Craig Fairbrass (Cliffhanger) as Gaz. It might be my imagination but in the remaster they don't stand in your way as much as they used to, and while you're aiming and fighting faster than ever now, that's only a good thing as you're less likely to kill your own men.

Final Verdict: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was one of the best first-person-shooters on the market. While it was easily Infinity Ward's greatest work at the time, it was actually not too revolutionary, nor did it have to be. Raven did the did the best thing they could have done here and changed relatively nothing other than give an already perfect game a new coat of paint to be enjoyed by a new generation just as veterans enjoyed the original. Replaying the story here, however short (it is at just 5 hours) brought back how well crafted the whole original experience was and the remaster makes it absolutely sublime.

Technicals: 5 hours playtime using a Nvidia 4070Ti @ 3440x1440 with max settings on Windows 11. Windows HDR enabled.

Bugs: Two crashes. Solved by turning off shader preloading.

Availability: The pricing of the Call of Duty franchise still suffers from a phenomenal level of greed from Activision, even following the Microsoft acquisition. The €40 pricetag that's placed on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered cannot be justified as multiplayer is filled with hackerbots. Review copy purchased from Steam while on sale for €25.99 in Nov 2017.

Call of Duty series (PC Only):

Call of Duty [2003]
- Call of Duty: United Offensive [2004]
Call of Duty 2 [2005]
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare  [2007]
Call of Duty: World at War [2008]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 [2009]
Call of Duty: Black Ops [2010]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 [2011]
Call of Duty: Black Ops II [2012]
Call of Duty: Ghosts [2013]
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare [2014]
Call of Duty: Black Ops III [2015]
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare [2016]

- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered [2016]
Call of Duty: WWII [2017]
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 [2018]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare [2019]
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War [2020]

- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered [2020]
Call of Duty: Vanguard [2021]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II [2022]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III [2023]

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