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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: Oct. 25, 2019

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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PC Review - 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Nov. 11, 2019 @ 3:00 a.m. PST

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare engulfs fans in an incredibly raw, gritty, provocative narrative that brings unrivaled intensity and shines a light on the changing nature of modern war.

Buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

The Call of Duty franchise has done its fair share of wandering when it comes to its setting. Early on, the series put down its roots in World War II before moving on to more current battlefields with the excellent Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It has experimented with other backdrops since, including games such as Infinite Warfare and the Black Ops series. On the surface, it could seem odd for the series to return to modern times with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but despite the familiarity of the title and setting, the game manages to feel relatively fresh.

Diving into the campaign mode, you play through a series of protagonists. You first play as a CIA officer named Alex, who was part of a covert operation that failed to secure Russian chemical weapons. During the campaign, you also play as SAS Sergeant Kyle Garrick, who responded to a terror attack in London, and Karim, who leads a rebel faction in the fictional country of Urzikstan. They have come together as a unit led by Captain Price, who is chasing after the terrorist organization that stole the chemical weapons.

Modern Warfare does a good job of putting in those "Call of Duty" moments throughout its campaign, but what feels new is the improved level of nuance in the delivery. At one point, you'll wield a sniper rifle with armor-piercing rounds, picking off distant people and vehicles while accounting for bullet drop and wind. You'll also remote-control planes packed with explosives and take down enemy helicopters because it fits both the "Rule of cool" and a tactic that could reasonably be utilized by guerrilla forces.


The other moments stand out more. Playing as a young Arabic girl while she is trapped underneath the rubble next to her dead mother. Creeping through a home filled with both enemies and non-combatants, and the snap decision you must make about whether a woman is cowering backward in fear or going for a detonator. Killing a hostage-taker with a well-placed shot, only to have the woman he held go for a weapon to use against you.

I can't speak to how accurate these situations are when it comes to actual modern warfare. However, these scenarios seem to be a reflection of the realities of combat, even if the game's version is through the distorted equivalent of a funhouse mirror. The protagonists dodge a statistically unlikely number of rotor blades coming from exploding helicopters because that level of bombast is expected out of Call of Duty. There are more sobering moments to be experienced in the campaign, and I found those to be refreshing — and sometimes horrifying.

The gunplay of the game isn't worlds apart from the similarly solid mechanics found in other offerings of the series. In Modern Warfare, you can carry two guns of any type as well as a lethal and a non-lethal throwable. Guns that you pick up in the field have a randomized set of attachments, so you might elect to swap out that basic 1911 in favor of a kitted-out AK-47, complete with a drum magazine and grenade launcher attachment. Health remains the same as other games; the screen goes red and bloodied as you take damage, and it slowly returns to normal if you stop taking damage, usually by taking cover from incoming fire.


By pressing the mount button, you can lean out from cover by using the mouse to only expose the smallest profile needed to make a shot. It's an intuitive system when it works, but I found there were a few areas where it simply wasn't an option to use, despite looking like a corner I'd wished I could peek around from. This mechanic was important while playing through the Hardened difficulty; while only one or two shots would drop an enemy, the same can be said for the player. This also meant that the non-lethal throwables, such as smoke grenades and flashbangs, matter a lot more than they tend to in most shooters.

The graphics are a powerhouse. From the level of detail in the characters and their faces down to minute details in the environment, there has clearly been a ton of work put into this aspect of Modern Warfare's presentation. The lighting seems to have received a lot of attention, and with an RTX-capable card, the title really delivers some fantastic scenes. With such a card, the lighting and shadowing are absolutely incredible, and Modern Warfare delivers some of the best graphics that you are going to find in a first-person shooter.

The very first gameplay segment you play is in a forested area, and with the way that the light plays off of the foliage and the resulting shadows cast by them it provided a bit of a “oh crap, this is rendered in real time” moment. Other details such as how shadows lack hard edges but are instead realistically blended are harder to immediately notice but are no less immersive.

What's maddening is how poorly the cut scenes run. On my machine, the game runs beautifully at 1080p with all options maxed, but cut scenes frequently stutter or sometimes outright freeze for up to five seconds. Usually, this also desyncs the video and audio, which makes the rest of the cut scene tougher to pay attention to. Based on my experience looking around on the web, this seems to be a common problem, but there doesn't seem to be a solid workaround yet.

 


It wouldn't be a Call of Duty game without a solid array of multiplayer offerings. There is a variety of adversarial modes to choose from, including the 64-player Ground War mode, which also features vehicles. There are other modes, such as Hardpoint, which have both teams fighting over a location on a map that they must hold until it changes position. Free-for-All is present in the game, but most of the modes pit two teams against each other.

More importantly, the gameplay feels solid. It's a satisfying mix of tactical combat and obviously exaggerated gameplay, where accuracy is incredibly important and it only takes a few bullets to take down someone in a hurry. Killstreaks make a return, and you can progressively unlock more of it as you level up your multiplayer profile. Everything from turrets to A-10 Warthog airstrikes and hovering helicopter assaults can be used to turn the tide in your team's favor.

Every weapon in the game also can be leveled up, which in turn unlocks more attachments. Weapons can have multiple slots — ammunition, muzzle, optics, perks, etc. — which can be outfitted to change the weapon in numerous ways. Adding a scope has obvious benefits, but the drawback is it takes longer to bring up the weapon to aim down the sights or adding a 50-round magazine will give you more bullets but slow down your movement speed. Everything has a pro and con, and it's up to you to figure out what you need out of your weapon.

 


You can also customize the appearance of your firearms. You can change their camouflage, of which there are multiple options within multiple camouflage types. You can add weapon charms that dangle off the side of the firearm, and you can plaster up to four stickers on the side give it a personalized look. None of the above is necessary or matters from a gameplay perspective. It does let you continue to tweak your firearms to make them your own.

There are also cooperative missions that players can undertake in parties of up to four. There are four main missions to choose from, and each mission pits the player and his/her squad against dozens of enemies as they try to complete their objectives. This mode is surprisingly tough, and your squad will have to fend off basic enemy infantry and threats such as the fearsome Juggernaut, which is basically one dude in a near-impervious armored suit who wields a minigun. The cooperative play requires a ton of teamwork, but it contributes to your multiplayer level.

There are some nagging issues with the game, chief among them being that it's sometimes a difficult game to quickly pick up and play. Twice during the review period, I found that there was a patch, and that patch was greater than 12GB in size. After it downloaded and I launched the game, the engine wants to recompile all the shaders, which takes even more time. You can pause this process under the threat that gameplay performance will suffer. On my machine, such suffering didn't seem to factor in that much, but it may impact others.

It's easy to be a little jaded about the fact that Call of Duty is going back to the Modern Warfare well. This latest entry into the franchise seems to be a significant improvement over previous entries, and it's closer to the type of game that the developers have been perfecting for years. The campaign is done well, the cooperative multiplayer is challenging, and the adversarial multiplayer is arguably better than it has ever been. Perhaps most importantly, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare appeals to long-standing fans and new players alike. It might even draw in those who have fallen out of the Call of Duty fold and are looking for a way back.

Score: 9.1/10

Reviewed on: Intel i7 4790k, 32 GB RAM, NVidia GTX 2070 Super



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