Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (PS4) – the legend returns
GameCentral gives its verdict on Call Of Duty 4’s remastered multiplayer, and whether it’s worth paying so much money for.
Reviewing a new Call Of Duty game is always a long and complicated business. But this year it’s not just three games in one, it’s two games of five in one. Or to put it in a way that doesn’t make your brain hurt, there’s Infinite Warfare with its story campaign, competitive multiplayer, and Zombies co-op. And then there’s Modern Warfare Remastered with it’s single-player and multiplayer. Different people will be interested in different elements (to put things as tactfully as possible) but it’s Modern Warfare’s multiplayer which has been one of the most keenly anticipated.
Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, this is a review of Modern Warfare Remastered, a remaster of Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It’s not available as a standalone release, but only in a bundle with either the Legacy, Digital Deluxe, or Legacy Pro editions of Infinite Warfare. The cheapest of which is ￡80. The unfairness of that, and whether the remaster might one day be released on its own, has been much discussed by this point – and without any satisfying answer.
You can find our review of Infinite Warfare in its entirety here and Modern Warfare Remastered’s story campaign here. But we’ll recapitulate much of the latter in this review, and give the whole thing a score. Perhaps the most important point to consider though, is that this is almost creeping into remake territory with the amount of work that has been done to it. And so it does go some considerable way to justifying the seemingly outrageous outlay.
Back in the day, Call Of Duty 4 was notable as much for the ditching of the series’ Second World War setting as it was any of its gameplay innovations. In 2007 the notion of first person combat in the modern era was still a novelty, and the opening level of its single-player campaign, where you storm a tanker as part of a SAS team, was shocking in its cinematic bombast. But it was also deceptively clever in how it hid its linearity and lack of interactivity. The story campaign may be criticised as shallow but it’s not trying to be Half-Life 2, it’s trying to be a Michael Bay film in video game form. And on those terms it succeeds perfectly.
Dismissing the campaign as shallow also belittles the skill and craft that has gone into making it the experience it is, with more memorable set pieces than a dozen similar games. Everyone remembers All Ghilled Up and Death From Above (the one in the AC-130 Gunship) and they remain definitive Call Of Duty experiences that are still being copied today. But there are many other moments almost as memorable, from ducking between haystacks to avoid helicopter searchlights to a desperate defence of a stranded US tank.
And it all still works today, especially with the graphics improved as they are. As you’d imagine, this remaster runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second, with all the expected improvements to lighting and weather effects. Textures and character models have also been noticeably improved, but what’s most surprising is that almost every scene now has far more characters and vehicles populating it – which adds greatly to the sense of realism. The game still doesn’t look quite as good as the last couple of Call Of Duties, but it’s extremely close. And whatever else you say about it, on a presentational levels this is an excellent remaster.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (PS4) – boots on the ground
The problem with going back to anything that has inspired so many sequels and copycats is that, through no fault of its own, it ends up feeling clichéd and overfamiliar. But unexpectedly there have been no modern-day military shooters released this year, and so Call Of Duty 4’s single-player feels surprisingly fresh again. It’s multiplayer though is a less straightforward issue, since Infinite Warfare’s own competitive mode is more reminiscent of Modern Warfare than you might assume.
That said, there is a pleasing simplicity to the multiplayer. With no jump packs or wall-running and, as groundbreaking as it was in the day, a much simpler customisation and perk system than the modern titles. The idea that it is in anyway more realistic or ‘grounded’ is slightly absurd, given you’re still running around the maps at what seems like 50mph, but the fact that no-one’s flying through the air or jumping around like Mario certainly offers a different experience to what has become the norm.
There’s also a significant nostalgia factor to consider. Call Of Duty 4 is nine years old now, and many of these maps will already be embedded in fans’ minds. Playing them again brings back memories of not just the game itself, but of your life and friends from a decade ago. (The remaster doesn’t include all the original maps, as another six are set to be released as free DLC next month – although it’s unclear if the Variety Map Pack will also be remastered.)
For those that never played the original the first time around the single-player is likely to hold your interest more than the multiplayer. But since it feels like a sort of simplified, arcade version of the current titles the competitive mode is still very easy for non-fans to enjoy. Even if they’ll probably want to go back to a more recent game fairly soon after.
The other thing to consider though is the question of value for money. There’s no way this, or almost any game, is worth ￡80. But if you subtract the cost of Infinite Warfare it comes out at ￡25, and when you consider the effort put into the remastering that begins to seem more reasonable. Especially if you manage to nab a retailer discount.
Games that are part of a long-running, yearly updated franchise rarely get the remaster treatment; especially if they’re multiplayer-orientated. But few games are more deserving of the attention than Call Of Duty 4, given its innate quality and the enormous influence it has had across the whole industry. Love or hate what Call Of Duty 4 has done to gaming, it’s a landmark title that fully deserves the respect given to it by this carefully crafted remaster.
In Short: One of the most influential video games of all time gets the remaster it deserves, and is still impressively entertaining after all these years.
Pros: The story campaign is still fantastically well-orchestrated, with the series’ best characters and most memorable set pieces. Multiplayer feels pleasingly different to most recent shooters.
Cons: As fun as the multiplayer is, it’s quite limited and shallow compared to modern titles. The game has been copied so often that even those new to the game will find it overfamiliar.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Price: ￡79.99 (as part of the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition)
Developer: Raven Software and Infinity Ward
Release Date: 4th November 2016
Age Rating: 18
Emailemail@example.com, leave a comment below, and?follow us on Twitter