Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Review

Richard Walker

Space, as Captain Kirk once said, is indeed the final frontier. It certainly feels like the final frontier for Call of Duty, following Infinity Ward's previous dalliance among the stars in 2013's Ghosts. Now the developer is returning to the outside of Earth's atmosphere for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, for a seamless campaign that takes place almost entirely in the far reaches of outer space. This time, you're part of the wholesome United Nations Space Alliance, pitted against the nefarious Settlement Defense Force, an outfit hellbent on wiping out the Earth, fronted by the unscrupulous and stupidly named Admiral Salen Kotch, played by Jon Snow from Game of Thrones (Kit Harington). It's probably that daft name that's made him so angry.

You play as Captain Nick Reyes, a typically gruff and stoic soldier who inadvertently finds himself at the helm of decorated warship, the Retribution. As commander, you call the shots from the bridge, stalking the busy flight deck and your private quarters, plotting a course to your next mission. After the first few main missions, you're free to engage in optional operations too, breaching enemy vessels in Ship Assault objectives or dogfighting against enemy 'Skelters' in Jackal Strikes. As far as we know, it's the first time CoD has dabbled in optional side quests.


Look at that view. Saturn's rings look lovely, don't they?

This lends a nice dose of freedom to Call of Duty, essentially enabling you to dictate the pace a little bit, which after a relentless deluge of explosions and traditional CoD bombast has been thrust right into your face, can be a bit of a relief. I went in to Infinite Warfare's campaign expecting to find a derivative, reheated affair; something I'd find it hard to like. But what I actually found was one of the better Call of Duty campaigns in recent years, bounding around space from Earth to Saturn's moon of Titan and beyond, with nary a single loading screen in sight.

While aboard the Retribution, you can head to your Captain's quarters where you're able to consult the most wanted board, upon which each of the main SDF bad guys are represented as an individual card in a deck, or browse audio logs and codex entries via your computer terminal. Again, it's more welcome downtime between missions. And with the usual 'boots-on-the-ground' set pieces interspersed with flights into space to engage in dogfighting from the cockpit of your highly manoeuvrable Jackal fighter ship, shooting down ace SDF pilots, there isn't a dull moment to be had. Your charismatic robot buddy Ethan too, is one of the coolest characters we've seen in a CoD game to date, with his Southern drawl and one-liners.

Infinite Warfare's single-player campaign is great then, delivering another slice of blockbuster action that's well-paced and entertaining from beginning to end. But of course, the majority of players will immediately gravitate towards multiplayer, and anyone who's played Blacks Ops III's multiplayer to death will find Infinite Warfare's online component somewhat familiar. In fact, the game lifts Black Ops III's 'momentum-based' system wholesale, as well as its interface and even the concept of Combat Rigs is akin to the previous game's Specialist classes.

Each Combat Rig is designed to suit a specific playstyle, so the Warfighter is an all-rounder of sorts, adept at mobile, mid-range engagements, while the Merc and Synaptic Combat Rigs are adapted to heavy, defensive tactics and speedy running-and-gunning, respectively. As you level up, you'll unlock FTL, Stryker and Phantom Rigs, more specialised classes for guerillas, team players and stealthy snipers. No doubt you'll come to have a favourite, and then there's the matter of choosing your ideal loadout, which once again utilises the 'pick 10' system for all of your weapons, attachments, gadgets and perks.


Standing still in multiplayer is death. Keep moving!

There are plenty of options to consider before diving into matches then, and once you've settled on a Combat Rig and loadout, there's also a dizzying array of modes and maps to delve into, which is par for the course when it comes to Call of Duty. It's something that we've come to expect. We've also come to expect a very specific type of fast-paced gameplay from CoD multiplayer in recent years, and as such, Infinite Warfare doesn't disappoint. I have to admit that I didn't particularly enjoy Infinite Warfare's MP beta, but the finished article seems much better.

For starters, having the increased range of modes and maps means if you're not doing too well, you can always chop and change. Granted, the jetpack boosting and wall-running might not be to everyone's tastes, but whether you like it or not, that's Call of Duty now, and it looks like it's almost certainly here to stay. Part of me wishes the series would go back to basics, while another part enjoys the quick pace and testing of the reflexes. Yes, it can be frustrating more often than not, but that's the nature of the beast.

Truth be told, multiplayer is arguably the least enjoyable part of Infinite Warfare. I played for countless hours on end and had a blast, but I can't see myself going back to it again and again. It's just too intense, too demanding, and the barrier to entry has been set too sky-high for me to truly be able to have fun against other players online. That said, you can't knock how accomplished the multiplayer has become in Call of Duty, even if it's becoming increasingly tailored towards eSports. Anyone already well-versed and skilled at CoD multiplayer will love it all, regardless.

Progression in multiplayer is constantly rewarded too, with keys granted to purchase Supply Drops containing new guns, attachments and other stuff like emblems, calling cards and such. Some will give you salvage too, which can be hoarded to unlock more advanced prototype versions of existing weaponry, packing special 'Gun Perks' that make them unique. There's always something to strive towards, and the more dedicated players will bag ample rewards for their efforts. Multiplayer is frenetic and challenging as always, and more people will love it than hate it. If you already dislike it, nothing in here is going to change your mind, though, and it doesn't help that the matchmaking appears to be askew at present. Level 1 players versus level 17-20s? Erm, ok then.

As for Zombies in Spaceland, it's hard to find anything not to like here. It's a neon-coloured 80s nightmare, in which your four archetypal teens are trapped in a sci-fi theme park where David Hasselhoff resides as a DJ popping up in various locations and Paul 'Pee-Wee Herman' Reubens is the evil moustache-twirling architect of your impending doom. It's all delightfully daft and deliriously fun, but also every bit as taxing as Treyarch's Zombies, if a lot less obtuse in what it is you're supposed to do. Oh, and the 80s soundtrack is ace too.


Beware the 80s Zombies and their bad hair!

There's complexity in the mix, as ever, with Fate and Fortune cards to equip, granting certain perks and abilities, tickets to earn and exchange for special items, souvenir coins to collect and deposit for new weapons or useful gear and such, and challenges to complete at the behest of old-skool robot N31L, once you've reattached his head. Then there's the task of restoring power to each section of Spaceland, the mini-games in the Astrocade and Afterlife Arcade, the Pack-a-Punch machine, the theme park rides, and completing the sticker pack. It's not easy by any means, but it's a blast in a group of four, all putting their heads together to figure everything out in a bid to get as far as you possibly can without dying.

You'll discover that there are achievements at stake too, presenting you with more tasks to work out, like how to craft a 'Weapon of Rock' in Spaceland, among other things. As always, most of the achievements are rewarded for playing the campaign through to its conclusion, and doing everything that there is to do, except for complete the game in the unlockable Specialist and YOLO (where you get one life) difficulties, which are rock hard. There are no collectibles to look out for this time, although you do have to find and scan every weapon in the game. In all, Infinite Warfare's list is superb, even managing to fit a 'You Know Nothing' Jon Snow reference in there. And any achievement that involves unlocking the Hoff is alright by us.

Every year, I approach Call of Duty with some trepidation. Will this be the one that puts me off the series? And every year, I'm always pleasantly surprised. I can take or leave the game's multiplayer, but Infinite Warfare's campaign is excellent and Zombies in Spaceland is colourful, exuberant and wilfully silly stuff, serving up some great co-op fun. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare succeeds in being yet another brilliantly robust and entertaining blockbuster package that's hard to resist. Get ready for blast off.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

We'll be damned if Infinity Ward hasn't gone and pulled it out of the bag this year. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is yet another delectable dollop of shooty blockbuster entertainment that somehow manages to exceed expectations. Yes, it hasn't really come all that far and no, Infinity Ward hasn't reinvented the wheel. But as Call of Duty experiences go, Infinite Warfare hits the mark.

Form widget
80%
Audio
80%

Some great sci-fi synth on the soundtrack and a brilliant 80s score for Zombies mode makes for sweet music, while the audio and sound effects are uniformly excellent.

Visuals
85%

Wonderfully sharp and detailed, Call of Duty looks remarkably slick once again, with great motion-captured performances and the super-smooth 60 frames per second multiplayer that we've come to demand from the series. There are echoes of Mass Effect, but overall, it's hard to fault.

Playability
80%

Immediate, intuitive; Infinite Warfare is another dose of brilliantly robust and consistently entertaining FPS action. Multiplayer is a lot like what's gone before in Black Ops III, beyond a few new twists, while the campaign is great. Zombies is a blast, and all three components are smooth and fantastically playable, much as you'd expect.

Delivery
80%

Another treasure trove of modes, features and options, campaign, multiplayer and Zombies represent another stellar value package. The campaign is also properly hard now too, Veteran being but the tip of the iceberg, Try the unlockable Specialist and YOLO difficulties; see how you get on.

Achievements
90%

One of the strongest CoD achievement lists in a while, you're rewarded for completing all of the campaign and carrying out some cool and quirky stuff too. Zombies will also demand a lot of your time, and bonus points are in order for the Game of Thrones reference. There's only one multiplayer achievement, though.

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