LTTP: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Campaign Review (PS4)

LTTP: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Campaign Review (PS4)

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I gave Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty titles a couple of chances after the studio’s implosion in 2010. The single player campaigns in Modern Warfare 3 and Ghosts failed to garner any lasting impression but Infinity Ward’s output continues to intrigue me. Although I initially passed on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for its lacking multiplayer, the glowing impressions from its single player kept reborn Infinity Ward’s third game in the back of my mind. So a year and a deep discount later, I finally saw what the fuss was about. Infinite Warfare is one of the best Call of Duty campaigns – I might go as far as to say it’s Infinity Ward’s best work since Modern Warfare.

The tale told in Infinite Warfare was a tale as old as the USMC we know today – but now it’s told in space. It’s not going to surprise anyone to discover Martian born colonists are upset at Terrans. Faithful fans of the series should not be shocked to see playable protagonists and regular NPCs perish. The shock comes from how these Call of Duty studios build up to those moments and for the first time in a long time, I felt Infinite Warfare put in an effort to earn its fatal moments. They invested more time giving side characters screen time and roles throughout the game. I started to realize the crew around me were sticking around for more than a few missions which gave their inevitable demise some weight. I knew the good guys were going to win, I wasn’t surprised by Reyes’ sacrifice, but I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go down.

They put Mass Effect in my Call of Duty. I loved the ability to choose my next mission and explore the little bit of the ship available. I could progress from story mission to story mission but I wouldn’t be getting the added perks/upgrades from completing side missions. I also wouldn’t be taking down all the most wanted SDF “scum” laid out on the whiteboard in Reyes’ quarters.

The actual moment to moment game found in Infinite Warfare is well worn territory. I still find it entertaining in spurts and the gadgets and twists added in this release add enough of a wrinkle to differentiate itself from its brethren in the franchise. Pretenders have come and gone but nobody does bombastic campaigns like the Call of Duty franchise.

I did find this campaign a lot more terrifying than other games primarily because of the setting. Space is terrifying. Being sucked out into the darkness of space is unsettling enough but seeing countless others and Reyes himself struggle with retaining oxygen within their spacesuits was enough of a reminder that space is frighteningly dangerous. I found the moment when they decided to breach and clear the bridge of an SDF carrier to be especially cruel. I may have been playing as the “good guys” but these people are ruthless.

I really appreciated the time they took to transition between different facets of a mission. The take off and landing sequence bookending each dogfight was a grounding touch that I enjoyed despite the fact that it was easy. Details like this brought me into their universe and any game that spends time balancing ridiculous action with the mundane deserves praise in my books.

I also have to give a nod to their use of guest stars. While I didn’t find it as captivating as Spacey’s performance in Advanced Warfare, I did find Kit Harrington’s performance to be solid. I even thought the inclusion of Lewis Hamilton in a minor bit role cute. Colin McGregor slotted in his minor role surprisingly well. In fact, I think his was the most natural – perhaps it’s due to the fact that these games tend to feature a lot of roles for angry Caucasians.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare gave me a glimpse at a very plausible future for humans. Old stories and conflicts will undoubtedly repeat themselves once humans stretch out across our solar system and beyond. While I would like to imagine a Mass Effect or Star Trek styled future, the reality is that we’ll likely still be firing bullets at one another in vacuum of space. But unlike Infinite Warfare, I doubt reality will be anywhere as pretty as Infinity Ward envisioned though.

 

Verdict:
I liked it

Ratings Guide

Game of the Year 2015 Day 2 of 3

Game of the Year 2015 Day 2 of 3

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You can tell it’s a good year for games when I have more difficulty whittling down my list of surprises than my list of disappointments. I even had to cheat a bit and cut Black Ops III in half in order to give my list of disappointments three nominees.

Most Disappointing Game of 2015

Winner: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Box Art Logo

Dear Esther was one of my first forays into the “Walking simulator” genres. It was beautiful, fascinating and I felt encouraged to explore a space. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture seemed to following down the same path as Dear Esther but it became the deliberately slow movement speed and ugly performance issues ballooned to the point where I just didn’t care if I finished it or not.

The plodding movement speed ran against the exploratory nature of the game which is insane when that’s the only means of interaction.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s campaign was a significant step down from Black Ops II’s which was surprise considering Treyarch’s track record. However, I wasn’t as bummed out by it as others because I played it in a co-operative setting.

As for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D? It’s my fault for even buying this game. I knew it had MMORPG trappings but I felt compelled to buy a New Nintendo 3DS game after picking up the refreshed handheld earlier this year. The surrounding praise didn’t help but I should have known better. I’m more disappointed at myself than the game, really.

Runner ups: Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Campaign), Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Most of Surprising Game of 2015

Winner: Rocket League

Rocket League Box Art Logo

Soccer with cars. I heard rumblings about Super Acrobatic Rocket Powered Cars being a fun game I didn’t bother pursuing it. Rocket League was given away through the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection and if it wasn’t for the slowish summer season and the fact that it was “free”, I may have missed out on this simple and incredibly deep game. It’s a game that comes closest to matching the spirt of soccer. I wasn’t controlling a player who manipulated the ball based on his dribbling ability, I used a car and exerted force to manipulate the ball; it was my skill (or lack thereof) that determined if I scored, how well I blocked, how accurate I passed or how fast I dribbled a ball. It was both frustrating and satisfying.

Hitman: Sniper looked like the myriad of other Silent Scope knockoffs on iOS but since it was Square Enix Montreal, I gave it a try and discovered a surprising amount of depth and challenge. I even made my way onto the top 100 or so.

I didn’t think Life is Strange was my kind of game but what did I know? It didn’t matter if it starred high school girls, a heartfelt story was great no matter what.

Runner ups: Hitman: Sniper, Life is Strange

Call of Duty: Black Ops III PS4 Multiplayer Review

Call of Duty: Black Ops III PS4 Multiplayer Review

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After entering my third Prestige level and well over a day’s worth of playtime, I think I have a firm grasp on Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s multiplayer. Most of my impressions from the beta still rang true:

  • I was still pleased by the mixture of mobility options and “the time to kill”
  • The SMG class’s viability was more prolific than I initially gave credit for
  • Silenced weapons remained in check
  • UAV spam also remained in check

Death to the Kill Death Ratio, Please

It’s unfortunate that Treyarch continued to highlight a general kill death ratio. I’m okay with surfacing this information on a per mode basis but they shouldn’t have an aggregate average. It continues to hurt objective modes where people care more about their ratios than the scoring the win.

I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t check how I’m doing but I am not fixated to it. I want to win.

Group or Bust?

Playing Domination with a full group of like minded individuals is a revelation. It’s just as powerful as playing Battlefield with a competent squad. You have players who know which angles to cover and will push for control points. I’m playing with GAF players and while most games fall our way, the most exhilarating games are when we’re going up against another group.

Conversely, when I’m playing by myself, I would turn and flee if I saw a six man group in the lobby of a Domination match. If it was team deathmatch, I wouldn’t mind it but an objective game is a different beast.

A Good Selection of Maps

I’m pleased by the map selection; there’s no standout one way or the other for me. Some argue the three lane design of the maps make it too simple but setups like this make it easier to learn maps balance them for objective modes like Domination.

I used to play Ground War religiously in other Call of Duty titles but the combination of the movement system and the map sizes, most of the Black Ops III maps don’t accommodate the larger player account well. And while I appreciate them adding another game mode to the rotation, playing Safeguard in Ground War is just a clusterfuck.

I would like Treyarch to revamp the map voting system though. I love Combine but not enough to play it twice in a row. Why are we given the opportunity to even vote on the same map twice in a row is a head scratcher.

What keeps Black Ops III’s selection of maps from achieving greater heights is the lack of variety in environments. Where are the lower visibility maps like Downpour or Bloc of Call of Duty 4? I’m glad they’ve made different classes of weapons viable but let’s entice more different classes with different visibility conditions.

The Best In Years

I keep expecting me to drop Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s multiplayer out of a combination of boredom and frustration but it hasn’t yet. I still play with my bro and/or GAF members on a regular basis. I have my bad nights and good nights but in the end, I keep coming back and that’s telling. Treyarch is doing something right with Black Ops III multiplayer. I may not be able to articulate it as well as I hoped but simply put: I’m having a blast.

Checkpoint: Match Made Edition

Checkpoint: Match Made Edition

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Skill based matchmaking is a good idea in theory. Players are paired with other players of similar level which result in more balanced games and fewer bouts of frustrations. A balance must be struck though. You can’t match people strictly on skill because that may draw in players with undesirable connection quality as well. Ideally, the matchmaking should find players matching both attributes but if it can’t do so within a reasonable amount of time, it should bring in players just outside of the skill range with the highest quality connections.

I had no idea skill based match making was a point of contention for the Call of Duty fan base. Apparently Treyarch enabled skill based matchmaking on Friday and caused a shitstorm on Reddit, NeoGAF and other gaming forums across the internet. But you know what? Those who are complaining are in the minority. They’re currently high level players who are now being paired against other high level players and are finding it difficult to pull off what they were doing before.

Those players only have one argument against skill based matchmaking: they’re being paired with players with lower quality connections.

That’s it. That’s the only valid argument against skill based matchmaking. Every other argument is just a poor attempt to mask the fact that they enjoy pubstomping and Treyarch is putting an end to it.

I have to wonder why Treyarch introduced skill based matchmaking so late though. Why not include this at launch? I know why they’re including it now; they want to avoid bombarding the huge influx of Christmas day new comers to the barrage of Motherships, RAPS and other high level scorestreaks. It’s in Treyarch’s best interest to keep the playerbase at large content.

Since I’m a 1.5 KDR player, I wasn’t adversely affected by the skill based matchmaking change. I suspect I’m in the largest pool of players and thus I am largely unaffected by this change.

Needless to say, I’ve been Call of Duty: Black Ops III multiplayer. On top of that, I’ve been playing through The Order 1886. I’m enjoying it but there are some glaring issues that are head scratchers. Who thought all different QTEs were a good idea?

I’ve also been chipping away at Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. I wish Shulk would get impaled by a Mechon. How many times do people have to coax out what he saw in his visions?

 

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