Modern Warfare: Breathing Life into a Beloved Series

Mitchell Velikan, Writer

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Over the past couple years, the worldwide franchise, Call of Duty has begun to lose many fans. With Activision pumping out a new game each year, the quality of the games has begun to decrease with each installment. The cycle started when Call of Duty started creating futuristic games. These arcade-like shooters lost many fans due to them not feeling like true Call of Duty games. With a seven-year drought of a normal Call of Duty, Activision turned to their past for inspiration, and brought back one of their most beloved subseries, Modern Warfare. The game’s namesake alone brings a lot of anticipation for most fans. On release, everyone was ready to see if the game lived up to its hype. The game on release came with three distinct parts, campaign, multiplayer, and special ops.

Campaign (SPOILERS)
The Modern Warfare campaigns have for the most part been viewed as the best series of campaigns in Call of Duty. The blend of modern combat and great gameplay really sell the Modern Warfare campaigns as real storytelling masterpieces. The campaigns bring a sense of immersion that can not be had by books or movies. The very tricky part about having a new Modern Warfare campaign is it living up to the legacy of the past trilogy. In my opinion, the new story lives up to its predecessors.

The plot of the game revolves around terrorism. The fictional country of Urzikstan is divided into three factions, the Russian forces who control the land, the rebels who are attempting to overthrow the Russians to regain their country, and Al-Qatala, the terrorist organization trying to retake the land and start conflict against the west. After the CIA try to remove poisonous gas containers from the Russians, they are attacked by an unknown group, Al-Qatala. The group steals the gas killing most of the CIA troops. Shortly after, in Piccadilly Circus, a main shopping center of Britain, Al-Qatala members lead a terrorist attack on the pedestrians. This attack involves the SAS British anti-terrorism unit to get involved with the Urzikstan conflict. The SAS, CIA, and Urzikstani rebels group up together with the promise of taking down the terrorist organizations and getting the Russians out of Urzikstan. The main characters of the game are introduced to each other, Captain Price, Farah Karim, and the two playable characters, officer Alex and Kyle Garrick. Price and Alex get the location of the leader of Al-Qatala, The Wolf, and move in to capture him. After a raid of the abandoned hospital, they find him and take him into custody. This creates an uproar with the extremists and they attempt to attack the embassy that The Wolf is being held. They take The Wolf, causing for the counter terrorist groups to create a new plan. The new plan is to attack The Wolf and his men when they cross The Highway of Death. Farah’s brother, Hadir, gives Alex a sniper rifle to try to take out the men. As the group is waiting, Russian militants begin to cross the road and start to attack the rebels. The Russians begin to breach Alex and the group’s base. Hadir calls to Alex to bring him to a truck. Alex clears the way and Hadir opens the trunk revealing the stolen gas from the beginning of the game. Hadir opens the gas, killing most of the hostiles and some of their troops as collateral. Farah and Alex are able to get gas masks in time but pass out which allows Hadir to escape. When the main characters regroup, they are told by a commanding officer that because of the incident, Farah’s rebel group can not be associated with anymore and is declared as a terrorist organization. Alex disagrees and goes off with Farah to fight for the cause anyway. Price’s team gets a tip of where The Wolf’s hideout is and they move in. The men search the house and there is no sight of Hadir, but they do find The Wolf. He is strapped with a bomb, but with one shot to the head, Price kills him and Garrick is able to defuse the explosive. After finding the estate that Hadir is staying at, Price and Garrick go for him. They go in at night creating a great night vision stealth level. After clearing out the mansion, they find him. They apprehend him and escape with him in custody. The Russians want him, so Price makes them a deal. They give the Russians Hadir in exchange for the intel on the Russian gas factory. Once they agree, Price develops a plan to storm the plant and blow it up. Once they are at the plant, they begin to set explosives. The group storms the building, but when Alex and Farah are moving in on a room, a man in a giant bullet proof suit busts the door down rendering the detonator for the explosives useless. After a fight, Farah and Alex move on to finish planting charges. There is an emotional scene between the two were Alex tells Farah that he must detonate the bombs manually since the diffuser is dead. After their goodbyes, Farah moves on to kill the Leader of the Russians. She gets on the helicopter with him and pushes him to the ground. After an emotional speech about how he took her life from her, she stabs him and pushes him out of the chopper. The factory blows up and the regime has ended. The game ends by Price telling a military official that he needs to create a taskforce for a new leader that is starting to appear in Russia, meanwhile referencing characters in past Call of Duty games.

This campaign really resonated with me as it felt very realistic as opposed to the campy action movie feel of past games. There were times when I really questioned my morals while playing this game. In one scene, you must bring in a mother and son into an interrogation room to try to make a man talk. You can either sit out or help with the interrogation. The one thing you can’t do is not hurt these people. It really struck a chord with me and made me feel upset because these were innocent people being harmed. This game really stresses how people in the military have to do bad things sometimes in order to help the greater good. In another scene, you are in a combat zone, but the attacks have died down. As the fighting settles, a car begins to drive towards you. There is no visual on the driver, so the group doesn’t know if it is a car bomb or not. You have the choice of shooting it or letting it pass. I watched it closely making sure that it was not going to swerve and attack us, but it passes. This really questions one’s ethics because in real life, you would only have one chance, you can try the risk or you can play it safe and take an innocent life. Overall, this game really shows the upsetting truth that in order to keep people safe, militaries must get dirty from time to time.

The characters in this game are something very special. They are extremely fleshed out and are the main reason why this campaign is so good. When Alex sacrifices himself to destroy the plant, it really shows the emotions and complexities that these simple codes of 1s and 0s can deliver. The tragic backstories that Farah tells really draw sympathy for her and is one of the reasons why the player feels so betrayed when Hadir switches sides.

The graphics of this game add on to the campaign to make it feel even more realistic. The cutscenes are so beautifully done that at some times, they lag the console. It creates such a lifelike environment that you forget that it is a game.

Special Ops
Overall, I think that the campaign is the best part of the entire game. When you finish the campaign, the story continues in the game mode spec ops. This is the game mode that I have played the least of, so do take it with a grain of salt. In my opinion however, spec ops is the weakest point in the game. In the past decade, consumers have become accustomed to getting a zombies mode with each installment to the franchise, but Modern Warfare breaks this. It makes the game feel almost incomplete and leaves you with nothing but a mind-numbing horde mode with waves of militants attacking you while you do basic tasks. The first game that I played, I hopped into it thinking that it was going to be fun since it was the continuation of the campaign, but I was left very unsatisfied as it feels like they just threw it together to get it out with the rest of the game.

Multiplayer
The opposite can be said for the multiplayer. This is the mode that allows to go head to head with real people with the Call of Duty gunplay. The game feels really well put together and one can tell that they put a lot of work into it. There are four core modes, gunfight, 6 on 6, 10 vs 10, and ground war.

The first is gunfight which I think is my favorite. This mode really glorifies the gunplay mechanics that work so well in this game. It is a 2 vs 2 mode with very small maps, and the loadouts are randomly assigned. It allows for a chance to use some of the really great stealth aspects in the game while still maintaining the Call of Duty feel.

6 vs 6 is the classic Call of Duty mode with casual battling and normal aspects to what a Call of Duty game has. It feels fairly normal, but does have some flaws.

10 vs 10 feels very similar to 6 vs 6 but with a quicker feel since there are more people on each team.
Ground war is a 32 vs 32 mode which feels very disappointing. I had high hopes for this mode because they had hyped it up so much, but I was let down since it just feels like a poorly thrown together mess of too many people and vehicles.

The core feel of these games are very nice. The gun play mechanics are very well tuned, the sounds are great, and the gun customization is terrific, however like I said earlier, there are some glaring flaws.

The first major flaw is map design. The past Call of Duty games had a simple map formula. Almost all maps followed a three-lane formula that controls fighting and created a flow to the maps. Modern Warfare ditched this formula and created maps with no scheme of movement. This is both good and bad. It does create a natural feel to the environment, but it also disrupts the flow of gunfights. It is hard to run through the maps knowing where you are going if you are a new player. This also creates a huge skill gap with experienced players taking advantage of their knowledge.

The next flaw will be fixed with age as patches are released for the game. There are a couple weapons that are ridiculously overpowered. The double barrel shotgun, the 725, for instance is deadly at short and long range not even allowing for the opposition to react before they are dead. The claymores also give a great advantage because they are discreate and provide one hit kills on the enemies. With time, I am sure that Activision will nerf these items, but for right now, they are very hard to deal with.

The final and biggest issue with this game is the campers. Every Call of Duty game has people who camp in the corners waiting for their kill to come to them, but this game feels like it caters to that playing style. With the combination of the map designs giving easy coverage, and the claymores being an easy detector for when people are rushing, it makes it very easy to get kills by just sitting in a corner and waiting. This has been the sole reason for a lot of people disliking this game, but with a few easy fixes, the game could be fine.

Keeping all of the parts of this game in mind, I would give it a 8/10. I think that the Campaign alone brings the game up very high, but the spec ops really hurts the score. In my opinion, it is a game worth a try just for the campaign. The multiplayer is very fun to play with friends, but it is hindered by some annoying aspects.