Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC.
Developer: Raven Software, Infinity Ward, High Moon Studios, Beenox
MSRP: $79.99 (must purchase a copy of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's Legacy Edition to play Modern Warfare Remastered)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is one of the best first-person shooters of all time, probably top 10 if not top 5. It gave us one of the most cinematic campaigns of its time with intense moments that make your heart race like the opening mission where you scramble to escape a sinking cargo ship or when you have to stealthily crawl through irradiated fields filled with dozens of Russian soldiers to get to a vantage point so you can expertly assassinate a Russian arms dealer. The plot was rich with characters you cared about like Gaz and Captain Price and characters you utterly despised like Al-Asad and Zakhaev. The genre of military shooters changed from World War 2 stories that were mostly focused on placing you in historic battles to beautifully crafted, new stories told during a time period we were all living in. You could turn on the news (and frankly, still can) and hear about similar events happening in the Middle East, it was slightly unsettling but a unique way to tell a story in a video game.
On top of that, it gave us a memorable and innovative multiplayer mode that changed the series forever. We got perks, killstreaks, customizable weapons, challenges, and more. There was nothing like it and it revolutionized the genre and made Call of Duty what it is today. The shooting was tight, the map design was phenomenal giving us iconic maps like Overgrown and Shipment, and the game has remained a favorite for almost every gamer.
When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered was announced this year, everyone was filled with joy. Even though people were bummed at the announcement that they have to purchase Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to play the game, fans were still happy to know that it was coming. The only question on the minds of fans: Will it be as good as fans remember it as?
Does it stand the test of time?
The answer is a mixed bag. Is it still amazing? Yes. Has time revealed its fault? Certainly. The game is still fun to play as ever, but it does feel weird going back to a game that is fairly small compared to games like Black Ops 3 or even Modern Warfare 2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered felt like I had seen everything within just an hour of playing, but that’s not at the fault of the remaster, it’s at the fault of the original. Gameplay can feel repetitive and feel smaller and not nearly as chaotic. This is both good and bad.
The gameplay feels much more personal thanks to the small, compact maps but the lack of killstreaks makes it feel like nothing new is really happening between matches. Staying true to the original, the game has only three killstreaks. A UAV, an airstrike, and an attack chopper. Aside from the UAV, these feel very minute and inconsequential. The airstrikes are pretty slow to arrive and usually players have moved out of the area by the time you’ve called it in and the choppers will fly right past or completely ignore players! It’s hard to decide if this is a negative for the remaster as Raven obviously didn’t want to change too much but the killstreaks truly suck and it has an impact on the overall gameplay. Something that keeps me playing recent Call of Duty is the intense matches where anything can happen! The outcome of a match can change at the snap of a finger if a player gets that big killstreak that can rip the enemy team to shreds. It also makes the player feel rewarded for their skill, but here I feel no satisfaction for earning any of the killstreaks and it doesn’t make the matches feel much different from each other.
The game does, however, hold up in its overall gameplay and shooting mechanics. The shooting is tight, killing people is quick and fast, it was almost surprising how fast people were dropping after playing the recent Infinite Warfare beta where I would empty entire clips into people without them dying. It was refreshing to return to the slower, yet almost faster gameplay. Players aren’t able to slide, run on walls, or jetpack away so if you find yourself in a sticky situation you have to act fast or you’ll find yourself laying on the ground. It has this interesting balance of “slow” movement yet snappy, fast combat.
The game feels more intense than more recent Call of Duty games purely because the stakes feel higher. It’s man-to-man combat, there're no special abilities, it’s just realistic modern warfare (no pun intended). There were no major adjustments made to the core multiplayer’s gameplay. Weapons only have one attachment, the perks are the same, the weapons are the same. It feels right. If you’re one of those Call of Duty purists who believes the more recent, futuristic Call of Duty games are missing the entire point of the series, Modern Warfare Remastered is exactly what you want.
That old familiar feeling with a brand new look:
Let’s move on to some actual new changes in the remaster. The game obviously features brand new graphics. This is one of the best looking FPS games out there, it’s up there with Battlefield 1 in terms of its visuals. The character models look stunning with realistic facial expressions, wrinkles, distinctive facial hair, and more. It adds a new layer to the game’s already cinematic feel.
The extra little graphical features are excellent as well. When it’s raining, you’ll notice individual raindrops running down your gun,the lighting in the game is excellent, and the fire is just gorgeous, probably some of the best fire effects in any game ever! The game is a sight to behold and it runs perfectly too! I played the game on PS4 and I encountered no changes in frame rate throughout my entire time with the game. The game is a technical achievement and should be seen as the target for other developers who are developing new FPS games.
While the game still maintains that classic feel fans were clamoring for, they’ve added a bunch of new things to enhance the experience and make it feel a bit more “modern”. Don’t worry, the gun sounds, the iconic lobby music, the voice overs, and all the little things still remain, they just added things. Nothing is taken out or replaced.
A more immersive campaign:
We’ll start with the changes to single player. Newcomers to Modern Warfare won’t notice anything new probably, but for those that ran through the adventures of the S.A.S. and USMC numerous times like I did will notice these new implementations. For starters, the opening tutorial level has been expanded on. When you walk out of the gun range you start inside, you’ll notice the base feels alive. Previously you’d walk outside and there would be pretty much nobody outside. Now the base is filled with NPC’s performing various tasks, tanks, and trucks driving around, and military jets flying over you at lightning speeds. It adds a new and much-needed layer of immersion to the game. There are even new activities for you to participate in around the base such as a new obstacle course and explosive weapons training. Throughout the game you’ll notice new things like bigger explosions, AI reacting to scripted events differently, and much more. It’s little touches like this that make me appreciate the time and care put into the remaster.
The memorable multiplayer has had a number of things added, but nothing has been removed:
On the multiplayer side of things, there are much more noticeable changes. The HUD has been tweaked to be a bit more modern, yet that little black bar at the top that appears throughout the match still remains and the option to turn on night vision is still there even though no one uses it! The multiplayer menu has seen a drastic change and now features an animated character model using the loadout you last selected. The character’s appearance varies on faction, weapon loadout type (if you use a sniper, he will be in a ghillie suit), and he stands in the middle of a war-torn battlefield. It’s a nice touch that has carried over from games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 which shows your soldier during menus.
The game also features new customization options such as calling cards. emblems, character patches (a little sewn on patch that appears on your character’s shoulder), and weapon stickers. These all help make your character feel a bit more unique and you feel satisfied and rewarded when you unlock new things by completing challenges and leveling up! Additionally, the game also features new camouflages for your weapons so you can make your gun either blend into desert-esque environments or make it shine bright with that classic gold camo fans will surely remember. Raven has also added in prestige tokens from other Call of Duty games so players can choose one item per prestige to keep forever!
You’ll also be happy to hear the game features new modes like Kill Confirmed while still keeping those modes that you may not even remember such as the 1v1 mode, Cage Match, or the 3 v 3 team based objective mode, Team Tactical. I had personally forgotten about some of these modes until I saw them again but it brought a smile to my face to see that Raven hadn’t.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is not only the best example of how a remaster should be executed, but how a first person shooter should be done. The game delivers on almost every level and will surely satisfy fans. It’s clear the folks at Raven Software are fans of the game themselves and wanted to retain the feelings the original game gave off but also added a new coat of paint to make it feel fresh and new. The game was handled with the utmost care and I would really love to see them remaster Modern Warfare 2 in the future or maybe even get their own shot at a brand new Call of Duty in the future.