INSOMNIA

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (2016, PC)

By SparkyMcSparks & SaibaX / March 3, 2017


REVIEW SUMMARY:

Campaign
Short as hell and barely interactive, though it has its fun moments.

Zombies
Tons of fun, rivals previous games. Definitely the best part of Infinite Warfare.

Multiplayer
Really buggy, improves on a few things but still can't compete with Black Ops 3 in terms of fluid play and overall quality.

Conclusion
We can't endorse this.

FULL REVIEW:

Campaign
What the game does phenomenally well starts and ends with the campaign. The design resolutely avoids all the creative possibilities of its situation, and instead offers an appetizer style of play moments from prior games like Advanced Warfare, Ghosts and Black Ops.
   As Reyes, Captain of the Retribution Space Warfare Carrier, you'll be opening all your own doors, hacking blockers in your path, front-lining battles, and pushing progression buttons all the while your subordinates idle nearby with deadpan stares that lack eye blinking. Interestingly enough, you do have a voice as Reyes which further pulls you into the story, but delivery is flat and never quite achieves a sense of personality like in the past with Captain Price, Soap, or Sandman.
   Do we have something visceral against hubs? We don't feel so, we try to keep an open mind. It would give us enormous satisfaction (and relief) to like hubs in a game, but we suggest they made a tactical error when they created a hub in a manner which has the pacing effect of an overwritten daytime soap, and then expect us to hang in there for the entirety of the performance.
   Long stretches of cutscenes/vignettes bridge together short-lived moments of play, and often enough come as a sharp intervention during play. Player control is something you'll often find yourself yearning for as hand-holding sytems like the "auto pilot" mode from the Jackals extend their reach into traditional first-person shooter play.
   Conor McGregor has a cameo much shorter than any of Stan Lee's in the MCU, and at times you forget Kit Harington is a villain with his lack of a meaningful menacing presence. The game takes away control by hitting you on the head as a reminder with a fullscreen shader video of an angry and sullen monologue where Harington looks like he can barely contain his doubts about the project after the Reveal Trailer dislike frenzy. Your Humanoid robot, while pulling cues from the beloved TARS robot in Interstellar, never reaches his full potential as a significant companion due to the lack of direct interactions during play; take away the witty lines and he'd be just another redshirt.
   Difficulty was unusually harder than in past titles, playing on Regular felt like Veteran in addition to a very noticeable lack of checkpoints requiring you to play through significant battles from the start. Most battles are chock-full of spider bots as if they were some kind of saving grace for the fun that's missing elsewhere, and enemies have a distinctly similar color palette as both the environment and your allies making it hard to tell on who to shoot half the time. Between your screen going blurry from a single hit, mud and smoke covering your vision, or total black out, designers relentlessly (and unashamedly) throw as many HUD shaders at you to make it harder to see and hit anything.
   The campaign isn't all bad though, it starts to get its footing towards the end with missions that have you on a frantic chase through a French Gothic-style building or infiltrating an enemy suborbital space station. Judging by the evidence on the screen while playing, it feels like there was a disconnect between the writers and designers, with everybody reassuring themselves that since they hired writers who worked on The Last of Us, inspiration would suddenly overcome the team designing the levels.
   Infinite Warfare is a great example of what makes campaigns in multi-focused games nowadays abhorrent to play. The hand-holding seems to get worse. The player is never trusted to act as they would, organically moving through a level, such as in the terrific new Doom, which was a breath of fresh air. When we watched a tube video to gauge whether the campaign was worth playing, we actually timed how much actual play there was as opposed to cutscenes, listening to people talk whilst locked in a room, forced to walk and listen to people talk, locked in place as something yet -again- explodes (How many times will they do the whole transport gets shot down thing?), or something else mundane that limits the player partly or entirely. The split is ludicrous in this campaign: 18 percent play, and the rest is chaff. And even the proper action itself is just moving through corridors and mowing down the idiotic enemies with ho-hum weapons.
   As people who are big sci-fi and space fans, we were hoping for more a creative vision when it came to the play experience, though we fortunately saw a really solid story play out. At 4.5 hours doing the main quests and watching the pre-rendered videos, it's worth playing if you can forgive the design and appreciate the artistry in the story.

Zombies
This mode has a lot to offer compared to other games. First let's go over individual aspects.
   The mechanics are fluid and there are tons of things to do here. Now we haven't gotten very far, maybe 4/5 power switches, but we've explored quite a bit. Firstly the traps are rather funny, between bumper cars running down zombies and a giant dragon head roasting them behind you as you escape through its throat. It never gets dull.
   Weapon customization has made a return in this title and it's a very welcome return. With this you can change how weapons appear when you buy them off of a wall or through the magic wheel. Honestly, we love tossing a laser sight on our shottys with either an extended range or stopping power attachment.
   The supply drops in this game are the same as in Black Ops 3 with a catch. Instead of liquid divinium the player uses keys. These keys are used to open both Zombie Crates and Multiplayer Supply Drops. In order to balance this out, Zombie Crates do not differ from multiplayer crates much; you get two drops that would normally appear in supply drops plus a Fate & Fortune card pack (F&F Cards are the same as gobblegum) which itself drops three cards.
   Weapon variants actually do have a use in Zombies, e.g. the Nuke perk in multiplayer give players a game-ending nuke strike after a 25 killstreak with that weapon. In Zombies, however, this same perk turns into a nuke power-up after every 150 zombie kills with said weapon. So each perk has two different effects between PVP and PVE.

Multiplayer
This is where the game is lacking pretty badly, which is pretty sad to say when it comes to a Call of Duty game. The movement, while essentially the same as in Black Ops 3, is badly implemented and buggy. For example, in Black Ops 3 wallrunning is very fluid and very rarely fails to work, this also applies to the mantling of edges. Unfortunately this is not so in Infinite Warfare, where wallrunning does not like to toggle itself without heavy assistance from the player which results in the death of those who have grown accustomed to the fluid motion of the previous game.
   Hitboxes have been improved, headshots are headshots and not bodyshots as in Black Ops 3. However this game appears to have changed the mechanics for aiming enough to make you have to fix your sensitivity throughout several matches before being able to play effectively. This isn't a huge issues as it happens with almost all FPSes.
   The maps feel very claustrophobic. Whereas they did try to stick to a 3-lane layout, they made many of these lanes far too narrow which creates a bottleneck and inhibits the ability to traverse the map. This creates a pretty bad stalemate when it comes to objective-based modes as Site B becomes an all-out warzone while the two outer lanes are camped pretty heavily by snipers or LMGs. It all boils down to your team in the end, but in our opinion the bottlenecking is counterproductive.

Misc.
1. No community hub. Treyarch set the standard for quality with Black Ops 3 in this aspect. They incorporated a full community hub into the main menu that allowed us to see what all of our friends were up to. Along with this we could view other players' soldiers and their CoD career screen which gave tons of detailed info on the player. This was a very useful feature that many of us used and still use.

2. Oversimplified user interface and menu screens. Treyarch again created a very useful menu system with many features and options. Infinity Ward however chose to go with the simple route. There are only four options in the main menu with absolutely nothing else: Single Player, Multiplayer, Zombies and Quit Game. Sometimes the simple menu is a good way to go, but in our opinion here they took it to the extreme and omitted many features that would have made it an overall better experience.

3. There is no split-screen that we've seen, we plugged in two controllers and no option appeared. This was disappointing since we enjoy playing split-screen Zombies and Multiplayer with bots with our roommates.

4. Zombies has a small problem with people Idling for Keys (same as Cryptokeys from Black Ops 3). As a result these players make the Zombies experience annoying. It doesn't make us want to quit, it's just annoying as hell when they join and do nothing but idle while the rest of us are racking up the kills.

Conclusion
Now our recommendation is pretty mixed. We bought the game knowing what we were getting into and we do not regret it. But we can't in all good consciousness recommend this game for the simple fact that everything but the Zombies felt half-assed. We are sorry to say that if Sledgehammer manages to put out a turd after Infinite Warfare we're going to have to favor Treyarch as they seem to actually give a damn about their fanbase.

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