In an era where video games, especially multiplayer shooters are tacked on with unnecessary frills, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (CoD MW) is a quaint reminder of what a landscape changing game is and should be. Although features, glitz, and glamour have run rampant trying to appeal to players rather than offer good mechanics, the most prominent thing about the nearly 10 year old shooter is simple.
It keeps it regular.
At the time of release (2007), MW helped redefine what a shooter should be amidst contemporary heavyweights Halo 3 and the Gears of War franchise. Developer Infinity Ward took a step back from the alien and 20th century war themes that were becoming tired, and produced an experience that people could relate to for the time. The world was still curling from the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent retaliation by the Allied forces. Bearing this, MW and MW:Remastered gallantly and decisively go through the motions of what’s seemingly an average good vs bad tale, but evolves into a much more complex plot of a Russian insurgency attempting to revive the manifesto of the Soviet Union. By utilizing dynamic characters fighting for very tangible and very real objectives, players become invested in the story to see it through past the end. Modern Warfare left you craving for more and by God did it deliver through its multiplayer and subsequent sequels.
It should comes as no surprise then that the remastered version has caused such a clamor in the community.
The updated graphics do the near masterpiece justice, breathing new life into outdated textures, run down cityscapes, and shoddy camerawork that weren’t as noticeable 10 years ago. So much so that the developer doing the updates , Raven Software’s, take on the cult classic is reminiscent of what you’d expect from a Battlefield Game. Even running on an ancient PC on the lowest settings, the game could easily pass as something created in the last 2 or 3 years.
What’s most breathtaking about MW: Remastered is the details both graphically and gameplay wise. Formerly frustrating sequences when blood would splatter all over the screen during combat or the player issuing commands faster than the character could keep are are relics of the past. The fine details in mundane things like doors, street signs and other landscape objects grab you just as much as the clear changes in cutscenes and character models.
The revolutionary multiplayer that introduced killstreaks to the First Person Shooter genre is just as exciting and addicting as it was in its first iteration. The maps are immersive, giving players enough room and freedom to move around without feeling completely cramped. Unlike Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, there’s no need to whore the minimap and plenty of time to use the landscapes to your advantage.
Gameplay wise, the multiplayer feels tight. There are no crazy killstreaks that give players a tremendous advantage over the others, there aren’t any uber weapons, it’s gimmick less and simply being itself without trying to sell you what you don’t need.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of the game isn’t necessarily a fault of the developer or even an in game issue, but ultimately results in a damper to the experience. For consoles at least, the game, is bundled with the “legacy edition” of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare meaning the only way that a majority of the playerbase will be able to access the game is if they shell out 80 dollars to get what should be a piece of extra downloadable content. It’s an especially bad look for the publisher, Activision, as the tactic seemed to be employed to move copies of Infinite Warfare and pad sales stats rather than cater to the customer. When will we learn?
Call it nonsensical Fanboyism but it’s so painstakingly clear why Modern Warfare is one of the most lauded games in the franchise. Raven Software avoided doing too much to the game, keeping the essentials intact while only updating what was necessary. Returning gamers will have a lot more fun than newcomers but part of Modern Warfare’s appeal is it’s accessibility that has also stood the test of time. The shadow cast by Modern Warefare shows that developers need not re-invent the wheel but take a new new perspective on how to make it better. Simplicity more often than not, is key.