Something happened around nine long years ago, Call of Duty exploded into homes across the world. After a fairly regular crack at World War II the franchise needed a kick in the arm, actually the genre needed a kick in the arm and Infinity Ward stepped up to the plate.
Modern Warfare was a cinematic shooter experience, the single player campaign was groundbreaking, taking notes from some classics and narrative tricks from the likes of Half Life. Then it shook all that up in a big box of Michael Bay, brought in some epic voice talent and became a global journey overshadowing any Bond movie.
It was a game that captured imaginations from the moment you loaded up the Kill House training session with the legendary Captain Price, all the way through to clearing the post game bonus level Mile High on Veteran difficulty. It was a shooter that encouraged you to replay missions, not only for collectibles and trophies/achievements, but because they were incredibly good. The game had legs and that’s why even the second hand bins had it for years at almost full price.
It has to be said that many feel Modern Warfare was the pinnacle of the series, because it delivered fresh gaming on a tired concept – whereas the annual follow ups have had problems as they desperately try to find that genie and get it back in the CoD bottle. Where Black Ops went pretty much batshit crazy and now the Warfare games are off in some parallel sci-fi timeline, Modern Warfare was exactly that it delivered what people wanted. Which was ‘Boots on the Ground’ combat, apart from handling the night visioned gunner positions of a joyfully destructive AC130 Gunship.
It was a game where people watching got impressed, nobody could go past the sneaking into Pripyat mission ‘All Ghillied Up’ without dropping the occasional jaw. Yes it was nine years ago, but it still resonates today as does the twist of dying in a nuclear blast with a character you’ve just about connected with.
Then there was this whole other universe, the online game, a multiplayer arena with absolutely some of the best maps ever designed. A holy grail for some and an addiction for others, Modern Warfare online delivered in spades. It had terrific playability, a massive roster of unlockable weapons and gadgets, plus the new thing, the perks. Adding the ability to customise your loadout with buffs as well as weapons gave players options, being able to build a roster of loadouts to match your favourite strategy was genius.
The Perk system was so good it really made the online game, as it was it drove you on to unlock more perks or skills and level up, in later yearly versions it lost its appeal somewhat. Being able to field a Close Quarters build for tight levels, complete with a grenade drop on death or Last Stand, then swap out to a specific build for a Heavy or Assault let you feel like you were in control of your game. You felt like you had your own edge.
Of course the modern world has encroached into the perks, timed event offer more XP, the spectre of micro-tranasctions offer more points to unlock more stuff, which you can ignore if you’re a not impatient and more mature gamer.
So, all in Modern Warfare Remastered is a classic piece of gaming and who could resist spending a few hours with the delightfully gruff Captain Price? Well, the fly in the ointment is having the Remaster bundled with last year’s Infinite Warfare. For the people that have gone off the series it was a bitter pill to swallow and to be honest it would have made more commercial sense for Activision to concentrate on the Remaster alone. I still believe selling it standalone even at a budget price would have outstripped Infinite Warfare’s performance – because people loved it then and would love it now.
And here we are five months post release, the online game is relatively busy and has now been bolstered by the addition of a map pack. Going by the title of Variety Map Pack it delivers reimagined versions of some Modern Warfare DLC favourites, that said, I can humbly admit to preferring the bundled maps any given day.
Broadcast and Chinatown, both got plenty of love back in the day. Broadcast being the TV Station ripped straight from the game itself, where Chinatown was a neon lit battleground based on a previous CoD map iteration. Both lent to some classic moments, especially Chinatown with it building interiors and bottlenecks in the fog giving up plenty of scope for ambushing and being ambushed.
Creek is an open space map with some dark patches and a few buildings, the small village at the back end often becoming the centre of gravity for fighting. It is as ever a haven for snipers, so expect to see some Ghillied Up killcams coming your way.
Killhouse was a smaller arena, tight and full of shoot through cover it plays well in hardcore game modes, but not for the faint hearted.
Nice additions, but not the best, the vanilla game had the best by far and even now it seems the players are voting with their wallets because the playlists are much more quiet on the map pack. Not that surprising given that most of us paid for them already back in the day.
Overall Modern Warfare Remastered would be absolutely essential as a standalone game, being locked behind Infinte Warfare loses it some cudos, but you can’t ignore the fact it is the Grandaddy of what we play now and that quality shines through. From the moment you rappel to the deck of a cargo ship in the middle of the night listening to the gravel ‘honey over rocks’ voice of Captain Price you will love for the first time or love it again for how long its been.