Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is easily the reason why we see a CoD game every November without fail. While the first few games in the series were truly stellar (CoD 2 will always have a special place in my heart), it was the fourth game, Modern Warfare, that helped popularize the FPS juggernaut and make it a household name. It’s not surprising then nearly ten years later, to see Activision go back and remaster this modern classic, and offer it as part of a package deal with the upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
I must admit that I was a bit worried at first. After all, Activision doesn’t have the best track record with remasters. One need only look at the recent Marvel Ultimate Alliance bundle and Prototype for that. But I’m happy to say that the ball was most definitely not dropped this time around. Remasters have become pretty common over the past few years, with publishers vying for a piece of the pie, often doing just the bare minimum required to be considered a true remastering. Modern Warfare Remastered is anything but an easy cash grab however, and is instead a worthwhile trip down memory lane.
From the moment the game starts, it’s hard to miss how beautiful the visuals actually are. Lighting, particle affects, tarp flapping in the wind, the shine of metal, gun fire, bullets whizzing by, and more have that extra pop this time around. For its time, Call of Duty 4 was an amazing looking game. You’d be hard-pressed to find a much better looking AAA shooter then, especially on consoles. But, after spending time with this PS4 re-release, it’s mind boggling how big of a gap there is between current gen and last.
Of course, putting a fresh coat of paint and brushing Price’s mustache isn’t all that’s needed of a successful remaster. In order to really capitalize on that powerful sensation called nostalgia, gameplay needs to be just right. Just like with the visuals, the developers managed to update the gameplay by making it smoother while still keeping it true to the original. Depending on what kind of CoD fan you are, that can be either a good or a bad thing.
Modern Warfare helped modernize how players approach battle. New gadgets, better weapons, new types of excursions that added more of a tactical approach with an emphasis on working with your team, and other features helped cement the series in the hearts of fans. That modern touch has evolved over time, though. Slight adjustments such as leaning when aiming behind cover, sliding, more ease of movement (not counting wall-running, of course), and better technology. Not to mention how better visuals and framerates can translate to gameplay, allowing things to be seen and adjusted to much easier.
Over the years, each addition has seemed minor to say the least. New mechanic here, slight graphical improvement there, but playing Modern Warfare Remastered nearly ten years after its initial release really helps you appreciate all of the more recent CoD titles. The first moment was when I attempted to slide into cover. Dashing across a field as enemies rained fire down upon me only to hit the circle button and stop dead in my tracks. That was fine, I thought, I’ll just walk there the old fashioned, 360/PS3 way, at least once I’m there I’ll be able to shoot safely… sort of. The leaning I’d grown used to wasn’t their either. Even the nature of the missions, the constant dragging along of the player as you followed a relatively linear track full of spectacles, brought back memories of all the Call of Duties I had forgotten over the years.
It was an interesting revelation as I sat there playing, thoroughly enjoying myself. Modern Warfare Remastered is every bit as great as I remembered it to be, and fans who wanted exactly that are in for a treat. But it almost feels like a clever trick on the part of Activision and Infinity Ward. There I was, playing exactly what I thought I wanted with not a single issue, but in that enjoyment I also found myself appreciating Black Ops III and Advanced Warfare. I’m even looking forward to the release of Infinite Warfare with much more fervor than I had before, and it’s not because this remaster was lacking in any way. It’s such a well done re-release that it makes you want more, it makes you want to see the next evolution that was initially spurred on by this very game.
Sometimes going back to the basics can be a great thing. As it stands right now, the story campaign is both a great trip to the past and solid proof of how much the Call of Duty series as a whole has truly changed. It highlights what made this entry so great in the first place and it even holds its own among this generation’s best shooters.