Giant Bomb Review

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Review

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  • PS4

This Legacy Edition package contains the most Call of Duty Activision's ever compiled, but the quality of each individual piece is so all over the map that it's still hard to recommend.

This guy shows up the first time you play multiplayer to tell you about
This guy shows up the first time you play multiplayer to tell you about "combat rigs."

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare isn't the best Call of Duty has ever been, but it's almost certainly the most Call of Duty Activision has ever placed into a single package. For $60 you'll get that now-standard three-pronged Call of Duty attack, with a campaign, competitive multiplayer, and cooperative zombie survival multiplayer. Go above and beyond that and you'll also get a remastered version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the game that sent us down this perk and loadout-filled road to begin with. It's a lot of stuff, and some of that stuff is maybe better than its ever been. But just as much, if not more of those different chunks of video game are far enough off the mark that it's still hard to recommend Infinite Warfare, especially in a year that presents a higher-than-normal number of other, better options.

The campaign, for once, is the shining star of Call of Duty this year. Infinite Warfare casts off all of the tip-toeing "near-future" steps we've seen in the past few games and just drops you in a world where our military can traipse around the solar system with ease. A world of giant capital spaceships serve as the center of space dogfights. A world of... yes, that's right, space marines. At times, the setting and tech utilized in Infinite Warfare reads more like a Halo prequel than a Call of Duty game, but it's a weird mash-up of huge, futuristic space battles and a set of characters that deliver all the "Oscar Mikes" and "Bravo Zulus" that you'd expect from, like, a Modern Warfare 2-era military shooter. It's a game where you hide behind rocks and take out distant troopers with sniper rifles, except those rocks are floating in space and those troops are hanging out in spacesuits on the outside of a battle platform. These disparate elements clash in spots, but that helps give Infinite Warfare an identity and a future of its own. This isn't space opera, this is space ops.

Flight combat is a huge part of this year's campaign.
Flight combat is a huge part of this year's campaign.

You play as an ace jet fighter pilot who is also, somehow, the best man for the job when it comes to stealth, shooting people with guns, melee combat, whatever. Oh, and you also very quickly become the captain of your own ship, in case the power fantasy wasn't thick enough for you already. As such, you call the shots and then go on the missions to execute the shots you call. This takes the form of a map of the solar system that gets peppered with side missions that you can take on, or you can skip to the next story mission and cruise through an already-shooter-length campaign even faster. But the side content is either brief enough to make for a fun diversion or cool enough to be worth seeing. The missions typically break down into pure dogfights, where you remain in your fighter the entire time and take out enemy fighters and a variety of larger ships, or assaults on enemy ships that require you to do some dirt on-foot. Many of these start out with some fighter piloting, too, but some of these contain inventive ways to sneak up on enemy space stations and ships as you infiltrate, mess things up, and find a way out to the relative safety of space. A couple of these missions even rely on some basic stealth mechanics. All in all, the flow of the campaign feels bigger and better than it's been in a long time, with a good amount of variety between your standard runnin' and shootin', space hijinks, some quieter stealth moments, and the sorts of hellish things you can put into a game when large parts of it take place in areas with no oxygen.

The campaign's story is straightforward, but effective. It's your standard "the people who worked on the space frontier decided that the people of Earth were their enemy" tale, though their actual motives are never made clear enough to make them feel more than "the bad guys." The tale gets grim by the end, and for a franchise that's been killing off protagonists left and right for years, that's saying something. It's interesting to have a Call of Duty game be just as much about the sacrifices required to achieve victory as it is about the victory itself. The campaign is time well spent.

I feel far less certain about any other part of Infinite Warfare. The competitive multiplayer feels like a lightly tweaked version of last year's game. The movement, right down to the squirty boost jumps and sluggish wallruns, seems unchanged. And yet, the maps still feel like they weren't built with these abilities in mind, as there are plenty of walls that you can't run on for some reason and rooftops that you should, in theory, be able to get to. But you can't, because of invisible walls and such. The movement seems like it should open up tons of new possibilities and make things exciting. But, like last year's game, it falls flat. Sure, it looks nice and there are some neat gadgets to fool with and new loadout options to pore over, but the competitive multiplayer in Infinite Warfare commits what might be the franchise's worst sin to date: it's boring. They finally got to a point where they could put maps on the moons of Jupiter, Mars, Earth, space stations, wherever... and even that potentially amazing change of scenery doesn't save it. It feels lifeless and flat, full of half-realized ideas and combat rig abilities that seem designed to inject some unique traits into the gameplay, but instead they just come off like the character abilities from last year's game.

Spending some extra money on this year's game also gets you a remastered version of 2007's game.
Spending some extra money on this year's game also gets you a remastered version of 2007's game.

Of course, people on the outside looking in might say that Call of Duty has been the same every year and that this game is "boring" is nothing new. They're wrong. Despite some of the year-to-year changes sometimes feeling like taking two steps forward and one step back, most of the games in the COD line have their own twists on a similar feel. They're distinct animals of the same species. I used to get really irked at the way the Treyarch-developed games would have the dolphin dive while the Infinity Ward games didn't. These changes always looked like some kind of weird... inter-studio politics or something. But now that it's been more or less codified and homogenized from last year into this year, I see I was wrong. Or, at least, if I was right, then this was the exact wrong year to start unifying the game's multiplayer design from one year to the next. If I'm picking and I'm limited to COD multiplayer games, I'm still picking Advanced Warfare or Black Ops II. Or... Black Ops, I guess. I mean, at least Black Ops had Ice Cube in it as a multiplayer announcer. Infinite Warfare gives you a series of faceless playable characters, ensuring that even the non-robot characters just kinda look like robots, too. If you grind out enough keys or spend some real money on "COD points" you can unlock some additional cosmetic options. Maybe some of those liven things up a bit.

The third prong of Infinite Warfare is its co-op mode, which is a survival mode where players team up to fight zombies. The most notable thing about this is probably that this is an Infinity Ward year for the franchise, and IW-led games haven't "done" zombies before. This one has a 1980s horror movie vibe to it. I won't waste your time rehashing my arguments about why zombies mode is a weak addition to the franchise that never felt like it fit in the first place and that it's crazy that this weird joke of a post-campaign bonus has become so popular anyway. This one has David Hasselhoff in it. It also has a handful of Atari 2600 games, which is a cool little touch. I still miss Spec Ops from MW2.

If you decide to spend somewhat more money on Call of Duty, you can also play a remake of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This gets you the campaign and a revamped multiplayer mode. It's a cool addition that adds like 20 more multiplayer "hoppers" to the game, making you wonder if they're perhaps spreading this all too thin. That said, it's nice to be able to play a proper match of Headquarters again. Though I went into MW Remastered expecting its relative simplicity to feel like a breath of fresh air when compared to the weighted-down bulk of the current Call of Duty, it comes off as more of a curiosity than anything else. It's neat to relive this 2007 campaign, but doing so also exposes some of the issues that have since been dealt with in newer games, like areas that seem to spawn enemies forever until you move onto the next trigger to advance the story.

Space marine!
Space marine!

The MW Remastered multiplayer gets some more modern tweaks, like the addition of medals, calling cards, player icons, and the Kill Confirmed mode that wouldn't appear until Modern Warfare 3. The loadout options are simpler, but in some ways feel crude compared to the more flexible "Pick 10" system that has become fairly commonplace in the franchise. I played a lot of COD4. I put Double Tap onto a P90, slapped on Bandolier and Steady Aim, and went to town. I've called in and shot down more helicopters than you've had hot meals! MW Remastered is a lovely remake of an amazing game. But you can't go home again. MW ends up feeling stripped down compared to what we think of as "modern" Call of Duty games. It'd be great to see more of the classic games in the franchise get this treatment in the future, but packing it in with a core Call of Duty game just seems to offer too many options. Should I care about leveling up my weird gun robot in Infinite Warfare? Or should I be working towards unlocking that G36C in MW Remastered? Maybe this would all work better if the progression was combined across the two games or something. I don't know. It's a weird package that would feel less weird if the publisher was selling this remake on its own. It probably will, someday, but for now you're stuck buying More Call of Duty Than You'd Ever Actually Need to get it.

That's probably the weirdest part about this year's Call of Duty. There are terrific pieces in there. The Infinite Warfare campaign is really a sight to see, and its mix of outer space dogfights and boots-on-the-ground combat is really cool. It's the best campaign Call of Duty's turned out in years. But the rest of the Infinite Warfare package feels lackluster and as cool as Modern Warfare Remastered is, it feels more like a fun little curio than a full-fledged game. This franchise can certainly do better than this, and in a year that is uncommonly stacked with some amazing first-person shooter campaigns and multiplayer modes, it's going to have to do better than this if it wants to maintain its relevance.

If you're looking for actual purchasing advice--and because people keep asking me specifically if the game is worth buying for the campaign alone--MW Remastered is worth purchasing if and when it goes on sale separately from Infinite Warfare, but might not keep you engaged for as long as you'd initially assume. And the IW campaign is great, but not long or replayable enough to warrant a full-priced purchase on its own. But if you can find it at a discount, or if you're a big fan of the zombies mode, there's enough there to make it worth seeing.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+

69 Comments

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skinnyluigi

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mrsmiley

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Edited By mrsmiley • 

Great review! *Goes back to Titanfall 2 and Destiny.*

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mmarsu

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Edited By mmarsu  Online • 

Sounded like three stars on the bombcast when Jeff said the only thing he liked was the campaign.

Not interested in this game AT ALL. I do hope Activision decides to sell COD4:Remastered soon though. I kinda want that game <3

I love this line :"I've called in and shot down more helicopters than you've had hot meals!"

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jper415

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jper415 • 

Thanks for putting this together, Jeff!

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Colonel_Pockets

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Colonel_Pockets • 

Cool! I'm still holding out hope they release COD 4 separately. I am patient. I can wait.

The campaign seems cool for IW. I will purchase it on sale though, since there are so many great multiplayer shooters out there. I am hooked on Titanfall still.

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ZEROprime

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ZEROprime • 

I always forget that Jeff is such a great writer. He could definitely pull off those celebrity interviews in GQ or Esquire that you have no interest in whatsoever - but are still worth reading just for the prose and insight and humor.

I have no interntion of playing 6/8ths of the games profiled or quicklooked -- but damn, I enjoy watching (or reading about) you duders play them.

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neohelbeast

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neohelbeast • 

I was wondering if you would mention it, but the bullet audio for MW remaster is so much worse than the original audio. A friend pointed it out to me how much more muffled the new bullets sound when compared to the much tinnier original sounds.

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Rosur

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Rosur • 

Thinking I'll really like the campaign kinda hope for a good discount on the base game in December/ black friday due to lower sales.

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hippie_genocide

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hippie_genocide • 

I disagree with Jeff, you can go home again. I've been having a lot of fun with the MWR multiplayer. When the trend of FPS games is zigging with its futuristic knee-slides, wall runs, and robuts, MWR is a delicious zag. Infinite Warfare is several bridges too far, and I welcome the traditional boots on the ground, simplified gameplay of MWR.

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Cheetoman

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Cheetoman • 

The guns in IW feel pretty good. But they always feel on point.

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IBurningStar

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IBurningStar • 

"This isn't space opera, this is space ops."

Jeff is shitting out some solid gold here.

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

Everyone should really give that Infinite Warfare campaign a shot. It is one of the best shooter campaigns I've played in a long time mixing in the exact amount of sci-fi and military to make it seem futuristic but not completely alien to our mundane 2016 brains. The story is basic but the execution is top notch. Most importantly there is a ton of variety in the campaign - you'll sneak, assault and even engage in what could almost be called a "horror" level of sorts. Great voice work as usual. Jeff is absolutely correct that this is the grimmest the storytelling has been yet, almost to a detriment in my opinion.

Can't speak to multiplayer or zombies as I haven't played either nor really care about them. Funny enough I did try to see what it would be like, as I received this game as gift of sorts for the Win10 store, and I quite literally could not get into any multiplayer match which makes me think there must be some bug or some firewall active that I'm not disabling.

As for people that only want to get this for COD4, I dunno. My knee-jerk reaction is to say "c'mon move on it's 2016" but different strokes for different folks and all that. Infinite Warfare has an incredibly fun campaign that does some cool new things and I'd rather play something new than relive the glory of days gone past. Then again I'm the sort of person that never plays games twice and is always looking forward rather than backwards so thats just me.

If you're down with the multiplayer of these games then I'd say it's a solid 4/5 but if you hated BO3 and don't care for zombies then as awesome as the single player campaign is thats not enough to warrant the $60 price tag, and these COD games don't drop in price all that much so unless you get it used in order to blow through the story I'd save your money.

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bybeach

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bybeach • 

Difficult for me. I respect Jeff's opinion, but I just wasn't taken by what I saw in the QL. Added to this is the self- hobbling effect of myself not doing Multi-player. And I have already a good campaign (I do hear) with Titan Fall 2 that seems to also give pointers to approaching Multi-player, something that for once I am not totally adverse to. Finally yes, MW, the first one, was a pretty good game.

I have been avoiding war games, but now I have both Battlefield 1 and Titan Fall 2 on my mind for the campaigns. Perhaps also this one somewhere down the road. I would have liked seeing some of the pure space stuff.

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WilliamFlattener

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WilliamFlattener • 

@humanity: I'm going to try to give it a shot just because I've heard good things. I have no attachment to the CoD franchise, but people are saying there's some must-see campaign stuff.

The only problem is getting to it pre-GOTY discussions. I've recently gotten a hold of TitanFall 2 and BF1 (thanks quarterly bonus!) and have hardly scratched the surface.

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TheHT

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TheHT • 

Campaign is solid, say no more. All I was interested in.

Thanks!

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

@williamflattener: I wouldn't say there is any single moment that is super stand out although there are definitely a lot of cool ones, but the whole thing just flows real well. For one they don't do that whole jumping through multiple people and places thing. In fact it's quite the opposite as a lot of missions have you get in your fighter, launch from the base ship, fly to objective, do stuff, come back home, dock on the ship and walk back to the briefing room - it really feels nice in how easy you go from A to B to C.

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mmarsu

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mmarsu  Online • 

Must see? Nah I doubt that. The only reason people are saying this campaign is good because all campaigns in previous COD games have sucked HARD.

@humanity: I'm going to try to give it a shot just because I've heard good things. I have no attachment to the CoD franchise, but people are saying there's some must-see campaign stuff.

The only problem is getting to it pre-GOTY discussions. I've recently gotten a hold of TitanFall 2 and BF1 (thanks quarterly bonus!) and have hardly scratched the surface.

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

@mmarsu: People are saying it because it is a very good campaign.

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Hilts

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Hilts • 

I'm Oscar Mike' to pick this up for the campaign alone.

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mmarsu

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Edited By mmarsu  Online • 

As in on it's own compared to other FPS campaigns out there atm? Maybe. But I think it's just because it's probably a lot better than past COD campaigns. To quote Jeff :"All in all, the flow of the campaign feels bigger and better than it's been in a long time"

@humanity said:

@mmarsu: People are saying it because it is a very good campaign.

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frytup

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Edited By frytup • 

About what I expected. I'll Redbox it and play through the campaign.

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masterofchaz

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masterofchaz • 

Finished the story yesterday. The campaign is the best Call of Duty campaign in years. I'd put it up there with COD4. They really commit to this realistic version of interstellar warfare and give it a sense of gravitas. It's far removed from all the Michael Bay jingoism that has been a part of all COD campaigns since Black Ops.

Played a little bit of the multiplayer, but it's not as slick as Titanfall 2, which I will most definitely be going back to.

I'm with Jeff on zombie mode, this mode should never have been the co-op offering to replace Spec-Ops in MW2. It's a shame because some of the optional missions have that Spec Ops feel to them. It's dying to have a 'two players stealth op through an enemy ship' kind of mission.

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ObiKwiet

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ObiKwiet • 

"A world of... yes, that's right, space marines. At times, the setting and tech utilized in Infinite Warfare reads more like a Halo prequel than a Call of Duty game..."

Sorry, but I'm just not sure where this is coming from. IW and Halo are not the only properties to ever have space marines or base their ship nomenclature on the Navy. Not a criticism, I'm just kind of taken aback that Jeff is so shocked by this.

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Solh0und

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Solh0und • 

I'll stick with Titanfall and Battlefield uno this year.

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online • 

@mmarsu: What did you think of it? What part of the campaign compared to other FPS games out there felt lacking in your opinion?

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AV_Gamer

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AV_Gamer • 

The problem I had with the mulitplayer in the beta, was how too open the maps were. So open that I couldn't take two steps without getting flanked from behind. But then, I guess that has become traditional COD - master the map, and then spawn camp like hell.

But IW's campaign has concluded a very strong year for shooters, especially when it comes to single player campaigns, something that was greatly needed. The GOTY talks about the years best shooter should be really interesting. Though, Doom will probably win it.

2016 has been a great year for video games in general. At least that's some positive news.

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Numbawhan

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Numbawhan • 

Great review, I fell off of Call of Duty with Black Ops 2 but at this point I find it fascinating from a business perspective. Even though this one probably won't sell quite a gangbusters as it usually does I'd be fascinated to see how much profit they need to make in order to pay for the production budget year to year

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Dray2k

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Dray2k • 

I'm going to buy MW:R once its out. I never was a Call of Duty fan, but this seems like a time to at least try it out and to see if its still something I can dig.

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csl316

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csl316 • 

Well, considering I play these games purely for the campaigns, I guess I should buy this after all?

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Homelessbird

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Homelessbird • 

@csl316: if you can justify that kind of cash for a 6 hour experience, I can totally recommend the campaign. It's a very CoD bombastic rollercoaster experience, but it certainly delivers on that front.

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csl316

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csl316 • 

@homelessbird: Advanced Warfare took me just under 2 years to beat, one of the longest games I've ever played (despite taking like 7 actual hours).

So I will probably feel like I'm getting my money's worth?

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KaneRobot

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KaneRobot • 

What I figured. Looks like the series has peaked. It's still a good game, but it's not doing much worthwhile anymore.

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Onemanarmyy

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Edited By Onemanarmyy • 

Neat review. I just wonder why Mars got it's wiki link while the other planets didn't. Is Jeff not down with us earthlings? ;)

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johnnymcginley

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johnnymcginley • 

I finished the campaign and it was pretty cool initially but it was ultimately pretty unsatisfying. In contrast, Titanfall 2's campaign ramps up to a climax that you can't help but appreciate a lot.

Multiplayer wise there's not really a contest between the two.

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Humanity

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Edited By Humanity  Online • 

Also just throwing this out there -

Ethan, very strong contender for best new character of the year.

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Methesda

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Methesda • 

@obikwiet: I think you may be misreading that. I don't think Jeff is shocked. Far from it actually.

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Homelessbird

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Homelessbird • 

@csl316: then absolutely! I liked Advanced Warfare's campaign, and although this lacks the Spacey, I think in most ways it's much better all around.

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KirkyX

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KirkyX • 

I love space opera, like, more than most things, so I'll probably grab a copy second-hand at some point just for the campaign.

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Spitznock

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Spitznock  Online • 

This is the most I've enjoyed a Call of Duty in years, but to each their own I suppose.

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Coolarman

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Coolarman • 

This seems like a game that I could see myself renting down the road from a redbox or something

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Meptron

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Edited By Meptron • 

What's the best value on cod points this year. I need to improve my k/d.

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Zippedbinders

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Edited By Zippedbinders • 

Neat review. I just wonder why Mars got it's wiki link while the other planets didn't. Is Jeff not down with us earthlings? ;)

My guess is that Mars was already heavily featured in another FPS this year.

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NTM

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Edited By NTM • 

I put about 25 dollars into the Legacy Edition, and just wanted to go through the campaign. It was okay. I should probably go through it on hard or whatever the second to the hardest one is called. I don't really want to go through all the ship combat stuff on hard though; it wasn't fun enough, and I don't really want to potentially get frustrated over it.

The story and characters were a bit too basic, but how they kill off characters was effective, as was the credits. One other thing, I played through Titanfall 2 and Infinite Warfare's campaign back-to-back; I liked Titanfall 2's campaign a bit more, and I think I liked BT-7274 a bit more than Ethan, though BT-7274's lack of knowledge for human speech got to be a bit much, and I liked Ethan's sense of humor over BT's lack of knowledge humor, but I felt Ethan wasn't in it enough.

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godzilla_sushi

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Edited By godzilla_sushi • 

I'm voting with my money on this. I only want to play MW remaster. I'm sure lots of people do. I can RedBox the campaign if I choose to, but I refuse to buy into their scheme just because the old game is popular and the new one might not be.

Call of Duty is at the top of the list of burning people's money after release.

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RevenantXenos

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RevenantXenos • 

I'm still disappointed we didn't get Modern Warfare Remastered and Halo 3 Anniversary in the same year. It would have been fun to have those 2 games go head to head to see which would get the most players on Xbox Live one last time.

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ripelivejam

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Edited By ripelivejam • 

man 2016 is the return of the fps campaign, for sure.

i would not be amiss if they eventually added a single player campaign of sorts to overwatch. it could involve you character hopping between stages, and they already have a wealth of personality and some admittedly vague backstory to draw upon.

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Brainling

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Brainling • 

I redboxed this because I had already dropped scratch on Titanfall 2 and BF1. Good call, because this game doesn't stand up to either. It's not bad, the campaign was good, the MP is, you know, Call of Duty...but it just doesn't flow like Titanfall does, and doesn't have the epic scale of BF1.

I think Jeff's 3-stars on this is spot on.

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MrKinoshiita

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MrKinoshiita • 

I'm actually enjoying the campaign a lot. I usually don't even finish the COD campaign. Throw in the Modern Warfare campaign and I think it's worth it.

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NoneSun

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NoneSun • 

"Flight combat is a huge part of this year's campaign."

Well that sucks.