Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare delivers a strong campaign mode, and even though multiplayer and Zombies aren't as compelling, it's still one of 2016's best FPS games.
Since its announcement, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has had the odds stacked against it. Its reveal trailer was met with overwhelming hate from the community, with much of the criticism aimed at its science-fiction setting. While some may be longing for a Call of Duty game based on a historical war, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is nevertheless a solid first-person shooter, and a definite step up from Infinity Ward's last effort.
Where Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare shines the most is its single-player campaign mode. This may come as a surprise to some, as the series has typically been praised for its multiplayer, but Infinity Ward went all-out with Infinite Warfare's campaign. The game is a non-stop sequence of insane set-pieces and intense firefights, made all the more entertaining by the new weapons and gimmicks Infinity Ward has thrown into the mix.
Thanks to its far future, science-fiction setting, the developers were able to flex their creative muscles, coming up with a number of unique weapons that are highly entertaining to use. This includes a grenade that scurries around like a spider until it finds an enemy to attach itself to, another grenade that creates an anti-gravity field, and an assortment of energy-based guns. Players can also hack into robots, which is especially helpful for getting out of situations where protagonist Nick Reyes and his squad are pinned down by enemy forces.
All of these new abilities and weapons go a long way in making the campaign a joy to play through. The options are dizzying when it comes to how players can customize their loadouts before heading out into new missions, but finding one's favorite weapons by testing them on the battlefield is a great deal of fun in and of itself.
Players have plenty of variety when it comes to how they want to engage their opponents in the campaign, and variety is the name of the game when it comes to the missions themselves. Each mission throws something new at the player, whether it be zero-gravity firefights in space or thrilling showdowns with heavily armed mechs. Players are still subjugated to unfortunate Call of Duty campaign tropes like following NPCs down cramped hallways and partaking in shoehorned QTEs, but to a much lesser extent when compared to other games in the series.
Infinite Warfare's campaign separates itself from past Call of Duty campaigns in other ways as well. For example, players pilot a customizable Jackal spaceship at numerous points for surprisingly engaging dogfights. These battles take place in space itself, resulting in some rather awe-inspiring views of planets, moons, asteroids, space stations, and more, as players pilot their Jackal in combat.
Another way Infinite Warfare is able to differentiate from previous Call of Duty games is through its use of optional side missions. These side missions strip away a lot of the plot baggage that sometimes bog down the campaign levels, allowing players to just sit back and enjoy the core shooting mechanics. These missions and other side objectives (such as killing specific enemies on a most wanted list) inject Infinite Warfare's campaign with a serious dose of replayability, which is something the franchise has struggled with in the past.
Overall, Infinite Warfare's campaign is the game's strongest component, but it isn't perfect. It stumbles a bit in its attempt to deliver a compelling story, with a cast of heroes that are fleshed out with decent character development going against generic bad guys that might as well be twirling their mustaches. The Settlement Defense Front are the evildoers in the campaign, with no real motive for their terrorist attacks beyond wanting to cause chaos. Games of Thrones star Kit Harrington does his best as Infinite Warfare's primary antagonist with the material he's given, but it's hard to get invested in the core conflict due to his character's pure evil nature and lack of a logical motive.
While the plot has its shortcomings, the campaign still delivers the goods in Infinite Warfare, but the same can't necessarily be said about its other game modes. Multiplayer is serviceable; it's basically the exact same Call of Duty multiplayer that fans have been playing for years, with a couple of tweaks here and there that don't really amount to much.
Infinite Warfare's multiplayer plays almost identically to Black Ops III. Combat Rigs, touted as one of the big changes coming to multiplayer in this year's iteration, are basically the same concept as the Specialists in Black Ops III, albeit streamlined, and more of a focus on specific playstyles.
Infinite Warfare features one major addition to multiplayer, the Defender match type, which finally seems to have players focusing on the objective more than farming for kills. Defender has players trying to control a drone for a greater amount of time than the opposing team, and it's a nice change of pace from the typical Team Deathmatch, but it's also not a very original idea, meaning FPS enthusiasts looking for a new experience with Infinite Warfare's multiplayer aren't likely to find one.
With familiar game modes and virtually identical gameplay to its predecessors, Infinite Warfare's multiplayer fails to bring anything new to the table. However, what it does deliver is the same multiplayer that has been a cornerstone of the franchise since Call of Duty 4, and while some may be sick of it at this point, those looking for more of the same will still be able to squeeze dozens of hours of entertainment out of multiplayer, if not more.
Something that is greatly appreciated about Infinite Warfare's multiplayer is its support of split-screen. Call of Duty games have consistently supported split-screen for most of the franchise's life, but Black Ops III saw a significant dip in the quality of the feature, with large black boxes making the split screens even smaller, and the text unreadable. Infinite Warfare ditches the black boxes, offering split-screen functionality that is greatly improved from last year's iteration.
When players have had their fill of killing enemies online in the multiplayer and fighting the Settlement Defense Front in the campaign, there's one final game mode for them to check out. Infinite Warfare features Infinity Ward's first attempt at creating a Zombies map in the form of Zombies in Spaceland, and while it has some cool ideas, like the versus multiplayer, it's a little too similar to what has come before.
In Zombies in Spaceland, players take control of one of four playable characters and explore a large sci-fi themed amusement park in the 1980s. The map is full of secrets for players to uncover, and while the names of some of the perks have changed, the experience is going to be very familiar to anyone that has spent time with Zombies in the past.
Players will be turning on power generators, grinding for cash to open new areas, using the mystery box to acquire special weapons (or in this case, the mystery wheel), and of course, killing endless waves of the living dead. To its credit, Zombies in Spaceland does seem like an effort to make Zombies a more accessible mode, allowing players to work together to buy doors and equipping them with powerful cards that can turn the tide of any round in their favor, but it's still the same gameplay formula since Zombies was introduced in World at War eight years ago.
Zombies in Spaceland earns points for its interesting layout, amusing 80s jokes, and solid soundtrack, but it won't win anyone over that wasn't already a fan of Zombies. Anyone that already likes Zombies will find plenty to love here, though, and the same can be said about multiplayer. Anyone that is looking for more of the same will come away from Infinite Warfare immensely satisfied, whereas others will continue to complain about the franchise's continued lack of innovation in those areas.
Even though Zombies in Spaceland and multiplayer are just more of the same, as a whole, it's hard to find an FPS on the market as fully-featured as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The campaign is the surprise highlight, with heart-pounding action, jaw-dropping graphics, and fresh ideas for the series, making it worth checking out even for those disappointed by its sci-fi themes.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.