Call of Duty Playthrough Pt7 - Infinite Warfare

A special series playthrough review – Part seven, Infinite Warfare

A Rage Quit Review

FBT is in space, in the future and infuriated. In space no one can hear you rage quit

So far we’ve beaten Germans, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, South and Latin America, Africa and the Middle East plus an AI, technophobes, traitors and miscellaneous; now we’re at war with people who are just unsociable. Getting desperate aren’t we.

In some future or other, humans have colonised the solar system. But the outer planets secede, forming the Settlement Defence Front and become isolationists before declaring war on Earth. I can’t wait for the Battle of Uranus. So who’s going to stop the SDF? Captain Nick Reyes of the United Nations Space Alliance. Unfortunately.

At a 4th July-style celebration, the UNSA decides to put ALL their navy on display. The SDF launches a surprise attack - surprising to everyone but us – and Reyes is forced to assume command of the last Battlestar or something. Dutifully followed about by the far more interesting Lt. Nora Salter, Reyes is a Poundland Shepard; he worries about choices, about losing men, about Earth yet isn’t decisive or a leader; he refuses to accept sacrifice, which surely is the basic understanding of any soldier, even though he’s reminded of it constantly; Nora claims he’s changed since he became captain but literally nothing about him changes. There’s no moral choices that would help Reyes understand and the game removes any responsibility anyway, so anyone who gets killed is someone else’s fault.

If there was ever a CoD crying out for character shifting it’s this one - and not just because of how boring Reyes is; it would make sense for once. We should command as Reyes to get intel and pick missions then play who he sends, letting you decide the tone of the mission and have to accept the risk of sending them. That’s the burden of command. Instead, he insists on leading missions so men don’t die for him – except all the NPCs that is – which makes no sense. Come on, you’re already ripping off Mass Effect 2, just build on it, make it logical. Nora is an Ash knock-off anyway, and we have a Legion.

Meet Ethan, an AI Robot with a mischievous streak; conning Nora into thinking he has a human brain (a simple farmer’s brain at that), convincing Marines he’ll overthrow humanity one day, he’s beyond the call of duty brilliant and the one bright spot in this otherwise dour, dull game; a scene where he and Reyes are ‘spaced’ and there’s no hope for survival is affecting - that I’m sad to see the robot go and not Reyes says everything. I’m gonna be Nora now? Nope, they’re saved?! But there’s a great recovery in a comment that Ethan had to be prised off Reyes’ body, having protected his captain until he shut down - but Ethan’s only awesome in the cut-scenes and in-game dialogue. He’s criminally underused within the gameplay, just another NPC - at one point he gets described as a ‘stiff metal motherfucker’ but we never see him motherfucking. Half the time I don’t even notice him. How do you rip off every other awesome metal motherfucker in gaming then not utilise them? D0g took down a strider in Episode Two, what does Ethan do in-game? Nothing. I’m joining the geth.

Actually, that’s an insult to the Geth. At least they were sentient. Here, more often than not we’re fighting bland robots programmed by a CoD Zombie. Boring. But then, look who they have for a boss. The SFD is led by a general who is so panto evil he makes Lord Dark Helmet look like a credible threat. Spewing lines like “it’s not enough we break free, we must break them!” it’s hard to imagine the outer planets take him seriously let alone us; he’s played by Kit Harrington so on top of his tantrums, he constantly looks like he’s about to burst into tears. If the SDF are extremists then that needs to be explored; why must they break us? All we get is a laughable, boo-hiss kids tv villain?

So, not wanting to upset anyone, Reyes instigates lots of small, forgettable campaigns; I’m sure they’re effective but I’m bored. Although there’s multiple approaches within the levels, SDF always have all the exits covered so you never feel like you’ve outsmarted them. You’re just going through the motions. Where’s the hail-mary passes, the desperate chances? I thought this was a losing war, most of the time it feels like business as usual. There’s no pressure, no momentum and we have side-missions to further dilute the desperation plus loads of zero-g and flying missions which somehow the game makes mundane. I only do one side mission and that’s because it was set on Uranus. Most of this game feels like padding, and the rest is just watching.

We watch Reyes open and close doors, get in and out of space ships, travel in elevators; anything to avoid a decision. Then there’s hours of cut-scenes. The biggest irony here is I wanted a story, and this time I’ve got too much story. The writing, especially around Ethan and Reyes is good but there’s no connection; it falls into the same trap as ME Andromeda, which it’s clearly trying to ape; interesting set-up but no follow-through, missions that don't mean anything, personal drama you can’t connect to. It does feel like a pilot, leaving a lot unsaid so new games can pick up the threads, but there’s nothing to do here, in the now.

There’s huge action moments but they’re all background noise or so derivative you’re taken out of it, shocked at how shameless it is … there is a sequence on an robot-controlled asteroid that’s headed for the sun which is dizzily spinning above our heads. Cool, but … you can only move in the shadows or the sun will burn you ... I’m here for Tali, right?

When it’s not ripping off better games it’s stealing from stable-mates. It lifts so much from earlier CoD entries I keep expecting to see Riley float by. This is not how you start a franchise, by cannibalising your own games and stealing from others, and it feels budget and technologically old; NCPs salute the door when I’m already 20 feet into the room, they talk to nothing, get trapped in doorways or ignore enemies in front of them. Reyes often gets stuck or blocked and it crashed regularly, which just made playing it more laborious.

Finally, Reyes puts in motion a plan that fails spectacularly and gets loads more people killed; still, wasn’t his fault and it all worked out so mission accomplished. What a hero. Reyes then watches Rogue One and gets an idea for a one-way mission; problem is we’re not invested in any of the characters - save Ethan - so when Reyes does a sub-Shepard speech about how they have no way out but must succeed for Earth, we’re relieved instead of worried; that means it’s ending soon. As the crew dwindles (mostly via less than subtle examples of sacrifice; will you just learn it already?!) I realise I got all the way through without rage quitting. But I get my moment when it ends on a survivor staring at a memorial wall with all our lost crew names on it. Skip scene, rage quit.

This should be called Derivative Warfare. But the real issue is we’re a spaceman not a soldier and by focusing on command, CoD lost its niche - it’s brilliance wasn’t in the epic setting that a space drama requires or the burden of command, it was the regular grunt doing his bit. CoD is a genre unto itself, and this isn’t a CoD game.

It’s almost sad that IW completely failed; this much-vaunted new era of CoD was quietly dropped and the series returned to its roots with WWII. It’s sad because no one else was doing modern warfare anywhere near as well – even games I despised like Black Ops III were still cracking shooters ultimately. Infinite Warfare ruined Modern CoD for everyone.

So the only way forward now is back. With all those advancements, a return to a WWII setting could be the best CoD game since CoD. They can’t mess up WWII can they?

Read FBT’s final CoD review as he plays WWII and ends this mega playthrough.