Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 01.12.2016

Review for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on PlayStation 4

Arguably, 2007 was the year that Call of Duty finally exploded (pun intended) with the release of Modern Warfare. Up until this point, developer Infinity Ward had enjoyed moderate success with a series that had become predominantly known for its World War II setting. This was the year, however, the studio had instead opted to cover global terrorism in the modern era with a campaign that possessed a sense of gritty realism hitherto unseen in first-person shooters. While it's been well documented that publisher Activision itself was opposed to this bold change of direction, it was a gamble that definitely paid off, as its frank, brutal take on conflict resonated with a game-buying public seemingly in search of something new. Nine years later and COD is all about futuristic weaponry, wall running, power slides, boost jumping and space travel, which wouldn't be so bad in itself if the diehard fans weren't all yearning for a return to the old-school 'boots on the ground' action the series built its foundations on. Thankfully, their prayers have been answered in the shape of Modern Warfare Remastered.

It's fair to say that Modern Warfare's arrival to the market single-handedly evolved the first-person shooter genre overnight and introduced many fresh innovations that have since become de rigueur in video games. For the benefit of the few that may have missed it the first time around, it features a multi-threaded narrative that flits between a variety of worldwide locales as events unfold for multiple protagonists on an overlapping timeline. It was revolutionary when it released and even subsequent iterations of COD have replicated this formula and failed to have the same kind of impact with it. The campaign itself follows both the US Marines (in the Middle East) and the SAS (operating covertly in Russia) as they follow up intel on an extremist called Khaled Al-Asad who has managed to obtain a Russian nuclear device that he's planning to detonate.

Nostalgia is a powerful sentiment that is often in danger of being abused whenever any game deemed a 'classic' gets thrown back into the public domain for a second shot, so it's quite refreshing to find that Modern Warfare still holds up very well to scrutiny. For many gamers, this was their first encounter with the franchise, so the opportunity to replay its many memorable chapters feels a bit like getting reacquainted with a long-lost buddy.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on PlayStation 4

Storming a TV station in an unnamed war torn Middle Eastern city, manning the controls of an AC-130 gunship during a daring rescue mission and a flashback to a high-profile assassination attempt in Pripyat while wearing a stealth enabling Ghillie suit are all standout highlights from a campaign that never really lets up. Indeed, the chapter entitled 'Shock and Awe' featured an event so monolithically jaw dropping that those who bore witness to it can even now still recall exactly what it was they were doing at the time it happened (well... they were playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, weren't they). Nowadays, the series still retains the big set pieces, but its ability to shock seems to be a thing of the long distant past.

Infinity Ward itself has been tied up with the development of Infinite Warfare for the past three years, so it's been left to industry veteran Raven Software to ensure that this edition remains as faithful to the original as possible. Despite being billed as a remaster, it does actually feel like Raven has built upon the source material substantially and delivered a significantly upgraded version that stays true to the familiar, while simultaneously taking full advantage of the available bump in horsepower. Any cynics fearing a cheap cash-in can rest easy, as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has never looked so sharp, and while it's certainly no slouch in the looks department on a regular PS4, owners of the new PlayStation 4 Pro will get to enjoy further enhanced visuals. The increase in resolution has enabled a far more detailed world, as well as much improved character models and lighting effects, without any impact on the rock solid sixty frames per second that the series has become known for.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on PlayStation 4

Call of Duty is probably best known for its fast-paced adversarial multiplayer, which is thanks in no small part to the ground work laid down by this very title. Innovations such as Kill Streaks and Perks that are now common place and taken for granted first made an appearance here and were tied to a persistent levelling up system that rewarded good performance. The perks, in particular, catered to differing play styles/loadouts and brought a whole new level of customisation to the table in the process.

Modern Warfare's multiplayer actually feels refreshingly less bloated than some of the more recent entries to the series, as each perk has a corresponding counter perk, none of which stand out as being vastly overpowered. Yes, it still seems odd that a highly-trained killing machine can only sprint for twenty yards before tiring unless he has a perk equipped, and regularly falling foul of Martyrdom (a perk that sees adversaries drop a live grenade every time they die) is still pretty annoying. However, forcing the same three Killstreaks on each player (UAV/Airstrike/Attack Helicopter) keeps a uniformly level playing field, which is something that other iterations in the series have struggled to maintain as further streaks got added to the loadout.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on PlayStation 4

A few of the smaller maps do feel a bit too cramped for the bigger team-based objective modes, and dying also seems to happen frequently and swiftly, but, then again, that's COD. Some things never change, and while there are certain aspects that betray its age, this really shouldn't be taken as a negative point in any way. It amply covers the 'boots on the ground' criteria sorely missing from the sterile multiplayer offered in Infinite Warfare, though weirdly it took some time to get out of the habit of trying to power-slide out of trouble. Old habits die hard. Raven Software hasn't just popped out a carbon copy of the original, though, and has seized the opportunity to make a few new additions, such as the inclusion of the Kill Confirmed game type, as well as player card/logo customisations, bringing the feature set in line with some of the more current titles in the series.

It's probably worth mentioning that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered isn't available to purchase separately and can only be obtained as part of one of the Infinite Warfare Legacy Packages. The more cynical COD fan might think that this is Activision using it as purchase bait due to not having much faith in Infinite Warfare as a standalone product, and no doubt there will be a subsection of angry gamers unwilling to part money for both titles. Whether it will eventually go on sale separately is unknown, but given Activision's perceived love of money, it would certainly be strange if it didn't appear as a standalone product at some point down the line. It's also worth noting that while only ten of the original multiplayer maps are included in this title, the remaining six will be patched in as free DLC this December.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Nine years on and Modern Warfare still feels as fresh and vital as ever. As an exercise in nostalgia it's a raging success and Raven Software should be applauded for doing such a solid job of updating a timeless classic without losing the essence of what made it so great the first time around. Whether Activision continues on a futuristic path with upcoming chapters in the franchise remains to be seen, but the fact that more people were excited at the prospect of revisiting this than jumping into Infinite Warfare's multiplayer should at least be an indicator that it might be time for a change.

Developer

Infinity Ward

Publisher

Activision

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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