Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was one heck of a game when it first came out back in 2007, and even today it’s still spawning barrages of imitations. Not only did it set a new standard for first-person shooters, but it pretty much defined the online multiplayer landscape as we know it.
Now Activision has remastered this modern classic to coincide with the launch of its latest Call of Duty game, Infinite Warfare. However, this isn’t your typical cash-grab rehash – developer Raven Software has clearly poured its heart and soul into this game.
It really shows, too, and I’m not just talking about its upscaled graphics work for PS4, Xbox One and PC. We now have proper lighting and particle effects, and the rich animations and environmental details make the whole experience feel so much more alive than the game I remember playing nine years ago.
Indeed, even as a veteran of the series, there were several moments when I simply had to stop and take stock of everything that was happening on screen. It’s incredibly refreshing playing through the campaign again, and it almost feels like you’re playing a completely different game, with each set piece being even more memorable and dramatic than before.
The first SAS mission, for example, remains one of my absolute highlights. Here, you’re sent in to infiltrate a terrorist-ridden cargo ship in the Bering Strait to help secure a nuke, all the while silently dispatching enemies in their beds and wandering the corridors with bottles of booze in your hand. The first half of the mission is deathly quiet, but when the terrorists catch on, all hell breaks loose, with thousands of bullets piercing the darkness. It’s these moments of contrast and expert pacing that define Modern Warfare, and they’re just as impactful now as they were nine years ago.
In-game cut scenes look remarkably better in Full HD, too, with the difference between then and now like night and day. Capt Price’s iconic moustache looks fancier than ever, and explosions are particularly gorgeous, shaking the screen and almost blinding your character with bright flashes of light and falling debris.
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That sense of newness isn’t just limited to its looks, either: Raven Software has given certain parts of the game a complete overhaul. The story remains intact, with all its plot twists still holding up even a decade later, but the opening tutorial level, for instance, is now much more fleshed out. Instead of simply knifing watermelons and shooting at metal men, you now also have to run an obstacle course and try your hand at different types of explosives. Some might say this is a rather needless bit of padding, but for me it only makes Modern Warfare Remastered feel that much more modern and up to date. I breezed through the campaign in around seven hours on regular difficulty, but if you’re lucky enough to have never played the original, it might take you a little longer.
Gunplay is still spot on. There are plenty of weapons on offer, with each gun having its own distinct flavour, damage and sound. And it remains as accessible as ever. Guns have barely any recoil, and it’s very easy to pick up, so newcomers to the series shouldn’t be put off.
The multiplayer portion of the game is locked off until the release of Infinite Warfare, so I haven’t yet had a chance to test this out. You can expect a selection of ten maps when it launches on 4 November, as well as the same weapons and perks as the original, but I’ll be updating this review once the multiplayer portion goes live.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of fun to be had in its campaign. Collect the 30 odd laptops hidden around the different stages, for instance, and you can play through the game again with different game-changing cheats enabled. Excessive ragdoll punches are a laugh, and the points-based arcade mode is a reasonably welcome distraction. However, I found the latter could only hold my attention for so long, and it’s not something I see myself playing a lot once the game’s multiplayer goes live.
Still, while I was a little sceptical beforehand, Modern Warfare Remastered is one of the most lovingly remastered games I’ve played in quite some time. There’s a clear attention to detail here, with completely overhauled textures, lighting and character models, and the pitch-perfect gunplay the series is known for remains fully intact.
The only downside is that you’ll have to fork out £70 if you want to get it with Infinite Warfare. However, if you’ve got fond memories of Call of Duty’s first foray into a modern setting, it’s more than worth the price of entry, and is by far the best way to play it in 2016. Here’s hoping Activision give the rest of the Modern Warfare trilogy the same treatment.
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