“At least the world didn’t end. Hit it.” –Staff Sergeant Griggs
In the aftermath of his son’s death, Imran Zakhaev seizes control of a nuclear launch installation and launches nuclear-tipped ICBMs at the Eastern Seaboard. Unless these missiles are stopped, upwards of 41 million casualties may result. A joint SAS and Force Recon operation is conducted, opening with a HALO jump that sees the combined forces reach the facility, take control of the command room and safely destroy the missiles over the Atlantic Ocean. Escaping the facility with Zakhaev’s forces in pursuit, the joint forces are stopped when a Mi-24 Hind destroys a bridge. Despite their efforts to hold out, they sustain numerous casualties – Zakhaev himself arrives and begins executing the wounded, but a Loyalist Mi-28 Havoc takes out the Hind, creating a distraction that allows Captain Price to give Soap his M1911. Soap kills Zakhaev and his escorts, and Loyalist forces move in to secure the area and tend to the wounded. The incident is covered up: the media presents the missiles as a Russian weapons test, and the ultranationalist involvement in the Middle East is swept under the rug. This brings Modern Warfare to an end, and at the time of writing, this marks the third time I’ve gone through the campaign in full. A thoroughly enjoyable campaign by all accounts, my initial impressions when I played through this five years ago was that the atmospherics were superb, capturing fully the sense of a squad working together to prevent the instigation of a nuclear war by rogue forces. Up until then, I was most familiar with James Bond and Halo as my shooters: I pressed through missions alone, counting on my own wits and equipment to advance. Thus, when I played Modern Warfare, it was a breath of fresh air to be working with other soldiers: I was quite unaccustomed to notions of breaching and dependency on squadmates to open doors for me, and therefore did not find them to be a distraction. Upon finishing, I was impressed with the campaign’s immersive nature, and presently, Modern Warfare Remastered has done much to recapture these old feelings and add on top of it solid new visuals that brings a classic to life using current generation rendering and graphics techniques.
When I completed Modern Warfare for the first time back in June 2012, I was just beginning to watch CLANNAD and was more than halfway through my introductory physics course. At this point in the term, the second midterm had just concluded the day before, and unlike the first midterm, I had performed quite a bit better than the first. The day after the second midterm, I only had a lab (lectures ran four of the five weekdays) – finishing this, I was free to head home, and took things easy by finishing Modern Warfare. I vividly recall the point where I reached the transmission tower and was asked to destroy it with C4, subsequently wrapping up the game that same evening. At this point in June, the final exam was still three weeks away, and at this point in the summer, the physics class meant that I could not study fully for the MCAT. What happened subsequently is largely a blur now, but I do remember beating Portal 2 in the days following; the day before the final exam, it was raining, and I had studied as best as I could. I spent the remainder of that afternoon playing Half-Life 2. Ultimately, I would end up with an A- in the physics course: I was fully ready to throw in the towel, but seeing the resolve in Modern Warfare (and events of CLANNAD) provided some of my motivation to keep trying until all opportunities were spent. With the physics final done, I would spend the remainder of July preparing for the MCAT. This physics course ended up being the only spring course I would ever take during my undergraduate program, and was a gruelling one owing to how condensed the materials were: I was most grateful to have also had the chance to play through a fantastic game to kick back and regroup.
Screenshots and Commentary
- This post is going to be one long trip down memory lane: I will recall moments from the summer of 2012 as I push through the thirty images and intersperse them with some of the experiences I’ve had while making my way through what remains one of the most memorable FPS campaigns I’ve experienced. We begin here, landing in a foggy valley shortly after touching down. The HALO jump has gone pear-shaped, and the first goal is to locate Griggs after he’s separated from the others. His signal takes Soap and the others to a small village.
- After clearing the village out, Soap locates Griggs, and the mission proceeds. Like almost all missions preceding it, “Ultimatum” starts Soap out with the M4A1 SOPMOD. This form of the weapon is one of the most versatile, akin to the XM-8 rifle seen in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. In general, assault rifles in video games are exceptional in that they can be adapted for use in most situations. A secondary weapon is usually then geared towards a specific task (close-quarters stopping power, longer-range accuracy or anti-vehicular readiness).
- Even now, I still remember the physics labs that were a part of the physics course. I was never too fond of these, as they merely offered practical experience in the theoretical concepts being taught in class. Time consuming and tedious, I nonetheless strove to perform here in the event that my exam marks were unsatisfactory: I completed the seventh of the nine labs when I walked out into this field where the transmission pylon was for the first time. It was an evening, and having completed the second midterm, there was no material to review: I typically spent around two hours after each lecture reviewing materials and doing practise problems in the textbook.
- After destroying the transmission tower, Soap and the others make their way into a labyrinth of derelict buildings. These sites apparently dot the far reaches of Russia, relics of the days of the Soviet Union, and unlike their real-world counterparts, which are largely peaceable, fierce hostilities await the joint SAS-Force Recon groups. The close quarters of the buildings notwithstanding, it’s still a wiser idea to carry a longer-range weapon, like the SVD-63, as a secondary weapon (as opposed to a PDW or LMG). It was here that I managed to shoot down a helicopter with an RPG, unlocking one of the achievements for Modern Warfare Remastered.
- I did a second physics course in following years; with the focus being on electricity and magnetism, I rather enjoyed this one more than the first physics course. Even back during high school, I preferred electricity and magnetism over Newtonian kinematics and dynamics: one of the more interesting things to note is that some two years had elapsed between the two physics courses, and so, I entered the course with a textbook that was an edition behind. It suddenly strikes me that I am unlikely to use that textbook again, although I suppose that it could still be useful as a reference should the need ever arise.
- Of course, I’m now at a stage where GPA and grades are of limited relevance, being pure numbers that are strictly for bragging rights. With this in mind, I will finally make known my old MCAT scores at a later date, since the five-year period where my MCAT scores are considered valid by the AAMC draws to a close. If I were to desire a career in medicine and admissions to medical school after this point, I would need to do another MCAT; since 2015, a new MCAT was introduced. Compared to the one I took back in 2012, which was a five-and-a-half hour long exam, the new MCAT spans seven hours and thirty minutes (including the half-hour break). The exam is truly a battle of attrition, and I sometimes feel that my thesis defense exams are, in a way, much easier than the MCAT.
- With this in mind, MCAT stories will be explored in full as a topic for another day: this post is, after all, titled “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered” rather than “MCAT recollections remastered”. Back in Modern Warfare, I’ve finished shooting my way through the abandoned factory complexes: moving through carefully and methodically shooting all ultranationalist resistance is the way to clear this part: while Call of Duty‘s multiplayer is often considered to be very much a run-and-gun shooter compared to more tactical games out there, ironically, running and gunning in the campaign is not an effective strategy.
- “Ultimatum” draws to a close with a pair of nuclear missiles launching. A mere two days before I was slated to write the MCAT, a friend asked me about citations in a paper. They were working on a talk about WMD and Iran, remarking to me that talk of weapons and destruction was a depressing topic. We met in an introductory Japanese class, and although infinite distance now separates our hearts, some of the memories from that summer of us sharing conversation and supporting one another remain some of the fondest I’ve got. Of course, time and space makes fools of us, and these days, we’re out of touch largely because staying out of touch is recommended as a means of letting the pain heal.
- Back in Modern Warfare, the SAS link up with a US Sniper Team as “All In” begins. They push through into the launch facility. In my earlier discussions of Modern Warfare, I largely omitted screenshots of these sections of the game, as they were overshadowed by “All Ghillied Up” and “One Shot, One Kill”. Further, the low polygon counts of Modern Warfare‘s original incarnation become increasingly obvious by this point of the game, which felt distinctly like the “Surface”, “Bunker” and “Silo” missions of GoldenEye 64. By comparison, the remastered graphics look astounding.
- The final stages of Modern Warfare are very high intensity, occurring within the span of a few hours. The last act in the game feels very quick, and each time I’ve gone through Modern Warfare, I’ve played the third act almost all at once owing to the pacing. There is a specific path that Soap has to follow here, and straying from it will invariably mean dealing with infinitely-respawning enemies. It took me several tries to get the path right despite having played through this two times previously.
- Access into the facility is complicated by the presence of BMP-2 IFVs. While Soap is instructed to use C4 in conjunction with smoke rounds (which I comply to here and utilised back in my earlier play-throughs), RPG-7 rockets are an equally viable option that will make quick work of these vehicles, allowing players to pick them off at a distance at the expense of sacrificing their secondary weapon. With the versatility of the M4A1 SOPMOD in mind, however, this is the easier way of doing things, although RPG rounds are in short supply. For the first BMP-2, C4 and smoke is the better option, as the BMP is nearby and therefore, easier to reach using smoke grenades.
- Price will shout for Soap and the others to head right owing to the extreme resistance faced, and for the sake of completing this mission, it would be wise to take this route. The other route is heavily defended and will leave players exposed to counterattack, but those tenacious enough to pick their way through will find an FGM-148 Javelin, which makes eliminating the remaining two BMP-2s a much easier task.
- I managed to capture a screenshot of a bullet missing Soap in this image here, bringing to mind the blaster fire effects of Star Wars. According to Mythbusters, blaster bolts travel an average of 208 to 216 km/h (converted to units for a physics context, 57.78 to 60 m/s). The Mythbusters values do not account for variations between different blaster makes and builds in-universe. By comparison, bullets average 3841.2 and 5486.4 km/h (1067 and1524 m/s, respectively). However, official documentation suggests that the blaster bolts are themselves invisible, travelling at or close to light speed, and the glow resulting is from the energy emitted by the bolt in transit.
- Star Wars, being soft science fiction, provides only a minimal explanation for most of their technologies, but in spite of this, it is always a thrill to watch Star Wars for the special effects alone. Rogue One was a fantastic movie, and Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is set for release somewhere in December 2017. At the same time, Star Wars Battlefront II is also set to release, and the game is to contain a single-player campaign. As I’ve done for most titles where I’m interested in the campaign more than the multiplayer, I will likely wait until this one goes on sale before picking it up.
- After the tarmac to the missile facility is cleared, it’s time to enter the bowels of the facility, Throughout the mission, Soap’s squadmates can be seen carrying power saws: it is here that they are put to use, cutting through the steel grating to the ventilation shafts leading into the launch facility below.
- The last major game I played involving infiltration of a missile silo (discounting the original incarnation of Modern Warfare) was GoldenEye 64. This was the game that got me into shooters, and it was playing at my cousin’s place during Christmas that introduced me to the joys of shooters. While the technologies driving FPS have advanced significantly since the days of GoldenEye 64, the thrills of a shooter have largely remain unchanged for the past two decades.
- An interesting bit of trivia is that this missile facility is set in the Altai Mountains, located in the central-eastern reaches of Russia, but the pre-mission tracker shows the mission as taking place in the Caucasus Mountains. With the revelation that Modern Warfare‘s third act is in the Altai mountains, this marks yet another location I’ve been interested in as being visited in Modern Warfare: extremely remote, the Altai Mountains have remain untouched since the last Ice Age and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. The area is dotted with lakes and vast mountain ranges, and in Chinese, the Altai Mountains are known as “Gold Mountain”.
- The interior of the missile facility in the original incarnation of Modern Warfare felt distinctly dated: low-resolution polygons and basic lighting means that the interior is much brighter than its remastered form. Moreover, the increased lighting throws into sharp relief the interiors’ limited details. Although the mission remains very entertaining in its original incarnation, it offered few locations where I felt inclined to take a screenshot.
- The close quarters confines of the missile facility means that a shotgun becomes a viable tool here owing to its stopping power, so I swapped out my empty RPG for the M1014. A large Soviet Union emblem can be seen on the wall adjacent: this was a simple metal structure mounted onto the wall in the original, but in the remastered, the new emblem has been given new colour and life. The stairwell in the remastered version is much darker than it was in the original to better capture the moody, dank interiors of the missile facility
- This mission’s name, “No Fighting In the War Room”, is titled after Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a satirical comedy film about the dangers of nuclear weapons. The original line promoting this mission’s name is “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”, one of the most famous lines in the entire movie. Here, I push through corridors containing the missiles themselves. Unlike the large multi-story silos of GoldenEye 64, these ones are much smaller, but the missiles they contain are no less deadly, carrying MIRV payloads. The facility appears to be built with the dense pack methodology in mind, where missiles were packed closely together to increase the chance at least several could survive a first strike and be utilised for retaliation.
- A heavy blast door opens slowly once activated, being one of the slowest doors I’ve ever seen in a game and while Price is impatient, Gaz only makes the tongue-in-cheek suggestion of pushing the doors. Incredibly heavy, these doors would have offered the control room protection from external forces, and without dedicated equipment and a lot of time, getting through is nigh impossible. In their present circumstances, they can only wait as the doors open completely before pushing through to the control room.
- The fears and uncertainty surrounding a nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union was very much a real threat from the 1950s into the late 1980s: my generation, the millennials, are completely unfamiliar with the ever-present threat of a nuclear war and grew up listening to news reports of terrorism instead. However, with the recent deployment of a carrier task group into the Korean Peninsula and the increasing belligerence of North Korea, I am growing a little concerned that things could go hot. As Robert McNamara put it, nuclear weapons in human hands are a recipe for disaster; unless cooler heads prevail, the world is hurtling to the brink of devastation not felt since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
- When the mission starts, the controllers coordinating this mission still had not acquired the codes yet to abort the missiles. In the eleven minutes I was given to reach the control room, the abort codes have been acquired. Soap enters them into a console, and command confirms that the missiles have been successfully destroyed in mid-flight. The world may have not ended, but there’s still a ways to go: Soap and the others must now evacuate the facility and reach an extraction point.
- The keyboard console to enter the abort codes is seen in the left-hand side of the screen, and when the codes are successfully entered, there are no indicators at the mission control centre to suggest the nuclear weapons have indeed been neutralised. These are tense moments, and while awaiting the confirmation, I wander about, locating the intel on the room’s far left. I’ve opted to leave all the intel in place for now and as noted previously, will be returning quite separately in order to locate all of the intel at a later date. Previous efforts to do so never materialised, but I will try to make a more honest effort for Modern Warfare Remastered.
- The last mission of Modern Warfare is appropriately titled “Game Over”, and of all of the missions in the game, is the most hectic and wild as Soap and the others must make their way to the extraction site. If Modern Warfare‘s previous missions was the process of studying for the MCAT and all of the build-up leading to test day, then “Game Over” is the MCAT itself: like Soap, who must now fire his M4A1 to hold off ultranationalist forces while in a moving vehicle, the MCAT is an exam for which there can be no true preparation for.
- For a moment, Modern Warfare turns into Need for Speed: shooting out the gunners in the pursuing trucks is all Soap can do to keep alive. Like the MCAT, it’s not really about what one knows at this point, but rather, how one applies their knowledge and soft skills to survive. On my test day, knowing how to take on the exam and answer questions using logic and reasoning proved to be a far greater asset than the facts themselves. From start to finish, the exam was a blur, and I only vaguely remember sitting in front of the computer, filling out questions by reasoning through them as much as calling upon all of the knowledge I’d picked up in a classroom under the morning light during the MCAT preparation course.
- Back in Modern Warfare Remastered, I take aim at yet another truck-full of ultranationalist soldiers. I’m not sure if it is possible to shoot through the windshield and kill the driver (this would make it considerably easier), but firing short, controlled bursts while aiming down sights is the best way to go about surviving the car chase. It is non-stop action, and the worst part is running out of ammunition and being forced to reload, which feels like an eternity. Consequently, picking one’s shots calmly even during such chaos goes a long ways towards ensuring survival.
- An Mi-24 Hind appears and begins opening fire on Soap and the convoy with rockets and gunfire. Picking up an RPG, Soap’s efforts cause the Hind to leave for a few moments. Despite being on a moving vehicle, there are a few moments where players can line up a perfect shot on the Hind. However, the Hind lacks any hit boxes: as it is a scripted entity, it cannot be destroyed. In the original Modern Warfare, there are no water reflections in the lake – the scenery has been duplicated and inverted along the y-axis. However, Modern Warfare Remastered rectifies this: a proper water surface is presented to give a much more realistic-looking body of water. Players are not likely to notice this owing to the destruction the Hind is causing.
- The vehicle chase comes to an abrupt halt when the Hind destroys the bridge. Players must hold out for a few moments, and I pick up an M60E4, pummelling ultranationalist forces before a second explosion knocks down the entire team. The music here, also titled “Game Over”, is one of the most solid pieces of the game’s soundtrack: it becomes darker and brooding as the squad faces certain doom, for Zakhaev begins executing them. Hopeful motifs begin playing when Price slides Soap his M1911 after a Loyalist Mi-28 destroys the ultranationalist Hind.
- Picking the weapon up, I take aim and shoot Zakhaev in the head, along with his cronies. Here, heroic elements seep into the song, swelling into a crescendo when Loyalist forces tend to the surviving SAS men. This song captures everything about how an MCAT feels in its run, and the ending elements reflect on the sense of relief to know the world has not ended. When my MCAT ended, this song filled my mind, and I walked out into the evening sun, feeling a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I set off for dinner, and arriving home, I came home to a notification on my iPad, inquiring about the exam, to which I responded: “I’m quite glad it to be over now; hopefully, it’ll’ve been alright”.
The dialogues and music from Modern Warfare would also carry me through the summer; I listened to the melancholic, yet heroic pieces while studying for my MCAT, and joked frequently with friends using lines from the game to illustrate how I felt about the exam. It’s been five years since then, and although Modern Warfare Remastered might have been improved, the game itself still evokes strong memories of a long-distant summer. These memories account for why my final verdict for Modern Warfare Remastered (a strong recommendation) is also not one to be taken at face value owing to my own biases. The question thus remains: is Modern Warfare Remastered worth buying? After all, the game is essentially a ten-year-old title given new graphics – its mechanics still handle as they did a decade ago. The answer to that is simple: the game is not worth the purchase at full price, and folks looking to experience Modern Warfare Remastered as a standalone without Infinite Warfare might be wiser to wait. With this being said, folks who’ve never played the original Modern Warfare may find the Legacy Edition worth buying if it is on sale: one is getting two games for the price of one (or better) under these circumstances. I purchased the Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition mainly because of the fact that it was on sale and because it’s nearing the five-year anniversary of one of my MCAT, I am feeling a bit nostalgic about the events of five years earlier. With Modern Warfare Remastered in the books, I can easily say that the remastered version brings new life to a decade-old classic, and for the present, it’s time to wrap up Titanfall 2, before taking on the Battlefield 1 Premium experience. I will be returning in May and June to finish Infinite Warfare.