The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Review and Impressions ¾ Mark

“He’s one of us! Ethan! What’s the Navy’s official policy for a gunfight?”
“Send in the Marines!”

–Staff Sergeant Usef Omar and ETH.3n

Reyes is recovered by the Tigris and returns to the Retribution, mopping up SDF operations over the dwarf planet Pluto and restores control of a salvage site to SATO, returns to Titan to decimate SDF vessels while they are refueling and proceeds to intercept a chemical weapons vessel in orbit over Venus. Subsequently, Reyes receives word that there is a disturbance at a SATO facility in an asteroid mining station near Mercury. Fighting both hostile robots and extremities of temperatures, Reyes and his team narrowly miss incineration and only just escape the facility, although Staff Sergeant Omar dies when Salter takes off early before their window to evacuate closes. Upon returning to the Retribution, Reyes and the others learn that this operation had been a diversion: the SDF destroy the Tigris, leaving no survivors. Reyes later devises a plan involving the beacon that Riah is carrying; this is a signal that will prompt a full SDF invasion, and in theory, cutting off the beacon will lead the SDF to assume the time is appropriate for a full-scale assault. Before returning to Earth, Reyes engages a remaining SDF operation in orbit around the sun, where the blistering temperatures only confers his Jackals limited time before they malfunction. Completing this task, the Retribution’s crew gear up for a final shot at the SDF fleet and recovering control of the solar system. This is where I am in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare after some eleven hours of play – with all of the side missions complete, I turn my attention towards the final two missions left in this game.

While very much a corridor shooter in the vein of its predecessors, Infinite Warfare provides a very uncommon approach towards its gameplay – the side missions have proven to be quite enjoyable despite their similarities with one another. This is not too surprising, as the side missions come in two varieties: Jackal strike missions are purely space combat driven, involving dogfights and attacks on SDF vessels, while infiltration missions involve boarding SDF vessels to recover high value articles or carrying out acts of sabotage. While these missions play identically, they offer additional insights into the SDF, which is by this point, very nearly comical in its portrayal. A militaristic, totalitarian regime, one must wonder if Infinite Warfare is willfully presenting a satire of such governments, indirectly mocking both Gundam‘s Principality of Zeon and Aldnoah.Zero‘s VERS Empire for their methods and principles. Developing secret weapons stolen from SATO and resorting to WMD, the SDF are unquestionably appalling, an entity that is very difficult to garner sympathy for: this makes it easy to provide a backdrop and justification for the diverse locations seen in Infinite Warfare. While the narrative might be quite thin on closer inspection, it is successful in giving players a chance to experience combat operations set in different locations around the Solar System, and while there is a degree of repetitiveness in the side missions, they are intended to supplement the relatively small number of main missions, which are rather more diverse in terms of design and atmosphere.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In 2006, the IAU formalised its definition of a planet after the discovery of several objects in the Kepler Belt with similar masses to Pluto: it has since been re-designated a dwarf planet, although scientists are still in debate as to whether or not the new IAU definition is satisfactory. The definition is seen as pure matter of semantics, and under the IAU terms, Earth would not qualify as a planet for having failed to “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit”, which is given as becoming a gravitationally dominant entity in its area, although this is loosely defined and consequently, is considered inadequate a criteria.

  • In Rick and Morty, Jerry Smith argues that “If [Pluto] can be a planet, it can be a planet again”. It’s not quite as eloquent as a formal argument, and from a personal perspective, I argue that the third criteria is indeed open to semantics: in a hypothetical young star system with several gas giants several times the mass and radius of Earth, these would not be considered planets if they are surrounded by a debris field under the “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” constraint. This makes very little sense, and the suggested, simpler definition encompasses two criteria, which makes rather more sense: a planet should be a sufficiently large body orbiting the sun that is of a sufficient size to maintain a spherical structure, and where the size exceeds a certain threshold (e.g. a diameter of 2000 kilometers or greater). Any smaller object with a spherical shape is then counted as a dwarf planet.

  • The object of one of the boarding missions around Pluto is to infiltrate an SDF vessel and execute high value targets belonging to the SDF command: crippling their leadership will weaken their ability to strike the SATO forces. Donning a SDF uniform and equipment, Reyes manages to sneak through the vessel undetected and deactivates the life support system, leading to near total casualties.

  • I’ve now said two controversial things in this Infinite Warfare post, and while I do wonder what readers think of these topics (both of my perspective on Zeon and Pluto’s state as dwarf planet), I note that this is a gaming post intended to detail my run through a futuristic first person shooter. Hence, comments that deviate too greatly from the scope of discussion will likely not be answered in full because a proper response will be quite wordy. Returning back to Infinite Warfare, here, I participate in a mission to engage and destroy SDF fighters, as well as vessels, in a salvage yard over Pluto.

  • Very much cut and dried, the Jackal strike missions turned out to be quite enjoyable despite being repetitive owing to the different locales they are set above. By this point in the game, I’ve become very comfortable with the handling of a Jackal, which is unlike the jets of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 and Ace Combat. In fact, the controls are more similar to the Banshee of Halo and Halo 2. As well, I’ve unlocked all of the weapons and specialisations for the Jackal. I usually sortie with the default loadout, which offers a nice balance between firepower and firing rate.

  • The skies of Titan are moodier as I return to wreck havoc on the SDF A-Jak Cutters, smaller warships with vulnerable panels near their engines that can be destroyed quickly, dealing massive damage to the Cutter. The larger destroyers take a much longer period to engage: my preferred strategy is to hit it from the sides and rear, eliminating the cannons and missiles as required. After sustaining enough damage, the destroyers will explode spectacularly, although I do find it interesting that a single Jackal can do that much damage to an entire destroyer.

  • Flying above Venus’s noxious atmosphere of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide in this mission, Reyes and the Retribution prepare to board the Hellas, which is suspected to be housing chemical weapons. That there is no “boots-on-the-ground” mission on Venus makes sense: despite being considered Earth’s sister planet, the surface is shrouded in a heavy atmosphere that exerts ninety-four times the pressure relative to Earth’s. Simply, explorers on the surface would be exposed to an unpleasant combination of extreme heat caused by the runaway greenhouse effect and corrosive elements that, in conjunction with the pressure, would make combat and movement near-impossible. Conversely, telemetry has found that the upper atmosphere, some sixty kilometers above the surface, has a similar composition to Earth’s atmosphere.

  • It is up here that the events of Operation D-CON are set. I start with the recommended loadout of a Mauler LMG and Reaver shotgun, both projectile weapons. Having an LMG is useful for situations where there is a large number of enemies, while the shotgun is well-suited for the tighter corridors of the SDF destroyer. It’s business as usual, then: make one’s way to a part of the warship, do something and then get out. While the side missions are unremarkable from a gameplay perspective, they provide additional information on the war between the UNSA and SDF, as well as unlocking attachments and upgrades for players.

  • The side missions also reuse a great many assets: it’s actually quite convenient, since the SDF warships likely have a standardised interior, it should be no surprise that all of the warships look the same from the inside. Here, I have swapped over to the Reaver for close-quarters combat, and note that the weapons of Infinite Warfare‘s campaign can be customised to an incredible extent: while there is a default recommended loadout, players can set up their initial loadout to be anything they wish (even spawning into a mission with the F-SpAr torch if they so wished). By default, the Reaver of Operation D-CON is equipped with smart shot that guides the pellets along their trajectories to an extent.

  • After reaching the weapons room, it’s a matter of clearing out the SDF, waiting for a proximity hack to complete and holding off attacking SDF while the hack is progressing. The LMG becomes useful here, and after the weapon is acquired, it’s time to get out. That the SDF are willing to resort to chemical weapons is indicative of their extremism, bringing to mind Zeon, who similarly used chemical weapons to completely depopulate a colony cylinder before attempting to drop it on Jaburo base during Mobile Suit Gundam‘s Operation British.

  • With the side missions largely finished save for one, I resume the main campaign and set out for an asteroid base Vesta 3 orbiting Mercury; by the time Reyes arrives to investigate the site for any survivors, its orbit has destablised, and the asteroid itself is rotating erratically as a result of the SDF Olympus Mons having fired on the asteriod: day and night cycles are minutes in length, with blistering heat by day that makes movement particularly hazardous. It’s a fantastic set-piece mission, and players can only move in shadows or during the dark.

  • The interior of the Vesta 3 base is eerily quiet, bringing to mind the sort of environments I saw in Alien Isolation. I began Alien Isolation nearly a year ago, a few days into June after delivering my department seminar presentation in preparation for the thesis defense. By this point, my paper was largely finished, and I had picked up Alien Isolation on a fantastic sale that saw the game go for 75 percent off. It was quite unlike anything I’d experienced before and also a highly enjoyable one, save the mission in the reactor core.

  • It took me a week to summon up the courage to attempt the reactor basement mission in Alien Isolation, and by the time I finsihed the game, it was late August. Returning to Infinite Warfare, I continue making my way through the base here, which as thus far been devoid of any human opponents. In the quiet, I shop to look around the level’s designs and notice that, like Titanfall 2, one can find hanzi (Chinese characters) in some parts of the settings that players go through. I’ve not read or written much Chinese as of late, so my recognition of more complex characters has decayed over the past several years.

  • It turns out that the deaths at the facility were caused by the SDF hacking into the security robots and having them kill off the station’s inhabitants. These robots are now hostile to all humans and will kill them on sight, hence the wisdom of having good energy weapons: they are particularly effective, in conjunction with shock grenades, against robots.

  • Once the sunlight has passed and gives way to darkness, it’s time to move on to the next area. During one transition, the sun re-appears and begins burning Reyes – flames can be seen burning on the surface his suit, only to extinguish themselves as Reyes returns to cover. I’m not actually sure how this would work, since fires are the result of a fuel source undergoing combustion, but in the moment, this was the last thing on my mind: the only goal was to get to some cover. When the door is reached, a horde of robots appear, and Reyes must fight them off while the proximity hack is executing.

  • I manage to find an F-SpAr torch at the base, and decided to save it, feeling that it would come in handy later on. While the casualties are extensive, Reyes and his team manage to save some of the miners. In news quite unrelated to Infinite Warfare, first person shooters and games in general, the owner of the file sharing site, nyaa.se, scuttled the site out of concern that the EU’s new anti-piracy laws could land them in legal trouble. It’s been one of the bigger events in the anime community, and while my opinions on internet privacy and information sharing are my own, these events is an ominous indicator of the decline of freedom in electronic communications in the near future.

  • The deletion of nyaa.se and its associated domains leaves viewers of anime unable to acquire older shows, OVAs or movies effectively. One may then wonder if this would affect this blog in any way, and the answer to this is that I largely remain unaffected by this news – my discussions for anime series, OVAs and movies should still come out as scheduled. The next anime post will be Hai-Furi‘s second OVA, continuing with Kōko Nosa’s experiences as she struggles to deal with news that the Harekaze will be scrapped, and this is coming out near May 24. Back in Infinite Warfare, I make my way through the asteriod’s molten interior in a perilous catwalk, and here, I wield a Volk that I found.

  • A veritable army of robots awaits Reyes and the others at the extraction point. The wisdom of having held onto the F-SpAr comes into play here, and it is an indispensable asset that, when used in conjunction with the shock grenades, allows players to clear out the area quickly. The Volk is a modestly effective fall-back weapon, but its slower firing rate made its use a bit of a challenge. After eliminating the robots, Salter lands, but the heat forces her to take off, leading Staff Sergeant Omar to die in the process. I was sad to see him go, especially after seeing him warm up to Ethan. After a heated discussion on the Retribution’s bridge, the officers decide that they must now prepare to deal a death blow to the SDF by luring them into a trap. Before this can happen, there is one final side mission to complete.

  • The final side mission unlocked is a timed mission close to the sun – prolonged exposure to the extreme temperatures (exceeding 700ºC) will damage the Jackal’s components, so Reyes only has six minutes (on standard difficulty) to clear out the SDF forces guarding vital resources belonging to the UNSA. It’s a spectacular mission, although eliminating all of the SDF Skelters and Ace pilots can be a little tricky.

  • In the end, I finished the mission with around twenty seconds to spare, having spent most of my time trying to find the Ace pilots. This brings my Infinite Warfare post to a conclusion, and I note that the reason why I am suspending my writing for the next two weeks is because I am set to go on vacation quite soon. This is why the next major post dealing with anime will be the Hai-Furi OVA, and in the meantime, I will need to get to packing and carrying out preparations for this trip. I will return after my trip, before the month ends, to wrap up my thoughts on Infinite Warfare, and depending on how scheduling works, I might also do a post on the upcoming movie Koe no Katachi before May draws to a close.

The topic of Zeon brings to mind a conversation I’ve shared with a friend about Mobile Suit Gundam: despite being intended to fulfill a similar role in Gundam as the SDF do in Infinite Warfare, there are some individuals who believe that Zeon’s cause is just in spite of all of their atrocities. Their argument is that Zeon was born of noble origins, even if their methods are disagreeable. My friend thus argues that this support is to suggest a deep-seated belief within these individuals that power should be concentrated in the hands of the few, that might is right. Inspection of Gundam finds that Zeon is generally dealt the short stick: its leadership consists of fanatical bigots who view the citizenry as disposable, a means to an end, and while the citizens might be people with their own stories, the leaders of Zeon certainly are intended to be viewed as no different than history’s most infamous despots. This is meant to challenge black and white viewpoints of warfare, and consequently, the extremities in Infinite Warfare might be intended to satirise these figures, fictional and real, as well as make it clear that the SDF are antagonists, not to be sympathised with, but a force threatening freedom and liberty. It certainly simplifies the amount of discussion that can be had about the nature of warfare from Infinite Warfare, but also drives home a different theme that will become apparent as Infinite Warfare enters its final chapter.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered- Act III Review and Reflection

“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.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered- Act II Review and Reflection

“Ignore that load of bollocks. Their counterattack is imminent. Spread out and cover the southern approach.” –Captain Price

Despite the nuclear detonation, Price believes Al-Asad to be alive; with support from Russian Loyalist forces, he strikes at a village in Azerbaijan where Al-Asad is suspected to have a safehouse. After clearing out the village and locating Al-Asad. Price begins to interrogate him with the goal of learning who supplied his nuclear weapon. A ways in, Al-Asad’s phone rings: it turns out to be Imran Zakhaev. Price connects the dots and executes Al-Asad, explaining to the others that fifteen years ago, he and Captain MacMillian had been assigned a mission to eliminate Zakhaev, an arms dealer who had profited tremendously from selling nuclear mateirals to other parties. Sneaking through the abandoned Pripyat, Price and MacMillian wait for Zakhaev at the top of the Hotel Polissya. The mission was unsuccessful despite Price’s placement of a shot that blew off Zakhaev’s arm, and the two were forced to fight their way through hordes of Ultranationalists. MacMillian is injured during their escape, but both manage to escape. Back in the present, Al-Asad’s death causes ultranationalists to converge on the farmhouse: owing to difficulties with the original extraction site, Soap and the others must fight their way back to the bottom of the hill for exfiltration. Price decides the next move is to locate Zakhaev’s son, Viktor, who shares many of Zakhaev’s visions and is actively involved with the ultranationalists, being a field commander. The SAS forces ambush Viktor’s convoy, and while he manages to escape, he is eventually cornered, but commits suicide before Price can interrogate him. His death prompts Zakhaev to seize controls of nuclear missiles in retaliation – while Gaz remarks that they’d lost their only lead, Price surmises that Viktor’s death will only make it easier to find Zakhaev.

Punching through the remote mountains of Azerbaijan to locate Al-Asad, crawling through the fields surrounding Pripyat and the town of Uzlovoy in the Mostovsky District of Russia, Modern Warfare‘s second act is a ways shorter than the first act, but also is where the exposition comes to a close and where the narrative of the game really picks up. The different elements of the second act deal predominantly with Imran Zakhaev and the threat he presents – a classic Soviet villain, Zakhaev longs to return Russia to its former glory through any means necessary. The British government are presented as being well aware of this, and in the game’s most brilliant missions, the story behind how Price knows Zakhaev are told in the form of a flashback that also offered a completely novel turn on gameplay: whereas going loud is the norm in other missions, “All Ghillied Up” is set up in a completely different manner. Price and MacMillian are out-numbered and out-gunned at all points during their assignment, but patience and stealth win the day. The missions set in Pripyat and its surroundings remain some of the most famous, well-received in the world of first person shooters for good reason, conveying a new atmospheric that was unexpected and refreshing in a title like Modern Warfare; to see these levels remastered again was to bring back one of the greatest missions in a first person shooter and breathe new life into it, furthering the sense of immersion that these levels create.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the original “Safehouse” mission, a yellow glow can be seen on the horizon just above the mountains, and wisps of dark are interspersed with the sky. It has the effect of suggesting that Soap and the others are operating during an overcast evening; the days are lengthening again, and given how many cloudy days there have been this month so far, I’ve seen the effect myself. Conversely, the updated graphics in Modern Warfare Remastered firmly present the missions as being set well after sunset.

  • Curiously enough, the remaster of Modern Warfare chooses to depict the strike as happening on a moonlit night, when the original set the mission during a moonless night. The advantage about operating on a moonless night is that one is less visible, so the original games made more sense from a tactical perspective, although for the sake of aesthetics, I can let this slide. One of the Russian loyalist soldiers can be heard saying that the ultranationalists are slaughtering the villagers, but upon arriving in the village itself, no civilians (or any hints that they were present) can be seen. Soap starts this mission with the M4A1 SOPMOD and the M1014 shotgun.

  • Despite being louder and having a slower rate of fire, the M1014’s stopping power in close quarters combat cannot be understated. The mission objectives here, being to clear each building, are stringent, and the waypoints will not update until every enemy inside a building has been neutralised. Hence, it is worth methodically going through every room in a building to make certain that everything that moves, doesn’t move any more.

  • Throughout the mission, the SAS and Loyalist ground forces are assisted by a Mi-28 Havoc gunship that can be called upon periodically to clear out heavily defended positions. Fun it may be to clear out enemy forces, they are present in overwhelming numbers on some occasions, necessitating some close-air support from allied assets. When I played through Modern Warfare for the first time, I was surprised at how little durability my avatar had, having grown accustomed to the recharging energy shields of Halo 2.

  • From 2009 to 2012, I played Halo 2 almost exclusively on PC, spending most of my Friday evenings slagging other players in CTF and Slayer on maps like Lockout, Midship and Coagulation. As a result of concentrating on one game, I became somewhat of a legend in Halo 2 on Windows Vista; there were several servers named after me, and some servers would even kick me on sight. By 2011, Team Fortress 2 became free-to-play, and I spent a bit of time playing that, but I predominantly spent time in Halo 2 until the servers finally shut down in Feubrary 2013.

  • In my original review of Modern Warfare, I featured a similar screenshot of myself standing under a street lamp with the SVD-63. One of the things that stood out most to me in the game compared to the likes of Halo was that players were much more vulnerable and therefore, had to play more tactically in order to ensure survival. Similarly, the arrival of enemy armour was a much more serious challenge; while Modern Warfare conveniently provides players with means to take out armour (usually in the form of the FGM-148 Javelin), in Halo 2, I typically carried a rocket launcher around in conjunction with the Battle Rifle and therefore, feared neither armour or infantry.

  • In Modern Warfare and most of the shooters I’ve since played, dedicated anti-tank weapons are less effectual on infantry, so I’m typically forced to swap weapons out. One thing that I am inclined to do is to go back through Halo 2‘s campaign in the future, but in conjunction with the fact that I’d also like to go through Portal 2Wolfenstein: The New Order‘s Fergus playthrough and Valkyria Chronicles‘ “Behind Her Blue Flame” DLC, this set of endeavours could take quite some time. Back in Modern Warfare, once all of the houses have been confirmed clear, Soap makes his way to the barn (barely visible in this image), where Al-Asad is holed up.

  • It was last week, April Fools’ Day, that I reached “All Ghillied Up” at last. After a morning spent lifting weights, and pushing out the April Fools’ Nyanko Days post, I went out by evening for dinner with family. I ordered a medium-rare sirloin steak topped with garlic shrimps, plus a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. The steak was tender and delicious, as was the toffee pudding following the main course. It was a quiet evening at the restaurant: evening sunlight streamed through the windows, and service was very quick. After the last of the food was enjoyed, we headed home, and I spun up Modern Warfare Remastered.

  • To see “All Ghillied Up” remastered in all of its glory was a moving moment. The clouds have become much more detailed to really give the sense of a moody overcast day, and the vegetation is much denser, even parting when Price crawls through. By this point, I’ve already finished most of the mission, and having not alerted anyone to my presence (MacMillian will shout that “We’ve been compromised!” if that happens), I unlocked an achievement for this mission, compared to previous playthroughs, where a lack of patience usually led me to go loud, only for MacMillian to reprimand me. Having lost none of its suspense, the renewed graphics makes an already timeless mission something that was even worth the price of the Infinite Warfare: Legacy Edition.

  • The answer for why I’ve only got such a small number of screenshots for what I consider to be the most iconic missions of Modern Warfare, is that I’ve actually got two dedicated posts in the works to be published at the five year anniversary to when I first posted the original Chernobyl Diaries talks for Modern Warfare, having completed these two missions shortly after the ill-received film Chernoyl Diaries was released in theatres back during May 2012. The plan is that I will talk about Chernobyl Diaries in the dedicated “All Ghillied Up” post, exploring what I thought of the movie after deciding to check it out a few weeks ago.

  • For the post “One Shot, One Kill”, I will recall the summer of 2012 and the numerous hours I spent studying, both for introductory physics and for the MCAT, opening with a worked computation of bullet drop and bullet speed for old times’ sake. Here, I’m about halfway through “One Shot, One Kill”, about to fire at the helicopter pursuing Price and MacMillian. It is here that MacMillian is injured, and any misconceptions of him becoming a minor inconvenience are quickly dispelled when players set him down, only for his exceptional marksmanship to deal with enemies efficiently.

  • The placement of landmarks in Modern Warfare‘s Pripyat have previously been noted to be incorrect, but the game accurately and faithfully captures the atmospherics: so immersive is the lighting and details in the environment, whether it be the accumulation of filth on the tile or the dust filling the air, standing inside the Azure Swimming pool in-game made it feel as though I were there for myself. One of the most frenzied firefights proceeds this point, and I will be returning to detail “All Ghillied Up” and “One Shot, One Kill” fully – for the time being, I will continue on with Modern Warfare Remastered‘s second act.

  • In the remaster, the mission “Heat” still appears to be set on an overcast, humid morning as seen in the original Modern Warfare, which reminded me of the days in July 2012; by this point in time, I had concluded my physics course and was wholly dedicated towards studying for my MCAT. I came to campus on some mornings to lift weights, and left afterwards: on one morning, it was humid and grey, brining to mind this mission, although by this point in the summer, I had long completed Modern Warfare and had returned my friend’s Steam account. Instead, my gaming would focus on Team Fortress 2 and MicroVolts, which I played in between studying and revisions.

  • Sun Tzu said that all war is deception, and the SAS forces here capitalise on that, firing on the ultranationalist forces from concealed positions and making use of well-placed explosives to give the impression of their being a much larger force than they are. Soap starts “Heat” with the M21 and the M249 SAW. Both weapons are effectual on this level, and I remark that one of the things I look for in a game, when it comes to light machine guns that are belt-fed, is the animation of bullets being cycled into the chamber. Some games conceal this, and the bullets themselves actually do not move, but it is always a nice touch to begin running dry on ammunition and watching as the belt empties.

  • The large number of enemies means that having an automatic weapon becomes indispensable: LMGs are generally of lesser use in campaign missions, since there are few cases where players are faced with overwhelming numbers, and where suppression effects are not likely to dissuade the AI. Moreover, the long reload times can be a bit of a liability: in multiplayer, being able to suppress other players is a much more viable tactic, and for Battlefield 3 and 4, the M249 became one of my favourite LMGs for its relatively high fire rate. Battlefield 1 has no such equivalent, and as a result, my performance with the support class is not quite as good as it was in earlier Battlefield titles.

  • In Modern Warfare‘s campaign, the M249 is the most effective LMG owing to its higher rate of fire than comparable LMGs, whereas in the multiplayer, the weapon has weaker bullet damage. Coming in from Battlefield, I tend to favour higher RPM LMGs owing to my preference for close-quarters combat; the slower-firing weapons, such as the M240 and PKP are better for medium range encounters. The new reloading animation for Modern Warfare Remastered‘s M249 is a slick-looking one, too.

  • While Gaz and the others shout that things are about to get a lot more difficult on account of incoming ultranationalist helicopters, the overwhelming firepower conferred by the mini-gun allows Soap to turn all five of them into flaming wreckages in a matter of seconds. Firing 7.62 mm rounds, the M134 mini-gun is so-called because it is essentially a miniaturised version of the M61 Vulcan, firing smaller rounds, but its high rate of fire allows it to deal a great deal of damage.

  • Soap sprints up to the tavern to man some detonators, further stalling the ultranationalist forces. I’ve featured a similar screenshot in my older review written last year, during which I remarked on the melancholy this mission evokes. This was in part owing to the section of the track “Game Over”; the original Modern Warfare played a slower, more sombre part of the song, whereas in the remaster, a more harrowing, urgent part of the song is played to create a different atmosphere. Rather than an MCAT-style sense, Modern Warfare Remastered yields a more tense, high-intensity feel as Soap and the others make their way back downhill to the newly designated LZ.

  • With enemy tanks converging on their position, Soap’s tasked with retrieving a Javelin missile launcher from the barn. While the chaos of “Heat” may be overwhelming, the mission is a reversed version of “Safehouse”, bringing to mind the level designs of Halo: Combat Evolved. While it might be done as a result of budget or time constraints, I personally do not mind them quite to the same extent as some folks out there: backtracking missions can allow one to revisit a level under a completely different set of lighting and visual conditions, making visible things that might otherwise be missed or overlooked.

  • Is it realistic for a Javelin missile to one-shot a T-72 tank? For gameplay purposes, this makes sense, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a single missile destroying a T-72 totally is not outside the realm of possibility – the missile is performing a top-down attack, striking the part of the tank with the smallest amount of armour, and T-72s without any defensive measures, such as reactive armour or active interception systems, would be destroyed on short notice.

  • Late into “Heat”, allied airstrikes become another option as the number of enemies becomes staggering. Having close air support buys players enough breathing room to keep moving forward: the extraction team note that the entire area’s become too hot to land safely and move the LZ, much to Gaz’s displeasure. This is a clever parallel with the dynamics of real life, where situations can change without a moment’s notice. Resourcefulness and flexibility are key to survival and success: Price tells Gaz to let it go and push for the new LZ.

  • Three minutes to cover the ground between the farmhouse and the base of the hill may not seem like much, and it is definitely not if one chooses to engage the endless ultranationalists that appear, but there is a way to make it very quickly. In previous play throughs, I would move cover to cover and wait for the others to catch up, but since the game’s timers are dependent on the player’s actions, it is possible to slip away, and armed with an appropriate weapon set, punch through the hills to reach the base on very short order: Price and the others will spawn right behind the player if they do this, and the mission will still be completed.

  • Without making use of additional airstrikes or risking exposure to enemy fire, I reach the bottom of the hill, arriving at the gas station that Soap starts at in “Safehouse” to conclude the mission. In my older reviews, I always mentioned that I would return to Modern Warfare and collect the intel: I will do this with Modern Warfare Remastered and likely have a post out for August. There are 30 pieces of intel in Modern Warfare, and this corresponds nicely with a post of thirty images.

  • Bolt-action rifles have always held an interesting place in a modern military shooter’s campaign: despite their stopping power, campaigns tend to send a larger number of enemies at players. As such, a semi-automatic rifle is almost always preferred, having a larger magazine capacity and higher firing rate that make them more useful against large groups than the more powerful, but slower-firing bolt action rifles. At the beginning of “Sins of the Father”, Soap is equipped with the R700, and will only find limited use for the weapon before its ammunition is depleted.

  • Soap can either pick up an automatic weapon and push into the garage, or else take up an overwatch position and pick enemies off from afar. I chose the latter, equipping the SVD-63. Either method will work well enough, and a checkpoint will be reached as players wait for Viktor’s convoy to arrive. In this time, Soap and the others don ultranationalist gear to conceal themselves. The R700 is also discarded for the RPD.

  • The mission threatens to fall apart when one of the vehicles rams the guard tower Soap is in, causing it to fall over. Unharmed, Zakhaev takes off, prompting Soap to give chase. A legion of ultranationalists stands between Soap and Viktor Zakhaev: the goal is to ensure that Zakhaev does not get too much of a head start in their foot chase and escape. At this point, the RPD is less of an asset, and I immediately switch over to the ever-reliable G36C: its slight magnification and precision allows players to target other soldiers without accidentally opening fire on Zakhaev.

  • For the curious, I have, on numerous occasions, accidentally killed Viktor Zakhaev with a variety of weapons while trying to thin the number of ultranationalist soldiers between myself and him. The only trick here is to check one’s targets before firing, and also to know where Zakhaev is heading: it is also possible to get lost in some of the settlement’s streets, allowing Zakhaev to escape.

  • After turning left on the main road into an alley way, there’s actually no more need to move at an urgent pace, since Soap is getting close to the final destination – instead, it makes more sense to clear out the area before pressing forwards. Aside from the G36C, another good weapon to have is the MP5: I usually overlook this weapon owing to its weaker 9 mm rounds, but it’s reasonably consistent when fired from the hip, making it a fine secondary weapon to resort to in a pinch.

  • A machine gun nest can be found at the top of a five story apartment: players can take it out if they so choose, but supporting fire from a friendly helicopter will eliminate the position. In the close quarters of the apartment, a high RPM weapon is ideal, although a shotgun can also be effective. Owing to their slower rate of fire, it is inadvisable to rush through the building, and instead, carefully pick one’s shots. I normally won’t run with a shotgun in this mission, but for old times’ sake, I decided to do so in order to confront Zakhaev with a shotgun, as I did in my previous talk on Modern Warfare.

  • At this point in time, I’ve decided to try and finish Modern Warfare Remastered in conjunction with Titanfall 2 before May rolls around. There’s a reason for this, that I will share at the appropriate point in the future. In the meantime, I will keep going through Titanfall 2‘s excellent campaign. I’ve heard that Battlefield 1 will also be getting a Spring patch, which I hope will bring some new ribbons into the game. The upcoming DLC, “In the name of the Tsar”, will feature snow maps, and I’m now class rank six for both the assault and scout classes. I’ve decided that, if there are no games worth picking up during the Steam Summer Sale this year, I will make the plunge for Battlefield 1 Premium. I do see myself playing Battlefield 1 for more than a year, and my progress through the game suggests that it is worthwhile to buy the extra content; while some of my favourite YouTubers are expressing some doubt over the game’s future, I am largely enjoying the title and would consider the Premium to be an acceptable purchase for the value I get out of it.

With the two most memorable missions completed, Modern Warfare returns to the present: “Heat” deals predominantly with the intense firefight Soap and the others must survive in order to reach their extraction point, dealing with an overwhelming number of hostile forces. It’s one of the toughest missions in Modern Warfare owing to just how much enemy fire there is, and I’ve seen remarks on how, after the Pripyat missions, returning to the present marks a substantial change in pacing. Having received a complete update to its visuals and sounds, “Heat” and “Sins of the Father” have been far improved to create a completely different environment: it is during the missions set during the day where the remastered Modern Warfare‘s differences from its original incarnation are truly obvious. Foliage is exceptionally detailed, and will move in response to player movements. The improvements in draw distance and visual effects also make the mountains and valleys much more realistic-looking, and under the light of day, the sophistication of the new smoke and other particle effects becomes very obvious. To be able to go back and fight through refreshed, reimagined locales that I first experienced during the summer of 2012 was an incredibly humbling experience, and from a personal perspective, was worth the price of admissions to Modern Warfare: Remastered.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered- Act I Review and Reflection

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.” –Robert Morgan

Long considered to be the best entry in Call of Duty‘s entire franchise, it was to general excitement and then anger when it was revealed that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare would be getting a remastered edition, followed by the caveat that the remaster would only be available with the Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition tier, which sells for 110 CAD normally. Seen as an attempt to drive up Infinite Warfare sales, most individuals resolved to only buy the game once it became available as a standalone, although at the time of writing, there is no news on whether or not Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered will become available as a standalone title. However, this is not particularly relevant, since I’ve gone ahead and purchased Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition during a sale. The sale, I considered to be a reasonable price, since I remarked earlier that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered would be worth paying 40 CAD for, and the sale offered the game at exactly this price. Hence, I now have the opportunity to go through and experience the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare campaign once again in a modernised form. Although the visuals and audio effects have been vastly improved, the core gameplay and story elements remain untouched, creating an authentic experience that has been given a fresh coat of paint while bringing back the mechanics and old-school feel of the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

In the game’s prologue and first act, players are introduced to John “Soap” MacTavish, a new recruit who joins the SAS task force under Captain Price’s command. They are sent to retrieve the manifest for a cargo ship carrying a nuclear device, and later, carry out an operation to rescue an informant, Nikolai, who carries details surrounding the plans of an ultranationalist Russian faction. Although they successfully exfiltrate Nikolai, their helicopter is shot down, forcing them to make their way through the countryside of the Caucasus Mountains to a secondary extraction point, where they are supported by an AC-130 gunship. Meanwhile, in an unspecified country in the Middle East, president Al-Fulani is executed and taken over by a radical, Khaled Al-Asad, prompting the United States to invade. The USMC 1st Force Recon, led by Lieutenant Vasquez, is sent to capture Al-Asad, but are initially unsuccessful. They move on to assist an armoured column, aiding in the defense of an M1 Abrams stuck in a bog, and participate in operations to capture Al-Asad. This operation ends in failure when a nuclear device detonates, killing most of the forces in the area and devastating the city, presumably killing Al-Asad in the process.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In my earlier Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare posts, I did not feature any screenshots from the missions prior to “Blackout”. However, that’s changed: with this series of posts, I am to be a little more comprehensive than any of my earlier talks on Modern Warfare either here at the blog or at my old website: there will be a total of six posts, one for each of the three acts in the campaign, plus a separate pair of posts for “All Ghillied Up” and “One Shot, One Kill” and finally, a discussion on intel in Modern Warfare. I’ve been meaning to go back through in the original Modern Warfare on an intel run for quite some time: collecting intel unlocks cheats that add a different dimension to the game.

  • In later instalments of Modern Warfare, intel does very little, and so, there’s no incentive to really collect them. The first real mission of Modern Warfare is titled “Crew Expendable”, referring to the notion that players are to go weapons free in this mission and eliminate all hostile forces. It’s a thrilling start to the game and, completely redone for its 2016 release, looks and sounds like a present-generation game even though some of the movement and shooting mechanics still feel like they’re from 2006.

  • “Blackout” is the first mission in Modern Warfare proper, where the goal is to locate an ultranationalist informant, Nikolai. After clandestinely making their way through a village by night, Soap and the others rendezvous with friendly Russian forces. In the original Modern Warfare, there was a distinct reddish-pink hue near the horizon, suggesting that the mission was set on an overcast day shortly after sunset: wisps of cloud can be seen at the interface between the darker parts of the sky.

  • By comparison, Modern Warfare Remastered sets “Blackout” on a night with a full moon. The skies are generally clear, with only the odd cloud here and there. Back on the ground, the foliage is lush, and water reflections are detailed. Under a full moon, on cloudless nights, the bright light of the moon fills landscapes with a gentle – it’s quite pleasant to behold, except perhaps for amateur astronomers, for whom the light can wash out fainter stars.

  • Soap starts out with the M4A1 SOPMOD setup in the first mission, which comes with a Cobra RDS, suppressor, AN/PEQ-2A infrared laser module and the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher. The addition of a suppressor means that this default weapon is well-suited for covert action: with a high rate of fire and low recoil, it’s one of the most effective weapons in the campaign, being incredibly versatile and useful in a wide range of situations. After meeting up with the Loyalist Russian forces, Soap and company hike up a small hill to a viewpoint overlooking a village below.

  • Nikolai is in one of the larger buildings to the right of this position, and here, I wield a suppressed M21, a semi-automatic sniper rifle that has a relatively high rate of fire and low recoil. It is pointed out here that weapons can punch through some forms of cover, such as wood and plaster, allowing players to shoot enemies that are not visible. This feature, I’ve not encountered in Battlefield to the best of my knowledge, and brings to mind the 2015 Mythbusters episode, which demonstrated it is possible to hit targets from the other side of a wall by predicting where an enemy is using a range of cues.

  • Modern Warfare holds a special place in the FPS community for its fantastic multiplayer and immersive campaign; even now, fans consider it the most solid installation in the series. I knew of the game and had played through a demo of the “War Pig” mission some years before becoming a post-secondary student, but my interest in the game only was piqued after I found videos of the “All Ghillied Up” mission. By late May/early June of 2012, a friend had asked me a favour, to help him idle for items in Team Fortress 2 while he was on vacation. This only took the course of a day, and I had other days of the week available to play some of the games in the account.

  • During the late spring of 2012, I was enrolled in a physics course, and was also preparing for the MCAT. It was the first and only time I took a spring course as a post-secondary student; back then, my days consisted of studying for physics, and studying for the MCAT. I had eschewed my research that summer to do well on both, although it led to many melancholy days where I wished I was back at the lab, instead of sitting at a desk re-learning Newtonian mechanics while the weather was warm and pleasant.

  • I will return to this story in a bit more detail at a later date: the outcome of that summer was that, for all of the time I spent at my desk rather than building 3D visualisations of biological systems and under the summer sun, I learned to take exams in ways I never thought possible. For the present, we return to Modern Warfare, where I’ve cleared out the path leading to a transformer station. The game’s suggestions includes making use of the M203 here to clear out groups of enemies: it’s modestly effective in the campaign, but in the multiplayer, the relative ease that one can utilise this attachment as a primary weapon to get kills resulted in the M203 becoming dubbed as the “n00b tube”.

  • The last part of “Blackout” is something that I’ve not mentioned in my earlier talks: Soap and the others storm a building shrouded in darkness, making use of their night vision goggles to maintain visibility. The AN/PEQ-2A’s use becomes apparent here: it allows for players to hip-fire with exceptional accuracy, and in a matter of moments, the building is cleared, allowing Nikolai to be extracted.

  • The second mission in Act I, titled “Charlie Don’t Surf”, has a completely different feel to it in the remaster: it looks brilliant. Compared to the flat, drab textures of the original, everything in the remaster pops out with the same visual fidelity as that of a contemporary title. The mission’s name is derived from the Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now, where one of the characters justifies why they are taking a beach so American forces can surf: the Charlie refers to the Viet Cong (Victor Charlie in NATO phonetic).

  • In this mission, players step into the shoes of Sargent Paul Jackson, under the command of Lieutenant Vasquez. The objective is to capture Al-Asad, who is suspected to be broadcasting from a TV station in a Middle Eastern city. USMC forces storm the city, fast-rope down onto the dusty streets below and make their way to the TV station in a manner reminiscent of the events of Black Hawk Down. When I first played through Modern Warfare, the missions set in the Middle East always came across as being a little uninspired, perhaps being a bit plain, but the remastered version brings everything to life and also gives me incentive to explore these levels, in turn resulting in more screenshots.

  • While it’s possible to go through the most of the campaign to Modern Warfare without ever switching out one’s starting weapons, some missions will necessitate this. Here, I prepare to make my way up to the top floors of the TV station after clearing out a central room filled with desks and screens: I imagine that the Stock Exchange in Modern Warfare 3‘s “Black Tuesday” mission was largely inspired by this section of the game. However, after shooting through a host of enemies and reaching the top floor, it turns out to be a pre-recorded broadcast, and Al-Asad is nowhere to be found.

  • The next mission is also set in the Middle East: it’s titled “The Bog”, involving the reaching and defense of an M1 Abrams tank stuck in difficult terrain. Jackson start with the M4A1 Grenadier, which features a holosight with an uncommonly high magnification. This is the mission that is available for the trial version of Modern Warfare: I played through it and found it unremarkable back during 2008, when I predominantly spent my time in Sim City 4 and the Halo CE Trial, but looking back, this mission is quite enjoyable for its hectic combat in an urban setting, also introducing players to the FGM-148 Javelin, a potent anti-tank weapon in the game.

  • While I’m still generally more fond of the missions set in the Caucasus Mountains, Modern Warfare Remastered brings in a new incentive to stop and take a look at just how well-done the new graphics and visual effects are. I’ve swapped out my side-arm for a Dragunov marksman rifle here: a Soviet weapon designated the SVD-63, it is the most common long-range solution in the campaign and can be found carried by ultra-nationalist forces. I generally prefer sticking to a long-range and medium range weapon, counting on automatic hip-fire to save me from certain death in close quarters.

  • One of the more amusing things about Call of Duty and Battlefield is that being meleed by an enemy is instant death regardless of difficulty. It’s an aspect that I’m not too accustomed to, since inmost of the games I’ve played previously (except for maybe SUPERHOT), hits usually just cause an impact, but not instant death. This mechanic is likely to discourage players from pushing forwards too aggressively into a group of enemies to take them out.

  • After a fierce firefight at the bog, and the elimination of an anti-air gun allows friendlies to land, the second of the Middle Eastern missions in the First Act draws to a close. Here’s a bit of trivia: back in 2012, I played through Modern Warfare at the 1024 by 768 resolution. The effects of having a smaller screen area are especially noticeable, and what this looked like can be seen in my first Call of Duty “Chernobyl Diaries” mini-series posts, or at my old website (which I’ve stopped maintaining ever since Gundam Unicorn‘s finale concluded).

  • Back in the Caucaus Mountains, the extraction goes pear-shaped in the mission “Hunted”: Soap’s helicopter is hit by a Stinger missile and crashes into the countryside, necessitating a plan B. While the pilots and some of the soldiers die, Captain Price, Soap, Nikolai and a few others survive. They must evade ultranationalist patrols while awaiting close-air support from an AC-130. Some folks wonder why an AC-130 would be available to British SAS operators, but it’s been made clear that the US and UK have been running joint operations.

  • While Soap starts with only a M1911 following the crash, it is wiser to pick up the G36C, which has a good stopping power and for which ammunition is plentiful. A reasonably powerful weapon, the G36C has exceptional hip fire accuracy in the campaign and would be an excellent weapon to go loud with. However, it shares ammunition with the M4A1, making it advisable to select another weapon such that one does not run out during the most inopportune of moments.

  • A staple in almost any shooter, the AK-47 is perhaps the most recognisable weapon in existence, known for its legendary durability and reliability. In Modern Warfare‘s campaign, the AK-47 offers superior stopping power compared to most weapons, but is offset by its high recoil. This pattern is similar to that of CS:GO, where the AK-47 is one of the most popular weapons amongst players for its exceptional damage model (one headshot is an instant-kill even against opponents with a helmet), relatively low price and decent accuracy when tap-firing (the weapon’s recoil increases when fired on automatic for long periods).

  • “Hunted” marks the first bit of stealth in Modern Warfare: ultranationalist helicopters armed with spotlights patrol the countryside with the aim of finding Soap and his team, requiring a bit of sneaking around between the farmhouses and barns across open countryside. The fields have enough vegetation so that it is possible to get quite far just by sneaking around, and the cover of darkness is an immensely useful ally even if it means the screenshots I’ve got are much darker than usual.

  • After reaching a barn just ahead of a tailing helicopter, Soap finds a cache of FIM-92 Stinger missiles and a launcher. It’s time to turn the tables against the enemy helicopters: the Stinger only appears in the campaign, and must acquire a lock before the missiles can be fired. It took me several attempts to get it right, but in the end, one of my shots connected, downing the helicopter. Later incarnations of Modern Warfare make the singer available in the multiplayer, as well, but it is intended for use against killstreak bonuses rather than other players.

  • Reaching the end of the level, the AC-130 arrives and provides heavy fire support, demolishing buildings close to Soap and the other’s position: the fireball illuminates the night sky. Players may then wonder, what would it be like to be helming the AC-130’s guns? The answer to this is found subsequently: “Hunted” draws to a close here, and players have the chance to play the role of a Thermal Imaging TV operator on board the AC-130, sitting high above the battlefield to provide some serious firepower for Soap and the others.

  • Sitting in the AC-130, raining death onto ultranationalists represents a solid change of pace from the shooting of previous missions. Here, the goal is to clear a path for Price and the others to the extraction point, firing only on authorised targets (typically, those not marked by a strobe). The frequent command to not fire on the church is an allusion to a real-world mission, where an AC-130 crew was ordered to not fire on a mosque to prevent civilian casualties, and caution must be exercised with the 105 mm howitzer, which deals massive damage. The best weapon is the 40 mm Bofors cannon, as it offers good damage and precision.

  • While the differences between the original and remastered versions might not be obvious in this mission, the details have improved in Modern Warfare Remastered: buildings collapse after sustaining enough damage, and the assets seem a lot sharper. I recall that, back during 2012, I played Zombie Gunship on iOS during evenings before turning in. The game offers a much more simplistic UI, and the goal is to rescue people while eliminating zombies. While this seems straightforwards enough, large monsters that can absorb multiple 105 shells appear later, making the game more challenging.

  • Perspective shifts back to the USMC soldiers after Price and his men are safely extracted: by this point in time, the tank crews are back in business, and it’s a fight to escort the functional M1 Abrams back to its main force, taking out Al-Asad’s forces along the way in “War Pig”. The urban combat is hectic and chaotic, featuring many close-quarters engagements. In spite of this, the secondary weapon that I carried with me in this mission was the SVD-63: having a good marksman weapon makes it easier to take out enemies from a safe distance, and in close quarters, the biggest disadvantage about a shotgun is the low firing rate. Even if I can down an enemy in one shot, there are multiple other enemies to be concerned with.

  • A cursory glance at the graphics of the original Modern Warfare really shows just how dated the original game looks when compared against modern titles. The missions set in rural areas have aged the most gracefully, but in urban environments, lower resolution textures, lessened environmental details and simpler lighting effects become more pronounced. There’s less clutter all around, giving the urban centers an emptier feeling: the remastered version gives the cities a much larger feel than comparable environments of the original.

  • Likewise, the rudimentary renderings of a Middle Eastern city in “Shock and Awe” have been replaced by a significantly more detailed environment. Jackson start the mission manning the Mark 19, an automatic 40 mm grenade launcher, to provide supporting fire and mop up ground elements threatening their crew. Half of the soldiers are dropped off at a target point, and subsequently, the USMC forces relieve a squad under fire. An aspect I’ve not mentioned until now is Lieutenant Vasquez’s voice: gruff but composed, he’s heard giving squad members orders throughout all of the missions where players are in Jackson’s shoes.

  • When one of the helicopters are shot down, it’s time to attempt a Black Hawk Down style rescue. I recall a classmate from primary school who had seen the movie Black Hawk Down shortly after it released in 2001; it’s a fantastic movie, and I had a chance to see it for myself four years ago. It’s definitely not suitable for children owing to its vivid depiction of warfare. While a dangerous gamble, Jackson’s helicopter touches down to rescue the downed chopper’s pilot. They are successful and appear to be home free, but amidst the radio chatter about a possible nuclear device, the weapon goes off.

  • Terrifying this moment was in Modern Warfare, to see it with improved visuals is even more sobering. The death of thirty thousand American soldiers here is what leads Modern Warfare 2‘s General Shepard to action. This brings the first act to a close, and I am moving through Modern Warfare Remastered at a reasonably quick pace. In the meantime, the spring 2017 anime season has just begun, so I don’t imagine there will be any posts until the three episode mark, unless something exceptional occurs. A talk on Gabriel Dropout is on the table.

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying the campaign in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered: although it is a 1:1 recreation of the original story and gameplay (complete with the occasional being stuck in level geometry and choppy movements) that I’ve experienced in full several times, to see all of the locales re-done with modern graphics was an absolute treat. Similarly, the new visual effects for the weapons, lighting, particle effects and animations breathe new life into a game that has aged surprisingly well. This year marks the ten year anniversary to when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare first released, and even after a decade, the original game still handles quite well when compared to modern titles. All together, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered is quite similar to Halo Combat Evolved: Anniversary Edition – in retaining gameplay while giving the game a new coat of paint, both series’ respective remasters show that some older games are indeed timeless. Consequently, I am looking forwards to pushing through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered to reach the missions set in Pripyat and see how they’ve been retouched.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- At the halfway point

“The Internet is for haters. Everyone wants to knock somebody down, but it’s cool.” —Andy Cohen

After repelling the SDF fleet and forcing them into a temporary retreat, Commander Reyes sets out on his assignment, starting by re-capturing the lunar port to ensure Earth is not cut off from supplies. Subsequently, side missions become available, where Reyes and the Retribution can carry out strikes against the SDF forces to steal or recover weapons, eliminate targets of value or else damage SDF assets. All of this leads up to Infinite Warfare‘s halfway point, a mission set in Titan, the largest of Saturn’s moons, in order to destroy a refuelling facility and cripple the SDF’s fuel supply. Combining both infantry combat and aerial dog fights with the Jackals, Infinite Warfare continues to be an entertaining game that presents an opportunity to travel around the different locations of the Solar System in order to defeat a militant faction: whether it be the grey, rolling hills on the moon, the yellow, muggy and hostile surface of Titan, the desolation of Uranus and Neptune or the familiar Earth, Infinite Warfare vividly portrays these settings to give the sense that the player is exploring and fighting in environments that have hitherto remain unexplored, creating a series of worlds that keeps each mission in the campaign novel and free of repetition.

One of the elements I’m enjoying most about Infinite Warfare are the weapons’ versatility and customisations available within the campaign: prior to each mission, players can fine tune their loadout very specifically, outfitting their weapons with the optics and attachments to best fit their play-style. There is also a recommended loadout for folks who simply want to get into the missions without worrying too much about whether or not a particular set of weapons will work. For instance, in Operation Burn Water, the mission to Titan, the recommended loadout is the EBR-800 with suppressor and foregrip, with the suppressed Kendall 44 as a secondary weapon. Given that much of this mission begins as a stealth mission, it makes sense to have suppressed weapons. However, as things progress, the mission invariably goes loud. Thus, I swapped out the Kendall 44 for the Erad, a submachine gun that can alternatively be used as a shotgun. The future setting of Infinite Warfare means that weapons designers have more creative freedom, resulting in remarkably versatile weapons that allow me to play through the campaign without worrying about whether or not I’m carrying the right weapons for the task at hand: in fact, weapons that can transition between two firing modes, like the Erad and EBR-800, are sufficiently adaptable so that I can stick with one weapon and carry a powerful secondary weapon, such as the P-LAW laser weapon or the Spartan shoulder-fired rocket launcher to deal with heavier opposition. Not affecting the game’s difficulty in any way, this ability merely changes how one feels about dealing with the different levels.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The mission on the lunar port is known as Operation Port Armour, featuring some nifty combat sequences afforded by the fact that the large windows throughout the concourse can be shot out, sending SDF soldiers to their doom. Immediately, the SDF’s actions are made known when some of Reyes’ squad mates mention that the SDF do not take prisoners – they are later seen shooting civilians openly.

  • Reminiscent of both the Principality of Zeon (Mobile Suit Gundam and all Universal Century stories) and Vers Empire (Aldnoah.Zero), the SDF is determinedly presented as an evil antagonist whose entire existence is to wipe out SATO and the UNSA. Snippets of text found throughout Infinite Warfare, and from the death screens note that the SDF is a militaristic entity wholly dedicated to victory, possessing a Social Darwinist ideology and believing that they are the rightful controllers of humanity. With their ideology ruled by ruthlessness and strength, Girls und Panzer‘s Shiho Nishizumi looks like an absolute moderate by comparison, and one “Daigensui” would be likely count the SDF’s beliefs as appropriate.

  • Naturally, anyone with a sense of empathy and compassion would immediately see the SDF as the antagonists, a threat to be dealt with and as such, find them an easy opponent to rally against in Infinite Warfare. A simple, black-and-white approach to determining the factions allows Infinite Warfare to focus on its gameplay and core thematic element of sacrifice. Back on the lunar terminal, I continue pushing through, lighting up SDF forces along the way. I pick up a shield and F-SpAr torch along the way, but being blown out into the vacuum forces me to relinquish these assets.

  • With most of the port cleared out, it’s time to go find a Coast Guard Jackal and engage enemy forces outside. By this point in Infinite Warfare, I’ve learned that energy weapons are slightly more effective against robots than organic targets, as well as that the TTK (time to kill) is a bit higher here than it is in earlier Call of Duty titles: it takes at least a fifth of a magazine to down opponents with body shots.

  • While ostensibly lighter-armoured and more lightly armed compared to the SATO Jackals, I manage just fine with a Coast Guard Jackal here, engaging the SDF Skelters and other vessels alike without much difficulty. Defeating the SDF here returns control of the port over to the UNSA, and Reyes’ team takes off to continue pushing back remaining SDF forces in the area.

  • The first Infinite Warfare trailer depicted the space combat of Operation Port Armour, coupled with the part of the mission involving the infiltration of an SDF destroyer. One YouTube, this video holds the infamy of being one of the most disliked videos of all time, having over 3.5 million dislikes. A part of me wanted to try Infinite Warfare and find good things to say about it just so I could stick it to the folks who hate Call of Duty. Despite being the third consecutive instalment in the main franchise to be set in the future, Infinite Warfare has the most solid storyline and interesting maps.

  • While Infinite Warfare is superior to Ghosts and Advanced Warfare for the most part, Advanced Warfare has a more innovative HUD: weapon and utility counts are projected as AR elements directly onto the weapon in world space, rather than in screen space as with more traditional elements. Infinite Warfare returns to a screen space based HUD that is relatively minimalistic and useful, although like the other Call of Duty titles I’ve gone through, I find myself running out of ammunition and reloading during inopportune moments more frequently than in other shooters owing to the way the game plays.

  • The first of the side missions that I took on was Operation Phoenix, set in an asteriod field near Uranus. The goal is to sneak onboard an SDF cruiser and recover a prototype Jackal fighter armed with laser weapons. With a slower firing rate and higher damage, the laser was developed by SDF teams; the SDF’s emphasis on military means that they are more advanced than SATO forces with respect to equipment, rather like how Zeon was the first to employ mobile suits and Vers had Kataphrakts powered by the Aldnoah system.

  • The second side mission I attempted was Operation Taken Dagger: over Neptune, I participated in the rescue of UNSA engineers and recover a prototype heavy weapon. One of the more entertaining aspects about space combat in Infinite Warfare is the ability to use a grappling hook as a weapon to execute SDF soldiers. This marks the first time since 007: Agent Under Fire where I’ve had access to a grappling hook – the Q-Claw of Agent Under Fire  was remarkably amusing to use in the multiplayer, being able to adhere to any surface and pull a user along quickly to otherwise unreachable places on the map.

  • Stealth is usually the smartest option where available: I snuck around the shadows and used melee takedowns to silently dispatch SDF soldiers, making use of a proximity scan to constantly track where enemy soldiers were. With all of the engineers rescued, the next part of the mission is to recover the prototype P-LAW and make use of it: like all of the heavy weapons, it is an immensely powerful weapon that shreds and is balanced out with its inability to be resupplied from ammunition creates.

  • Operation Safe Harbour involves defending space stations from SDF forces in orbit above the Earth. Beyond the usual engagement of SDF Skelters, there is also a pair of SDF destroyers that need to be eliminated, as well. They possess heavy armour and are bristling with weapons: my strategy was to stay afar and eliminate the weapons first with the 30 mm cannon, before pounding the ships with the 50 mm cannon. It’s a bit of an arduous process, but sustained fire results in a very rewarding sight as the SDF destroyer explodes in a blinding flash of light.

  • On my HUD, it says that I’ve defeated an enemy ace in combat. The aces and other high-value targets are figures instrumental to the SDF, but fighting them in the chaos means that there’s no stage-piece boss battle – they would fully blend amongst the regular forces were it not for an indicator over their person, and while they might be slightly tougher than an ordinary soldier, they can still be downed pretty quickly, bringing to mind how quickly bosses in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands are taken out.

  • The last of the side missions I took on before moving on to Operation Burn Water was Operation Pure Threat, set in an asteroid thicket above Europa. What initially looks to be a waste of time, when Reyes finds a derelict SDF vessel, turns out to be an ambush, and in the chaos, I bag yet another elite SDF pilot. In something like Gundam and Aldnoah, figures of importance usually pilot more powerful machines, but the reality is that ace pilots are known for their skill rather than the quality of their weapons. As such, in Infinite Warfare, while ace pilots may manoeuvre more skilfully, they aren’t any harder to shoot down than other enemies.

  • The missions to infiltrate SDF vessels and recover high value items brings to mind the sort of challenges surrounding learning about when Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name is coming out as a home release in Japan. I’ve been keeping an eye on developments, but it seems that news of box office figures, merchandise for sale and general gushing about the film is the only information that exists. There is little doubt in my mind that trying to figure out when this movie will be out on BD is about as difficult as infiltrating an SDF destroyer and stealing a weapons prototype: one wonders what the rationale for being this tight-lipped about the release date is.

  • While Your Name will have to wait for the present, there are fortunately things that can be taken care of in the present, and enjoying Infinite Warfare is one of them. Finally starting Operation Burn Water, I am inserted onto the surface of Titan. It’s a very vivid depiction of what the only moon in the solar system to possess a dense atmosphere looks like: while most of the surface is flat, there are mountains exceeding 1000 meters in height in some places. The game also captures the presence of hydrocarbon lakes and precipitation on Titan’s surface very nicely. Being on Titan also brings to mind a line from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, in which “methane clouds rain sodium hydroxide, a caustic alkali!”. Sodium hydroxide is not a known form of precipitation on Titan; methane clouds would simply rain methane in liquid form.

  • With this in mind, the chemical reaction between sodium hydroxide and sodium acetate can undergo a reaction to form methane and sodium carbonate (NaOH + CH3COONa → CH4 + Na2CO3). As we have the reaction, I could probably calculate the reaction enthalpies and determine what the energy for the reaction is, then decide whether or not it is feasible for exotic conditions to produce sodium hydroxide in aqueous form from methane clouds in an environment that humans can survive in without any sort of protection. However, I do not imagine readers are here to learn about chemistry: it’s time to return the discussion to Infinite Warfare. After playing the stealth game and sneaking through SDF-occupied grounds, I clear a landing zone for friendly forces, which bring an allied C12 tank along with some heavy armour. These monstrosities are “a cooler version of E3N”, bringing vast amounts of firepower with them and can absorb an incredible amount of damage. Small arms will not harm them at all, requiring a rocket launcher or F-SpAr torch to take out. Having one in my corner allows hordes of SDF soldiers to be dispatched with ease.

  • After the Olympus Mons appears, the C12 and heavy weapons are decimated. An air strike is the only option, and Reyes takes to the skies once more, shooting down multiple SDF air elements before landing at a terminal to remove the safeties, allowing pressures to reach dangerous levels. Once the facility is cleared, it’s a simple matter of lighting the fuse and watching a rather impressive explosion from the fuelling tower.

  • The EBR-800 has quickly turned into one of my favourite weapons: it doubles as an assault rifle and can be counted upon in a pinch. Looking through my site’s archive, March has been a busy month, featuring 56 percent more posts than February even though I’ve been about as busy at work this month as I was last month. It’s not often that I have time to sit down and relax, but weekends are the time to do so: the weather’s finally beginning to feel like spring, and after stepping out today for some errands, I also enjoyed fried chicken for dinner. A year ago, I was on the flight home from Laval, and although I fell ill shortly after returning, I recovered just in time for exam season to kick in. These days, I’ve got no exams, although my subconscious plainly thinks I’m still a student; one dream I had recently was that I failed to submit assignments for several consecutive weeks, only to begin wondering why I was concerned before waking up.

  • Despite making it back out, Reyes is shot down and left adrift in orbit around Titan with E3N. It’s hauntingly beautiful up here, and E3N’s presence is a reassuring one, keeping Reyes company until the Tigress picks him up. One aspect I’ve not mentioned too much yet is Sergeant Omar’s gradual warming to E3N – despite considering him a disposable tool early on, Omar comes to trust E3N and cracks jokes with Reyes, being a character I’ve come to respect. The characters in Infinite Warfare share a strong sense of camaraderie, allowing me relate and yearn to see what happens next to them next.

After learning that the side missions reset with the completion of a main mission, I’m likely to go back and finish all of the side missions I’ve unlocked so far, having completed Operation Burn Water, before moving onto the next mission. Unlike previous instalments of Call of Duty except maybe Black Ops III, Infinite Warfare has created a new means of approaching missions and encouraging replay of its campaign. Consequently, while the space shooter setting might be viewed as being derivative or unremarkable, Infinite Warfare‘s campaign has proven to be the strongest of the Call of Duty campaigns since the days of Modern Warfare, offering numerous options for players even if the game ultimately is very linear in nature. These directions also mean that, with the new choices available for players, the game will take a bit longer to complete. Consequently, I’m going to switch over to Titanfall 2 and also go through the Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Remastered campaigns in the near future; owing to upcoming events, I would like to complete these games before said event arrives. With this being said, I am not leaving Infinite Warfare behind: most likely, I will resume once mid-May arrives.