The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Call of Duty

Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl- One Shot, One Kill in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

“The wind’s gettin’ a bit choppy. You can compensate for it, or you can wait it out, but he might leave before it dies down. It’s your call. Remember what I’ve taught you. Keep in mind variable humidity and wind speed along the bullet’s flight path. At this distance, you’ll also have to take the Coriolis Effect into account.” —Captain MacMillian

Camping out at the Polissya hotel, Price and MacMillian patiently wait for their mark to arrive over the course of three days while the clouds wheel overhead. Unlike the unfortunate tourists of Chernobyl Diaries, no mutants attack them during the course of their wait. When Zakhaev arrives, Price makes ready with the M82 Barrett, and with some advice from Captain MacMillian, he is prepared to place a shot at nearly nine hundred metres. After a few tense moments, Price fires, managing to blow off Zakhaev’s arm. Both Price and MacMillian are forced to flee after their position has been compromised, and they fight through Pripyat to reach the extraction point. MacMillian becomes injured by a helicopter, and Price carries him the rest of the way. When they reach the extraction point, Price and MacMillian hold out for their helicopter’s arrival and manage to escape. “One Shot, One Kill” is the second half of the Chernobyl missions, being the polar opposite of the first, being one loud, bombastic and long firefight to the extraction zone. While seemingly a return to the sort of gameplay that Call of Duty normally features, the level presents a surprise taking the form of MacMillian’s injury. Players must strategically place him down in the right spot, after which he will assist in taking out ultranationalists, and otherwise be mindful as they move towards the exfil. In its remastered incarnation, “One Shot, One Kill” is a visual treat: crumbling walls of abandoned apartment blocks, rusting playgrounds and mould-covered surfaces are rendered with contemporary techniques to really illustrate what a world without us could look like, as nature makes to reclaim areas once inhabited by man. Impressive as Modern Warfare‘s original incarnation was, the remastered version of “One Shot, One Kill” simply knocks the visuals out of the park, combining the gameplay of the original with graphics of the present age to give the level new dimensionality.

I reached “One Shot, One Kill” the day before the second midterm in my physics course, and upon seeing the statistics surrounding the shot I’m to make, my mind immediately wandered towards physics and two-dimensional kinematics. My MCAT course had also begun by this point: the MCAT is unlike other exams and requires more than a good grasp of the materials to best, demanding strategy and creative thinking. With my mind not too far from the impending physics midterm, I looked at the problem and supposed that it was to determine the amount of compensation needed to accurately hit Zakhaev from the stipulated distance given the distance and travel time. Since speed and accuracy are the name of the game in the MCAT, reading the question becomes critical: the time of flight is already given, so the horizontal distance becomes a distraction. Armed with the time alone, it is sufficient to work out how far the bullet will fall by means of the kinematic equation, d = v(i)·t + (a·t²)/2 and some assumptions (e.g. the bullet has no vertical velocity when leaving the muzzle, and that acceleration is the acceleration due to gravity). The resultant answer is 5.40 meters to three significant figures, and a skilled marksman can then utilise the markers on his optics to determine the amount of compensation required, taking into account the height of the vantage point they are shooting from and any wind effects. Since the MCAT, my exam-writing style has changed somewhat, and while I’ve not done a written exam for three years now, some of those skills remain in my mind.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Close inspection of the Chernobyl nuclear plant here shows the Sarcophagus being constructed: the mission is set in 1996, but the construction of the actual Sarcophagus itself finished in October 1986, a few months after the disaster. Designed to contain the radioactive materials and prevent most of it from escaping, engineers knew that it was only a temporary measure: two years after its completion, engineers remarked the structure would last at most three decades, and so, the New Safe Confinement was planned. The dome was moved over the old structure just this year, and the project is expected to finish construction later in 2017.

  • The construction cranes should have been gone by 1996, but I am reasonably forgiving of these elements in fiction. This is the same image as the first image one featured in my original Chernobyl Diaries post, with the only difference being that it’s from Modern Warfare Remastered. The amount of detail in the environment is so much greater than the original, and there is foliage and other clutter in the area where the transaction between Zakhaev and the ultranationalists are taking place. This is contrasted with the original Modern Warfare, which feels sterile by comparison. The statistics surrounding Price’s shot have remained unchanged, and this time, I nailed my shot on first try.

  • After their presence is detected, MacMillian and Price are forced to flee as a Hind fires on the hotel, destroying the first floor. I went through this mission a second time to pick up screenshots – there was an unusual bug that caused me to spawn in with the suppressed M21 rather than the standard one, which would have resulted in some unusual screenshots. While effective in terms of stopping power and only differing in aesthetics, it would have felt out place to feature the suppressed, camouflaged M21 in “One Shot, One Kill”, which is all about going loud.

  • The number of ultranationalists filling the air with hot lead means that it is wise to heed MacMillian’s suggestion to run rather than fight: there’s too many of them, and with the timer winding down to the exfiltration, making it to the extraction point becomes important. The amount of time differs depending on the difficulty setting, and typically, on my first play-through of any Call of Duty title, I go with normal difficulty.

  • The moody grey skies and desolate concrete apartment blocks bring to mind the aesthetics surrounding Hasima Island, just 15 klicks off the coast from Nagasaki. Once a coal mining town built of large concrete buildings to withstand typhoons, the island was abandoned after the coal reserves were depleted, and today, it’s a popular tourist destination. It’s one of the most famous haikyo in Japan, and as of 2009, is one of the few haikyo that one can legally access: for three hundred yen, guided tours of the island are offered, and there is infrastructure to keep visitors safe.

  • It is only during a scripted moment that a Hind can be shot down in “One Shot, One Kill”: besides using the M82’s 50-calibre rounds to punch through the cockpit earlier, here, rounds from the M21 apparently damage the engine, causing this one to explode and crash. Elsewhere in the game, dedicated anti-air weapons must be used to deal with Hinds. The crash causes MacMillian to become injured, necessitating that players carry him to the extraction point for the remainder of the mission.

  • While players are still equipped with the suppressed USP at the start of “One Shot, One Kill”, it is strongly recommended that one switches to any other weapon dropped by the ultranationalists so one can remain effective in close quarters: I usually go with the G3 battle rifle. Other weapons available include the AK-47, MP5, mini-Uzi, RPD and W1200 shotgun; the AK-47 and MP5 are solid choices, as well – the number of soldiers encountered means that a good automatic weapon will complement the M21 both during the spaces outdoors, as well as the narrower hallways inside the apartments.

  • A large number of ultranationalists will fast-rope from helicopters, and in Modern Warfare Remastered, there’s an achievement for shooting down a number of fast-roping soldiers before they hit the ground. “One Shot, One Kill” offers plenty of opportunity to unlock this achievement on account of the number of helicopters that appear, and the M21 is an excellent weapon for this task.

  • Moving through the apartment blocks brings to mind the level design characteristics of Half-Life 2, where the strategic placement of obstructions, whether it be piled furniture or rubble from collapsed sections of the building push players down a path. As with all of the assets in the remastered Modern Warfare, the addition of the appropriate amount of clutter to the interiors of the apartments perfectly captures the abandoned sense that improves upon the aesthetics seen in the original.

  • I’ve got no screenshots of me carrying MacMillian through the apartments following his injury; while most games become a bit of a challenge in having players survive, Modern Warfare chose to address this by having MacMillian retain his exceptional marksmanship. When a firefight is imminent, he will ask players to set him down, offer some advice (such as placing claymores strategically to down enemies) and provide support to the best of his ability.

  • After dropping by my old lab to visit and chat with another one of my friends today, who’s close to graduating, I attended a computer science convocation today, five years after posting my original Chernobyl Diaries post for “One Shot, One Kill”. My former supervisor is now the department head, and he was hosting was the first ever reception for a computer convocation. Things started out quiet, allowing me to catch up in some conversation with my supervisor about research and also partake in some of the food available (including Japanese-style fried chicken, broccoli-cheese balls and jalapeño-chicken sandwiches).

  • More people gathered to fill the room with conversation, and during the next hour-and-a-half, I caught up with friends who had graduated today. In a bit of irony, the skies darkened as the reception drew to a close, and a spirited, but ultimately short-lived thunderstorm blazed through the area in a manner reminiscent of the rainstorm that occurred during my graduation banquet four years ago and was one of the factors that contributed to the Great Flood of 2013. Coming through into the change facilities of a public pool, I am vividly reminded of the day following the second physics midterm. There had been a lecture and lab; after finishing my day’s review, I dropped into Modern Warfare and continued with my adventure. I had studied quite thoroughly for the second midterm, having botched the first one (there was a question about Yavin and the Death Star that I still vividly remember missing), although it was afternoon, and my inclination to study had waned.

  • This midterm marked a turning point in my physics course: although I had been quite ready to throw in the towel and survive (the Bachelor of Health Sciences program does not count summer courses in the GPA calculation for research scholarships or eligibility to enroll in the honours thesis course), I realised that I should put my nose down and get the most of the physics course as possible. I stand in the Azure pool here, overgrown and derelict in a beautiful sense. It’s obvious that the remastered Modern Warfare involved a great deal of effort to get the details right.

  • In my original post, I noted that Modern Warfare had taken some creative liberties with its level design and chronology: the Azure pool remained open until 1998, a full two years after the mission in 1996, and it certainly was not that close the the Pripyat amusement park (in the game, the Ferris wheel is visible right outside of the pool). Having said this, I am okay with this inaccuracy: this is not a sentiment shared by other fans, especially those of Tango-Victor-Tango.

  • The rusted out remains of the Ferris wheel and some amusement park structures are visible here, bringing to mind the abandoned Nara Dreamland, which was deserted in 2006 after forty-five years. Nara Dreamland is a favourite amongst urban explorers, but last October, the park was undergoing demolitions, as the Nara government had finally auctioned the site off to an Osaka company. By contrast, the Pripyat Amusement Park was intended to be opened in May in time for May Day festivities, but following the Chernobyl disaster, some reports state that it was opened briefly to allow children some cheer before evacuation began.

  • Before “One Shot, One Kill”‘s largest firefight begins, I will explain the post’s titles. Similar to how I’ve called the original posts Chernobyl Diaries, here, I’ve titled both of them “Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl” as a reference to Andrew Blackwell’s “Visit Sunny Chernobyl”, a fantastic book taking readers through the most polluted places in the world and enlightening readers on the sort of things man has done to the planet. My spin on the title was chosen because I’m returning to Modern Warfare‘s two best missions, playing through things again in the remastered version, and also because these missions are flat out overcast, moody, rather than sunny.

  • For the remainder of the June five years previously, I divided my time between physics and the MCAT preparation course. The end of the month drew near, and with it came the physics final. When I left the exam room that evening, I felt reasonably confident that I had done well, and I finally turned my full attention to the MCAT. The physics course ultimately helped me with the physical sciences component of the MCAT, as biochemistry proved useful for the biological sciences component, and while I did spend the entirety of my June at a desk while my friends were making the most of their summer research, the knowledge gained from this course, coupled with exam-taking skills conferred by the MCAT course, allowed me to score well on the MCAT and further left me with exam taking skills that positively impacted the remainder of my undergraduate degree.

  • One of the features I liked most about Modern Warfare Remastered was the way that some optics were rendered: zooming in on a target in games is typically rendered by lowering the field of view (FOV), and here, it’s a simple filter surrounding a circular area representing the scope to give the sense of depth-of-field while aiming down sights. Leaving the peripheries visible is a nice touch (older games black the area out), although some of the more sophisticated renderings will only change the FOV slightly, and instead, only magnify the area under the optics, leaving the rest of the screen visible.

  • The final firefight opens with Price setting MacMillian down in a covered area and then setting down some claymores. Once ultranationalists arrive, it’s non-stop combat right up until the friendly helicopter arrives. This battle is chaotic, being an intense experience, with ultranationalists sneaking in from the bumper cars, being dropped in by helicopters and otherwise rushing in from a distance. The M21 becomes incredibly useful here, and at the ranges I prefer to engage at, the G3 becomes my weapon of choice even though it shares the same ammunition pool as the M21 does.

  • At long last, helicopters ready to extract MacMillian and Price arrive, bringing this fantastic level to a close. There is one thing that I’ve not noted up until now: since Modern Warfare Remastered was made well after Modern Warfare 3, there’s an achievement for killing Makarov (Zakhaev’s driver). There’s a very specific way of doing this — players must shoot out Zakhaev first and then locate the vehicle Makarov is sitting in. As soon as Zakhaev is down, one should unload on Makarov’s vehicle, making certain not to take out Yuri, who is sitting in the backseat. Once this is done, the achievement will unlock, and the mission proceeds normally.

With these memories enduring even after a half-decade, for me, “One Shot, One Kill” and “All Ghillied Up” are more than just exceptional missions in a Call of Duty game that set the standard for modern military shooters; they represent a trip down memory lane and were the form of escapism that contributed to my making it through that summer, allowing me to blow off steam even when staring down numerous exams. The cinematic, immersive experience offered by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare proved to be exactly what a busy mind needed, and since then, I’ve been a fan of Call of Duty‘s campaigns and set-pieces. These memories ultimately are the reason why I would consider Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition to be a worthwhile purchase; I am, in effect, buying back a re-imagined, remastered look back at the events of the summer five years ago. Although it may appear that I am recalling this summer through rose-coloured glasses, I note that vividly remember of all of the tribulations and effort it took to survive both physics and the MCAT. That Call of Duty offered the occasional break from these challenges simply affords it a favourable impression in my books, and with these recollections drawing to a close, I will be returning to my regular programming: in the near future, I will be writing about Infinite Warfare, which I’d finished shortly after returning from my vacation.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare- Final Review and Impressions

“Peace to the fallen.” –Honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty

Upon reaching Earth and fighting to reach Riah, who’s escaped, Reyes’ plan fails when Riah bests him in one-on-one combat and commits suicide, signalling for a full-scale SDF invasion. Admiral Raines is killed when the Olympus Mons fires on the UNSA headquarters, and Reyes decides to board the Olympus Mons, fighting his way to the bridge and killing Admiral Kotch. Commandeering the Olympus Mons, Reyes and the Retribution launch a desperate attack on the SDF shipyard to disable their fleet and ship-making capability, although they crash on Mars surface before any real damage can be done to the shipyard. Rallying the survivors, Reyes commences a ground assault on the shipyard, and Salter gains access to an SDF Destroyer. E3N sacrifices himself to unlock its moorings, and Reyes activates its weapons, allowing Salter to destroy the shipyard. Reyes himself is ejected into the vacuum of space and dies from flying shrapnel, with the knowledge that their mission was successful. The UNSA honour their sacrifice in a ceremony, and its shown that Salter survived the assault with three other soldiers. Thus ends Infinite Warfare, my first ever Call of Duty title set fully in space, away from the modern warfare setting. Overall, the diversity of settings and weapons give this game a different feel from previous Call of Duty titles – the sum of these components come together to create a remarkably entertaining campaign whose biggest draw is simply being able to shoot things in space. However, Infinite Warfare is far from being a shooter devoid of a thematic element.

By the end of Infinite Warfare, the main thematic element is that sacrifice may be necessary to achieve a longer term victory even if the short term costs are high. Infinite Warfare presents this directly, bereft of any excess symbolism and other obfuscation. Quite simply, Reyes makes the ultimate sacrifice to cripple the SDF, knowing that he is giving up his life so that SATO and the UNSA can fight another day to keep the SDF at bay. This was a non-trivial decision, and the ending shows that it was the right decision: themes of sacrifice are quite common in anime, and one particularly noteworthy example is the contrast between Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Yūki Yūna is a Hero – there are some uninformed who believe that the former surpasses the latter on virtue of Madoka sacrificing her life to become a god for the sake of her world and Homura, whereas Yūna falls short of being a hero because the ending “undermines” her sacrifice. However, this is not true: both are heroes in their own right, prepared to give up their own well-being for the sake of others, but in the case of Madoka Magica, Madoka’s premature sacrifice allows Homura to undo everything she’s created. While a fine anime, Madoka Magica fails to account for when a sacrifice is appropriate: this is something that is explored more appropriately in Infinite Warfare. The stakes are laid out: if Reyes and the others are not ready to do what it takes, even giving up their lives if it comes down to it, to destroy the SDF shipyard, then only more casualties will follow. Salter continues channeling Reyes’ spirit, doing her best to bring him back alive, and Reyes himself does his utmost to complete his mission and survive. That Reyes dies at the end illustrates that fate is not always so kind, but it was not a death in vain. This is something that a great deal of anime fans fail to comprehend: heroics will involve sacrifice, but sacrifice need not be total, and dying in the line of duty needlessly can have far reaching consequences in the future. Reyes’ sacrifice is a calculated one, made on the basis of facts, and it is shown that he makes the right call, standing in contrast with Madoka, whose sacrifice only served to drive Homura to despair and ultimately undo everything Madoka had built out of a want to protect her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • So here we are, at the final two missions of Infinite Warfare, where the pressure is on to find the means to defeat a seemingly technologically and definitely numerically superior enemy: it is definitely an interesting experience to be fighting against a faction said to surpassing the protagonists in capability, and there are points in the game that bring back recollections of some folks I’ve known who present themselves to be far more capable and accomplished on social media than is reality. However, social status in online platforms is really a paper tiger: hard work and humility are far more potent in the long term than likes, shares and re-tweets.

  • Thus, when playing through Infinite Warfare, it is a constant reminder that even against what looks to be unfavourable odds, what prevails is a constant amount of sustained effort and persistence. The SDF may look to be imposing, but Captain Reyes and his crew’s determination to get the job done allow them to dismantle the SDF leadership and war machine one component at a time. By this point in time, the SDF High Council is largely gone, along with most of their best soldiers, and it’s a race against time to find Riah.

  • The EBR-800 becomes superbly useful in the dark streets of Geneva when used in conjunction with drones and seeker droids, which automatically locate and neutralise enemies hidden in the ruined buildings. Its versatility in Infinite Warfare is such that the weapon is useful for most situations in a variety of ranges, owing to its ability to switch rapidly between a long-ranged shot and automatic fire for closer ranges.

  • I find a KBS Longbow here: the only bolt-action ballistic rifle available in the campaign, it is, on an per-shot basis, the most powerful and accurate long-range weapon, featuring high stopping power at the expense of firing rate and reload times. On my playthrough of Infinite Warfare, I did not manage to find all of the weapons available in the game, but I did manage to complete all of the side missions. On a future playthrough, this means I will have access to upgraded weapons, which could be useful for playing Infinite Warfare on higher difficulties.

  • Having said this, I’m not too sure if I will be looking to go through Infinite Warfare again – for one, the game occupies a non-trivial amount of hard drive space, and it’s a time commitment to go through again. I imagine that the most likely course of action is that I will uninstall Infinite Warfare in the near future for the purpose of saving disk space even in spite of my enjoyment for the game. Shortly after exiting the church, Reyes finds himself face to face with Riah, who handily defeats him in hand-to-hand combat before committing suicide, signalling for the SDF invasion to begin.

  • A window of opportunity opens up after the Olympus Mons appears: while it destroys the UNSA headquarters and causes Admiral Raines’ death, Reyes is determined to settle things between him and Admiral Kotch once and for all. He orders a Jackal to his position and flies towards the Olympus Mons under a distraction the Retribution creates, managing to board. It’s a fierce firefight once Reyes hits the hanger, although there is plenty of cover to make use of here. With patience and returning fire, the hanger is soon cleared, allowing Reyes and his team to move on.

  • As Reyes moves through the Olympus Mons, Kotch’s now-familiar visage graces screens, warning Reyes that his efforts are for naught. Reading through Infinite Warfare‘s excerpts on the SDF’s values and beliefs provides an unusual insight into their society. Even more militant than North Korea, the SDF are comically evil to an extent: so much of their way of thinking is ridiculous to the point of humour, although it could also serve as a warning about a society that is content to follow rather than take charge. The number of people out there who ardently accept beliefs and ideas expressed in social media is bewildering, and subscribing to extremist thought expressed by the unlearned is precisely what leads to an erosion of liberty.

  • Sprinting through collapsing sections of the Olympus Mons brings to mind the sort of chaos seen in a Portal 2 level; Kotch is scuttling sections of the ship in response to Reyes’ determination, but even this is not enough to stop Reyes and his soldiers. My belief in critical thinking and a healthy skepticism to information until it can be shown the information is credible drives how I take in news and information. While it’s the way of thinking that is encouraged, it also earned me some enemies of some classmates back during my time as a student – these individuals did not understand that I was opposing their ideas, rather than their person, and so, considered it a personal attack when I did not agree with them on things ranging from something as simple as how square brackets are used to more serious matters, such as whether or not it is feasible to involve all students in activism.

  • With so much time having passed since those days, I’m hoping that their grudges have long vanished – I know that I have no quarrel with them on account of how busy things are. Back in Infinite Warfare, upon learning that Kotch is in the bridge surrounded by robot soldiers, E3N hacks up the robots to fight for Reyes, and Reyes himself takes control of a robot to deal as much damage as possible before self-destructing in front of Kotch, fatally wounding him. I finished off Kotch before his last words, primarily because I was going for the “You know nothing” achievement.

  • After the Olympus Mons’ weapons come online, Reyes is given access to the F-SpAr and is set to target the Tharsis shipyard in the distance. Active SDF destroyers show up, and it’s finally time to give the SDF fleet a taste of their own medicine: it was a blast to wipe floor with the SDF destroyers, although for the short moment players have access to this awesome power, the Olympus Mons sustains heavy damage and is unable to use the F-SpAr against the shipyard.

  • The final battle at Mars has a little of everything, from fantastic set-pieces and space combat to boots-on-the-ground combat. Here, Reyes boards a Jackal with the goal of clearing the airspace around the Olympus Mons so that it can ram into the shipyard and cause enough damage to significantly lessen the SDF’s ability to construct new destroyers. I am tasked with taking on three SDF aces here and remark that, total completion of the main missions and side missions will naturally allow for the Royal Flush achievement to be unlocked (eliminate all SDF aces and captains).

  • While perhaps not quite as varied or innovative as the Titan-to-Titan combat of Titanfall 2, the Jackal sequences in Infinite Warfare were overall a thrill to play through, offering breaks in the campaign that serve to mix up the gameplay. To ensure things did not get stale during the side missions, I alternated between the Jackal Strike and Ship Infiltration operations; the main missions themselves offer a reasonable balance between flying and boots-on-the-ground combat. I nearly finish taking out the last SDF ace here and thought I had sustained excessive damage, but it turns out that Reyes’ crash is scripted, occurring as the Olympus Mons is forced to divert in order to avoid collision with the Retribution.

  • Following a crash-landing on the surface and the realisation that their initial attempt to destroy the shipyard has failed, Reyes rallies with his forces and motivates them to fight on, reasoning that either they live and cost the UNSA the future, or else risk their lives to ensure a future for the UNSA and SATO. This is a sacrifice that is reasoned through and thought out, making it one whose necessity becomes very clear. When starting the mission, I opted to go with the RAW equipped with a recharger that gave me unlimited ammunition, as well as the Trojan optic for quickly picking out enemies.

  • The value of a total sacrifice costing one’s life is ultimately determined by considering the outcomes of that sacrifice relative to the outcome of living to fight another day. In Madoka Magica, Madoka’s actions, while heroic and allowing her to help her friends find happiness, also bars her from intervening directly when Homura decides to change things. Hence, this was not a meaningful sacrifice, since its benefits in the long term were cancelled out by Homura’s actions. By comparison, Reyes and the Retribution make sacrifices knowing that they have an exceptional opportunity to damage the SDF military machine, and the outcome of this is a strategic victory for the UNSA.

  • After fighting to the shipyard’s orbital elevator station, Reyes and Salter, plus a few others, make the ascent to the shipyard while the Retribution’s crew remain on the ground to hold off the SDF. The combat is intense, and even with fire support from the Olympus Mons’ remaining weapons, it’s a difficult battle. Careful, controlled use of the RAW here allowed me to go through the mission without reloading the weapon, and it is with the fusion magazine attachment that energy weapons shine.

  • Besides the RAW, I also carried the F-SpAr torch throughout the final mission. Obscenely powerful, it’s a highly effectual means of beating the RC-8 combat drones. An upgrade to the C6 drones, the RC-8 deal massive amounts of damage and can absorb punishment, as they carry shields that can absorb incoming fire. Usually, it takes sustained firing in conjunction with grenades to bring them down, but heavy weapons make short work of them, hence my decision to hold onto the F-SpAr in case I encountered them.

  • This turned out to be a good idea, since in the corridors in the shipyard are filled with hostile elements. I encountered an RC-8 here and tossed shock grenades to stun it, hitting it with the F-SpAr while it was disabled to permanently remove the threat it posed. This past weekend has seen a recurrence of the events five years previously, as I played through Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” after a fantastic dinner of pizza from one of the more famous pizza places in the area: their donair pizza and all-meat pizzas are delicious, having more toppings and a more flavourful crust than pizzas I’ve had previously. Today was a bit duller, as the cloud cover gave way to thunderstorms by evening, although I did manage to unlock the Chauchat Low Weight in Battlefield 1, the first of the assignment weapons for the “They Shall Not Pass” DLC.

  • I spent a total of ten hours in Infinite Warfare‘s campaign, discounting the extra hour-and-a-half I spent trying to get the game working on day one, and subsequently, the waits for the game to load. My computer, while powerful, encountered some difficulties in loading the game and some of the transitions were not seamless, but overall, ran the game at 1080p with 60 FPS on the highest settings. By this point in the game, I’m liberally using the gadgets available to fight the hordes of SDF soldiers and robots; looking back, the seeker bot and drones were my favourite options. The shield and hacking charges, while fun, were not used as frequently.

  • Salter suggests stealing an SDF destroyer to cause enough damage to the shipyard to put it out of commission permanently. While an armed destroyer is available, its weapons are offline and it is docked to the shipyard. In order to release the docking clamps, E3N offers to destroy a reactor powering the clamps, but can only do so by creating an explosion large enough to do so. E3N’s “death” was quite similar to BF-7274’s in Titanfall 2 in that both interact with a high energy source to disrupt and destroy it, and both moments result in a moving end for the robots in their respective games.

  • Reyes watches as the shipyard is destroyed, and despite Salter’s efforts to save him, Reyes does not make it: his helmet is shattered by debris, exposing him to the vacuum of space. In his final moments, Reyes dies knowing that his mission has succeeded. This brings my journey through Infinite Warfare to an end, two months after I started the campaign, and I had a fantastic time going through the game. The next Call of Duty title is a return to WWII, and is set to feature older game mechanics, such as health pick ups. I’m curious to see what it will look like, but at present, I have no plans to buy this title.

It may come as a surprise that I found the sacrifice in Infinite Warfare to be better executed than that of Madoka Magica – this stems from a worldview that people are worth significantly more alive than dead. Heroics is the willingness to do what is necessary and be selfless, to be prepared to make sacrifices for what one believes is correct, not the reckless, uncalculated self-sacrifice with the hope of making a difference. In fact, dying needlessly is unheroic, as it deprives the individual the ability to make a difference later on. Ultimately, the hate and doubt directed at Infinite Warfare was misguided and unnecessary – there’s a clear theme, solid gameplay and an impressive range of environments that come together to make the game’s campaign far more entertaining than expected. It was definitely a pleasant surprise, and I liked the way things played out because it was a logical progression of how the decision to make sacrifices is reached. Beyond these elements, the combination of boots-on-the-ground and Jackal combat in different parts of the solar system kept things fresh even if some of the mission ended up being quite similar to one another: the set-pieces in the game were stunning, and unique to the different locations reached. Overall, I would recommend Infinite Warfare for the campaign and zombies modes when the game is given a discount: the multiplayer is not particularly inspired, and the replay value is moderate, so one would not get their money’s worth should they buy Infinite Warfare at full price.

Revisiting Sunny Chernobyl- All Ghillied Up in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered

“Look at this place… fifty thousand people used to live in this city. Now it’s a ghost town… I’ve never seen anything like it.” —Captain MacMillian

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” mission remains one of the most iconic missions in the history of first person shooters, offering a change of pace from the high-paced missions up until that point. Even now, it stands alongside the first Flood mission in Halo: Combat Evolved as being one of the most innovative and entertaining missions – players accompany Captain MacMillian on an assassination mission, sneaking through the dreary fields outside of Pripyat on an overcast day to reach a sniper’s perch. Long the way, they cautiously duck between convoys of heavily armed ultranationalists, engage lone guards and climb through the ruins of Pripyat, deserted and uninhabited since the Chernobyl accident. The unique combination of being very linear mission that offered a considerable amount of leeway for deviation from the script, fantastic moments conferred by close encounters with ultranationalist forces, a beautifully constructed level and atmospherics come together to create a very distinct aesthetic for “All Ghillied Up” that allowed its original incarnation to be counted as one of the most memorable missions even amongst modern shooters. However, in the remastered version of Modern Warfare, “All Ghillied Up” takes on a new life – the skies are a moody grey, overcast, and assets on the ground have been given a total overhaul. Grasses and trees are much richer in details than before, as are the buildings, whose walls exhibit aging and exposure to the elements far more sharply than the original. Upgraded volumetric lighting, particle effects and water reflections further bring this level to life, bringing “All Ghillied Up” into the present day. The mission loses none of its charm, and with its fresh coat of paint, conveys the atmospherics and tenour of “All Ghillied Up” even more profoundly than its original incarnation.

When I wrote the original “All Ghillied Up” post five years ago, I was well into my Newtonian Physics course and had just began my MCAT course. The film, Chernobyl Diaries, had also just been released, having premièred in theatres a few days earlier, on May 25. I had seen some trailers for the film and was intrigued by the premise: the film depicts a group of travellers doing an “extreme” tour of Pripyat before finding themselves stranded, at the mercy of an unknown force that relentlessly pursues them (which turn out to be escaped medical patients mutated by the radiation in-story). I was wondering if I should watch the film, and settled in playing through the Call of Duty missions owing to time constraints introduced by physics and the MCAT, recounting my own adventures through Chernobyl (in a manner of speaking). Five years since, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Chernobyl Diaries, and my impressions are that the film was largely unremarkable, delivering a thin plot and frequent jump scares that dampen the horror aspect of the film. While the film is nothing noteworthy in execution, one aspect I did enjoy was the presentation of Pripyat and its locations, especially when the travellers enter one of the old apartment blocks and later, the different facilities around Pripyat. In Modern Warfare, there are no hostile forces quite like those of Chernobyl Diaries, and the area is desolated save the ultranationalist soldiers. It’s decidedly less frightening and more melancholy, providing the perfect atmosphere that parallels what it felt like to be studying for Newtonian physics and an MCAT while my peers were enjoying summer weather and their research projects.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In the remaster of Modern Warfare, the clouds in the sky and lighting are far more vivid in detail. Grasses and vegetation are much more realistic, and a bit of volumetric lighting can be seen in the image’s right hand side to the upper right, by the trees. Upon Modern Warfare Remastered‘s first announcement, my immediate thoughts were “what would a fully modernised ‘All Ghillied Up’ look like?” Here, we have our answer, and already, I am impressed.

  • Upgraded graphics confers upon “All Ghillied Up” in Modern Warfare Remastered a sense of immersion far surpassing the visuals of the original mission, and even though every moment is identical, down to the scripting, a fresh coat of paint makes the game feel like a whole new title. I spent far more time admiring the visuals than I should have, right down to the reflections in the M21’s optics. However, there’s not too much time to dawdle: there’s a mission to complete, after all!

  • Supposing the recollections from my first “Chernobyl Diaries” discussion to be correct, it was a bit of an overcast day when I wrote the original post similar to the skies seen around the church (ostensibly, I was supposed to be working on a physics assignment on equilibrium and forces). The remastered Modern Warfare depicts this area as having much darker skies, and while waiting for the Ultranationalist convoy to pass later on, lightning can be seen illuminating the clouds. It’s subtle and it’s easily missed, but it is a very nice touch: whenever the clouds get this dark where I live, a thunderstorm or some form of precipitation is imminent.

  • There’s a cache of Stinger missiles inside the church that can be used to shoot out the Russian Hind, although I’ve never actually tried to do so for myself as of now. Some folks have tried “All Ghillied Up” without adhering to the stealth components, and there’s a trick to besting the Hind; one needs to get off two shots in quick succession. The first shot will always miss, since the Hind will deploy flares, and retaliation is swift as it unleashes a barrage of rockets, leveling the church. If players can evade this and get a second shot off, the Hind will be destroyed, prompting MacMillian to remark that Price is now showing off.

  • Depending on one’s perspective, five years can be a lot of time, or it can be a little time. When I played through Modern Warfare for the first time, the game had been out for five years, and was showing its age slightly against period titles, such as Battlefield 3. However, in atmospherics, it was unparalleled, and looking through my old archives, I was so engrossed in Modern Warfare that I beat the game in just over a week.

  • I’m actually not too sure how I developed an interest in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but it might have stemmed from seeing trailers for Chernobyl Diaries on television, subsequently looking up ghost stories surrounding Chernobyl and Pripyat and then coming across an article about ghostly voices of children in Modern Warfare at Tango-Victor-Tango. Closer inspection led me to learn more about the Pripyat missions, and once I found some YouTube footage, I felt that this was something I could enjoy playing. This would have been April, during which term was still on, and I was watching Angel Beats! while trying to do my best to stay afloat in biochemistry.

  • This is probably the tensest part of the mission, and I’ve died here more times than I’ve cared to keep track of because one of the ultranationalist soldiers stepped on me while I was still in the grass. MacMillian suggests anticipating their paths and keeping movement to a minimum, and with enough experience, it is possible to remember where the soldiers will go. While I love this mission, I’ve not yet memorised the soldiers’ scripted paths, so I usually make for the left and hide behind a tree until everyone’s gone.

  • What caught my eye in the trailer were shots of Pripyat covered in a fog, as well as the interiors of apartments and other buildings in Pripyat. While I had been interested in checking out the movie, a physics course and cold reception to the movie upon its release meant that my interest in the film waned. However, this year, I decided to give Chernobyl Diaries a spin just to see if the film was as poor as reception had presented it to be. Overall, I found that the narrative was a bit generic and the movie counting solely on jump scares to convey its horror moments meant that the fear soon gave way to wondering how the characters would react when they ran into trouble next. The fact that the source of the horror game from mutants also lessens the impact of each scare.

  • Having said that, there were some things the movie did reasonably well: the initial tour of Pripyat with Yuri and the initial fear conveyed by uncertainty as to what the cause of frights would be meant the film’s initial build-up was fun to watch. In particular, the moment with a fog covering Pripyat conveyed a perfect sense of suspense. By comparison, the best (and only other) horror movie I’ve seen was Dark Water, which scared me to no end because of both how the build-up was so well done, the fact that the specter’s physical appearance was quite unsettling and the implications the film imparts about human selfishness and cruelty long after the denouement was presented.

  • Even today, I’m still too much of a wuss to go back and re-watch Dark Water. By comparison, Chernobyl Diaries certainly is not scary, and perhaps if the mutants were in the open a bit more, in conjunction with at least a handful of survivors as opposed to total casualties, the film might be considered an adventure or survival film instead. Most of the deaths in Chernobyl Diaries were not too gruesome, minus Yuri’s: his abdominal cavity was torn open and mutilated by the mutants. Similarly, the presence of mutants rather than other supernatural entities meant that in theory, a good set of weapons could be sufficient to confer survival. Back in “All Ghillied Up”, I’ve reached the point where I must crawl under some parked vehicles. It’s a thrilling point in the mission, as suspenseful as waiting for the ultranationalist convoy to pass.

  • With this in mind, I contend that Chernobyl Diaries is not an equivalent experience to playing through Modern Warfare. Barring actually travelling to Pripyat, the remastered version of Modern Warfare is the most immersive experience of exploring Pripyat possible, and here, I’ve finally cleared all of the convoys and points in the game where there are large numbers of soldiers. There’s a lone sniper on the stairwell, but he can be dealt with quickly. Returning to my old post on “All Ghillied Up” will find a screenshot taken at the same location: the differences are dramatic.

  • In my original post, I only had ten images and focused predominantly on events after clearing the convoy. That post was written well before this blog became my preferred place to write: in 2012, I still maintained a website at Webs.com, where my reviews lived. By 2013, it became clear that the limitations of Webs.com (mainly with respect to maximum number of visitors possible and a difficult-to-use web interface) meant that I would slowly migrate here. After trying my hand at lengthier posts with Vividred Operation, I became accustomed to WordPress and have used it since.

  • Hence, readers who do choose to explore this site’s archive will find blog posts from 2011 and 2012 that deviate greatly from the way I currently do things. Posts take a considerably more substantial effort to write now, as opposed to being put together within the space of half an hour, and I often plan an outline for each post in my mind a few days or even weeks before putting fingers to keyboard.

  • Without the prospect of being shot at, “All Ghillied Up” takes on a different feel as Price and MacMillian wander through the deserted apartment blocks of Pripyat. Unlike Chernobyl Diaries, there are no mutants or large animals: players only encounter a wild dog that’s best left alone (killing it will result in a pack of dogs showing up, although it is possible and somewhat entertaining to extricate oneself from the situation). The absence of unknown enemies means that this short walk through Pripyat is a melancholic, moody one that brings to mind the dangers of knowledge and their consequences.

  • In my original post, I mention haikyo, a Japanese term for “ruins”. Having put some years between the present and when I last counted myself as a student, I can finally confess that I was never much of a student in my undergraduate studies until my fourth year, and one of the things I did instead of applying for summer scholarships or studying D vs L configuration of acyclic monosaccharides was browsing through old ruins in Japan. Since then, I’ve also found websites showcasing ruins of Russia, and more recently, Taiwan. The images are hauntingly beautiful, and there’s a strange appeal about derelict human constructs.

  • Here, I step into an abandoned room that appears to have once held a cafeteria; the remaster makes fantastic use of volumetric lighting and particles to give a dusty sense, while the peeling paint and detrius on the floors mirror the lack of a human presence. There are many hazards associated with exploring old ruins that images alone cannot capture: broken glass, asbestos, mold, crumbling infrastructure and feral animals, plus the ever-present risk of being detected and held for trespassing are very real threats that hang over the heads of urban explorers. Urban explorer Alexander Synaptic remarks that his preferred way of exploring haikyo is to start from the roof and work his way down, minimising the risk of detection.

  • Synaptic’s travels are largely focused in Taiwan, and while he does visit other locations, there are a host of excellent haikyo sites out there. Japan is where my interests were first piqued: I found an anime magazine showcasing the derelict roller coasters of Nara Dreamland, and since then, I’ve been drawn to reading about urban exploration.

  • Hearing ghostly voices of children’s shouts here is the only out-of-the-ordinary experience in “All Ghillied Up”, and it is here that Captain MacMillian’s quote is made, capturing the other-worldly feel surrounding the Chernobyl disaster. After the meltdown in 1986, liquidators stepped in to clean up and contain the spread of radioactive particles, while Pripyat’s citizens were given orders to evacuate. They were told only to bring necessities, as they would be coming back in a few days, but that never happened, hence the remnants of personal items in Pripyat.

  • A tragedy in every sense of the word, there have also been some rumours surrounding the Chernobyl disaster, ranging from the conspiracy theories to the downright supernatural. One of the most interesting is the “black bird” of Chernobyl, which was alleged to have been spotted in the days leading up to the disaster. Inducing horrific nightmares in those who’d spotted it, as well as causing said individuals to be the recipients of threatening phone calls, this “black bird” was seen hovering in the radioactive smoke after the disaster and was never seen again. Similar to the Mothman of Point Pleasant, this makes for a fantastic story until one realises that “black bird” sightings were only reported conveniently after things had concluded. My inner skeptic says that the myth was transplanted over to Pripyat as a derivative story, albeit a rather intriguing one.

  • Returning to the 1024 by 768 screenshots in my original “All Ghillied Up” post (and even the 1920 by 1080 screenshots from last year), the differences between the original Modern Warfare and its remastered incarnation are dramatic. I noted that this mission would be more enjoyable than watching Chernobyl Diaries, and after five years, I’ve vindicated that particular claim.

It is quite evident that experiencing Pripyat through Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, although eclipsed by visiting Pripyat, is much more comprehensive and exciting an experience than watching Chernobyl Diaries. While the film is a linear adventure, players have more freedom in Modern Warfare – they can elect to follow MacMillian’s orders, which is the most efficient way to complete the mission, but should they be compromised or feel particularly adventurous, can go weapons loud. The game will uncharacteristically not punish the player; instead, MacMillian will either comment on the player’s inability to comprehend the definition of “stealth” or even remark that they’re showing off, should they succeed in using the M21 to fend off numerically superior enemies. It stands in stark contrast with the hand-holding seen in other missions. Already a fantastic mission in its original form, playing through “All Ghillied Up” in Modern Warfare Remastered is akin to playing a completely different game: grasses get pushed aside as players crawl through it, and cracks in the peeling paint are visible in the new version. It is an experience that very nearly commands the price of Modern Warfare Remastered (itself only available in the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition), being quite worth it for the fact that I could experience this wonderful mission again with a completely revitalised and renewed feeling.

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.