I am delighted but not surprised to report that the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered multiplayer experience holds up nicely despite the passage of time and the many improvements that have been made to the COD multiplayer system since. Indeed, this is clearly one of the best multiplayer shooters of the year. Yes, this year.
Yes, I’ve only been playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered multiplayer for 9 of the past 24 hours. So I’m sure some of your are wondering how I could possibly issue a meaningful review in such a short time frame. It sounds like a fair question.
But this one is easy to explain: I played this game, and nothing but this game, for a full year between 2007-2008, and I played this game, along with other classic COD multiplayer games, for most of 2014-2015 as well, because Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multiplayer experience was so lackluster. And Modern Warfare is on regular rotation at my monthly gaming get-togethers with friends up the street.
Point being, I know this game. It’s part of my memory, my history even, and I can very easily determine whether it holds up over time. And, as important, how it compares to more modern COD multiplayer games.
And on both counts, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered holds up quite well, thank you very much. Is it good enough to justify the $80 or more you’d need to spend to get a version of Call of Duty” Infinite Warfare that includes this bonus? No, it’s not worth $80. No game is. But it is more than worth the additional $20 it adds to the cost of Infinite Warfare. And when you consider how much you get here—a truly compelling single-player experience that blows away that of most other shooters, plus this amazing multiplayer experience—it’s a no brainer.
Modern Warfare Remastered multiplayer succeeds on a number of levels. If you think back to 2007, it’s funny to consider how controversial it was that Activision would move the COD series from World War II to the modern era. But this game won over fans and then some, and a big reason was multiplayer, which offered a much more sophisticated experience than previous COD titles. In fact, it was so sophisticated, I had a hard time adapting, at the time, because I didn’t jump in until I had finished the single-player game.
What I was greeted with was the system we see today in Modern Warfare Remastered: You level up as you gain experience, and in doing so are offered an ever-expanding set of weapons, weapon add-ons, and perks. You create multiple classes, which I think of as “load outs”, that combine a primary weapon, a side arm, a tactical grenade (a normal frag grenade comes standard), and three perks, each of which can improve your capabilities in some area. This lets you have specially customized classes for certain game types, but also for certain maps, where, for example, you might choose desert or forest camo in order to stay better hidden from the enemy.
The sheer number of possibilities here was overwhelming to my 2007 mind because previous games offered no such customization: You chose a side, picked a pre-built class, and in you went. But when you compare this game to more modern COD titles, Modern Warfare Remastered is a breath of fresh air, a welcome return to simplicity. Subsequent titles have ratcheted up the customization capabilities and, in doing so, the complexity as well.
If you listen to any of my podcasts, you’ve probably heard me openly wonder how any gamer who hasn’t played every COD title in order could ever start playing a modern COD game and not be immediately overwhelmed and lost. But this is where Modern Warfare Remastered provides a more gentle (re)introduction to the series, and if you are new to COD, playing this game before jumping into Infinite Warfare multiplayer will help in the transition a lot.
That said, it’s interesting how limiting some of the load outs—sorry, classes—feel to me now, given how much things have changed since this game.
Your secondary weapon, for example, can only be a side arm, so if you’d like a rocket for shooting down helicopters—shooting down UAVs and other sky-based items came later in the series—you’ll need to give up a perk to get it. In more recent games, you have a choice of secondary weapons, including pistols (what MWR calls side arms), rockets, and more.
Some of your onscreen avatar’s missing capabilities feel limiting too. In modern COD tiles like Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III, and Infinite Warfare, you can scale walls and fly through the sky using what is basically a jet pack of sorts. But in Modern Warfare Remastered, you’re stuck on the ground, and spend most of the time just walking around: You can only run in very short bursts. (And even that was an improvement over early COD games.) Jumping is almost non-existent and your inability to scale (or “mantle”) reasonably-sized items can be frustrating to those familiar with more recent games.
The game types have of course improved over time too. I stick with the harder “Hardcore” game types in more recent games, and usually the “Kill Confirmed” game mode, which requires you to pick up floating tags after a kill to register a point. In Modern Warfare Remastered, Hardcore Kill Confirmed makes you wait a random period of time—a few second all the way up to a debilitating 15 seconds—before you can return to the game after you’re killed. And during that unwelcome pause, you’re provided with a live shot of the game field, during which you can spy on the enemy. These scenes look really old-fashioned, like something from Call of Duty 2, for whatever reason. And I can see why they removed this is subsequent COD titles.
But if any of this sounds like complaining, please relax. Not only are these limitations completely expected, but they don’t take away from the experience. Which comes down, as it did in the original game, to the quality and diversity of the maps, plus those class customization capabilities game types and modes that let you play exactly the kind of game you want to play.
And the maps are fantastic. As they always were.
Most are among the most classic, and infinitely (re)playable of the maps seen across all COD games. They are instantly recognizable, and look and play as they did before, but with some small graphical flourishes. For example, looking out of a second story window in “Overgrown,” I see a spiderweb in the window that I don’t recall ever seeing there before. And when an enemy helicopter swoops in low over you—they are never this low in more recent games—the grasses swishes and crushes down in waves under the copter’s blades in an effect so real it’s like you’re in ‘Nam. The presentation is impressive, especially on my 4K/HDR set, where the colors just pop and put this game over the top.
In the original Modern Warfare, Activision provided a total of 16 maps over the subsequent year, including both in-box maps and those that were supplied later via map packs. Modern Warfare Remastered provides 10 today, and Activision has promised that the remain 6 will arrive in December, for free, via download. More recent COD games include more maps than that, when you factor in $60 worth of DLC/map packs, but it’s fair to say that most of those maps are not excellent. (In fact, I found at least two of the four Black Ops III map packs to be particularly terrible.) And some of the best maps we’ve seen in recent years are just remakes of older COD maps. Yes, this is what we’ve come to.
The bundled maps are also diverse, and well suited to multiple game types. That Overgrown map, for example, is quite large, and will appeal to snipers. And to those, like me, who delight in taking down snipers with less capable mid-range weapons. Many of the maps are Middle East-style cities, or construction areas. And some have great atmospheric effects, like Downpour, which, go figure, takes place during a blinding rain storm.
I almost don’t want to look ahead to the coming 6 remaining maps because it’s going to be such a happy event, but some of them are outright classics as well. Bloc, Countdown, Pipeline … Frick, all of ’em are outright classics. It’s a great time to be a COD gamer, it really is.
And that’s really how Modern Warfare Remastered, as the celebration that it is. A celebration of the past, to be sure. But also a celebration of a game that stands up quite well today in a sea of less capable pretenders. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered multiplayer experience is incredible.
I’ll be spending a lot of time in this game. Campers, you’ve been warned.
Tagged with Call of Duty