Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Review: War is Hell

The Call of Duty franchise steps back in time for a reboot to right before our hero Captain Price gets his team together. Does the game live up to the previous installments of the franchise, or is it best left in the annals of history?

Read on to find out.

The Call of Duty franchise has come a long ways since it first parachuted into WWII combat back in 2003. Since then it has seen conflicts from the Vietnam War and has moved all the way into a fictional space war. Through it all, the series has always been a combat first, first person shooter, with a decent balance between a campaign mode and multiplayer modes. The latest release in the franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, continues that trend.

The campaign opens up as CIA officer Alex is trying to recover some dangerous chemical gas that is being shipped to Urzikstan. During this covert op, terrorists attack Alex’s group of Marines and take off with the gas. Alex’s handler, Station Chief Kate Laswell requests the assistance of SAS Captain John Price in order to recover the gas and hopefully stop a war with Russia. Within 24 hours of that attack, another group of terrorists that align with the terrorist group Al-Qatala, attack Piccadilly Circus using suicide bombers and gunmen in London. SAS Sergeant Kyle Garrick is tasked with quelling the violence and gets an assist from Capt. Price. Meanwhile Alex meets up with a local rebel leader back in Urzikstan, Farah Karim, who will only help find the chemicals if Alex helps fight off the occupying Russian forces.

Check Your Fire

The story takes a few twists and turns as you progress through it and is well written. War is a brutal landscape and the game depicts that without pulling any punches. The game is ‘Rated M’ for a reason, and one shouldn’t be shocked to find the level of brutality the game displays. From Russian use of chemical weapons in fictional Urzikstan to suicide bombers in Piccadilly Circus, the violence is both timely and historical. The game does an incredible job of representing real world threats in a fictional timeline, and tells a story that is intriguing and entertaining, albeit rather darkly.

As a soldier playing through these scenarios, the gameplay allows your bullets to carry into and through the battlefield, with the possibility of taking out innocent non-combatants. When fighting through Piccadilly Circus, you’ll need to check your fire and make sure not to shoot everything that moves. You’ll need to quickly assess if someone running at you is just an innocent bystander or a terrorist with enough C4 strapped to his chest to take out half a city block. Make the wrong choice and you can be reduced to a pink mist or commit a war crime. Even when shooting a bad guy you need to make sure not to take out someone behind them.

Not Always a Linear Path

The campaign experience can be slightly different depending on your choices. While most missions follow a linear path, several give you more of an open world feeling and your choice of which objective to take on first. One of our favorite missions in the game, “Going Dark”, tasks you with searching for a hostage in several different locations within a small complex. You can choose to turn off the power and take out the lights and use night vision exclusively (which we did) or try to clear out the bad guys quickly in the light. There are a couple of trophies/achievements that can be earned with the more stealthy approach, and we snagged them both on our first playthrough.

The game is designed to be played tactically, and for those that are veterans of the series you’ll probably want to play on the Veteran or Realism difficulty. Realism is just Veteran with a limited HUD, but for long time players of the series, it really isn’t too difficult as long as you pay attention to your surroundings and don’t act like Rambo, running around guns blazing all the time. Occasionally that might be your best option, but for the most part you’ll end up dead with that playstyle. We found it was best to take your time and listen to what your teammates are saying.


Best Looking Call of Duty to Date

The Call of Duty franchise has always been a decent looking series and was usually one of the best looking for that generation, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare continues that trend. The folks at Infinity Ward created a brand new engine for the game, and it gave the game a much more realistic appearance on our PS4 Pro. Playing on a decent gaming PC takes the graphics a little bit farther into that realm with DirectX Raytracing support, but the game still looks amazing in 4K on the PS4 Pro. The choice to go with a new engine really sets the table for future games in the franchise and puts IW in prime position for the launch of the PlayStation 5 in 2020 and for future PC and XBOX One development.

Co-op Spec Ops

Once you’ve finished the campaign, the story continues with Spec-op mode. Here you can team up with three other players and/or friends, regardless of their platform, and take on multiple levels. You can even play split screen for some couch-co-op fun, and have the other two spots filled out with random players or friends. More cut scenes are unlocked that tell the story of the man that came in to fill the void left by the main campaign storyline. You can also play survival mode which will pit you and your mates against wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies.

Prepare for a Massive Battle or Just Go 2V2

This wouldn’t be a Call of Duty game if it didn’t have an epic multiplayer mode to keep you busy for a long time to come. Whether you want to play with just a few friends in 2V2 or go all out in a crazy battle with 100+ players across a massive map, your choices are many. Throw in the new Cyber Attack mode and there should be something for everyone to enjoy.

Crossplay FTW

Linking your Activision account with your gamer ID (PSN, XBOX Live, or Battlenet) allows you to move from platform to platform without having to start over with your character. Cross play support is something that has been needed for years but limitations created by varying operating systems have kept that from coming to fruition, but now with the PS4 moving to a PC based system, cross play and cross saves are here for multiplayer modes.

The Call of Duty franchise is one of the biggest in the video game world and always strives to set the bar when it comes to first person shooters. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare continues that trend and developer Infinity Ward has once again created a game that all other shooters will be measured against.




Call of Duty: Modern Warfare review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.