‘Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’ plays more like a reskin than a reimagining

Todd Hailstone

Two and a half stars

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Reviewed for PlayStation 4. Also available for Xbox One & Windows.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is the first of its name, but the 13th entry in the Call of Duty franchise, which dates back to 2003. It features great performances from some of its motion-captured actors—including Brian Bloom, David Harewood and Jamie Gray Hyde—along with a flat showing from Kit Harrington—and this time, it’s clear developer Infinity Ward has focused mostly on the game’s single-player campaign.

The story is set far in the future, when settlers from Mars have revolted against Earth, causing a solar system-wide civil war—a setting that allows for some interesting new scenarios and mechanics. The highlight: the addition of spaceship combat. The “Jackal” that you fly is reminiscent of the Battlestar Galactica Viper, and the moves—like the ability to spin quickly in space’s zero gravity—feel just as great as it looked on TV, though the developer might have made the missions a bit too easy.

Zero gravity first-person shooting sections are another key addition. Bounding around in space from debris to space hull can get disorienting, but it made for a nice change of pace from the hallway-based shooting of the rest of the experience. Therein lies the problem with COD: IW: With all its refreshed window dressing, the game has changed very little since its last entry. Wall running has returned, and a new grappling hook has been introduced to make your soldier more mobile, but these mechanics were swiped from other franchises (see: Titanfall) and are less effectively implemented here.

The entire game feels like it takes place in two locations: The hallway leading to a door, and the room beyond full of bad guys. I hoped the two remaining modes, Multiplayer and Zombies, would hold more surprises, but I was disappointed.

Multiplayer is hardly worth mentioning. All the modes here break down the same way: run around frantically on claustrophobic maps, shoot and hope for the best. If someone told me it was simply a reskin of last year’s COD: Black Ops III, I would believe it. If you came looking for Zero G combat, spaceship fights and real improvements, move along; they’re not here.

Zombies also felt uninspired. The setting is quirky and fun—an ’80s-style theme park infested with the living dead, this time from space. Paul Reubens and David Hasselhoff make guest appearances, but we’re still doing the same sorts of things from iterations past, boarding up windows and puppy guarding openings against waves of zombies. Considering Call of Duty is the world’s most successful first-person shooter video game franchise, I expected more.

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