Call of Duty is a franchise that I rarely play for the story, especially over the last few years. Instead, I tend to get sucked into the multiplayer. I might dabble in the campaign each year but for the most part, it’s all about multiplayer for me. But this year’s Modern Warfare has definitely mixed things up. It was hard to put the campaign down. I didn’t even touch the multiplayer until I rolled credits on the campaign.
This year’s iteration utilized some great storytelling techniques with intense set pieces and cutscenes. It almost felt like I was playing an interactive movie with a good balance between playtime and showtime. My playthroughs of previous Call of Duty games played the same way but this year’s iteration really strikes that chord with me. It felt rewarding to complete a mission and then be presented a solid cutscene in terms of length and depth. I can remember, multiple times, where I would wrap up a mission, put my controller down, grab my coffee and watch the cutscene like a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. I think the best element in Modern Warfare is the set pieces. These set pieces, or just these big “wow” events, made me feel like what I was doing was important to the story. It created this heightened sense of fierceness that when you are just running through taking out enemies, you don’t experience. In the campaign, there are certain missions in which night vision is a must and these missions were some of the more energetic instances. The night vision, in particular, made each mission almost claustrophobic. There was this feeling of urgency but also built up this suspenseful crescendo throughout the mission.
One particular mission, Clean House, was set in a house where you are going room by room, taking out enemies quietly while trying to avoid harming innocent civilians. Only now, the issue is that sometimes these seemingly innocent civilians would take up arms against you and become the enemy. Resulting in you fighting against people that don’t look the part. And after you eliminate the first civilian that grabs a gun, suddenly you are double-checking everyone. This makes you feel a little exposed and turns up the intensity of the mission. Because you don’t have a lot of time to make a decision. Is this person going to harm me? Are they innocent? It establishes this atmosphere of uncertainty and it lasts throughout the whole mission. It was one of my favorites. Plus the addition of the night vision adds another layer to the overall feel of the mission. I found myself breathing quietly like my inhaling and exhaling was going to tip off the bad guys.
It was that sense of extremity that really permeates throughout the entire campaign. Part of the campaign goes back in time to provide more background on some of the characters. In one of these instances, you go all the way back to when one character was a child. Without spoiling too much, you are tasked with taking out a soldier in your own home with sharp objects you find around the house. You must crawl around your house going through vents and under beds to stay out of the soldier’s vision. All while looking for items to kill the soldier with. The entire event was awesome to play out and did a nice job making you understand that character’s motives. You get a good idea of why these characters are so passionate about their current objectives and how they will do anything to get the job done. Without elements like this, these characters may just become stale plot devices that are in place to just keep the story moving.
My playthrough of Modern Warfare’s campaign was intense, short, and enjoyable. It makes me look forward to future installments with more story content like this. The variation in mission types keeps things fresh. I enjoyed getting to snipe enemies from afar, taking out enemies up close, and being as quiet as possible on stealth missions. All of these things were woven nicely throughout a story with some depth and spirit.