Well, here we are, another year, another Call of Duty game.
As the years have rolled by, this shooter franchise has morphed from World War II run-and-gun battles, to ever-more super-techy modern skirmishes, to the point where we find ourselves now: sci-fi war in space.
So, slap on a helmet, crank up the O2, and let’s check Infinite Warfare out.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes place sometime in the distant future. It’s a time when—just like nearly every future-focused sci-fi pic ever made—mankind has sucked away the life force of our good ol’ Mother Earth and branched out to grab resources from other planets in our galaxy. Things are going pretty well now for our planetary government, the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA), except … well, there’s this Mars-based splinter faction called the Settlement Defense Front that just has to make galactic waves. Deadly ones, too.
We play as a brave and likable guy named Lt. Nick Reyes, a UNSA Navy pilot. The evildoer leading the SDF bad guys—villains so diabolical and heartless that even Hitler might have balked at their actions—is Admiral Salen Kotch. He’s the sort who repeatedly lets it be known that dying at his hand is no disgrace. Which I guess is supposed to make someone feel better about giving up and just taking a bullet. Or a laser, as the case may be.
Our Lt. Reyes, though, isn’t that kind of a man. After the UNSA fleet is nearly obliterated through a series of treacherous actions, Reyes fights back and is then promoted to Commander of one of the last battered starships the UNSA has. He’s also given the impossible task of taking the fight to the freedom-hating Kotch. Helping him out is a crew of battle-hardened Marines and Navy men and women, as well as a charismatic experimental robot sidekick called ETH.3n (or “Ethan”).
Bit by bit, Reyes and his crew heroically work to undermine the SDF forces. (It’s a bit odd that Commander Reyes goes on all of those missions himself instead of handing them off to someone who isn’t the ship captain. But, hey, Captain Kirk often did the same thing, right?) Gameplay involves a stealthy enemy ship breach here, a fuel tower sabotage there, a full-on dogfight with jet-like Jackal fighters in deep space, etc., etc. And with each of those cosmos-swooping missions, the overall campaign takes on a very different feel from your typical Call of Duty game*.
Zero-G combat is one of the first really noticeable changes. There are still run-for-cover battles onboard ships, but many times now you’re floating about somewhere in space, using a grapple-like device to get from place to place. Players have access to an abundance of futuristic weapons and gadgets. Bullets with electric charges, an air-strike wrist computer, high-powered lasers, and automated spider-like drones that seek out an enemy before exploding—these are but a few of the tools at your command.
There are more robotic enemies in the mix this go-round, too. That can be a good thing in that there’s less blood and mess in some circumstances. But between the robots and the enemy forces’ heavy space armor, there’s a lot more trigger-pulling required to make it through most battles.
Messy bits? Oh, yeah, they’re here. The deep space, gravity free environs, frankly, tend to make the game feel less gory than an on-solid-ground-and-aiming-down-a-gun-barrel shooter. But there’s still plenty of goop to go ’round. Headshots still splatter. Armor gives out in a dying spurt of blood. Stealthy kills involve slashed throats or viciously snapped necks. And like every Call of Duty, the battles are still explosive and intense.
Oh, and speaking of explosive, even though you may think everything should be silent in space’s soundwave-free environment, well, that ain’t the case here. Not only does this version of deep space let you hear every explosion and screech, you also get an earful of foul language that includes heavy hitting f-bombs and other vulgarities. Not to mention the many things you’ll hear and see when engaged in multiplayer conflicts or while splashing the gaseous guts of the undead in this game’s bonus Zombies in Spaceland mode.
In the end, what we get with Infinite Warfare is a Call of Duty game unlike any that’s come before it. Then again, the latest entry in this franchise also proves the only thing that’s really different is where these battles take place—not the gory, profane content that once again fills them.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.