It appears that I am once again a sucker for the enormous money making corporation known as Activision, as I have been sucked into another Call of Duty game and now a mere puppet on a string. I feel a little like a drug addict who has kicked his addiction for a good 4 years, but now, I had had a little temptation and I am back on it. I am back baby… so is my entire clan (the VoiD) from my league days, and you know what? I couldn’t be happier about it.
After not playing competitive multiplayer for so long and focusing solely on the Single Player story experience, it is rather refreshing to shoot some fools in a game of PvP. I know there has been many good competitive multiplayer games out since the last CoD I have properly played (Black Ops 2, as Ghosts and everything after was a load of cack), but nothing has managed to sink its claws into me. I find replaying the same levels over and over again rather dull, especially now that “real” life stuff limits the amount of Xbox time I actually get, but in this build up to Xmas (when I am skint and haven’t got anything else to play) I am loving it.
So this review will focus solely on the Competitive Multiplayer, as I have only managed to get through two levels of the Campaign before I am invited into a MP game with some friends (normally multiple invites! Just to state how many people I know who have come back to this game), but from what I have played of the Campaign, I am really enjoying that as well.
I have also played a couple of big games of the Nazi Zombies mode (which I absolutely loved back in the WaW and Blops1 days), so I am sure that after this weekend, I will have a more knowledge of it to review it properly.
So much of the core gameplay remains unchanged, as you would expect with the annual releases, so Activision have not invested in a new game engine, they have merely been updating the same one since the release of CoD4 in 2007! And all the same game modes (other than one or two) are all available here as well. Which all is fine with me. To be fair, all I really play is Hardcore Team Deathmatch or Search and Destroy anyway.
One new game mode that has been added in is ‘War’. This has a similar feel to Battlefield’s rush, however, the good thing is that depending on the map, the objectives are different. One map has you either attacking or defending the bunkers at the beaches of Normandy. The Allies must storm the beach and capture the bunks, after which the enemy is pushed back and more of the map is unlocked, while the Axis must defend and hold the enemy back as long as they can. Another map has the Allies leading a unit of AI controlled tanks through Bastone, with the enemy trying to stop them. It is quite an enjoyable mode (complete with an intro and outtro video showing whatever side you are facing), with the only issue being that it is only available on the Core game listings.
Core is a very bullet sponge type of game. I have the reaction times to hit the other players, but not the power to stop them. They often use the cheeky little tactics of diving about, going prone, or jumping about, all whilst shooting, to get the better of me. So for me, Hardcore is all the way. Here it becomes a game of reaction times and bare bone skills, making it a far more enjoyable experience for me.
Anyway, you ain’t here to read about that. Let’s get back to it. If you have played a Call of Duty game since the original Modern Warfare, you know what you are going to get here. So what else is new? Well the weapons are all completely different, kind of. Having gone from Science Fiction Space War fighter, the series has returned to World War 2 (as per the fans’ requests) and so all the classic guns from all your favourite WW2 games make an appearance here. From the M1 Garand, to the MP40, the Springfield, to the MG42, everything is here. They are all now equitable with rapid fire, FMJ, red dot-est targeting systems… just like they did in the 1940s. So there is no change there then in terms of the weapons… so that’s not it.
Oh yes! It is the Headquarters. This is the biggest new addition to the CoD franchise, straight out of Destiny’s book. No longer will you be waiting in a game lobby with only your class customising and emblem creations to keep you busy, no, now you will be wandering around the Allied controlled beach at Normandy. Here you are able to get Orders (challenges that give you either supply drops or XP), Contracts (more difficult timed orders that give you the same sort of thing), buy clothes, weapon skins, and Calling Cards, as well as a whole bunch of other stuff to do. You see you can, sort of, customise your character now, but most of the options are hidden away behind unlocks found in Supply Drops, which are basically Loot Crates that give you three cards which have unlocks on them ranging from Common items to Epic ones. Anyone who has played any game with Loot Crates in them will instantly know how they work, so although it is new for CoD, it is not a new thing. Naturally you will be able to pay for these with real world currency, but thankfully these crates do not give you any additional weapons or anything that makes the person buying them too overpowered, which is always a good thing.
Also in the Headquarters you can commend other players (giving them a little XP boost along with yourself), test out weapons in the firing range, try out Score streaks, and battle against someone 1 on 1 in a small little battle maze while everyone else in your lobby watches.
The Headquarters themselves are suppose to be an online social place, but at the moment you just spawn in there on your own, unless you are in a party with some friends, in which case they will be in there with you. So unless you are playing with a party, the Headquarters can seem like a lonesome place, but Activision have said that they are addressing this and will get it up and running properly in the near future.
A class system has kind of been implemented now. When you create a new class, you can select one of 5 major divisions to be a part of, each with their own special abilities the further you rank them up. These are: Infantry – which starts you off with a bayonet (instant melee kill, as the standard melee kill just doesn’t cut it any more), but eventually you can unlock more weapon attachment slots for your gun and looking down the sights faster. Airborne – Silencer for your SMGs and eventually sprinting faster and for longer. Armoured – LMG bipod and taking less damage. Mountain – Sniper abilities such as holding your breath and being invisible to pretty much everything other than the naked eye. And Expeditionary – Shotgun Incendiary shells, and then unlocking a piece of tactical and lethal equipment (as you can’t take both) and resupplying equipment from dead enemies.
You can combined these with a Basic Training Order, which is pretty much a perk, for some amazing combinations. Mixing and matching is the best option here to become a jack of all trades, rather than solely focusing on one single aspect of what the MP has to offer.
Each one of these Divisions can be levelled up and prestige, unlocking new weapons and other bits and bobs only available through prestiging a Division.
Weapons can also be levelled up and prestiged, which adds things such as clan tags and a kill counter to the weapon. Which is quite cool I suppose.
Of course most of this stuff is hidden away behind ranking unlocks, prestige unlocks, and Loot crates, so you will need to play a lot in order to get to enjoy this stuff.
Player prestige is still here as well, with each level giving you an unlock token for you to use to acquire a weapon, attachment, and/or Score Streak. So you will need to spend them wisely at first, although most of the stuff is locked away, so you eventually you get to a point where you are just saving these unlock tokens up.
Naturally I haven’t got to prestiging my character yet, so I am not 100% what this game has to offer in terms of that, so any comments from yourselves would be very informative.
In terms of the gameplay itself, everything remains more of less the same as the standard tried and tested Call of Duty formula. There are a few differences here which I feel I should mention.
Bouncing Betties (or S-Mines as they are known now) seem to disappear on Search and Destroy if you die, which is a bit annoying as that was always a little nice parting gift long after you, yourself, have died.
As mentioned before the melee no longer instant kills, and you cannot hold both a piece of lethal AND tactical equipment, unless of course you have the division or the perk to do so.
And they appear to have sorted out the Spawn issue… in a way. You see in this CoD, each team starts at one end of the map. In something like Team Deathmatch, whenever you die, you will return to that spawn point. Should the enemy manage to push their way to that point, you will spawn at the complete opposite end of the map, which is where the enemy team originally spawned. While this is good in a way, as other than campers who have done fuck all throughout the match, there is not as much spawn killing as there have been in many CoD games, but at the same time, it makes the spawning very predictable. Many times I have pushed my way through the enemy defences and made my way to their spawn, to then realise that the game has swapped the points, so I instantly know to turn around and have a rough idea where they will be coming from. Of course it is not a game breaker… yet, but I can see it being later on down the line.
Some of the later Score Streaks, such as the amazing Paratroopers, which parachute in a few NPCs to help you fight, are so costly that when you actually get them, the match is about to end. Maybe this isn’t an issue in a more objective base game mode such as Headquarters or Capture the Flag, but in Team Deathmatch, having this Score Streak set seems incredibly pointless. It is amazing however to watch a bunch of guys parachute in and fight for you, drastically outnumbering the enemy.
I have been having a few issues with the serves (as I am sure everyone else has), but this is not overly a game issue per-say, as this will eventually be patched, but at the moment I have been spawning into games a few moments later than everyone else, giving enemy teams to get into position (on S&D) and my grenade is still taking a few moments before it works, where as enemy grenades are going off at my feet. It is only for the first couple of rounds, but it is very annoying.
I have one friend who cannot join the game for the entire first round. He is always on for the second, and in a Search and Destroy game, this game be the deciding factor that makes you losing the round. I have seen online that other people have been having this issue as well, so hopefully Activision will fix this soon.
It might seem like I am hating on this Call of Duty, but that is only because the rest of the game is as solid as it has always been. It seems that Activision have listened to fans and given the players what they want. Whether this will apply to next year’s inevitable Call of Duty, remains to be seen, but at the moment, I am thoroughly enjoying this game and very eager to get back online. I can hear the addition calling me from the darkest recesses of my mind saying the words “Just one more game” softly in my ear at midnight.
At the moment, the game is fun (as well as annoying as hell sometimes, but that’s purely my fault for being crap in some games and amazing in others) and there are lots of people online once again, so I am going to ride the wave while it lasts. So come and join me and get yourself back into the Call of Duty fight!