Saving Private Ryan helped to launch an empire of popular World War II shooter games that reigned supreme for several years. Every developer wanted a piece of the action, though EA’s Medal of Honor and Battlefield series tended to dominate the spotlight. A studio, made from the creative minds behind Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, created Call of Duty as a war shooter that put the player in the combat boots of soldiers from different nations, which did the unique thing of presenting one war from three different sets of eyes. Infinity Ward would say good-bye to World War II after three games, bringing a new vision of global combat that hit close to home for gamers growing up in the shadow of the World Trade Center attacks.
Modern Warfare was a loud, bombastic spectacle with visual and auditory sensations typically reserved for big budget Michael Bay blockbusters. Beyond the chaotic tableau of war, the game shipped with a large variety of new, modern war toys to play with. BARs, Thompsons, and the M1 Garand were replaced by sophisticated weapons of death, many of which could be controlled remotely or delivered from high above. Modern Warfare divided itself into two distinct narrative and stylistic scenarios. The U.S. Marine portion of the game is chock full of bravado and machismo. This is where the game delivers its biggest punches, putting the player right in the middle of war caused by a violent Ultranationalist coup in the Middle East. The British SAS sections of the game are almost polar opposite because of quieter, more intriguing special ops assignments designed to uncover the mastermind behind the conflict. Modern Warfare is bolstered by plenty of amazing, shocking, and thrilling set pieces, and sitting through them again takes me back to seeing all this stuff for the very first time. While the impact isn't nearly as effective, it'd be fun to see new people experience all the twists and turns the game makes (especially after the credits roll).
For the remastered version of Modern Warfare, absolutely nothing has been changed from the base game. There are no new alternative paths, cutscenes, or randomized enemy placements. Secret Intel laptops are hidden in the same locations. Those who were good enough to play the game with their eyes closed back in the day are likely to do that again. And yet, despite being the same game, the updated visuals and slick smooth 60fps completely changes the look, feel, and overall experience of playing Modern Warfare. The texture work alone leads me to believe that this was the version of the game Infinity Ward had in their heads in 2007. The original game was pretty enough, but the high resolution textures, advanced lightning effects, and incredibly detailed character models come together to create a truly stunning presence. The updated models make characters, like Zakhaev, look staggeringly different from their last gen counterpart. Finer details have been added to make the world feel lived in. Explosions, gun fire, smoke effects, and lightning look so rich, realistic and vibrant despite its earthy color palette.
Enough time has passed, I think, that today is a great time to return to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The remastered edition is gorgeous enough to make your jaw hit the floor. The game is also solidly built and survived the transition to modern machines flawlessly. There were moments that it felt like some ambient audio cut out during prolonged firefights, but it didn’t ruin anything mainly due to the constant cacophony of gunfire. What more can I add to my long list of sung praises? How about this: PlayStation owners: you finally get trophy support for Modern Warfare! When the game was released on the PlayStation 3, it came without the Xbox achievements. After playing the original game not two weeks ago, I was surprised to see that Infinity Ward never added the achievements to the Sony version. That changes! There’s something so satisfying about getting the trophies after all this time.
The fact that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is still as fun and groundbreaking today speaks volumes about its staying power. It truly is a timeless classic that earned its chance to shine again with a top quality remaster. These days, it seems like every game is getting ported to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. While it feels like the bare minimum is being done to make these games work on new machines, you can tell that Modern Warfare got a lot of love and attention from Raven. I wasn’t entirely convinced that paying $80 for Infinite Warfare in order to get the remaster was a good proposition - and I’m still not. I doubt it’ll happen, but Call of Duty: Remastered deserved to be freed from the shackles of “bonus content” to an unknown, premium priced product. Raven did a fantastic job with the game and their work deserves to be enjoyed by everyone regardless of how they get it. The game reaffirms Infinity Ward’s impact and influence on the genre and should not be considered anything less than a timeless classic of digital entertainment.
Note: I was unable to play the multiplayer version of Modern Warfare Remastered because I was locked out. I presume it will be made available when Infinite Warfare is out next month.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.