This year’s Call of Duty takes place in a war-torn vision of the future that, given the current political climate, seems entirely too achievable.
Mankind has successfully mastered space travel, colonising the planets of our solar system using our fleet of cool spaceships. But despite our advanced technology, infinite resources and superfast iPads, we’re still determined to irreversibly balls everything up for one another for no reason at all.
In this mega-budget first person shooter a rogue Martian settlement, unhappy with having an entire planet to themselves, has the notion to become an expansionist terrorist group. And so Space ISIS sets about attacking Space America, by crashing a titanic spacecraft into Geneva in scenes uncomfortably reminiscent of actual terrorist attacks.
The group’s ideology is left undefined by some lazy writing, and so its big bad leader (wonkily played by Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington) spouts pseudo-intellectual garbage like “freedom is a fundamental Earth-born flaw,” the kind of meaningless right-on gibberish you’d find scrawled in a rebellious teenager’s copybook.
It’s truly embarrassing stuff, and could be forgiven if only Call of Duty didn’t take itself so seriously. This game is angry army men shouting at one another in space suits from start to end. Ironically enough the only human-seeming character you meet is an artificially intelligent robo-soldier called Ethan, who is so aesthetically similar to a walking gun that the manly men in this game aren’t afraid to show him some affection.
Infinite Warfare is at least better than the drone-obsessed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a confusing game in which you could bionically mind-splice yourself with a baby tank.
In this game, your space armoury includes fun new additions like anti-grav bombs and enemy-seeking spider-grenades, uncomplicated additions to the regular array of assault rifles and shotguns that subtly enhance combat. You can also hack into enemy robots and control them in first-person, before running them into a huddle of soldiers and self-destructing like a sentient firework.
There are missions in which you fly spaceships and dogfight around asteroids, which are fun, if repetitive, and a bit like a clunky version of Starwing.
Multiplayer is present and accounted for, an oppressive online experience in which (unless you can devote the time to it) you can enjoy the masochistic thrill of being verbally abused by many teenage American boys. Weirdly, for a game whose success is built upon a fundamentally strong competitive game, the multiplayer modes and features in Infinite Warfare feel conservative in their design. Players looking for a fresh online experience will find it all too familiar, shaken up primarily by the new stock of sci-fi weaponry.
Infinite Warfare is par for the course, a pulpy shooter with a half-arsed plot in a generically styled futureverse. Call of Duty is definitely tired, but there’s still some fun to be had in space.