Review | 11/23/2016 at 1:07 PM

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Co-Op Review

Say 'Mars Aeternum' one more time. I dare you.

For the past few installments, the Call of Duty series has been flirting with near-future military technology. That's nice and all, but what I really want are some gosh darned Space Marines. Luckily, someone at Infinity Ward was listening. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare firmly plunges the series into a future where mankind has not only colonized the solar system, it's splintered into two factions. One of which became a band of crazed militants.

After the now-standard introductory mission, you step into the shoes of Nick Reyes, a Special Ops pilot. Earth gets attacked by the villainous Settlement Defense Front, a group of off-world insurgents led by Admiral Kotch, or as I like to call him, 'Space Jon Snow'. Along with your trusty partner Salter and a surprisingly humorous robot buddy, E3N (or Ethan), you'll take the fight back to the SDF in a battle that spans the entire solar system.

Since it's set in the far future, the technology has evolved significantly. For example, many of the enemies are robotic so you can hack into and control them, you find an auto-tracking shotgun, there's a portable laser cannon, and you have spider grenades that seek out and attach to enemies. While you can boost your jumps and wall run, only a handful of the maps made good use of these abilities.

Many of the missions of the campaign are memorable thanks to the setting, but one truly stands out. There's a mining facility on an asteroid near Mercury that's spinning wildly out of control. This creates a very short day/night cycle where exposure to direct sunlight is deadly. The robotic enemies are all solar-powered so they can only operate during the 'day', and then shut off at 'night'. This lead to some exciting firefights where I felt like I was about to be completely overrun, only to be saved by the enemies powering down.

Call of Duty games have always included vehicle segments, but Infinite Warfare ups the ante by letting you engage in actual dogfights. In space. I had so much fun with them, that I was honestly shocked that there isn't a deathmatch variant in the multiplayer that lets you fight other players.

Luckily, the campaign also includes a series of side missions where you can engage in more dogfights or assault SDF capital ships for fun and profit. Finishing these unlocks extra perks for Nick to take into battle, which offer such quality of life improvements as faster health regeneration, or giving you an electrically-charged knife to 'power up' your melee attacks.

In a lot of ways, the single player campaign reminds me of Halo Reach. Maybe it's the 'against all odds' storyline. Maybe it's the space dogfighting. Heck, maybe it's just the fact that you're shooting ballistic weapons in a far-future sci-fi setting. Whatever it is, Infinite Warfare's the most fun I've had with a COD campaign in a long time, and it's worth checking out even if you're primarily here for the multiplayer offerings.

It's taken years, but Infinity Ward has finally acquiesced to developing a Zombies mode. Playable solo or with up to four friends, this year's mode launches with one map - Zombies in Spaceland - which is set in a theme park in the 1980s. The basic gist is that you're one of four aspiring actors who 'earn' their way into starring in a horror movie directed by a sadistic director. The aesthetic and sound effects are all on-point, and it's fun to blast zombies while licensed tunes of the 80s rock the airwaves.

Like other Zombies modes, you will defend an area from waves of zombies, then slowly move through Spaceland, restoring power and unlocking new areas to toy around in. Each area of the park is unique, such as the Spaceland Arcade which contains actual arcade games to play! Playing these games earn you tickets, which can be used to buy special items from kiosks around the map. Other areas include fun traps, like igniting zombies under a rocket engine, or using a yeti's breath to freeze them. I was particularly fond of my co-op partners inadvertently killing themselves in the bumper car ride.

Getting decent at the arcade games is actually fairly important. If you get killed, you're sent to an area where you have to play games to earn a respawn token, getting you back into the action. It's a fun idea that plays off the theme well. When you respawn, there's also a Lost & Found in the map, so you can retrieve your old weapons at a small cost.

While the basic loop of rolling through the map, boarding up entrances, and surviving zombie waves is pretty darn fun, it's a bit frustrating that some of the coolest bits of Zombies in Spaceland are locked behind discovering craftable Wonder Weapons or finishing the map's Easter Egg. While I'm all for cool secrets being hidden in a game, the steps seem a little too obtuse for any casual group to complete. If you have a regular crew rolling, that's a different story.

The secrets are fun to chase down, but most of the time you'll want to simply see how long you can last, and that's where it becomes necessary to master the various ways to upgrade your character. Since the zombies get stronger with each wave, the most important thing you can do is unlock the Pack-a-Punch room by restoring power to the park. Here, you can exchange any weapon you are carrying for a much more potent version.

Each section of the park has a candy machines that you can buy perks from, such as Blue Bolts, which make you shoot electricity in a radius while you reload, or the Mule Munchies, which let you carry a third weapon around. Snagging perks will end up being very important, especially since one of them allows you to revive your teammates faster.

Prior to the match, you'll also select a loadout of five Fate & Fortune Cards, which you can consume for several helpful effects. By shooting enough zombies, you'll fill a meter which allows you to select one of your cards to burn. In return, you'll get a nice temporary buff, like faster grenade recharge or making your team invisible to zombies for 20 seconds. Fate Cards are unlocked through your overall player level and can be used in every match. Fortune Cards are earned randomly in Zombie Crates that you purchase with the keys you receive from completing Zombies matches and are expended upon use.

Zombies only launched with the one map, but the Season Pass promises more content over the coming months. There's a lot to discover, so the map should keep you entertained for quite a while.

Nick’s Take On Zombies

I’ve played every CoD game’s zombie mode to date, and since World at War I’ve been sold that this mode should be a stand alone game in itself. While CoD Zombies evolved with Treyarch to it’s own side story loaded with famous actors to quip one liners, Infinity Ward’s version feels a bit more generic. I think a lot of the core ideas are available here, but Zombies in Spaceland doesn’t seem to implement the same risk vs reward type gameplay of the previous zombies modes. The wide open twisting nature of the park combined with the portals gives it more of an offensive feel, rather than defensive. Still, there’s a lot to like here and as Mike said more maps are coming via DLC - so we can see where Infinity Ward takes us. 

Taken as a whole, Infinite Warfare is a fairly solid package. I personally had a great deal of fun with the single-player campaign, and I've put a lot more time into Zombies in Spaceland than I thought I was going to. If Infinity Ward can keep the new content interesting, I'll be happy to keep up. And if not? There's always Modern Warfare Remastered...

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was reviewed using a retail copy of the game provided to us by Activision.