More realistic, harder and extra authentic: In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare you can't solve everything with a bang, you also need to use smart tactics. With a completely new engine and a different approach, the game wants to present itself as art that comments on world events - similar to Sicario or Homeland.
Rain pours down on your helmet, the elite soldiers of the SAS are preparing for access. Break the door, get in, check your 6, sneak, feel your way, work with a silencer and surprise the enemy - or shoot out all the light sources and switch to night vision. The bad guys will open fire right away, they know what's happening - but they won't be able to see you. These are the first seconds of the world premiere of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It all feels completely different to what we are used to.
The franchise has always been a Michael Bay-like shooter: You rush into a room, throw grenades, easily take out 50 enemies in minutes, while the whole world burns when you look outside the window. The new title, however, will be going into a completely different direction: As a commander of the SAS, Special Air Service, the best elite unit in Great Britain, we have to sneak through narrow corridors while we feel the heavy breathing of the soldiers around us. It's much more strategic, much more like a Rainbow Six game. Exciting!
Terror in London: A Call of Duty that closes in on world events
There have always been large scale attacks in video games, but Modern Warfare feels harder and gets closer to us because it is picking up on events we can all remember ourselves, like the knife attacks in London or the hostage-taking in Paris. The images are still present as assassins, armed with military weapons, move through the city centre and execute civilians - people who have just crossed the street or enjoyed a glass of wine in a restaurant. People are shot at random, one of the terrorists even gets on top of a car and fires an assault rifle at the driver and passenger.
And the question is, how are you gonna react? In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare you will slip into different roles, not only playing special units that have seen everything and are excellently prepared, but also play a young British policeman in the attack on Picadilly Circus. He doesn't have the time to wait for elite forces and therefore has to seek a duel with the assassins himself in order to save civilians. In addition, he only has one pistol and has to aim via the rear and front sights, without a visor or other high-tech support. Generally, the firefights feel more real, more authentic. The latter, above all, meaning bloody. Because when bullets penetrate a body, it has much more massive effects than Call of Duty has been prepared to show so far.
Call of Duty always had a certain Hollywood aesthetic and was pretty clean in its presentation: opponents were hit, collapsed, lay there. It felt like war because of the effects and radio messages, but it didn't look like war. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare now shows how brutal such firefights are. An opponent who is caught in the leg attempts to crawl back to cover. Another one gets a bullet in his throat, ruffles and dies before our eyes. It gets even more violent when the SAS Special Forces try to free a hostage. A man holds a gun to a woman's head, and you shoot him in the head. One of your colleagues spreads his arms and wants to protect the woman, comfort her and bring her out of the danger zone, but she also pulls out a gun, fires at him - and you are forced to shoot her.
Shortly thereafter, our breath stops when another woman seems to be reaching for a weapon, but it is her baby - in this case, it is also possible to shoot her. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ultimately allows itself to show gunfire as authentic, bloody and hard as it is in reality.
It's certainly one of the most controversial, emotional and exciting scenes a video game has seen in a long time: In another situation, a little girl watches Russian elite soldiers kill her family in cold blood. She crawls under a bed and watches her dad get shot. When a soldier even threatens her little brother, she kills him from behind. A hard, a brutal, a bloody scene. Her village experiences a bombardment, more people die. Poison gas is used - a gas mask helps her flee. Infinity Ward, who delivered a very highly praised CoD with the first Modern Warfare and then worked on Infinite Warfare, also wants to show this side of the war.
A big focus is put on the suffering of civilians, how they search their relatives under rubble - they can't believe what is happening. White Helmet units appear, rescue wounded people from destroyed houses and bring them to hospitals. The girl's name is Farah Karim and we will get to know and play with her in the game as an adult woman - as the leader of freedom fighters. Farah is the female protagonist of the game and completes the ensemble of several main characters.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare surprises on many levels. It doesn't have this Michael Bay production quality anymore, you don't shoot at 50 soldiers at once, but the SAS elite unit proceeds very tactically. It is important to check corridors, doors, stairs, it all feels more realistic, it also is much more bloody. It will be interesting to see if the more realistic, slower gameplay will affect the multiplayer mode - as CoD multiplayer is usually extremely fast.
It's clear that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will surprise us all, especially because of its artistic aspirations. Films like Sicaro, American Sniper, Homeland and many other titles have shown how multifaceted war is - and the Call of Duty series will be the next to try.