I’m finally getting around to Modern Warfare, having missed the initial launch. And while the campaign has a certain charm for Call of Duty tragics like myself, there’s one part that is genuinely infuriating. Like, worse than Sam Worthington’s American accent infuriating.
For the most part, the campaign is one of the better COD campaigns. It’s certainly an edgier, grittier narrative that takes more after Modern Warfare 2 and 3 than the original Modern Warfare, even with an early throwback to COD4‘s famous All Ghillied Up mission.
Most of the missions centre around an FBI operative in Urzikstan, helping the rebel forces combat Russian troops who have invaded the city. I won’t spoil the main story beats, other than to say that you’ve seen variations of them before in Call of Duty campaigns.
It all pans out at a good clip, and some of the set pieces are well done. There’s very much a No Russian kind of vibe throughout the whole story, which doesn’t quite stick the “horror of war” vibe that I’m sure the writers were going for, but it’s one of the better COD campaigns in years.
But there’s a real annoying element that, thank God, only takes place in the campaign. On one of the earlier levels, you’re tasked with raiding a nearby apartment where terrorists are suspected of hiding. Sure enough, there’s everything you’d expect to see on the walls and the terrorists hide in the toilet, behind beds and chairs, and it all pans out the way it’s supposed to.
Sooner or later you’ll get shot by someone hiding in a dark corner, which brings this effect up on your screen:
It’s a bit horrifying. When I saw it at first, I figured it made sense: I was wearing night vision goggles, and obviously getting hit by a bullet would interrupt the feed somewhat.
But the effect continued even without the night goggles on, which made it worse. Was my graphics card dying? The artifacing on the screen looked like what you’d see after trying to play Crysis on a GPU that’s been bitcoin mined to an inch of its life.
But when you’re running around in the daylight and cop a stray bullet from a terrorist running out of a door to nowhere, DOOM style? Screen gets filled with artifacts. In games past, COD would just apply the oldschool tinge of blood to the screen, which was fine. You’d get the message pretty quick, but you’d still be able to shoot back at enemies in a pinch.
Now, there’s bugger all you can do besides go prone behind a rock or a car. It literally ruins the picture entirely, is ugly as hell to look at, and completely brings the flow of gameplay to a halt. Your AI squad might be able to clear out the enemies while you’re parked in a bush somewhere, but that’s not what anyone plays COD for. It’s a run and gun shooter. I’ll take a dose of anti-war messaging on the side — or as much as COD is allowed to say, given that Activision don’t think its games should be political — but it’s the speed and that obstacle-course style gameplay that I’m really after.
But the second you cop one bullet too many? It’s scrambled screen time. Sure, it’s effective at forcing you into cover immediately, but I hate it with a passion. Just give me the old red screen filter so I can go back to my run-and-gun shooter, thanks.