Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Review – Classic Boots on Ground (PS4)

I’ll admit it, when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered was confirmed to be in development, I squealed with excitement. You know, that weird warble that escapes one’s mouth when encountered with overwhelming happiness? My favorite shooter of all time, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – the very game that introduced me to online first-person shooters – was being remastered for the PS4! What great news this was!

Even with all the other shooters that have released this year, Modern Warfare Remastered remained the FPS I was most excited to play. The Call of Duty franchise has gone down such a controversial path, with three futuristic titles in a row now, that a return to the acclaimed Modern Warfare could have presented a nice break from the recent sci-fi themes. At least, that might have been the case if Activision wasn’t taking Modern Warfare Remastered hostage, giving access only to those who purchase special edition versions ($80+) of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare! It’s such an outrageously anti-consumer move, corrupting what should be a happy slice of nostalgia.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

With the marketing shenanigans covered, let’s touch on the single-player. I’m not going to dive too deep here, as Modern Warfare Remastered’s campaign is not something I want to spoil. All you need to know is that it’s identical to the original, aside from the obvious graphical overhaul. The story’s excellent pacing, with superb stealth missions breaking up the intense gunfights, makes for one hell of an adventure. The campaign is populated with characters that you’ll actually remember, and iconic missions which you’ll want to replay. It lasts about 6-8 hours on Normal difficulty, though collectibles may keep you distracted for a couple more.

Sure, the multiplayer is what you’re really here for, but it’d be a crime not to play – or replay, for you veterans – this visually stunning, yet otherwise completely untouched and untainted, single-player masterpiece.

This Is What You Came For

Now on to the main event: the multiplayer. Raven Software’s upheaval of the visuals carries over to the player versus player component, while still keeping the frame-rate smooth. It’s a very clean presentation, similar to the single-player, albeit with a slightly more noticeable shimmering from aliasing. It’s a minor point, sure, but worth mentioning for those of you playing on bigger screens.

Looking past the graphics then, to the actual multiplayer content on offer. Modern Warfare Remastered ships with ten maps: Ambush, Backlot, Bog, Crash, Crossfire, District, Downpour, Overgrown, Shipment, and Vacant. The remaining six will be added in next month via a free update. As for the weapons, equipment, and perks, they remain unchanged from the original. Some are tragically useless, while others are wildly overpowered. Then there are those, like Last Stand and Martyrdom, which should probably have been taken out entirely, yet remain. Once you’ve created a class, you can try it out in the Firing Range, a feature borrowed from Advanced Warfare. Oh, and there’s also a button to let you “inspect” your weapon. Honestly, it’s kind of weird. You can see me “checking out” the M4 Carbine in the screenshot below…

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Perhaps out of fear of upsetting the volatile Call of Duty community, the developer has hardly tweaked anything in regards to gameplay. Some bugs have been squashed, yes, but overall it’s mostly the same. Despite boots being firmly on the ground, the action is still fast and frenetic.

I won’t lie to you; I wasn’t having fun at first. The constant spam of UAVs that can’t be shot down encouraged me to sit still and play more cautiously than I’m used to. Then I unlocked UAV Jammer at rank 11 and everything changed. UAVs turned from enemy to ally, bestowing upon me the element of surprise and allowing me to get killstreak after killstreak. Don’t get me wrong, the M16A4 combined with Stopping Power can still melt through players in a single burst, but for anyone who wants to move around the map without being in a state of perpetual fear, UAV Jammer is a must. Shooting enemy squads in the back with a suppressed weapon, as they wander past mesmerized by an inaccurate radar, is infinitely satisfying.

Acquiring my first helicopter, I decided to see if an old trick had been fixed. In the original title, players were able to earn helicopter support, die, and then use the killstreak reward to obtain another. I can confirm that this still works, which is probably not a good thing!

The game modes of old, including an expanded selection of the weird and wonderful “Old School” variant, make a welcome return. One new addition is Kill Confirmed, which first appeared in Modern Warfare 3. A notable change to game modes like Domination and Search and Destroy, is that rounds are split into two halves, with each team switching sides midway through. This is how the more recent Call of Duty titles have handled it, and it keeps things nice and fair. It’s also worth mentioning how wonderfully stable servers have been, and how quickly I’ve connected to matches. I’ve had zero disconnects in all the time that I’ve played.

Character customization was never a thing in the original Modern Warfare. If people cared about standing out, weapon camos were the only answer. In Modern Warfare Remastered, you’re still able to pimp your gun out with a selection of designs, both old and new, but you’ll also find cosmetic tweaks in the form of Calling Cards and Emblems. The latter can be applied to your soldier’s uniform and weapon. When compared to the aesthetic options found in the more recent Call of Duty games, this may seem like a huge step backwards. However, I think Raven Software has done enough, without going overboard.

Modern Warfare Remastered is a near-perfect remaster. The developer has fiddled with things only when absolutely necessary, and though I do wish some of the multiplayer perks had been tweaked or removed altogether, I can understand why they have been left alone. Just be sure to brace yourself for the rapid time-to-kill, the frustrating deaths at the hands of un-counterable grenades, and the permanently active enemy UAVs. Get past all of that, and you’ll see the Modern Warfare magic that sparked huge changes for first-person shooters and pushed them to the forefront, becoming the industry’s powerhouses.

Review copy provided by publisher. Reviewed at home on PS4. No score given due to lack of individually priced, standalone version. For more information, see our Review Policy.