Paul Reubens strikes back
Well, this is it for Infinite Warfare before Call of Duty: WWII arrives in November.
It had a decent run. The far future conceit didn’t really play out as well as I’d hoped, Jon Snow ended up being an alright villain, and the DLC packs have been fun, zombies-wise, but lacking in many areas when it comes to multiplayer.
Retribution is a lot of the same.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Retribution (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Infinity Ward
Released: September 12, 2017 (PS4) / TBA (PC, Xbox One)
MSRP: $14.99 ($50 Season Pass for four packs)
Infinite Warfare is at its best when it gets balls to the wall. One of its biggest faults, particularly when it comes to the DLC (and something that’s more unique to Infinity Ward than any other COD developer), is that it’s so afraid to show off. With lush greens and almost Titanfall-esque iconography, Altitude is the best map of the lot, taking place in a mall with plenty of clever hiding spots and lanes to pay attention to.
Carnage is a post-apocalyptic race track, and they really go with it, as it gives off a really Fallout type of vibe. Even with the ultra-serious tone of Retribution in general, if you imagine Carnage as a sort of screwed-up Cars R-rated spinoff, it’s tolerable, and has enough quirks to differentiate itself from the pack — with a limit. The hot air balloon off far in the distance on one of its islands sums up the map: more fun is just a jet jump away in an inaccessible invisibly-fenced area.
Employing the tried and true three-lane concept, Depot 22 has a familiar layout but I’m more than okay with it. Veiled under another post-apoc outpost, the dunes outside of it are one of its only real landmarks. The silly charm of most of Call of Duty‘s indoor cafes simply isn’t present in Depot 22, and despite an industrial touch it’s just too close to several onboard Infinite maps.
Heartland is a remake of Warhawk from Ghosts. Yes, that Ghosts, perhaps the worst Call of Duty in the past decade or so. Why are we getting several remakes from that generation? Is something looking out for it? Alas, the rustic old town feel is boring, and so is the layout. Somehow even with tons of buildings nearly all of them are boarded shut, leading to open combat amidst towering, lifeless structures. The “Warhawk Post Office” is a cute touch at least.
With all of the shockingly average maps I was jazzed to get into The Beast from Beyond, and man I wasn’t disappointed. The cartoon intros are still very much welcome, and this one goes for a sci-fi angle, aping Star Wars, specifically the planet of Hoth. It balances the craziness of the cast with the grounded aesthetic of old zombies maps, all the while paying homage to Infinity Ward’s now-defunct alien-led Extinction mode.
I’m glad that these critters from beyond are back as I always felt like they were one of IW’s most unique marks on the series in a post Vince Zampella and Jason West world (a hole that’s since been filled by talent like director Lee Ross). They’re harder to kill and quicker than your average zombie (who still make an appearance), and the twist that sees the crew going into a new location to wrap up the story is a nice touch. While zombies in past games have always been overly cryptic (much to my chagrin), I’ll genuinely miss seeing this cast, and I hope they don’t go the way of Extinction.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was an acceptable ride from start to finish, but that just isn’t enough. It didn’t hit the same lows as Ghosts, but it really exposed how long in the tooth Infinity Ward is getting. If Sledgehammer’s WWII has a strong debut, they’ll without question be the weakest of the three, and Retribution hasn’t really helped their case. Saved by the zombies!
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]