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Hands On: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Is Far More Than Its Title Suggests

Posted by Joey Thurmond

Shock and awe

What is a "remaster"? The moniker implies an older game that has been updated to adequately match the technological standards of the present day in numerous ways, such as with polished assets, minor alterations to gameplay, and so forth. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Twilight Princess HD are excellent examples, but what about titles like Ratchet & Clank and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary? These are usually called remakes because most or all of the original games' assets have been remade, including other aspects like the music and sound. So where does Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered fall? It occupies a nebulous realm in between, simultaneously being a full-on remake and a ridiculously faithful remaster. What we can conclude is that it sets a new bar for remasters to meet with a slew of remarkable changes, making it feel like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is being released for the first time again.

From the moment you're given command of Soap MacTavish at the S.A.S. training facility, you'll understand what we mean. Key visual elements of the armoury look the same as Gaz tells you to pick up your rifle, such as the posters on the walls and the general layout of the space that you're occupying, but you'll notice that the concrete floor is no longer a drab, plain gray. Instead, it has yellow caution lines and the S.A.S. logo painted on it now, with black scuff marks from soldiers' shoes and even wet footprints from recent visitors outside.

Instead of one, lonely NPC managing the station where you pick up your G36C, a couple more are roaming around inside, with one checking a clipboard and another walking into the back storage room, which wasn't in the original game. When you take your rifle and aim down the shooting range, lights come on one by one to reveal your targets in an expansive room enlivened with cool, blue tones and more precise lighting, whereas the original game only has messy concrete walls to be seen. This is just the first minute of the tutorial, and it only gets better from there.

Once we stepped outside, our mouth hit the floor. When you go back and examine this scene from 2007, all you do is make your way to Captain Price down a stretch of road that's empty of activity. There are some random cars, other hangers to see, and a mountain range in the distance below a moody, grey sky. The Remastered version initiates a brief cutscene with Soap opening the door, greeting you to a bright sun casting down its beams on the pavement and reflective puddles. Tanks roll by, jets fly over head with thunderous booms, and soldiers run by during their daily drills.

If you walk around enough, there are even two completely new areas to train in, with one instructor testing your abilities with explosives, and the other your proficiency in movement. While these tutorials aren't necessary, it makes sense to include them as options for completely new players, rather than having these mechanics being introduced in the thick of battle. It shows how primary developer Raven Software hasn't been afraid to rationally tweak and add things to make the game better than before while retaining the purity of its classic gameplay. This is more obvious as you play on.

When Captain Price greets you and while you're sitting in a helicopter preparing to board the freighter in Crew Expendable, you'll notice redone motion capture for characters, which are lip-synced perfectly with the original voice acting. Cloth effects are evident as the straps on Captain Price's mask flap in the wind, and you'll notice rippling effects with their sleeves and even the hoodie that Sgt. Giguere is wearing. Water droplets decorate your MP5 from the torrential storm at sea, and when the freighter starts to go down, embers and a vibrant glow from the explosion of a missile impact will fill the air as your team attempts to escape. Your vision is even altered with cracked glass from the blast, so you can tell you're wearing a gas mask with damaged goggles, especially since the screen is outlined in a round, blurred black colour.

In the following mission where you play as the soon-to-be-assassinated President Al-Fulani, one detail that bothered us nearly a decade ago is when you're being transported in the car to your doom. If you look down, you don't have a body. This isn't a big deal during combat, but you truly feel like a disembodied head during this sequence. However, the remastered version goes to the trouble of showing your body and your hands tied up. You even observe Al-Fulani quickly plead for mercy before he gets hit by the soldier who throws him in the car, saying something in Arabic while motioning his hands. Once you finish your car ride and are approached by Al-Assad with his Desert Eagle in hand, the perspective actually blurs him out and the background with depth of field as Al-Fulani's eyes focus on the pistol's barrel.

These are just a few examples of the game providing a greater sense of immersion throughout the campaign's missions with nuanced and major details that continually impressed us. And we haven't even mentioned the reworked audio that results in bigger-sounding explosions, dynamic footsteps, high-quality weapon fire, and more. Even the reloading sounds of weapons are softly fed through the DualShock 4's speaker, which was a neat feature we didn't expect.

We could go on mentioning how the sway of your weapons has been changed compared to the static version of the original, and how crawling now shows you moving your arms back and forth compared to, well, your arms and weapon disappearing back then. We could talk about how the character models have been recreated in painstaking realism, too, but without a doubt, we can tell you that from the first few levels alone, Modern Warfare Remastered is among the finest and most lovingly crafted remasters and remakes in video game history, shooting past recent remasters like BioShock: The Collection. We're now eager to finish the campaign, and seriously look forward to providing a full review next month, which will, more than likely, give this care package the praise it rightly deserves.

It makes it a sure shame that something this wonderful will not only be exclusive with the purchase of Infinite Warfare, but also be playable only with its physical disc in November. We hope for a standalone release at some point so all can experience this legendary campaign anew, but in the meantime, what a disastrous situation this unparalleled remaster finds itself in.


What are your impressions of Modern Warfare Remastered if you've played or seen it? Are you biting the bullet to get your hands on it with the Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare, or will you be skipping out on the quintessential first-person shooter until it hopefully releases on its own? Switch to your pistols and load up the comments section with your thoughts.

[via bit.ly]

Game Screenshots

User Comments (33)

get2sammyb

#1

get2sammyb said:

Hnnnnnngh. I'm so close to ordering that Infinite Warfare/Modern Warfare double-pack. Must resist!

xMEADx

#2

xMEADx said:

ll be waiting for the standalone game or i'll play it in about 18 month's when it's cheap, I do really want to play it but mainly the MP I never really play CoD campaign's I only did BO3 once and because people insisted.

Wazeddie22

#3

Wazeddie22 said:

Great write up but Damn..I wasn't bothered about playing Modern Warfare again until reading this!
There's no way I could buy the digital package anyway because I don't have enough hd space..(and I'm sticking to not paying over £20 on digital)

gingerfrog

#5

gingerfrog said:

@get2sammyb
Don't let it be the money that sways you. I just went upto Norwich to meet a cousin back from Australia. I paid £12.65 for a litre jug of beer. That's more than I pay in Shoreditch. Anyway I'm rambling I don't regret the money I spent because it made me happy and has given me great memories. In real terms gaming is not that expensive

sradmatt

#6

sradmatt said:

@gingerfrog you cannot honestly be whinging about 12.65 for a jug come on!!!
i pay between 5-8 quid for a single pint only for them to give me just 50cl not a full glass

MaccaMUFC

#8

MaccaMUFC said:

I'm really looking forward to this but still not happy that I'm not able to trade in IW. When MW eventually releases on its own I'll probably still be able to make quite a bit back from trading in IW to buy MW again, seeing as CoD games never hardly go down in value, digitally anyway.

When MW proves to be a huge success (again) and it will be we can all be sure of that, I'm willing to bet that Activision will think about releasing the other past CoD games as remasters, then the whole milking of the franchise starts all over again. They know how to remaster a game, I'll give them that.

Paranoimia

#9

Paranoimia said:

I'd buy it if they sold it on its own, as I enjoyed the original. No interest in buying the new nonsense, though.

Retro1994

#10

Retro1994 said:

Will definitely buy it if it is sold separately and so glad that it is a well done and extensive remaster(bordering on remake indeed).

gingerfrog

#11

gingerfrog said:

@sradmatt
That's just my typing maybe coming across as whining, I was trying to make the point that gaming is relatively cheap, when a night out under £100 is impossible but I'd never bat an eyelid, but I'd wait a few more weeks to save a couple of quid on a game. Anyway still think £12.65 for a judge less than 2 pints was steep as it was a pub not a posh bar.

Drawfull

#13

Drawfull said:

@Wazeddie22 How've you got round the storage thing with physical releases? All mine install and take up masses of space. For example, the Uncharted collection is over 40gb, but I have it only on disc.

Drawfull

#14

Drawfull said:

@Bad-MuthaAdebisi Yup in a way. It looks really good. I don't do online, but the campaign I'd love to play. Just sell it me without making me pay 50 quid for the privilege.

TomKongPhooey

#18

TomKongPhooey said:

@get2sammyb
Go on Sammy get it. I was totally against getting this as my previous rants state (I.E it will release in the end as a standalone etc as I dont fancy IW at all) but I folded 2 nights ago and bought it digitally on PSN for £80. I've been loving the CODMW campaign again. It's a truly great remaster. Even though I played the original campaign and MP to death I'm surprised to to find myself waiting in anticipation for the next mission then the next etc etc. Even though I know what it coming and how it plays out, I find myself seeing it all as new and fresh. Strange. I just hope the MP isnt a let down as I truly have no interest in IW. £80 for a remaster of my favorite game of all time tho after playing it is a no-brainer now.

Wazeddie22

#19

Wazeddie22 said:

@Drawfull yeah it doesant matter if it's digital or retail the amount of space needed is ridiculous for games.
To be honest I only concentrate on a few games at a time and if I finish one game and need room for another,I upload save to cloud and delete the actual game,can always redownload it later..just what I did with Uncharted.I struggle but I manage..

Wazeddie22

#20

Wazeddie22 said:

@Flaming_Kaiser I was a hater until I was blown away by the E3 trailer,now it will be the first cod I eventually get to play since M3.That's why I don't see the need to add on Modern Warfare.I'm sure it would sell on its own.

DrJoeystein

#21

DrJoeystein said:

@ultraviolet The multiplayer isn't available until November 4th, so I'll be playing that when it releases so I can review it and the campaign together. That's why we're waiting.

@MaccaMUFC If we get remasters of this quality, I won't complain about Activision milking the franchise even more. All I can think about is an upcoming WaW or MW2 remaster and it makes me so excited!

@SuperSilverback That's something I never noticed? (ha ha) But yes, I would say they sound even better than before. More realistic.

@Flaming_Kaiser From me? Nope! I'm actually pretty excited for IW. Looks like a lot of fun to me. I'm just really disappointed that people who don't want that game have to buy and keep it for now if they want MWR. That's scummy.

@TomKongPhooey It really does feel like that. I've played the campaign 3-4 times in the past, and seeing it all again with this remaster...it feels new and fresh.

@Wazeddie22 Oh, it'd definitely sell on its own! It's why I find Activision's strategy so puzzling. It may think that this will help Infinite Warfare sell better, and it will, but when you think about all of the MWR copies that would sell if it were launching on its own? I can't imagine.

BAMozzy

#22

BAMozzy said:

I have pre-ordered the Legacy Pro edition as I am looking forward to playing both games on my PS4 Pro and 4k HDR TV!! Both will have Pro support!

Neolit

#23

Neolit said:

The original MW was and still is my favourite CoD. This is just amazing, you know, when they manage to do a remaster that is better than your memory tells you the game was. In every respect.
I have zero interest in IW and will never purchase it. Had they released MW remaster as a standalone game, I would have bought it the very instant.
So, I'll check the psn store on or around xmas 2017 to see if they released it standalone and because they restricted acces originally I'll pay only sale price.

GlynCR

#24

GlynCR said:

@get2sammyb I'm so happy I did!! finished MWRM this morning and it's still the best war fps ever made imo, all Ghillied Up is still an absolute masterpiece

GlynCR

#25

GlynCR said:

@Neolit when it comes as a standalone game (which it will Activision like money after all) it'll be marxh/April time I reckon

JaxonH

#26

JaxonH said:

Sounds fantastic!

Even if I gave in and wanted to order the double pack, the fact it requires the disc now just kills it for me. I don't mind compromise but, little too much imo.

I figure by the time they release this as standalone, IW will be $30 or less with GCU, and I can just score the pair for the price of one game.

carlos82

#27

carlos82 said:

It's a shame that they didn't release this as a stand alone game as there is clearly a market for it. I've personally not been a fan of the series since this particular game but did play Black ops 3 which was a much better package than I expected. So that and my curiosity for the new game have made this a very easy purchase and wow does this game look good

GlynCR

#28

GlynCR said:

I wonder how long it will be before someone tries to sue Activision as the COD MWRM was originally advertised as a standalone download and now it's not the case with it needing the disc surely that's a breach of some advertising standards or some BS

Tasuki

#30

Tasuki said:

@GlynCR It was never advertise as a standalone download only as bonus material. Please show me where it said it was a stand alone.

GlynCR

#31

GlynCR said:

@Tasuki the faq that they had on there acti support site it was a standalone downloadable title. it's only in the last month or so the part about needing the disc has come about and that faq has changed to say that the disc is required

leucocyte

#33

leucocyte said:

you can find the legacy edition for around £60 in the uk, if you shop around online. think of it this way... regular price for a polished remaster of a great game, with infinite warfare tacked on for an extra tenner.. my main gripe is that i need to delete the early access campaign, and re-download the whole thing again on the 4th november. that's another 40gb+ download. why not just patch it so that it requires the IW disc if that's the reason, rather than make everyone download it again.

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