Hello there, and welcome to what I hope will be your regular Saturday morning/afternoon/evening/night/3am back from the bar drunkenly trying to eat your kebab and not throw it straight back up, reading material. I have been toying with the idea of a weekly feature piece for a long time, and now, you lucky, lucky people, it is here. What is the Saturday Sandbox? Will it be a weekly review of sandboxes around the world? Well, no, I mean, possibly, if that even is a thing? And if it is well paid, then yeah, sure. But in all seriousness (there won’t be much of that, don’t worry), the Saturday Sandbox will be, much like the genre of video games it is named after, a promised land full of endless opportunity!!!! Or because it’s going to have a different topic each week, and I am a fan of alliteration (big fan), that’s the title that made sense. For now, anyway.
Brilliant, now that’s out of the way, hopefully you are a bit less confused than I am about this whole thing. Why are we here again? Oh, yes! Video games. Lovely, lovely video games. This week I want to draw your attention back to an entry into the Call of Duty franchise that didn’t really get the love I feel it deserves: Infinite Warfare. The main issue it had? It just came around at the wrong time. Fans of Call of Duty and Battlefield were begging for a return to a WWII setting. NO MORE MODERN WAR SHOOTERS! they (we) all cried, BUT DEFINITELY 100% NO MORE SCIENCE FICTION SHOOTERS! DICE listened to the community and didn’t offer the WWII setting that was overwhelmingly requested but instead set their latest entry in the Battlefield franchise during the Great War, otherwise known as WWI. Infinity Ward didn’t quite listen to the requests of its fan base, you know, the ones that weren’t happy with the current sci-fi direction of the franchise and bemoaned about Black Ops III being set 40 years or so into the future? So, Infinity Ward decided that what the fan base was actually after is a game set nearly 200 years into the future where it’s not just a little bit sci-fi, diet sci-fi, if you will, it is full blown, interplanetary warfare with spaceships sci-fi. Oh, and I personally think that diet sci-fi is a fantastic name for the sub-genre of science fiction that is set a little bit into the future, and I am happy to sell those rights to the highest bidder. Can you sell sub-genre names? Possibly, I am just too lazy to find out. I’ll tell you what, someone else find out for me, I’ll sell the rights, and I’ll buy you a beer for your efforts. I could go for a beer right now, nice, cold, what the hell am I talking/writing/typing about? Jesus wept! Sorry, back to the point I was making (reads the last paragraph back). Ah, yes! Infinite Warfare…
Reaction to this was lukewarm, at best. Where Battlefield 1 received generally positive reviews across the board and also had strong sales in the first few weeks after release, Infinite Warfare generally had mediocre reviews, with sales that were not terrible (it is a Call of Duty game, after all) but did not match Battlefield’s success. Execs at Activision attributed the poor sales (the company reported in February 2017 that it had failed to meet its sales targets) to the fact it was a brand new spin-off series in the Call of Duty franchise.
But, over three years later, this is a game that very much needs to be revisited. Since its launch, we have had the historical setting fans were craving for in Call of Duty: WWII, a quick trip back to the near future with Black Ops 4, and most recently a return to the Modern Warfare world that made Call of Duty the FPS beast it is today. So, it is the perfect time to revisit a game that had a tremendous story, an epic and simply brilliant setting, and some new additions to the franchise that set it apart from all other entries.
If you never picked up Infinite Warfare or simply forgot due to rage, pure animalistic rage, we are in 2180. Humanity has been busy and productive as we have colonised the solar system, go us! Bad news is that the people living on Mars have decided that it is time they attack Earth and become the leading power in the system! It is the typical, break-neck speed of blockbuster-like disaster and explosions that we all come to expect from a Call of Duty campaign. The story, while not original at all, really, is thoroughly entertaining and does a good job in keeping you interested right to the final moments.
As a huge (HUGE) space nerd, setting Infinite Warfare in a colonised solar system was a dream come true. Do I want to fight on Titan (Saturn’s largest moon)? You’re damn right I do! Do I want to fight alongside a wisecracking robot shooting energy weapons? Right, you had me at fighting on Titan, but this…..!
Now, I can understand why this won’t appeal to everyone, but if this doesn’t appeal to you, get out, get out of this house now! House, what house? No, we are not getting distracted again! This is important, this is the first Saturday Sandbox, and it’s a bloody shambles already! Right, back to it. It’s not everyone’s dream to be able to explore the solar system, but strip away the sci-fi setting, and Infinite Warfare still provides you with a decent shooter with some brilliant set pieces and, for the first time, side missions!
That’s right, Infinite Warfare gives you the opportunity to deviate away from the main story and take part in a dozen or so side missions, none of which are particularly taxing and are either an assault of some sort on an enemy ship or a dog fight mission in your space fighter called the Jackal. They are worth your time though as they will unlock perks and slots in your loadout options. Plus, you get to engage in dogfights above the gassy skies of Venus and other parts of our solar system!
And if we strip away the sci-fi setting (which is actually a bit hard to do when you’re fighting on Mars or in a spaceship near Neptune), then Infinite Warfare is actually a decent shooter. There are plenty of interesting weapons to use and a wide variety of guns to choose from. The levels are well designed and allow players to play how they want to; either by charging in headfirst into a fight or by being a bit more tactical and sneaking around and flanking.
So, it may not have had the best time when it was first released, but for the price of a large meal at KFC (or there about), you can treat yourself to one of the most underrated shooters of this generation.