Sunday 15 December 2019

Call of Duty Modern Warfare review: Total re-call


★★★★ Age: 18+

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Concrete Genie
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Brand recognition seems to be the excuse for the lazy naming of this Call of Duty instalment, reviving the much-adored Modern Warware offshoot of the CoD shooter universe. It's not exactly business as usual, though, with accustomed trappings from last year's Black Ops out the window, to be replaced by, well, only slightly less overworked modes.

This Modern Warfare (the fifth) distinguishes itself with a more tactical approach to the gun-fest. The single-player campaign offers a nuanced and provocative take on world politics. You'll fight alongside Arab Muslims (usually the cannon fodder) and deal with al-Qa'ida-style terrorists in edgy situations such as an attack in Piccadilly Circus, London.

Combat proves slow and methodical, moving from room to room avoiding civilian casualties, or inching forward on ruined battlefields amid withering fire.

That style is largely discarded for multiplayer, where the frantic frag-fights feature even shorter lifespans than usual. Still, Modern Warfare's main mode feels highly polished and, even if not all maps are likeable, the CoD community will relish the new challenges.

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What's notable is what's missing - no customary Zombies mode, no microtransactions, though the latter's re-introduction seems inevitable. Strangest of all is the disappearance of last year's Battle Royal mode, but rumour has it a January unveiling is likely.

This Modern Warfare reboot isn't the finished article but the CoD juggernaut has steered an assured route between fresh and familiar.

Concrete Genie

PS4 ★★★★ Age: 12+

Concrete Genie

We need more games like this, willing to poke about in childhood trauma. Concrete Genie is subtle enough in its examination of playground bullies, but it wraps the bitterness in a charming art-driven platformer where young dreamer Ash tries to bring colour back to an abandoned town.

The bullies have their own troubles that are glimpsed only in vignettes. But Ash can help with his magic paintbrush as he restores the town and (allegory alert) defeats the darkness enveloping the bullies.

It's gentle enough fare for young players - much less a game, more of a painting sim - until near the end when the action becomes much more direct and Concrete Genie steps too far out of its comfort zone.

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