Have you ever tried any food and immediately thought that it was lacking in comparison to a meal cooked by your parental figure?
Unless your mother was really awful at cooking, you’ve more than likely experienced the frustration. Something at the core just doesn’t quite feel right. You’ve been hyped to try this great meal, and it’s by no means bad. It just doesn’t feel the same as the meal prepared for you back then in the comfort of your kitchen.
Such is the dilemma with Infinite Warfare zombies.
This year has been an awful, and I mean awful year for Call of Duty, considering the backlash their latest release, Infinite Warfare received. As time went on sales dwindled, but still, there was a ray of hope in the mess of supply drops, missing core features, and a forgettable campaign, and that ray of hope was the zombies mode, a mini game from 2008’s Call of Duty World at War that pretty much evolved into a full-fledged game by the time 2016’s Black Ops 3 came out. This was to be the first time the developer for Infinite Warfare, Infinity Ward, would tackle the mode, and many were anxious to try it after Sledgehammer Games mediocre attempt at the mode in 2014’s Advanced Warfare.
And to be honest things looked great at first.
But they looked great, and that was it. Infinite Warfare zombies is by no means a bad game mode, but going back to the original analogy made in the beginning of this post, something just feels off. It seems to just satisfy, but not blow expectations out of the water like Treyarch did when zombies was exclusive to their games. So what’s wrong?
I believe the reasons why Infinity Ward’s take on zombies pales in comparison to Treyarch’s boils down to a few key things.
- The characters
- The weapons
- The atmosphere
So let’s get into the nitty gritty
While Infinity Ward’s playable character’s certainly have charm, they seem like children compared to the grizzled veterans we received back in Shi No Numa, Included in the second map pack for World at War. These characters were reflections of their times, and are as follows-
Tank Dempsey – a stereotypical loud and foulmouthed American soldier, who loved guns, women, and killing zombies.
Nikolai Belinski – A stereotypical drunk Russian obsessed with vodka, a strict hatred of capitalism, and complete with a penchant for killing wives for political gain.
Takeo Masaki – A stereotypical Japanese soldier embedded in samurai traditions and proverbs.
Edward Richtofen – a stereotypical Nazi scientist obsessed with death, seeking to manipulate the other three characters towards completing his grand plan to gain control of the zombies they’re fighting.
If the labels didn’t send the message, they’re blatant stereotypes, but it made the dynamic interesting. Four people from countries at war working against a common enemy, but it didn’t change the fact that they hated each other. Witty banters and one-liners could be heard from the characters as you progressed through the mode, with each of them constantly blaming each other for their misfortunes.
The stereotypes only went so far though. You would hear snippets of their lives back in their home countries, whether it was being considered a danger to Stalin himself, or being a loving father to a child.
The old designs were eventually replaced by younger, sexier counterparts, along with the stereotypes being less intensified and the relationships between the men being strengthened through their shared struggle against a great evil (the story is too complicated to explain in depth so to summarize: old guys mess up the universe so young guys take it upon themselves to kill their older counterparts to stop the events they trigger from ever happening.)
and in this, they hold a lot of emotions. Killing their older counterparts is symbolic of them confronting their inner demons. In Nikolai’s case, he confronts his alcoholism and his lost love, in my opinion one of the most emotionally effective moments in the series.
Infinite Warfare pales in comparison to the emotional attachment made to the characters. The characters are once again stereotypes, but they’re changed to fit the maps in the game, divided by decade. I’m not gonna bother introducing the character’s archetypes, but they’re called AJ, Sally, Andre, and Poindexter, and by the poster’s it should be painfully obvious who the characters are.
The characters in this iteration are actors stuck in horror movies directed by the evil director, Willard Wyler (played by Pee-Wee Herman) and change their entire personalities with each map foregoing any respect to their real personalities and identities, and much of the story’s depth is carried solely by Wyler’s past misdeeds and other people trapped in his movies (David Hasselhoff in the 80’s based map and Kevin Smith in the 90’s based map). Given these are one-shot appearances, it fails to give any real consequence to the story, and people are left scratching their heads as to what is the fate of the celebrity guests. While this is only the second map, Infinity Ward may be in danger of failing to capture anyone’s heart with the sweeping changes delivered to each character in every map.
As a veteran of zombies, I’ve seen my fair share of weapons. But tell me, how is this…
…going to compare to this?
While the top is functionally similar to the bottom, it just doesn’t look good. It looks like it was shoddily edited on freeware, and looks like it couldn’t hit the side of a barn. The bottom looks, feels, and is very powerful. The weapons in Infinite Warfare feel uninspired, and I can’t point to a single gun I go for every game. The weapons in Treyarch’s are not all perfect, but I prefer bullets and weird wonder weapons over laser guns and generic toy-looking pea shooters.
The settings in Treyarch are brilliant. Quite frankly, so are the ones in Infinite Warfare. But there is a clear difference. While the latter seeks a more serious tone within the maps, the former flirts with campiness, and a vibrance that the other lacks. Cheap, sometimes unfunny one-liners are uttered by the characters in Infinite Warfare, and I can’t help but cringe at how awful the dialog can be. Even in Rave in the Redwoods, touted as unsettling and creepy the map can be, fails to deliver on the promise. It’s not any worse than the early maps Treyarch came out with, or the chilling imagery from Treyarch’s take on Alcatraz Island in Mob of the Dead.
Could you imagine walking through this at night alone with no lights on? You’re surrounded by zombies, hanging bodies, and messages written in blood, alone in a prison known for its notorious residents. While this is a video game, the horror vibe in this map is second to none.
While I do enjoy Infinite Warfare Zombies, it lacks the magic Treyarch had in their formula for eight years. I do hope it grows into a great story, and genuinely believe that Infinity Ward is heading in the right direction. Treyarch struck genius back in World at War, and hopefully Infinity Ward can go from mediocre sit down restaurant to your parent’s old kitchen.