Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered and the problem with remaking old games

By Sherif Saed, Tuesday, 8 November 2016 14:10 GMT

You don’t know what you want.

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“You wouldn’t want to upset the fanbase. They already hate the other game they’re forced to buy in order to play this.”

In the lead-up to the launch of Modern Warfare Remastered, it was hard to miss the noise people excited to play the game were making, so anxious to get back into a remake of this nine-year-old game. Most of them probably even clocked over a hundred hours in the original, and that only made the remake’s release even more of an event.

Part of this is born from the disappointment that surrounds recent Call of Duty releases, particularly a result of a quest to change-up the series’ dated formula by injecting more sci-fi mechanics into it. “Boots on the ground” is the phrase you’ve no doubt seen and heard, to the point that even Activision and Infinity Ward started using it when referring to Infinite Warfare, a game that’s taken this double-jumping and wall-running trend the community has grown to hate so much to its extremes.

It was clear everyone was yearning for the good old days of Call of Duty, whether it be disgruntled long-time fans, or simply those fed up of seeing three different Call of Duty games go the sci-fi route.

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There was a sentiment that stood out to me the most, a stark attitude ardent fans adopted since learning of the remaster’s existence. These people wanted the exact same 2007 game, they just wanted it to have the looks of a 2016 one.

Fans went as far as preemptively calling out “haters” and “detractors” before the thing even came out, telling them that they’re fully aware of the original game’s overpowered perks, unbalanced guns and camping spots, and that they’re completely happy to see them return untouched.

Newcomers, or fans of the original who possess a form of common sense, were definitively told to never raise any of the game’s long-standing issues, for the sole reason that this is how things were back in the day. Ironic, when some of these very same defenders complain about the exact problems in modern Call of Duty games.

The message was clear; those players don’t want innovation in this 2016 remake, they want the same exact game they played years ago. Anything else would be an insult.

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This sort of attitude didn’t surprise me. I understand the fear of remasters “ruining” an experience players have come to know and love. The only problem is, with multiplayer games, if something was frustrating back then, it’s going to be doubly so now. And in my mind, this completely misses the point of a remake.

It took the original game’s community months to devise the most annoying and spammy loadouts, and it took even longer for them to identify overpowered tactics and weapons. With the remaster, all this knowledge is available on day one. The process you go through with any multiplayer game, from everyone starting out unaware of the best equipment and tactics, trying everything out for fun, to eventually distilling the available options to the most effective few, is all gone.

You were robbed of the maturation you go through alongside multiplayer games before you even bought the remaster. It’s the same thing that happens when you decide to get into a multiplayer game years after launch.

Once the lustre wears off, you’ll begin to remember the nightmare of grenade launchers, M16s, Juggernaut, and Last Stand, and there’ll be nothing you can do about it. There are no counters to most of these, there’s a reason why they frustrated many, and a reason why they’re considered the best options. All that has been well figured out years ago, bringing in new players doesn’t mean you’ll be starting afresh.

This is what my time with Modern Warfare’s multiplayer have been; an exercise in frustration and rage over the same damn problems that got me riled up back then. It made me realise that the ultimate objective of this remaster was to make it as archaic and outdated as possible, just with a modern coat of paint.

But you wouldn’t want to upset the fanbase. They already hate the other game they’re forced to buy in order to play this.

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I just can’t enjoy the old Modern Warfare multiplayer today, because I am not the same person I was in 2007. The shooter scene isn’t the same it was back then, either. Myself, as well as others, have since played countless hours of many other multiplayer shooters that it’s impossible to just ignore all of that and get along with poor design decisions just because they’ve somehow turned Classic with age.

“Modern Warfare Remastered is a remake, at least in the graphics and sound department, which absolutely makes the gameplay seem that much more outdated.”

I suppose in that way it’s exactly the Modern Warfare I remember. Playing it in this state today, after all the progress the industry has made in design, feel, and fun, makes me feel like we’re throwing away all of that in favour of a short-lived nostalgia trip.

Maybe if Modern Warfare Remastered had received a slight graphical touch-up and was just a pre-order bonus for Infinite Warfare, maybe then it would have made sense to keep everything as it was. But Modern Warfare Remastered is a remake, at least in the graphics and sound department, which absolutely makes the gameplay seem that much more outdated.

How long will it take those who were swooning over the idea of not making any changes to realise that they can’t enjoy this in 2016?

However long this may take and however many will eventually admit that what they wanted wasn’t the right choice, one thing will remain the same: Activision missed a golden opportunity to remake this seminal shooter into something fit for 2016 design standards.

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