Infinity Ward has redefined console shooters with Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, but how much has the technology behind the game evolved since its launch in 2007? While it’s safe to say that the campaign size and multiplayer experience have grown significantly over the current generation of consoles, Infinity Ward recently updated Monder Warfare 2019 with the remake of the original COD4 maps, namely Crash, Vacant and Shipment. And by comparing the new releases with the 2007 originals and also with those from Modern Warfare Remastered, some interesting data emerges.
So what are the differences? The layouts are obviously based on the same scheme, although the reboot uses several physics-based materials and there is a big change in the lighting system. But the original design still looks great, making the cards realistic and rich in detail. Considering the year of release, it’s surprising how much they still hold today despite the much improved lighting techniques and post-processing effects. And this testifies to the care that Infinity Ward took in the realization of the materials in 2007: the properties of materials such as slabs, bricks and wood were high but were not convincing for the time, especially at low resolution. latest generation machines.
The rest of the Crash map is notable, as it shows significant improvements thanks to the improved COD engine. The new version is littered with a number of points of interest, from the formidable new opening of the Helicopter Descent, to the addition of signs on Market Street. Obviously, the original map was designed for less powerful hardware and of course not everything that was expected in the original sketches will have been implemented in the final map. What we have by restarting Modern Warfare, however, surprises us in many ways: textures are at a higher resolution, motion blur is added, and sunlight is penetrating through cracks and windows. Polygon detail has also increased dramatically and debris, vegetation, and housing have been remodeled.
Seeing all the differences is no easy task. Beyond the huge increase in image quality, the new Modern Warfare is positioned at a higher level than that achieved by the remastered 2016 produced by Raven Software. The latter made extensive use of the polygonal frame used in the 2007 original, but added higher resolution textures with physics-based properties, plus a volumetric cloud powder form. The improvements stand out in the Crash map, but many flaws from the 2007 classic were present, including the position of shadows.
Rather, the reboot takes a different path, introducing shadows for the player’s body that vary depending on the angle of the sun, and in addition there is an increase in light sources in all scenes. If we then add to the equation the large increase in objects that are physically dragged into the environment (especially indoors), the experience becomes much richer than the simple remaster of 2016. Some might say that is a perfect example of remake vs remaster.
The redesign of the Infinity Ward engine goes far beyond technology and also extends to gameplay. Modern Warfare 2019 also updates the map layout: new areas are opened in Crash, like the landing zone. In the Vacant map, there are also new buildings that can be explored, with the entire area being rearranged for balance issues. One of the most obvious settings in Crash is the famous snipers position on the canopy: in the original game you could walk around the stairs, but now the area is completely closed on restart.
All maps of the last modern war have been modified in this way. It is however regrettable that nothing more has been done to exploit the new functionalities of the engine by applying them to classic content: for example, the new “spectral rendering” used for night glasses is not sufficiently exploited, with precise information on infrared and object temperatures. There are contour changes like a new door mechanic.
Crash, Vacant, and Shipment are classic COD multiplayer maps, but Infinity Ward’s tribute to the original game isn’t limited to that. A small map called Cargo has also been added to this map pack and is inspired by the iconic openness level of the COD4 campaign. It’s an area that never received a multiplayer transposition back then, and it’s interesting to see the same classic location in the latest modernized modern warfare game.
Also, when it comes to comparisons, there is a bizarre situation in the classic Crash map. Chinese giant Tencent has produced a Call of Duty mobile port that includes it and uses the exact same layout as the original. It’s an experience that has to accommodate a myriad of different materials on smartphones, and after the many embellishments, upgrades, and finishes received, seeing a mobile version is almost a downgrade. The low-quality textures look like a hard cover, but are a necessary compromise for low-end or older smartphones. It’s an interesting alternative look for gaming, but of course it’s the home consoles that aim to elevate classic content.
The arrival of these legendary cards was very well received in Modern Warfare Remastered from 2016 and is still a great experience and very usable nowadays, especially with many other classic COD cards that will be added in the latest version of the game. We’d love to see Blacklot or Crossfire in the remake.
Of course, Modern Warfare’s latest update isn’t just about paying homage to the original multiplayer maps, as new areas have been added as well. For example, the Atrium, which is a map designed for adrenaline and quick death, and then there’s the Port of Verdansk, a large map for ground warfare that takes place in a narrow passage.
There is a lot of content that has been added to the title since its launch, and there is no indication that the process is ending. While these original content comparisons are interesting, they obviously don’t reflect the breadth of detail the new engine is capable of bringing to life.
War on the Ground gives us a sense of how tech is evolving, but if battle royale data and associated leaks point to Infinity Ward’s plans for 2020, we should see the new engine. push towards new horizons.
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