Let's make this clear: we're kind of surprised Raven Software and Activision decided to call this a remaster, and not a remake. Raven has done so much more than up the resolution and improve a few textures. They've changed certain environmental details, changed character models, recorded new dialogue, and so much more.
We'll use "F.N.G." as an example. Not only do the enhanced lighting and textures make the compound look realistic and beautiful, but new details make it feel more alive. The area is filled with soldiers working on their trucks, different kinds of vehicles, and even a new section where you can learn how to use explosives. These are all fairly minor details, but they make the game feel fresh and modern.
Raven most certainly knows that they've done a good job, and they've made a few changes to highlight this. We're talking removing gas masks from certain characters to show off the facial details, changing architecture to offer up more eye-candy, and similarly revealing tweaks. There are still a few jagged edges to be found, so it's not on par with the best looking games of today, but it definitely looks like a game made for this generation.
The frame-rate is mostly very stable, with just a few dips down to around 50 on our PlayStation 4 version. Considering the extra details in the new version we're very impressed by this result.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered also offers an update audio-wise, but not to the same degree. Sure, it still sounds awesome, but we're disappointed that they didn't fix certain issues the original had. Do you remember the truck that drives past you on the road when you're sneaking between hay bales in "Safe House"? Remember how the sound suddenly cuts off? It does the same thing in Remastered. Not a very big deal, but we think it's weird that they didn't fix it.
Raven hasn't done much in terms of gameplay. The guns feel the same, enemies react the same way, and the infinitely spawning enemies are still there. However, Raven knows that first-person shooters have gotten faster through the years, so they've implemented a 20 steps sensitivity scale in the control options. This was a real treat, especially in "Mile Hugh Club" where the extra sensitivity came in handy when playing on Veteran.
We've also gotten a few new Intel cheats on top of the old ones. Making grenades explode with lemon juice splashing into the air, and soldiers flying to the sides when shot due to the increased ragdoll effect is a lot of fun. There are also some other interesting effects, including one that will make you hate Victor Zakaev even more (as every enemy looks just like him, and wields an RPG).
Equally impressive is the multiplayer portion of the game, which will bring back fond memories for fans of the series. Indeed, the stellar single-player campaign aside, Modern Warfare was part of the wave of titles that really established competitive online gaming on console. As such there are plenty of people out there who have long been looking forward to a return to these classic maps, and for the most part they won't be disappointed.
Action tends to focus on the "Standard" portion of the multiplayer, with "Hardcore" and "Old School" getting a lot less love. Within that section only Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Search and Destroy are getting a lot of attention, and it can take a while to get a game on some of the less popular playlists. There is, however, a really nice range of options to choose from and more recent modes have been added to the mix, which makes it even more of a shame when you can't find a match of Kill Confirmed in a timely manner. Presumably player numbers are a little lower than normal because of the split between this and Infinite Warfare (and Black Ops 3 too, no doubt), but we've no hard data to back up that hunch.
The matches themselves are quintessential Call of Duty. They demonstrate the multiplayer as it was all those years ago, but without many of the evolutions that we've seen since. Purists will love it, as a lot of the fluff that has been added since 2007 has been cut away, leaving a simpler, more focused experience. Equally, it also shows us how little has changed, and if you've been playing the series since the first Modern Warfare, you'll find it surprisingly easy to slip back into the groove. This side of the game has aged surprisingly well, and even though certain animations feel a little outdated, it looks good, the maps are very well designed (there's only ten in place at launch, with the rest to follow later), there's enough meat to the loadout system to keep you tweaking your setup as you unlock new weapons and gadgets, and most importantly of all, it offers pacy and fluent gameplay.
All told this remaster is one of the best of this generation. Raven has done a fantastic job of upgrading the game to today's standards. Being able to see every last wrinkle in Zakaev's face makes him seem more alive, while still keeping to the original design. Many remasters just look like they do in our heads after a while. This is not the case with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. The changes are obvious from the very first second, and the extra detail heightens the experience even further.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare impressed us nine years ago, and it's impressing us still today. While we'd still argue that this alone isn't worth buying a special edition of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare if you're not interested in Infinity Ward's upcoming game, but it's definitely a great bonus if you're going to buy it anyway. And who knows, maybe Activision will release it as a standalone at some point next year. Stranger things have happened.