We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!
Infinite Warfare is a weird turn for Call of Duty. In going sci-fi, it seems they've dramatically misread their core fans, who mostly seem to want a return to World War II (and Nazi Zombies). But I'm actually kind of in on Infinite Warfare, if only because it has an amusing amount in common with Mobile Suit Gundam. And yes, I'm being serious.
In Infinite Warfare, you play as Lt. Reyes, commander of S.C.A.R. Team 1 - a group trained to fight in space. When his captain is killed in battle, he receives a field promotion and takes control of the Retribution, which is the last line of defense against a vicious and implacable foe.
Most of the similarities between Infinite Warfare and Gundam are in the background, so here's a quick breakdown.
It has a practical view of space travel
One of the things that originally drew me to Gundam was its very clear sense of place. None of the ships have warp travel, and most of the battles either take place on Earth or at one of the nearby colonies. That appears to be the case with Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, where space travel is governed by a group called UNSA (Call of Duty's equivalent of the Earth Federation), and humans are spread across the solar system. Infinite Warfare's more grounded vision of space suits Call of Duty, and it's what has helped to define Gundam as well (space psychics and overpowered robots aside). I really hope Infinite Warfare has a reentry battle.
It features an Earth that has a contentious relationship with its colonies
Infinite Warfare's primary anatgonists are The Settlement Defense Front: Mars colonists who believe that they have a right to all of the solar system's resources and want to be independent. Gundam, of course, is defined by the battle between Earth and its colonies. I should add that a rebellious Mars is a pretty common sci-fi trope, so it's not like Gundam or Infinite Warfare are unique in that respect. But it's still worth calling out given how similar the crux of their conflict is.
It opens with a sneak attack
Mobile Suit Gundam opens with Zeon launching a sneak attack in an effort to destroy the Federation's new weapons, which forces Amuro Ray to join the Earth military. Infinite Warfare, meanwhile, begins with a surprise attack on the UNSA headquarters in Geneva. In the case of the latter, you run through the streets with your team, finally escaping alongside the Retribution in a starfighter. And speaking of the Retribution...
It centers on one ship
Gundam's story focuses on one ship, The White Base, which is commanded by Ensign Bright Noa, who receives a field promotion after his captain is killed. Infinite Warfare focuses on one ship, The Retribution which is commanded by Lt. Reyes, who receives a field promotion after his captaion is killed. Both stories focus on life on the ship, shine the spotlight on various crew members (Mac the engineer! A robot named ETH.3n! Lt. Salter, the ace pilot!), and make it clear that they are The Last Best Hope for Victory. In that respect, Lt. Reyes is basically Amuro and Bright rolled into one.
Its space combat is straight out of a mecha anime
Once you escape Geneva, you fly up into space and engage the enemy fleet in your starfighter. It's at this point that Infinite Warfare basically becomes Macross as you zip around in your fighter attacking large battleships and shooting heaps of missiles. The missiles even bear resemblance to the massive barrages made famous by Macross. Granted, Macross isn't Gundam; but they are quite similar in many respects, and it amuses me more than anything that Infinite Warfare bears even a remote resemblance to either of them. I wouldn't even be surprised if Infinite Warfare's starfighter could turn into a mech (please let it be able to turn into a mech).
What it comes down to is that both Gundam and Infinite Warfare are classic war stories in a lot of respects, each focusing on a heroic crew fighting against overwhelming odds. They also borrow heavily from classic sci-fi tropes, particularly the notion of Earth dealing with rebellious space colonies. Their greatest similarity, though, is that ultimately gain traction from grounding crazy story elements-space psychics, crazy conspiracies, Russia invading the U.S.-in some attempt at reality. Gundam is at pains to explain away it use of mechs, to depict zero gravity and issues of reentry, and to avoid concepts like aliens and warp travel. Call of Duty, as it happens, is much the same.
And that, ultimately, is why I might actually play Infinite Warfare. True, there are no giant robots to be found. But hey, there's still time.