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Review

Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

GO! GO! GO!

Stumbling forward, the peripherals of my vision starting to blur, panic began to run through my bones. They were gone, all gone. Every single one of them. So quickly, so young. I thought I could have saved at least a solitary soul. With sweat dripping down my forehead, my skin pale, my appearance dishevelled, I pushed towards base. Arriving on location, I spotted a rookie and asked about the mission. Having been directed to HQ I managed to collect the package. As time went on, my perception became more and more indistinct and the world started to slip away. The engagement was complete however and it was just a matter making it to the LZ. It was pouring with rain outside, not ideal conditions for a quick extraction. Struggling on, each step becoming increasingly difficult as my body became more tiresome, the LZ was in sight.

Time was not my ally though, transport was almost there and it wouldn’t wait around. So, with all the energy I had remaining, I picked up the pace. Soaked through, all senses slowly fading into a distant blur, I leapt onto the bus, with a copy of Modern Warfare 2 in my bag and set off home.

Sceptical. Probably the best way to describe my emotions towards possible the biggest entertainment release to date. Having never actually owned the Infinity Ward’s last Call of Duty, I knew there was going to be a lot that would surprise me, but also I wasn’t entirely sure what everyone was so excited for. Sure, the original was an interesting and new take on a market filled with past wars, with a solid single player campaign and supposedly addictive multiplayer, but what could they add to it? Many successful titles have seen their sequels, which were bigged up to become the worlds greatest game, just to become polished versions of the originals. Modern Warfare 2 is one of those games. That however, is by no means a bad thing.

From the off, campaign is a cinematic experience to better any first person shooter on the market. Whether it’s from an exquisite use of plot disposition to ensure that the stories climaxes are never too far away or one of the many adrenaline filled events, an epic tale is being told with plenty of exhilaration. There are countless missions that I have played several times over from sheer enjoyment, which does make Modern Warfare lose a bit of its suitability with the story as it becomes more of a highlights reel. Unfortunately, not everything is a highlight.

Without hanging onto a topic that really doesn’t warrant it for too long, the mission ‘No Russian’ has created quite a storm of controversy. Whilst being able to have as much of an indirect role to the events that occur, it is still rather harrowing and disturbingly misplaced. Even in a game filled with death and chaos, the difference between taking down a soldier and slaughtering innocent civilians is a line my moral compass refused to cross. If the scene was used for effect at building up plot tension then it severely failed and seemed to play no real baring on the outcome of the somewhat flimsy story.

Aside from this baffling inclusion, the level design is superb. The variety of locales, level structure and verticality all work brilliantly to combine into a delightfully solid experience. Perhaps with some of the best subconsciousness signposting I’ve experienced, having never once got lost, but also never felt as if someone was yelling “this way!” at every turn. There are some small frustrations with the general play though. Whilst I appreciate that getting shot should hinder my abilities in combat, splattering my screen with ‘blood’ just blinds me to a degree that makes windscreen wiper a sensible addition to my loadout. I’m not expecting realism, I mean my health magically regenerates, there were a variety of brilliantly used filters and effects used during those are-they-aren’t-they-cutscenes that would have worked so much more fluidly.

The variation of missions and locations is simply fantastic and possibly unrivalled. Whether it be a run and gun free for all in the suburbs of Rio, speeding on a snowmobile down the Tian Shan Range, stealthily eliminating enemies under the cover of sand or snow, tactically clearing out a building or sprinting Mirror’s Edge style through tight alleyways, it is always kept fresh. It is always exciting. The dénouement is as well played out as any other, with the final sequence producing a suitable climax.

With multiplayer that resembles a polished version of the successful version released two years ago, it’s certain to be a massive hit and has already sucked me into it. With its MMO-styled progression system towards rewards and upgrades, it will hook players in an instant. However, it’s the additional co-operative mode Spec Ops mode that is the main extra draw. Providing a healthy does of bitesized missions to engage with another player, creating arcade-style challenges, with incredibly well fuelled replayability with the use of a star system, time trials and leaderboards, it takes a unique twist on the traditional story based co-op scenarios.

Pros:

  • Exhilarating from start to finish.
  • This is how shooters should handle.
  • Multiplayer will extend the longevity massively

Cons:

  • I’ve been shot, so why am I blind?
  • It really is just Modern Warfare 1.5
  • There’s no ‘mute all’ button.

Ultimately, this blockbuster is just another version in the Modern Warfare franchise and whilst failing to live up to the unreachable hype that was developed prior to release, Infinity Ward have produced a very impressive title. One good enough to even convince this sceptic. 9/10

2nd Opinion: Watchful

MW2 has provided more evidence that Xbox Live Gold is worth the price of entry, hence, having bought the PS3 version I have only played the single-player so far.  The game’s attempt at a plot is best just forgotten.  It is awful.  It is far less painful to think of MW2 as having you play through a set of unrelated missions.  Fortunately the gameplay is everything I hoped my first CoD experience would be.  IW’s work to minimise controller lag has paid off with the controls feeling tight and responsive.  The firefights are intense with some great set pieces.

So far the stand out moment for me was when I realised that when an AI squad member shouts, “Two tangoes behind the black hatchback!”, there really are two tangoes behind the black hatchback.  I suddenly stopped mentally blocking out the squad chatter and listening to it.  I am used to shouts about grenades, etc., in other games but the situational awareness and detail in the calls from squad mates was a revelation. Graphically, for a multi-platform title, it is impressive with more detail than I expected.  Having played it on a 360 too, the PS3 version compares reasonably well.  Both platforms have their good and bad points but I would say the 360 still edges out the PS3.  Very much looking forward to trying the co-op once it is working.  8/10

3rd Opinion: Nofi

Modern Warfare 2: really not worth queuing up in the freezing cold of a Glasgow morning for, that’s for sure.  I really, really don’t like it – the storyline is all over the place (without any coherence), the ‘action’ little more than spasmodic set piece after set piece and it’s all so scripted it might as well just be a series of quick time button presses.  The graphics don’t impress, the frame rate’s all over the place and the in-your-face shouting is so repetitive and banal it’s almost insulting.  And the ‘famous’ No Russian chapter?  Utterly pointless, serving little more than the opportunity to bag a few more column inches before release.  Still, I hear multiplayer is rather good, it’s just that I can’t seem to ever get a connection.  4/10

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