Lunchtime Discussion: Are You Buying Into It?

Our fearless leader has other things to occupy him today, so I nobly volunteered to put forward a lunch time discussion topic for the day. Of course there’s only really one choice for today, the classic title Alex Kidd in Miracle World. If only I could get away with that as a topic. No today’s discussion is, of course, MW2 based. With today being billed as ‘the biggest game release in history’ – again I think Alex Kidd in Miracle World tops it – how could I not use that as a topic?

See I’m starting to feel a little left out in the cold today. I’m not picking up Modern Warfare 2. I have no intention of picking up Modern Warfare 2, nor have I played the original Modern Warfare. Why? It’s certainly not because it’s ‘just’ another shooter, very few games of this size and success are ‘just’ another insert-genre. Plus I’m a fan of Halo and, whilst I love the series, being a Halo fan doesn’t really give you the right to complain about any other game series being samey.

Maybe it’s because I still have CoD 2 and 3 sitting, unfinished in a drawer below the TV. I got them from the guy I picked my 360 up from and I’ve played probably about half of each of the campaigns. It’s a shame I haven’t finished them, because I actually quite enjoyed what I played of them. They also made me hate Nazis with a renewed fervor, which is always enjoyable.

Certainly one of the reasons I’m not picking it up is very little about the game has grabbed me. Perhaps, again, that’s because I never played the original Modern Warfare. I never saw the ending, never grew attached to the characters so I have no desire to see how they’re doing in this new game, what’s become of them. I will openly admit that I have spent several hours reading fan wikis for games like Halo and, weirdly, Sonic because I care about those characters and their associated universes. I think it’s part of the reason that I wasn’t really paying attention to Uncharted 2, I never played Uncharted so I didn’t want to see what new scrape Drake had got himself into. But the real reason, the biggest reason, is I’m just not drinking the Kool-Aid.

That’s right, I don’t buy into any of the hype. I don’t know if hype is even the word any more, the way that Activision and Infinity Ward have teased and drawn out and ever so slowly released snippets of footage, almost none of which seems to be actual gameplay, to build up consumer desire for this title is absolutely insane. Whilst this will almost undoubtedly be the biggest selling game in history, is that really because of the build up they’ve given it? It probably would have done insanely good numbers if they’d gone for a completely conventional advertising campaign.

While many, many people I know seem to have bought into it, analyzing tiny sections of footage to see if they can figure it out, reading every single character of information that comes out of Infinity Ward, obsessively reading output from Robert Bowling to see if there’s anything new there, I’m just sick of it. I don’t want a game to build up like that. You know how I want a game to be built up? How Ubisoft are doing Assassins Creed 2. But my commentary on that build (the word ‘perfect’ comes to mind) is for another day.

The problem with that level of hype is that it’s almost impossible to make a game that actually lives up to it. Comments I’ve heard from a number of people on the game are that it’s good, but not earth shattering. Whilst it has gained high scores so far, they seem to largely be based on the multiplayer. Of course that’s not from an in-depth reading of every review (I don’t have that kind of time), but from quickly scanning the Metacritic page’s excerpts from review which seem mildly critical of the single player. We kind of knew that was going to be good, it’s where they excel.

Anyway today’s discussion, after that rambling post? Are you buying into the hype of this game and, if you’ve played it, is it really that good? Am I just some misanthrope (yes) who hates everything (again yes) that is good and right in gaming for not being interested in this? Or should I just have stopped at Alex Kidd?