Finally, after months of waiting, “the most anticipated game of the year” is here. Surrounded by controversy on one side, and hype on the other, Modern Warfare 2 has gamers asking one question: “is it worth my money?”
The short answer is yes. MW2 is a crisp first-person shooter that features some of the best visuals that can be seen on current generation consoles, as well as the same intense action and tight narrative that we’ve come to expect from the Call of Duty franchise.
MW2 picks up five years after Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare. The epic story stays true to its CoD roots by being rife with triumph and tragedy; it’s easy to think of this game in terms of a movie due to the numerous scripted events.
For instance, there is one level that I absolutely have to mention, called “Wolverines!”. Anyone familiar with the 1984 classic film Red Dawn will instantly get the inside joke. Basically, you and your squad are stranded in a suburban environment, and are forced to hold off invaders until help arrives. There is just something so satisfying about holding off tons of enemies, knowing that you are the last line of defense.
The game basically plays like all the previous CoD games. You run-and-gun though various environments until you find cover. There, you pick off all the bad guys until you are clear to move again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Please understand, I don’t mean this in a bad way; this formula has lasted for six games because it provides an extremely satisfying and intense experience. Just don’t expect MW2 to revolutionize first-person shooters.
The single-player campaign is fun, albeit short. I was able to power though the game in just over five hours. Much like CoD4, you take control of several different soldiers, located in various parts of the world, and blast bad guys into oblivion. Expect all sorts of twists and turns as the story progresses. Aside from the single-player campaign, there are two game modes: Special Ops, and multiplayer.
Special Ops is basically a “challenge map” game mode. You play through various maps, either solo or co-op, and, by completing objectives, you earn stars. The more stars you have, the more maps you unlock.
Personally, this is my favorite part of the game. You see, each map has a different style of gameplay; some maps will have you holding off waves of baddies, while others will have you racing though alleys, hunting down enemies before time is up. While the single-player campaign may be short, the Spec-Ops game mode easily adds several hours to your total game time.
From my experience with MW2‘s multiplayer, I feel safe in assuming that Infinity Ward is a fan of the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality. The multiplayer component is basically the same as in CoD 4 and World at War.
All the game modes we’ve come to love are present: deathmatch, team deathmatch, search & destroy, ground war, and so on. Kill streaks give you special abilities, including a predator drone that reveals all enemies, and a C130 Gunship that lays waste to an area on the map you specify. As you kill more enemies, you unlock more powerful perks and weapons. The multiplayer is extremely enjoyable, but, like the single-player campaign, it’s nothing revolutionary.
Despite my praises, MW2 is far from a perfect game. There are plenty of little things that had me wondering “why did Infinity Ward include this?”
One thing that really bothered me was the controversial airport scene. For those of you who don’t know, you play as an undercover CIA agent who is part of a terrorist raid on a Russian airport. You and a crew of goons walk through the terminals, indiscriminately shooting civilians and security guards. Apparently, this scene was included to show just how brutal and evil your enemies are. In a way, I guess it accomplishes this.
Maybe I’ve been desensitized to violence, but I was never shocked or appalled during this scene. Perhaps I was just expecting too much from it; something like the village massacre in Rambo 4. I think a large part of my indifference to this scene comes from the fact that all the civilians look the same. There just isn’t enough detail to make you really feel anything. It would be one thing if they were so detailed that you could see the look of horror in their eyes, but instead you are simply met with blank stares from the uncanny valley. In the end, I felt that this scene was just a cheap way to get everyone’s attention.
Another issue I had with the game was that each level was just a series of gimmicks. This is not to say they are not enjoyable gimmicks, but they are just so obviously scripted that it broke my immersion in the game. Sure, breaching doors with explosives, and entering with guns blazing in bullet time is cool, but every time you do it, it’s the same thing: shoot the bad guys, not the hostages. It would be like going through a haunted house with signs posted outside each door saying “Monster on the left”.
What also bothered me about these scripted events was that some of them really didn’t add anything. One part in particular sticks out to me when you have to climb up a vertical sheet of frozen rocks using ice picks. The game forces you to alternate between the left and right triggers in order to climb up the wall. As I was doing this, I couldn’t help but think, “what does this accomplish?” There are several other scenes in MW2 that left me with similar impressions. Maybe I’m just being nitpicky, but I feel that if you are going to make a game this short, you better make every scene count.
In the end, I feel confident in saying that MW2 lived up to the hype. Sure, the game is extremely scripted, but that is what allows Infinity Wards to provide such an intense experience. If you’ve ever wanted to be part of an action movie (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?) MW2 is the game for you. Fans of shooters will be hailing MW2 as one of the best FPS games of all time, or at least until Modern Warfare 3 arrives.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a shooter that looks this good on current generation consoles.
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The tried and true CoD run-and-gun methodology really shines in MW2, with great mechanics and solid controls.
Everything from the "ping" of ricochets, to the "ka-boom" of air strikes feels like it's happening in your house.
Although the campaign is a mere five hours long, the Special Ops mode and multiplayer will add endless hours of fun.
Modern Warfare 2 does indeed live up to the hype. If you've ever wanted to be in an action movie, this is probably the closest you will get.