Game Review: Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2 (PS3/XBox360)
As we wind down 2009, the list of anticipated video game titles is getting shorter, and our list of Game Of The Year contenders gets shorter.
Modern Warfare 2 has managed to turn up the pre-release hype to unprecedented levels, and if the early numbers are to be believed, it could be one of the highest selling games of all time.
If you haven’t picked it up yet, you’re most likely in the minority.
Just in case, I’ll sum it up for you.
MW2 is a first-person tactical shooter set in the immediate future. How immediate? Only about three or four years.
While the game isn’t so hard-core that you’ll be issuing commands to a squad, it does offer a surprising depth in tactical response from AI enemies and compatriots alike.
Controls are very familiar, L1 to aim and R1 to shoot, but the ‘snap to target’ added for campaign players instantly makes the game accessible for newbies, as well as being comfortable for veterans.
If you’ve struggled with FPS controls on a console in the past, you may want to give this one a try.
The story plays out like one of the better seasons of the television show ’24’, bouncing between several playable characters, and finally bringing the disparate narratives together in a high speed finish.
Sometimes a little far-fetched, Modern Warfare 2 manages to capture the essence of what makes a summer blockbuster fun: big explosions, big guns, betrayal, and the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
The game begins with a few tutorial levels based in Afghanistan, then sets the scene for the real story. A Russian mercenary frames the United States for a terrorist attack, and you’ll be trying to avert a full scale conflagration over the event.
It’s not a literary breakthrough, but you’ll be entertained.
I found myself noticing some odd conceits in the game, things you wouldn’t see from many other developers.
Short gameplay sequences that include new and interesting mechanics are used, and then discarded. Other developers could easily taken one of these ideas and created a complete game around them.
For example, one of the early levels has you scaling an ice cliff using the L1 and R1 buttons to controls your ascent. It was fun, it was interesting, and it lasted just long enough to entertain you.
From anyone other than Infinity Ward (okay, maybe Naughty Dog too) that gameplay mechanic would have been used for the entire game. It would have been a gimmick, and it would have been a bullet point on the box cover.
The shifts in gameplay are so smooth and subtle, when coupled with the insanely polished graphics, there were times I thought I was watching a cutscene. The only thing that made me realize it WASN’T a cinematic was angry radio chatter informing me that my squad mates were waiting for me to make the first move.
There are so many twists and turns through the single player campaign, it would be nearly impossible to describe much more without spoilers.
You’ll want to play the campaign, trust me.
Multi-player is essentially the same as the previous MW, although co-op challenges are now available, more importantly these co-op challenges support local split screen action.
Call me a happy gamer.
Online play is fun at the moment, but I anticipate it’s going to have the same problem the genre always seems to suffer from after a few months. With an experience/perks system in place, and matchmaking that is never quite perfect, it won’t take long before new players will be unable to enjoy the experience. Veteran players will make the experience very uncomfortable for rookies in no time.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is highly polished, well paced, and easily accessible in single player. It’s also tailored for hard-core players online. There’s nothing wrong with having the best of both worlds.
Go buy it.