Monday, November 2, 2009

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

This review is 100% spoiler free, so you can read it in full confidence.

Disclaimer: I am only reviewing the single player mode(s) for the purposes of this review.

Modern Warfare 2's credits are still rolling across the room on my TV screen and I have to be honest, the first words out of my mouth would have to be, "It's over?!?! It's over already!!??!?" It is unfortunate, but the single player campaign is incredibly, incredibly short. I won't give you the exact amount to avoid spoilers about when it ends, but it is way, way, way, too short. Anyways, on to the review of the game.

Modern Warfare 2 incorporates everything you loved from COD4 and expands on it. The controls are exactly as you remember, the aiming reticles are the same, most of the weapons have returned albeit with some new additions and the multiplayer mode is there also. There are a myriad of improvements to the core experience that are worth mentioning and other things about it that make it better than the original. One of the main things that is singular to MW2 is the amount of things going on on-screen at any one time. There are so many explosions and smoke and people running around that most of the screen is occluded and it's tough to see where you're trying to shoot at and go, and I feel this is the first game that gives you a taste of what war is really like. In war your concentration is torn between sights and sounds going off in any number of directions along with commands coming from your superiors and this game reproduces that in a way that is unprecedented and impressive. One of the more realistic features is that when you are injured the screen will have blood spatter on it in varying degrees depending on the amount of damage that was done to you. The blood spatter looks very realistic and is reminiscent of the parts of the film Saving Private Ryan where dirt and water splash up onto the camera in the middle of the action. This occludes your view and makes it difficult to move let alone shoot, and is designed to try to make you feel physically the injury your character has taken. The NPC animations have been greatly expanded and improved and the movements of your arms, weapons, the cars, and the objects in the environment go a long way in immersing you in the game. Explosions are varied and the environments portray the real-world locales in amazingly striking detail There are times during MW2 where you couldn't imagine that there would be a better way to make a game like this. Infinity Ward has an absolute lock on realism in this particular genre and some of the best parts of MW2 are the little touches like realistic signs and vehicles. The chatter of your squad and the opposing squad are also realistic sounding, with the characters utilizing military slang just as they would in the real world. All of the cars in the game look absolutely identical to many models out in the real world and the only differences are manufacturer's logos with changed names or colors. It's impressive to see the tires shot out and flatten on an old 80's model Mercedes Benz that looks just like the ones that you see in Iraqi war footage on newscasts every single day.

I can think of nothing negative to say about the core experience of navigating the world and fighting against your adversaries. The controls are great the graphics are phenomenal and stay at a crisp 60 frames per second no matter what's going on and the presentation is second to none. The last thing I will comment on, without giving any spoilers however, is the story. It rivals the best screenwriting on a top-tier blockbuster war or action movie. There are twists and turns, emotional moments and tons of edge of your seat nail biting action. Humongous set pieces spread across the entire world and characters that you love and hate and then hate some more. The buzz word for MW2 in my eyes would have to be immersion. In the early part of the game you are walking through a military base and there are guys smoking cigarettes, shooting hoops and eating, and you can hear the sounds and see the sights of the everyday grind at an American military base in the Middle East.

The campaign of MW2 without going into specifics has betrayals and surprises on both sides and is absolutely compelling. It is easily one of the most compelling plots in a videogame. Believe me, the story will take you for a ride and there are parts that you'll never forget. Not one moment of the campaign is dull but unfortunately its short length will leave you wanting much more and you'll be able to be somewhat satisfied by the other modes the game has to offer, but I have to say that the short single-player campaign is inexcusable in a game like this, and if anybody says any different, don't listen to a word they say ever again, because they're just shilling for Infinity Ward or the gaming industry in general. I'll put it this way, if you won't be able to play the multiplayer portion of this game over the internet, you will feel cheated. You might feel cheated even if you can play all of the modes.

There is also a new mode that has been added called "Special Ops" which is a type of scenario mode where you (and friend(s)) can compete against NPCs in different locales with different objectives, some of which are pulled from the campaign. There are scenarios a-la ODST's Firefight mode where you fend off waves of enemies, some where you hunt down gangs of baddies that are hiding from you, and there are even some vehicular racing missions. The Special Ops mode is a great addition I admit, and the fact that the game tabulates your statistics is a fun way to keep track of just how good you are doing and a way to compare your scores to your friends'. I don't feel however that Special Ops mode makes up for the lack of length of the campaign.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 will undoubtedly be the biggest selling game of this year, no question about it. It is probably the best multiplayer action game that will come out this year and the campaign's story is a fantastic meditation on the wars of the last 30 years and the wars of the next 10 that never fails to entertain for even a second of its sadly and unforgivably short length. People will play this game with their mouths hanging open at times, and they made it that way. Congratulations, Infinity Ward you are THE triple-A wargame machine you always wanted to be and you've made one of the standout games of the year. Enjoy civilians and don't forget, Hoo-AH!!!

Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 10
Control : 10
Sound: 10
Length: 7
Overall: 9.5

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