Thursday, May 27, 2010

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

 it doesn't get more bad-ass than  this. As prolific as the Call of Duty games have been, the Modern Warfare adjunct has been nothing but quality work. The sequel to the overwhelmingly successful first game is certainly no slouch either. But as impressive as it is, at times Modern Warfare 2 underwhelms with familiar story-telling elements and a near nonsensical plot. Of course, if multiplayer is your deal than this won’t affect you much.

If you’ve played Modern Warfare at all, as millions can attest, you should be instantly familiar with everything the sequel has to offer. The visuals are still excellent and the frame-rate is still firmly attached to 60. There are new maps, modes, weapons, a brand new perks system, and best of all a new co-operative Spec Ops mode, as well as a new campaign to look forward to. Basically, if you enjoy shooters in the least, you should get some enjoyment out of this game.

The story for Modern Warfare 2 kicks off five years after the events of its predecessor and progresses in similar fashion. You’ll take control of multiple characters in exorbitant varieties of environments as you attempt to thwart a new terrorist threat that’s come to light. Without ruining anything, the plot derives itself directly from what you accomplished in the first game. It’ll take you around five hours to complete and, unfortunately, much less to become asinine.

 The environments are visually stunning.For a game that starts out with such cinematic and awe-inspiring momentum, it’s tough to see how it slips so easily into mediocrity. The campaign is by no means bad, but many of the elements you experience feel contrived and uninspired. Mainly, it feels as though Infinity Ward pulled all the climactic moments of the first game and shoe-horned them into Modern Warfare 2 because it felt obligated to. But as I said, the game starts off incredibly strong and even manages to bring controversy to the table via the mission “No Russian.” It’s a rather disturbing airport scene which depicts an act of extreme violence, but it’s gripping, unique focus will absolutely transfix you.

There’s plenty of excellent cinematic events scattered around the game and when experienced the thrill is hard to deny. The main reason why Modern Warfare 2’s campaign is so-so doesn’t rest with the gameplay, but solely on the story-telling. It’s everywhere, with holes larger than those found in the New York Giants’ defense. Even if I were to reveal everything, it’d serve no purpose other than to bewilder. Yes, it’s a video game, but a good story is essential to accentuate the emotion the developers are trying to convey to their audience. Especially since Modern Warfare portrays present day conflicts, realism is something it strives to maintain. At least the ending is entirely dramatic, sharp, and unbelievably awesome.

 One of the new toys, the  heart-beat sensor, is pretty useful.

While you can’t go through the campaign with a friend like most present day games, Spec Ops is the next best option and is, without question, the best aspect of Modern Warfare 2. It’s a rough translation of all the areas you’ll encounter in the single player campaign albeit with some tough, partner-necessary scenarios. One of my favorite missions is when you must choose who will be in the AC-130, a massive gunship that drops insane amounts of ordnance, and who will be making the trek by foot. This scenario works out incredibly well since communication between the two players is absolutely critical in a tense atmosphere. The AC-130 mission isn’t nearly the hardest one out there, and if you want to achieve all 69 stars it’s best to take someone adept along for the ride. You’ll definitely need it.

 Don't shoot from the hip damnit! Spec Ops is nice but chances are, if you bought this game, you intend on playing the multiplayer for a while. Everything about it has been expanded and tweaked to give a more resounding feel to the online combat. Perks have been given the ability to go pro or to gain an addition level, allowing you to perform an extra feat with a single active perk. For example, Commando increases your melee distance with the knife and if leveled up, it’ll also prevent any fall damage from occurring. You also have the option of customizing your own kill-streak rewards, such as being put into an AC-130, calling down a Predator missile, or even ending the game instantly with a tactical nuke. The more insane the weapon, the larger streak you need to attain it. Just watch out as players can missile you down if you’re in any type of aircraft.

 The "Soaphawk" in action.
More or less, Modern Warfare 2’s online component is much like the first. Although Modern Warfare 2 allows for much more customization, you’re either with the formula or against it. It’s a respawning game, so get ready to die – a lot. My biggest complaint about the multiplayer this time around is people utilizing broken/cheap combos and being killed by seemingly random fire. Constantly on the Kill-Cam I’d see people using the One Man Army, Danger Close, and Ninja perks along with grenade attachments. The combo allows players to replenish all lost ammo while also doing increased explosive damage with the grenades they launch. This isn’t the only annoying combo out there, but it’s pretty frustrating to see your adversary look up into the sky, shoot randomly, and kill you with that very shot. And it happens all the time. It gets even worse when you can’t move more than 5-feet before you’re gunned down by people you couldn’t have had a chance to notice. 

Multiplayer has its moments, and if you’re like me, you’ll prefer objective based games like Domination over the standard team death match gametypes. It’s fun to run around and see crazy things happen to players, but more often than not I found myself becoming increasingly displeased with how random the gunplay could be. But if you’re just in it for the guilty pleasure of shooting dudes, than I doubt you’ll care too much about the quirks.

If you’re looking for a cinematic, involving shooter with plenty of co-operative options, Modern Warfare 2 shouldn’t disappoint. It may not be as ground-breaking as the first game was, but it’s definitely a quality title you’ll keep coming back to until the next great shooter surfaces.

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