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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

A short review of Modern Warfare 2 on the day of it’s release.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

So the titan of gaming has finally arrived, does the most anticipated game of the year, perhaps even of this generation, live up to the hype? The answer, somewhat predictably, is yes and no. It seems the term ‘blockbuster’ no longer applies to big budget Hollywood films with stunning set pieces and flimsy narrative. Whether this statement is a blessing or a curse is perhaps, entirely an individual’s own interpretation of what makes a video game good or bad. However, rather than dissect the sales figures and publicity the game has garnered, let’s take a look at the game itself.

MW2’s story of course, follows on directly from the first Modern Warfare. At the end of the first, we were left lying wounded on the ground after witnessing the games antagonist Imran Zakhaev being shot and killed by Captain Price who is also presumed to die with the games conclusion. MW2 begins with us being thrust into the control of a new suit of characters who are now tasked with hunting down and killing Vladimir Makarov, (one of Zakhaev’s lieutenants) who has declared Zakhaev a national hero and martyr of an ultranationalist group whose desire it is to spark World War three between Russia and America. You’d be forgiven into thinking that a premise of a story as described is the same form of generic narrative that is found side by side in a typical Hollywood blockbuster. Unfortunately, it’s not just the games weak narrative that makes the games single player suffer. It seems that Infinity Ward have gone to great lengths to create a story that doesn’t immerse the player with a deep narrative but rather, crams as many set pieces into the game as possible.

Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing to see in a video game, the developers desire to cram as much spectacle into the games story as possible only serves to make the telling of the story feel very disjointed and ultimately makes the pacing poor leaving the player to wonder just what is going on. In the end, it feels that Infinity Ward has essentially disposed of a strong narrative in favor of using every last penny of a massive budget to make an interactive Hollywood film. This feeling coupled with established generic traits of a Hollywood film such one of the protagonists turning out to be the main antagonist and the inclusion of a massively controversial level where the player is tasked with massacring an airport full of civilians are all present as well. The cynics among us perhaps wonder whether Infinity Ward simply included the affectionally dubbed ‘Airport Level’ purely to generate publicity bad or good for the game.

Of course, the story is just one side to a videogames merits, and it’s the strengths of the game that elevate it past its weak narrative into the halls of first-person shooter fame. As everyone has no doubt witnessed from screenshots or playing the game itself, the game looks wonderful. The detail on the levels and weapons serve only to immerse the player into a game that gets as close to a simulation of war as you could possibly hope for. Every weapon feels superbly balanced and powerful; pulling the trigger and watching the weapon on screen burst into life, again, only serves to make the feel and handling of the game second to none. Every detail of the games mechanics seem to have been thought about and tweaked to perfection. The variety in the weapons on offer stops any one setup becoming stale and nothing feels stronger than something else. In a first-person shooter, the balance seen in MW2 is arguably the most essential thing to get right first time round. Lastly, the one thing that (albeit predictably) makes the game shine, is its multiplayer. The disgruntled feeling you will be left with after witnessing the games single player ending will quickly fade away into a distant memory when you join a game and realise that it’s the multiplayer that the game was made for.

The fast and frantic skirmishes that ensue provide proof that Infinity Ward know how to translate war into an interactive form for everyone to ‘enjoy’ so to speak.

What we have then, is a superbly built game, with perfect balancing, crisp visuals a fantastically enjoyable multiplayer but a single player that ultimately makes the game fall short of true gaming gold. Look past the shortfalls of the single player and what you will find is a massively enjoyable multiplayer experience built on solid game mechanics.


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