Game of the year? I think so.
I love Call of Duty; in fact it is probably my favourite series in the gaming world, although let’s face it World War 2 has been used far too much. Luckily, Infinity Ward was around to bring the series up to date with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and now the highly anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Essentially, there’s not really much I need to say other than “if you liked COD4 then you need to buy MW2″, but then that wouldn’t constitute much of a review. When it comes down to it though, Modern Warfare 2 is COD4 but so much better. It follows the winning format already laid down and polishes it to the extreme, then throws in a few new features for good measure.
The first (and probably biggest) new feature comes in the main menu. Alongside the expected Campaign and Multiplayer modes, we now have something called “Spec Ops”. Campaign mode starts, as is the norm, with a brief tutorial giving you the basics of how to aim down the sights and throw a grenade etc. You are then sent to “The Pit” which is a brief time trial (much like the beginning of COD4) that will recommend you a difficulty level to play the campaign on based on your time on the course. After selecting your difficulty you are thrown into the intense, fast paced world that is Call of Duty.
Spec Ops mode is a set of stand-alone scenarios that can be played alone or cooperatively with another player. In total there are 23 scenarios that can be played at 3 difficulty levels, with a “star” awarded for each difficulty completed. More stars earned unlock more scenarios. The mode is split into 5 groups of scenarios, and these can be as varied as a snowmobile race or capturing enemy compounds. If you’re like me and strive for perfection, this mode should take you a fair while to gain all 69 available stars.
Going back to campaign mode, Modern Warfare 2 is set 5 years on from COD4 and has a new villain: Vladimir Makarov. Without wanting to give too much away, the trouble all starts when Makarov frames the US for a terrorist attack on a Russian airport (Yes, the already infamous airport level). The rest of the story follows the same intertwined British and US mission format as before, and the missions are all incredible set-pieces that involve storming oil rigs, climbing icy cliffs and, of course, an adrenaline packed snowmobile chase. Although all the missions are linked by a plot, I would have to say that when you look at the overall story it is pretty ridiculous and far-fetched (Spoiler warning: take the airport level for example – would the US really sanction an undercover operative slaughtering hundreds of innocents?), but taking each mission as it comes you are in for one hell of a ride!
The only reason I can think of for not buying Modern Warfare 2 is if you really don’t like first person shooters, but to be honest MW2 might just change your mind…
Multiplayer is one of the biggest draws of the COD series, and MW2 is no exception. Infinity Ward have stuck to the winning format from COD4 and added some icing on the cake with new customizable killstreak rewards, and the all new “deathstreak rewards” for players who are having a bad day. There are new weapons, new attachments, new perks, preset classes as well as unlockable customizable classes – so there really is something for every style of play.
Visually, MW2 is absolutely breathtaking. Forgive me for bragging for one moment, but I’m playing on a 150″ screen using my HD projector, and every person that has seen it so far has commented on how stunning it looks. Everything is polished and slick, and best of all; the frame rate doesn’t suffer from this high level of detail. Combine this with the great sound effects you’d expect from the COD series, and the intense action sequences that will at times leave your jaw dropped onto the floor, and you have a winner.
So far I’ve done nothing but heap praise on the game, but as always nothing is perfect and there are a few bad points. I already mentioned the ropey storyline, and again in terms of story the campaign is not all that long. My first play through I chose “Hardened” as my difficulty level (you can choose from, in order of difficulty, recruit, regular, hardened and veteran), and the campaign took me around 8 hours. Luckily the missions are just so beautifully crafted that I jumped right back in for a second run through. I also wasn’t particularly impressed by the airport level – I feel it could have been done by cutscene for a start, and I also couldn’t help noticing that the models for the civilians were very obviously duplicated. I actually walked past one pile of around 7 dead bodies where 5 of them were apparently clones. The final negative point is the higher than average price point for the game, although shopping around you can get some decent deals.
Do I care about these shortcomings though? The answer is no. Modern Warfare 2 more than lives up to the hype in my eyes. Although the campaign is short, each mission is epic in its own way and I have no problem going back to play them all again. In addition, there is a full new mode to play around with in Spec Ops, and of course there is multiplayer, which is what I suspect many people will buy the game for. The only reason I can think of for not buying Modern Warfare 2 is if you really don’t like first person shooters, but to be honest MW2 might just change your mind…
The Bad: Campaign is a bit short