November 20, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 | Review

Shawn Lebert Says You wake up to a blaze of gunfire around you. The smoke is thick in your nostrils as your lungs struggle to breathe fresh air. Your ears refuse to clear as sounds remain muffled. Men grasp and pull you to your feet. Your body feels momentarily helpless as your brain is no longer in command. Welcome to the battlefield that guarantees death for the majority; and living for the minority. Say hello to Modern Warfare 2’s Veteran Mode, which is quite possibly the only game you can brag over your achievements and trophies.

Infinity Ward is back with a prejudice and an extreme amount of pure adrenaline-rushing action on a scale of epic proportions. For newcomers of the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t separate itself as a solo entry into the series, unlike the first Modern Warfare did to it’s World War II upbringing. Modern Warfare 2 is a direct sequel to its predecessor, creating a new franchise within itself. Infinity Ward attempts—and—succeeds in moving away from its historical World War II development, and delivers a modern-day escapade.

Before its release, there was much debate whether or not to drop the title “Call of Duty” entirely, as was assumed the title change would not affect sales or cause confusion amongst fans. However, in the end, for the purpose of continuity, the “Call of Duty” branding was tacked on the retail package. Infinity Ward is attempting, in this writer’s opinion, to branch themselves from their counter-part (Treyarch) who developed Call of Duty 3 and World at War.

Modern Warfare 2 presents a new caliber to the CoD series with a title that explores a controversial and hypothetically surreal storyline that leads inevitably into a possible World War III. Infinity Ward’s sequel pushes not only the physical buttons to traverse through a heart-pounding excursion, but also triumphs in presenting an emotional aftermath to Modern Warfare’s original game. Gamers who experienced the original, and perhaps claimed its campaign was one of the best-ever experienced, will truly appreciate Modern Warfare 2’s storyline in terms of creative storytelling and shocking events; both amazing and fearful.

The developers pull some emotional triggers. The game’s campaign can make many player’s question their own action, which can lead to a controversial ordeal over what’s simply offensive and what has strong purpose. Modern Warfare 2 presents a questionable mission (No Russian), which forces the gamer to decide how they want to play the game. The “No Russian” mission provides fuel for many political and debatable figure-heads like Fox News [Editor’s Note: read “Fox News” as “Conservative-Republican blowhards.” It also goes without saying that The Goozex Report is not quoting Fox News and they may or may not have actually stated the following…] to present the mission as a murder-simulator that is designed without purpose.

Infinity Ward creates this hundred-million dollar “simulator” with the intention of making the player think that the game is more than just a shooter. It’s an expression over the power of war and the frailty of life. People are tired of effortless shooting games, for the fact that they bring nothing to the table. Modern Warfare 2 brings everything to the table, in an effort to tell a message to the world in a brutal, yet educational, fashion. Granted, the game contains fictitious events and characters, but it conveys a powerful onslaught of ideals and moral decisions that isn’t too far-fetched from reality.

All that’s being said in this review at this point is vague, but it’s with the intention for you, the gamer, to play this title and learn for yourself the difference between a game and the real world.

Spec Ops
Modern Warfare 2, unlike the original, adds an extra mode that entices players to compete and complete everything that is un-lockable in the game. Spec Ops, separate from the campaign, gives the player a solo, split-screen, or two-player online journey through a myriad of mini-games that they need to accomplish. You can earn up to 3-stars with each game. To get all 3-stars in one mini-game, one must beat it on Veteran, which is the hardest difficulty. These mini-games are familiar events from the main campaign; plus, those who have completed the original Modern Warfare campaign will experience a familiar locale! Lots of these games center around elimination, timed events, and items to retrieve or disarm. These games do not provide a straightforward way to completion, and may take a few retries and solid strategy to complete.

Unlike the original Modern Warfare’s insanely difficult and arduous campaign–infamous for its Epilogue mission–gamers may feel disappointed that Veteran mode may not be as obnoxiously impossible, which is definitely a good thing for some. However, Infinity Ward has decided to put the extra heat on players through Spec Ops; some of which will make you want to rip out your hair.

If anyone experienced the grenade-spam storm that was Call of Duty: World at War, Modern Warfare 2 has conveniently adjusted the enemy frag tossing to a complete minimum [Editor’s Note: Thank God.]. You probably will not experience more than two grenades tossed your way at a time. Don’t quote me on it, but that’s what I experienced, and yes, I completed it on Veteran mode. Instead, the developers created a smarter AI who runs to different cover rather than remaining in one position until dead. Flanking is also observed, and as frustrating as it is to die a LOT, getting flanked is at least more commendable than blind-firing-100% accurate-enemies; although, that’s still apparent in this game, too.

While Veteran mode difficulty is a touch lighter due to the less fragging sort, it still is Veteran mode and you’ll be hitting retry often. Although, in the end, it felt a bit easier. Perhaps “easier” means I didn’t get as frustrated as spending three and a half hours one evening getting the Mile High Club achievement – which to this day, is my favorite un-lockable.

As epic as the events are from the first game, you’ll eventually grow to love what Modern Warfare 2 presents just as much: creating a slew of fabulous, monumental incidents that’ll leave your jaw open. As a personal experience, which I have not felt for years, an overwhelming sensation of goose-bumps and chills ran through my body during the first hours of the game alone. Ramp up your sound, and you’ll probably feel the same way too.

The Campaign
Call of Duty: World at War has co-op within the main campaign. While that might seem more positive than Modern Warfare 2, you should hold your tongue right there. Infinity Ward developed a campaign that was intentionally designed for the single player. One can’t recreate these powerful events with an added “ghost” character – especially in a specific event like rushing to your helicopter over rooftops while the enemies are firing from behind: a scene that felt reminiscent from “The Matrix.” I felt like Keanu Reeves running away from the agents at the end of the film. It was that good. Unlike Halo 3: ODST, which does indeed have a co-op campaign – the extra buddy playing in ODST is simply a mirror image of the first player, creating a non-personal experience for the sacrifice of having more players on the same screen.

Modern Warfare 2’s campaign may seem like you received the short-end of the stick, as it’s not longer than 10-15 hours, depending on skill. Casual players will find the story’s length fine, while hardcore players might be disappointed. However, with the addition of Spec Ops, the campaign’s length doesn’t seem too much of a letdown.

Multiplayer is still an absolute must-have for such an addicting online functionality. Personally, Infinity Ward provides the best multiplayer experience for any console thus far; it didn’t need to steer far from the previous multiplayer as there wasn’t much to improve on. It includes deathmatch, team deathmatch, free-for-all; pretty much everything that was there from the first time. Rank your soldier up and get yourself more perks and guns! [Editor’s Note: Infinity Ward greatly improved the scoring system and the perks from the first Modern Warfare.]

The production value to the game is quite stunning, resulting in top-of-the-line graphics, smooth frame-rate, dynamic sound and amazing scripted events. The voice work is superb and is voiced from a familiar cast from the first game. The yelling characters boost my performance in hustling, that’s for sure. It’s effective, and not a single line feels out of place. It’s Call of Duty at its finest, and it’ll be difficult to top this one, until, well, Modern Warfare 3. Moments within the game leave unanswered questions within the plot and some may find that the antagonist is mostly off-screen, which might make the controversial segments feel pointless.

Modern Warfare 2 still revolves around faceless soldiers, and perhaps that’s the best way to do it. You might not be entirely sold on the feature that you play as multiple soldiers, whose lives aren’t necessarily free from death. Therefore, you never grow attached to a main character. However, with that makes it more surprising who lives on and who does not. It makes traveling around the globe possible with different faces.

There’s no denying that you should play the game, as there is no higher bar. Modern Warfare 2 pretty much exclaims that there will be a third, and I sure know we will all wait for it two years from now.