Monday, April 26, 2010

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2


I’ve never been one for war based shooters or even first person shooters in general. There are only a few shooters that demand my attention (Borderlands, Halo, Gears of War). So it was easy for me to evade the hype that Call of Duty generates. It went on to be the biggest selling game of all time and I still had no interest. It took my sister and her husband buying me a copy before I would play it, I simply had no desire. After playing it, I know now that I wasn’t missing much.

MW2’s story picks up five years after CoD4. It involves multiple factions vying for power and plenty of obvious double crosses. You spend most of your time playing as two characters and switching between their respective stories. There are grand moments of suspense as you’re locked in an overwhelming firefight or racing down a mountain on a snowmobile. There are times where you’re meant to feel quiet terror. A prime example being the bombed out DC level where rain pours down onto your unit and lightning illuminates the remains of the ghost capital. The problem is that it all rings hollow. I didn’t feel any connection with any of the characters or the events happening around them. There was no point in the game where I felt emotionally attached. Even during the highly controversial airport sequence, it all fell flat in my eyes. But let’s be honest, very few play this series for its story.

Multiplayer is what sucks people in. Activision’s advertising campaign boasts a player base of 20 million. While I don’t doubt that, it puzzles me. I play the game on the Xbox 360 and MW2 has the absolute worst online play I’ve ever experienced on the console. Multiple times in every play session I’ve had, the match completely stops as the game tries to find a more reliable host. 30% of the time, I find myself removed from the match once said host is found. Another issue is that only a few match types support party chat. I know the population of this game. It consists of screechy pre teens swearing at me or the folks that do nothing but play this game non-stop and call me all kinds of wonderful variations of noob as they gun me down time and time again. So when playing with my friends, we’re restricted to only a few types of play so we can stay in party chat and keep the unwashed masses out. Regardless of my complaints, multiplayer does have interesting and enjoyable aspects to it. You gain experience by playing and level up your weapons depending on how they’re used. Game modes include free-for-all, search and destroy, demolition, sabotage, domination, team deathmatch, and capture the flag.

Another mode is introduced with this entry, Special Ops. You and a friend (offline or on) complete specific challenges on maps taken from the campaign but not related. They run the gambit of challenges from racing snowmobiles to one player providing air support to the other player on the ground. You are rated after completing each challenge and earn stars based on performance. It’s something enjoyable to do with a buddy when you want to play without going into multiplayer.

Overall, MW2 is great if you’re into war based shooters and don’t mind spotty online play. For those like me with little interest in the genre, you’re not missing anything spectacular. It’s best when played with friends. Graphics and sound are both among the best I’ve seen this generation. As a whole, not a bad game, but not anything super terrific.
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