Friday, February 19, 2010

the oft delayed review- modern warfare 2

so i haven't used this thing as somewhere to post any reviews yet, but now seems like an alright place to start, three months after it comes out.
Originally published in Knight news December issue.

Modern Warfare 2, the sequel to the 13 million selling 2007 release Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, had a lot to live up to. The original had a tight and well passed single-player campaign that took, the character all over the eastern hemisphere, and had some of the best action set pieces in any game of that year. On top of that It had one of the best and most addictive multiplayer experiences, that many other games have gone on to ape and improve on for the most part. So it was no wonder the developers, Infinity ward kept the game on the down low until they could show us its full potential, and well… it truly is fantastic.
The game itself is slightly different now, it still has the single player and multiplayer campaign, but Infinity Ward also took the liberty of adding a third element, that can be played solo or with friends; Spec-ops. Spec-op is for the most part a co-op campaign in the vain of the first modern warfare’s, “mile high club” level. It takes different situations from the single player campaigns and pins you and a friend against some obscene odds at points. With missions that look like the sniper mission of the first game and others having one player on the ground fighting through enemies, while the other is in the gunner seat of an AC-130 gunship, providing cover fire and all around raining hell from the sky. This mode allows the player to cleanse their palates of the constant viciousness of multiplayer and the sheer ludicrous nature of the single player.
If there was a game with the title of game that is most ripped from the headlines, it would have been the Modern Warfare. It took elements of our societies “war’s on terror”, and by putting them in a game that had you specifically seeking out “terrorists” it really gave you shock when one of that characters had a nuke blow up in his face and die a painful death while you had him crawling out of a crashed helicopter, all in first person mode. So it wasn’t surprising when this one took some of the more out there moments of the original and made them looks like romantic comedy. Modern warfare 2 does things that will shock and awe, because it is straight up controversial with some of the events that it displays you or allows you to do, because of this it prompts you twice that you might find some stuff controversial, making it something really adult as opposed to something completely associated with children.
I wont discuss story too much, because there are so many little things that it would seem unfair to those who want to experience it for themselves. All I will say is the movies Red Dawn and The Rock come to mind at multiple points in the movie…err game and that it takes place 5 years after the events of the first. It also takes the concept of a plan going painfully wrong with a full-blown invasion on of the United States and its capitol. As well the story, much like the previous games puts you in the role of different characters throughout, not surprisingly, a few end up with their untimely demise. That’s all ready giving up too much of the story, but it really is a little over the top, and not as grounded as the first one which had allowed people to believe its madness to a degree, this just turns it into an action movie, with a Michael Bay-esque instances.
The game-play however, much like the first is solid and tight. The controls are spot on, and the sequences that don’t have you just shooting are very cleverly done and fun as well. The mission variety keeps things moving, fast, and with out real hiccups, though some vehicle instances may feel a bit rickety, with stiff controls and odd aiming, but they last for mere moments if for less then 3 or 4 minutes. The environments are varied greatly, with your character jumping from multiple places around the globe, like Rio de Janeiro, Afghanistan, and other locations that would give away far too much about the story. All in all though, the single player has an excellent story, though a little bananas at points, is super fun to play, though anything higher then normal for non experienced players will have you throwing controllers because three enemies some how can throw twelve grenades at you with two hands; and it gets the action game concept right without diluting it with fluff.
Now multiplayer in the last few years has become the only thing that gives people reasons to go back to games. The original Modern warfare set industry standards for people going back to play a game over and over with its ability to bring players back to it because of its innovative game-play and leveling, giving the player the whole, “ill only play for five more minutes” syndrome. Modern warfare 2 continues with that tradition, by adding new load out combination's, kill streak bonus’s and death streaks, for players who are not as endowed at the game as the 13 year old who has already prestige, within two days of its release and killed you with a knife from half a map away, followed by calling you some sort of derogatory term.
These streaks are what make up the majority of the changes in multiplayer; there are long lists of things you can change about these streaks, which, in the first game were small and fairly limited. While you could scan the map call in a UAV or an air strikes, in this one you can do all those, along with call in a predator strike, control a predator drone, control an AC-130 gunship, and with a 25 kill streak dropping a tactical nuke, instantly ending the game and the person who dropped it, or their team automatically win the match. Preposterous you say, no one is that good that quick, well, as it so happens in the games that this reviewer played I had two separate nukes drop on me in two separate maps. The reason they are able to get these kill streaks is that this game controls and plays exactly like the original, so ever person who played the original over the last two years will instantly be almost too proficient at this game, killing you with grenade tags that seem almost impossible.
The death streaks are Infinity wards way of dealing with the never-ending cycle of spawn- death-spawn-death by giving players who have constantly gotten killed the ability to wither stay alive for seconds after their death to fire off some more shots, take the load out of the person who killed you, or in classic modern warfare fashion, martyrdom, where you drop a live grenade after your death. Though you hope to never have to use these, it helps when you are a casual multiplayer participant, like myself.
The game features the standard death match team, death match; capture the flag, domination, and something that no one expected, third person-mode. This mode allows for the over the shoulders running and gunning, which actually breaks the game for the most part, because the camera movement becomes all about spotting things before they should actually be in view, it loses most of its “fun.” The other modes, in first person, are still fun and addictive, not succumbing to the usual tropes of just copying and pasting, because of the streaks and perks that are available to you.
The game as a whole is an excellent experience, and absolutely worth the price tag, even the 149.99 price tag that I paid for the prestige edition, which contains a pair of functioning night vision goggles, which for the price tag are really a good solid goggles that will allow you to stare at the raccoons in your backyard to your hearts content. The game is all around well developed and well made, with a few discrepancies that would spoil the stories plot which could be a Bay movie on its own. It will keep you busy for a long while, whether it is, the single player campaign, the spec ops missions with your friends, or shooting/ blowing people up in the online multiplayer.
A