Ok, ok. I doubt this review in any way, shape or form, actually sway the 4 plus million people who bought, played, and are currently fragging it out online like the grenade spammers they are on “Modern Warfare 2.” And I seriously doubt I will even get good reviews or recommendations for this following review, but to that, I say, oh well.
Why this preface? Because “Modern Warfare 2” is a game I wanted so bad to hate, and while it is FAR from an A game, like Activisions near perfect hype machine would lead to believe, it is at least a good, solid and entertaining ride, for a bit. Like a shiny new Rollercoaster at Six Flags, it’s flashy, bright, polished and fun, but only for a few minutes until it ends, leading to a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. A thrill ride with gimmicky thrills, essentially.
Still not convinced? Well, lets break down the package as a whole. Infinity Ward has a knack for doing a lot of things right in most of their games, as any Call of Duty up until this point, has shown. The problem this time around is that “Modern Warfare 2” feels like it had to one-up itself after the last time, and improve on the perfection that made up their game, the multi-player aspect. And in effect, it is still fun to play. It is great to level up and it is nice to see a variety of new bells and whistles added to the content, such as custom kill streaks, new possible classes with weapon upgrades, and other options that tweak the overall experience online.
But it is still the same mode.
Yeah, you heard me right. The same DAMN THING AS LAST TIME. I know it is hard to tweak perfection, and let’s face it; the original Modern Warfare is as close to perfect multiplayer as you can get. So the little tweaks for this one here are nice touch ups to the game, but honestly could have been a download patch for Modern Warfare over a whole new game. So far, strike one, and it’s probably a good idea to tell you that this is the strongest aspect of the game overall.
Then there is the special ops mode, which is basically a bunch of mission based objectives that involve racing, assaulting, defending and sneaking through various environments from the game, and the past game. The modes are a mix between solo missions and necessary Co-op missions, which can be done split screen or online with a friend. A nice addition, but at the same time it also doesn’t really add much. It is just a bunch of situations you need to get through, only this time you have to do it in one life. Plus a lot of these missions are basically re-hashes from previous modes found in other first person shooters. The defense ones are basically horde mode watered down from “Gears of War 2”, the races are just time trials from the game you played in campaign mode, and the assault missions hark back to minigames found in shooter like “Red Faction: Guerilla” and “Saints Row 2.” It’s not a bad addition, but it adds nothing to the game. At the very least, it is a nice variety and a break from the bane of anyone’s existence, the story mode.
Ah yes, after the last romp, Infinity Ward wanted to top themselves, and to their credit, they did so splendidly, offering a ton of missions that would be the money shots in other games, bar none. My personal favorites is the ice climbing mission, storming a Russian Gulag prison, and fighting in an airplane graveyard against two separate factions, with you on your own.
These thrill-seeking moments aside, the story mode has three big problems with it, one of which has been glaring since the last game, and that is length. Even on veteran difficulty, which I bet half the people reading this either don’t play it on or don’t care to torture themselves with constant, cheap deaths, the game can be finished in ten hours for a good player, tops. And that’s on the hardest difficulty too!
Another major problem is the checkpoint system, which is so arbitrary at times it’s unforgivable. I caught myself so many times being screwed by that checkpoint system because I was caught in a corner, low on ammo, reloading my gun, or taking aim at an enemy soldier, only to have my own death occur seconds after by a lucky shot or a frag grenade. It just made things too frustrating to the point of being annoying. And yeah, this may be nitpicky, but hell, it’s not good design when it seems like the game chooses when to save your progress in the middle of a level.
But the biggest sin is the story itself. Not content on ripping anything in particular off, Infinity Ward decided to mesh together the plots of Red Dawn, The Sum of All Fears, Two Splinter Cell Games and a few James Bond movies to try and tell a “sweeping” epic within the U.S military system. It makes “Rainbow Six Vegas” look like a routine day on the job for special forces units, plus the numerous twists to the plot are either mildly shocking to some, seen miles away by others, or just a complete fan service moment in general.
That being said, I will give Infinity Ward some credit, the game feels cinematic at times thanks to their unique way of making your player character a part of the story. The now infamous “No Russian” mission, for example, does feel cold and cruel, and somewhat disturbing as you, disguised as a terrorist, strolling calmly through an airport murdering civilians. While I personally felt nothing from this, and I blame other video games for that one, other may feel something from this, plus, despite the implausibility of the entire situation, it was also a major plot point to go through in the game. It is moments like this that at least put the medium of storytelling forward for once, even if the story is crap, it’s good to see it happen.
Graphics and sound are pretty much good. It looks great and makes me feel like I am in a war zone at times. And I also like the voice cast too, in particular Lance Hendrickson, who plays General Shepherd. Overall though no complaints over this aspect of the game, and honestly I would be surprised if there was something to complain about here.
But overall, “Modern Warfare 2” is a game I WANT to give a C, because it represents everything I hate about sequels and hyped up crap. The story is a machina at best with no replay value except for achievements, the special op’s mode is a nice diversion, and multi-player is the only reason to play this game, and you can play it already for cheaper and with more DLC in the first installment. Modern Warfare is well put together, but the style of the package cannot excuse the lack of substance underneath.
Final Score- B-