Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Preview

The Roach Man Cometh.

Three minutes of what seems like the whole world blowing up around you on Modern Warfare 2‘s ‘Favela’ multiplayer map, and you’re exhausted or you’re dead or you’re both, in that order (and that’s if you’re just watching). Glaring virtual sunlight shines on a ruined, gloriously-detailed, sprawling slum as far as the eye can see in every direction. Three out of four walls have big holes blown into them. Constant threats to your team (and theirs) are common lines of conversation. There’s nowhere to rest safely for more than a few seconds. A constant cacophony of panicked radio-chatter and gunfire thuds through the air. Violent spatters of blood gunk up the screen.

[image1]I’m not sure what the folks at Infinity Ward could conceivably do at this point to make their forthcoming monster shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 any more tense, action-packed, and threatening. But I am certain it involves some form of coming back to your quiet little hometown, staying eerily quiet for a few weeks, and then shooting a lot of the local populace from a clocktower (with rubber bullets, hopefully). It might not sound like it, but this is high anticipatory praise.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the direct sequel to 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and, for the single-player portion, puts players in the combat boots of Sgt. Gary “Roach” Sanderson as part of a multi-national commando group called Task Force 141. If you’ve already played the first CoD:MW, you’ll find yourself under somewhat familiar supervision, in the form of Sgt. “Soap” MacTavish, a Special Air Service non-player character who is now Sanderson’s superior officer.

Slated to clock in at roughly the same 7 to 10 hours as the original, the single-player game for CoD:MW, Modern Warfare 2‘s solo campaign is another globe-trotting venture. In addition to the aforementioned Brazilian slum, the game’s settings will include Russia (yes, again), a desert wasteland somewhere in Afghanistan (as opposed to the many lush, tourist-haven garden spots in that vacation destination known as “Allah’s Cat Box”), and at least one military base in Kazakhstan (formerly the "CCCP", or as I like to call it, “Russia”).

One further game-environment note: In response to the ‘controversy’ surrounding a leaked game video that showed a terrorist attack on an American airport, Activision issued a statement, which reads in part:

[image2]"Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 features a deep and gripping storyline in which players face off against a terrorist threat dedicated to bringing the world to the brink of collapse. The game includes a plot involving a mission carried out by a Russian villain who wants to trigger a global war. In order to defeat him, the player infiltrates his inner circle. The scene is designed to evoke the atrocities of terrorism."

So, good on Activision for stepping up swiftly and unapologetically; however, it seems that an even better way to squelch the whinings of the wimpified out there would have been to simply, belligerently ignore the whole ridiculous business, and stalwartly continue about the business of publishing a much-anticipated game… but maybe that’s just me. At any rate, players will be required to pass a game ‘checkpoint’, so those with snowflake-like eyes who might be offended—what are the odds?—by imagery that they basically can’t avoid on any given night on CNN will be warned of the disturbing content ahead and given the option to bypass the segment altogether. (Hrmph. Maybe the terrorists ‘win’ this round after all).

It’s all about the cooperative play these days, and Modern Warfare 2 offers a co-op mode called Special Ops. Set in—but otherwise unrelated to the stories of—locations in the single-player game, the Special Ops missions will support two player co-op (solo, online multiplayer or local split-screen).

Divided into specific rosters of missions (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) set for Regular, Hardened, or Veteran difficulty levels, Spec Ops will include, among others, a sort of 50-foe ‘horde’-style challenge, a battle supporting Navy SEALs, and even a straight-up snowmobile race. One of the less-traditional ones, “Breach and Clear”, is not exactly what its name might evoke. Players choose a weapon among some initial choices in a room—at which point one of the walls is ‘breached,’ and it’s go-time. Get to the end of the level however you can, no questions asked. The reward ‘stars’ garnered by completing each mission on each difficulty configuration can then be used to unlock additional missions.

[image3]Online missions will still offer the established experience points, with some notable additions. Nifty “Kill Streak” rewards can yield Predator drone missile-strikes, randomized supply-crate drops, or—if you’re badass enough to pull off 11 kills in a row—your own personal Lockheed AC-130 gunship support. (Oh, the things you see in life when you don’t have an AC-130 gunship hanging about!) There is also a new third-person viewing mode, but it will only be available to a restricted number of game types, which is as things should be.

In all, game types will include Free-For-All, Team Deathmatch, Hardcore Team Deathmatch, Domination, Search and Destroy, Hardcore Search and Destroy, Ground War, 3rd Person Team Deathmatch, Hardcore 3rd Person Team Deathmatch, Sabotage, Headquarters, Capture the Flag, Demolition, and both the normal and hardcore versions of “Third Person Cagematch” (Whew!). Holy crap. I expect there will also be many impromptu variations on the snowmobile race… but again, maybe that’s just me, with my GR-given penchant for using, abusing, and just plain misusing in-game vehicles (somebody get me a download code for ModNation Racers, stat!).

Some additional random tidbits to start (or rather, continue) salivating over until the game’s release: Duel-wielding pistols; riot shields that can be picked up from enemies you’ve managed to neutralize; improved A.I. that does away with the previous game’s respawn scheme and allows for NPCs to break from their designated behaviors when the tactical situation demands; and finally, because you know you want it (I sure know I do, and there may be a fatal scuffle if it suddenly shows up here at GR on a contentious day) the so-called ‘Prestige Edition’ of the retail game, complete with functioning night-vision goggles (so much more useful and effective than the cheap, standard-issue Beer Goggles that have been lying around the office here since the mid-90s).

Sgt “Roach” Sanderson and his unit deploy to the Call of Duty universe in a mere two weeks, but be sure to report in to Game Revolution for additional intel on Modern Warfare 2. And be warned: Roaches rarely die when you stomp on them; they just get pissed off and limp off to a regrouping area to plan their counter-attack.