It's Here!

It's Here!

While there are many highly anticipated games this holiday season, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is probably on the top of most people’s lists. It’s no surprise this time around; in 2007 Infinity Ward delivered Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare which blew everyone’s expectations out of the water.

It was a major change in the series as it was previously exclusive to World War 2 and many, including Activision themselves weren’t quite sold on the idea when it was first announced. Infinity Ward gave us a gritty and realistic depiction of modern-day warfare in gaming. It was a gripping shooter that was believable and most importantly delivered on story, emotion, a gave us a different perspective of war, yet also delivered tons of fun and replay. Last year, Treyarch took us back to World War 2 with warm reception, but fans have been eagerly waiting to return to Modern Warfare and more importantly hoping that Infinity Ward would deliver once again…

The game’s campaign is pretty much what you’d expect. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll find a lot to love here. While it’s mostly more of the same, the game is still a lot of fun. Not much has really changed outside of new weapons, such as riot shields and the ability to dual wield certain pistols and there are small vehicle sequences and new door breach sequences which add bullet time to the game. The experience is far more cinematic than before, even more so than World at War. Like previous COD games before it, you will be hopping from character to character and while there are three dominant characters you’ll be playing as in the game, you’ll be taking the perspective of about five characters this time around– some even just for a single level and even once just for the place of a cutscene. The campaign isn’t the longest, normal mode can be tackled in under seven hours and that’s actually counting artificial length from deaths. Even on normal difficulty there are numerous choke points along the way and you might find yourself frustrated. There are check points along the way, but sometimes they may cause inconvenience. One of the scripted timed events actually required me to restart a level entirely due to where I caught the checkpoint. The game does allow you to alter the difficulty at any time, but achievement and trophy seekers won’t want to do that as the only way to unlock them is in the single player campaign.

The campaign’s story is fantastic and there are some truly awesome twists in the game–albeit controversial. There are a few returning characters, namely Soap McTavish who has been promoted to a Captain in the SAS since we saw him last, which in the game’s timeline was five years ago. It doesn’t take long for things to go wrong, but there is no way to detail them without spoiling the setup. Let’s just say that the US tries to stop a Russian terrorist, only to be pinned with the blame. While 2007’s game was controversial in regards to it being a depiction of modern day war and terrorism, the sequel ups the ante. Without going into spoilers or too much detail, the game allows the player to see espionage gone wrong, betrayal, loss and a very dark “what if” scenario. I’m very confident that this game is going to come under heavy flak with the media for its depictions. It certainly achieves what it’s going for and will certainly test your emotions. There are some great legitimate twists, but unfortunately the game ends forgetting about one set of characters and returning to the others with a major cliffhanger almost akin to Halo 2’s. While I was left wanting more, I really wished they had extended the length of the game and tied up a few more loose ends.

The multiplayer hasn’t really changed outside of the addition of new perks, new weapons, new maps and the game feels a bit tighter all around. What I did play on the PS3 ran well and I was able to join a match without any hitches after finding other players. Admittedly, there aren’t too many folks online and the moment (I’ve only been able to plug away a few hours to date), but I’m sure once you dig deeper, there will be new things to find. Off the bat it’s relatively the same. There’s also Spec-Ops mode which, much like firefight from ODST and horde mode in Gears 2 or more recently Uncharted 2’s co-op mode. This feels a lot more like firefight mode from ODST as it takes levels from the campaign and pits you against waves of enemies. Like those other games it allows you to play co-op or single player and like the game’s standard multiplayer you can earn and apply perks to your character–much like in Uncharted 2 recently adopted. It’s also worth noting that Spec-Ops mode is the only way to play co-op in the game as Infinity Ward decided to remove the co-op feature in Campaign to preserve “cinematic integrity”…

The graphics have improved and the game runs at a solid 60 fps with slight slowdown only occurring when engulfed in particle effects. The lighting engine has VASTLY improved and daytime levels don’t look odd now. There’s tons of stuff going on and the environments are huge and most importantly believable. The attention to detail is incredible and has to be seen to be believed. The dismemberment from World at War is gone, but the game now features copious amounts of blood. It’s a great looking game and if you’re a PS3 owner wondering about the visuals, I assure you there is nothing to worry about. The game sounds fantastic, the guys in their audio dept really know their stuff and this sounds like War. The voice acting is pretty good and some of the VAs from Modern Warfare reprise their roles as well as some names like Keith David. Hans Zimmer’s score is good, but unfortunately not memorable. The music takes a backseat however to the sounds of war and really only picks up during some of the vehicle sequences.

Bottom line for this game, if you liked the last Modern Warfare and wanted more, you’re going to love this and you’re probably going to disregard any and all reviews. If you’re expecting a lot of new, you’re going to be let down. If you’re on the fence, it’s a good game and anyone who’s planning on playing the online is going to get tons of bang for their buck and the COD4 community is likely to migrate over to this title. As said the story is excellent this time around and it’s a worthy experience. I personally give the game a recommendation. It’s no GOTY by a long-shot, but it delivers exactly more of what the fans wanted and that’s good enough in my book.

NOTE: I received this game for the Playstation 3 via my own private purchase. The game was not provided by Activision nor have I been asked to write the review by Activision.