Ever since the overwhelming success of titles such as Doom
or GoldenEye 007
, the FPS genre of gaming has been tweaked and tinkered for 12 years now. First it was movable crosshairs, then sprinting was introduced and soon to follow there was scope zoom, vehicles, cleverer AI and other such features. The first of the Modern Warfare
series from the Call of Duty
franchise was proclaimed as one of the ground breaking legendary FPSs alongside Doom
and GoldenEye 007
, said to have changed the face of the FPS genre once again
Due to the phenomenal success of Infinity Ward’s all out first person shooter: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
, it was hardly surprising when news broke-out that a sequel was well underway in development back in February 2009. After selling over 4.7 million copies on its first day of release many gamers would regard this to be one of the greatest first person shooters of all time. I’ve often wondered myself what all the fuss was about, being the casual gamer that I am. Though I found its predecessor enjoyable, I never found myself succumbing to Modern Warfare
fever. It was fun, but it just never got me hooked. So after setting the new standard amongst most gamers, what does Modern Warfare 2
have to offer? Looks good, sounds good. But does it deliver? And does it introduce anything new to the genre?
When first starting up the game, you’ll be greeted by a menu with three different game modes to choose from: Campaign, Spec Ops and Multiplayer. Let’s check out the option that most casual gamers would look at first; campaign.
Nice 'n' Simple.
Single Player Campaign and Spec Ops
Single player campaign takes players on a military experience all over the world, starting in an almost ruined city in Afghanistan where players will firstly assume the role of Private Joseph Allen, a member of the U.S. Rangers. Fans of the series will notice that the game picks up from where Modern Warfare
1 left off and will quite likely find it more appealing than those who are picking it up for the first time.
After a quick yet effective tutorial you’ll be instantly thrown into the action defending the front lines before entering a jeep armed with a turret gun preparing to mow down enemies that may stand in your way. Amongst all the dust and chaos we took flight through the city before the vehicle fell prey to explosives and toppled over. With the help of the Ai soldiers, you’re then able to fight your way through the city to your fellow comrades in arms where the officer in charge explains how impressed he is with your talents.
It looks beautiful, and game that may demand so much graphically, it ran pretty smoothly on the system I used (See Technical below). The environments themselves look distinguished and suitably colourful and hold a large number of small destroyable objects... like water melons. I get the feeling that the developers could’ve added more destructible objects though – I once witnessed a golf buggy withstand a full artillery strike and remained standing.
The environments that Modern Warfare 2 offers is a delight to the eyes.
After this opening mission is over, a loading screen will subtly appear while you’re waiting to begin the next area. While it is loading however, you’ll be briefed! So there is barely any down time between the missions.
Once the loading in complete, you’ll notice that all of a sudden, you’re no longer the newly beloved Pvt. Joseph Allen, but now taking on the role of Sgt. Gary “Roach” Sanderson as part of the Task Force 141, taking a smoke break on a blizzard covered mountainside partnered alongside the familiar face of Cpt. Mctavish (who was the primary character from Modern Warfare
1) where he’ll quite coolly
tell you that “break time is over “ (pun not intended) before starting to scale the mountain. All of this is done through the work of one’s self, so don’t expect any sort of automated response from your character to kick in until you reach the ledge.
During this mission, you’ll start to experience the more cinematic side to the game. In this case, whilst scaling the mountain, “Roach” will start to fall. As he desperately clings onto his left pick, Mctavish appears from nowhere out of the clouded above to swing you away and throw you back up the mountain. This keeps up throughout the game, as you’ll be climbing up snowy mountains, running through ruined cities and sneaking through jungles, all of which are guaranteed to have a moment where the action is thrown into slow-mo causing some confusion between this and the Matrix for a split second.
Whilst the story telling within the game play is pretty well at times, all of the events that happen between missions can get confusing and hard to follow. You really have to listen out for what’s going on between the briefings and even then there will be a lot of head scratching going on.
Good ol' Mactavish!
Often, a mission simply requires players to get from point A to point B without letting you or your Ai controlled allies getting killed. The game pretty much seems to demand this whilst it also throws in a similar pattern of sending swarms of enemies at you ‘til you either drop dead or escape.
However, the levels themselves are often divided by tasks that don’t require the skills of a first person shooter such as using a snowmobile to escape an entire platoon of Russian soldiers stationed at an airbase that stands on the summit of a mountain caked in ice and snow, so at least Infinity Ward have tried to fit in some variation. These moments do work fantastically, however, not always does this keep up. In my experience, once the action was over, the game struggled to keep up with the peaked level of excitement.
You’ll hit some shocking points in the game as well. It so shocking, that players will be asked if they truly wish to undergo some missions. In particular, the third mission where players enter a Russian airport undercover as a terrorist to mow down the queues of people who just wanted to board their flights. It’s brutal, and I genially felt awful for participating in the desecration. You’ll see people crawling away, slumped against walls and all out just crying for dear mercy. But mercy you cannot give.
See life through the eyes of a bad guy... or death.
Something else that stands out in Modern Warfare 2’s single player modes is the Ai intellect. Using their self made IW 4.0 game engine, Infinity Ward have managed to put together a smart set of Ai that if on the opposing team will actively hunt down the player. Rather than blindly charging into a head on battle with the player, enemies will attempt to track and flank them forcing players to consistently be on the move unless they wish to be surrounded.
This doesn’t however make the friendly Ai any more intelligent than any other typical FPS. You’ll find that your buddies will occasionally walk into your line of sight of even block the way forward. As arrogant as they can be though they do help you take down enemies and occasionally point out hints as to where enemies are hiding, so all is not at a loss.
While your AI friends aren’t always too efficient, you can always rely on your own HUD to get the job done. Nearly everything you need to know about your weaponry and navigation is displayed in the bottom right hand side of the screen. It’s not a cluster mess and it’s easy to read. The ammo meter is displayed by units representing your current clip and a separate number for whatever’s not in your clip. There’s also a compass and an arrow pointing towards your destination, but even so, I was still finding myself getting lost and going around in circles from time to time.
Just as with the previous Modern Warfare - when taking damage, the first person camera gets knocked about depending on which direction you’ve been hit and blood splatters begin to appear in your vision. Players have a stamina meter which will regenerate itself in time when you’ve stopped taking damage. However, the meter itself is never displayed, so players will have to use their own judgement as to how much more damage they can take before they fall in battle. It’s a good feature to make you feel much more involved in the action at hand. The tension certainly rises as you’re character tries to keep his cool through pants and grunts realizing that the next hit could finish him off. When all does seem lost, however, and you do die, you’ll at least have the comfort of a historic quotation that fades into the screen as all goes dark.
Meaningful... but it won't prevent you from dying next time...
As with any modern day FPS game, the only way you’d be able to guarantee a direct hit is if you look down the scope of your weapon. The blur around the edge of the screen when performing this action is a nice little touch, creating a centre point of view to support your focus of what you’re going to be firing at. Accuracy increases if you crouch, and even more when you enter the prone position. But because of the cool down delay between getting into these positions, you may find it easier to just enter scope mode as soon as you can to take down enemies.
Whilst all of this sounds good, it does get tiring and samey. Infinity Ward doesn’t seem to have quite got it right. Maybe it’s the similarity between each level or how taking damage will just disorientate and frustrate the casual gamer. So, unless you’re a hardcore FPS-only gamer, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to put the game down after just two hours of game play if you just stick to the campaign mode.
Not only that, but as you do progress through the story, it starts to make less and less sense. It’s just a headshaking moment that could’ve been easily resolved by a more simplified storyline. Infinity Ward, by the looks of it, wanted to create a movie like game. But in the end, it’s just too much to handle and overly complex. While the cool first person cinematic parts keep you wanting more, if you’re a gamer who plays for some serious plot development you’re just not going to get it from here.
However, if you have the determination to complete the campaign mode it should take you around 6 hours on the regular difficulty, though you could probably dig out an extra few hours by increasing the game difficulty.
With that out of the way, we’ll now quickly look at the Spec Ops mode.
There isn’t too much to say about Spec Ops. It’s simple and fun. It’s a mode that basically allows players to take on short missions either on their own or with a friend. Often, these missions will involve tasks that are used during the campaign mode with a set time limit. Just like campaign though, it can get a bit repetitive and samey.
Spec Ops is much better when you’ve got a friend to play it with though. Some missions can only be done with a friend and without a shadow of a doubt; they are the best of the package. One mission places one player in an outdoor facility while the other must provide cover from the skies. Or if you’re sick of shooting, there’s always the snow mobile time trial race.
Moments like this really make the campaign!
This leads us into the final, and in my opinion the best, of the three game play modes – Multiplayer.
The multiplayer is truly where Modern Warfare 2
takes flight. Online multiplayer makes a return with 8 game types that gamers can sink their teeth into to begin with. As in the first Modern Warfare
, players can also work their way through a ranking system, whilst unlocking achievements to earn extra experience points and eventually upgrading their weapons, special abilities, titles and even additional game modes for the more experienced players. On top of that, downloadable content is also available, though it comes at an additional price often at £10 per map pack upon release.
A problem that most FPS games tend to have is the balance between certain elements of the game play in multiplayer. Although Modern Warfare 2
does a fantastic job of trying to eliminate this problem, there are still moments that are severely unfair and frustrating, in particular the explosives. If a player spends enough time online, claymores and grenade launchers become available creating an outrageous advantage over some of the newer players who are still using their petty standard issued machine guns. Adding to this, after racking up a number of kills without dying, then some extreme abilities become available such as summoning a chopper to do the player’s bidding of ripping the enemy team apart from the skies offering absolutely no chance for the copter-less team to start making a comeback. This is only really a minor occurrence though.
The achievement system is a returning addition to the game. The difference I found between this game’s achievements and other game’s is that you’re consistently being awarded as you play, even if you suck! There were moments where I was dying without taking a single kill 3 or 4 times in a row. However, when I got to my fifth death, I was given a nice pat on the back by the game for doing notoriously bad and thus awarded with sweet, sweet experience points. Hell, I even got an achievement for clumsily falling several feet off a ledge and surviving with just a pair of near-to-broken legs to keep me going. While this may seem like a stupid implement to the game, it actually works very well, encouraging players to keep playing despite their appalling efforts.
The online game play is a huge step up from the single player. The maps are widely varied and offer a vast amount of exploration. Players never have a set spawning location; instead they spawn as far away from enemy players, usually as a team. No one is scattered and you’ll never feel too alone. The wide selection of weapons and perks allow gamers add unique touches to their characters whilst online. If you are going to buy Modern Warfare 2
, do it for the multiplayer.
Hard Drive Space: 16GB Free Hard Drive Space
Operating System: XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7
Processor: AMD 64 3200+ or Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz or better
RAM: 512MB RAM (XP) / 1GB RAM (Vista)
Video Card: Shader 3.0 or better 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6600GT / ATI Radeon 1600XT
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.20GHz
RAM: 4GB Corsair PC3-12800 RAM
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 5670 1GB Graphics Card
320GB Samsung Spinpoint HDD
Motherboard: Gigabyte MA770T UD3P
Weaker systems may struggle.
As you may be able to tell from the images, Modern Warfare 2
demands a lot visually, meaning that those with weaker graphic cards may struggle to get the game to run smoothly. With all kinds of chaos happening on screen and detailed this is hardly surprising. Although the video settings can be tinkered with, I highly recommend using a powerful system. Using the system as stated above, the game ran very smoothly with an average of 50-60 FPS (frames per second). The only slow down that ever occurred was during moments where there were far too many explosions on screen. And even then, it was barely noticeable.
Modern Warfare 2
is for sure an all out FPS game that offers the most first person cinematic experience you can probably get from any game currently. The single player does seem relatively disappointing though. I mentioned at the start of this review that I’d never succumb to the first Modern Warfare
and I feel the same towards the single player mode on this game. It looks cool, but perhaps it’s trying too hard to be cool. When the game does start to show itself off, each level seems to have a peak of excitement that is never really maintained. It gets dull, samey and pretty boring after a while. The story line doesn’t really help matters with its confusing mind bending plot.
However, multiplayer is a whole new level that will leave you craving for more as soon as you stop playing. It’s fun, lasting and challenging even for the experts. If you’re going to buy this game, do it for the multiplayer over anything else.
Infinity Ward managed to make a big name for themselves with the development of the first Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
game. With the arrival of Modern Warfare 2
they’ve managed to successfully maintain that well deserved reputation.
Game Play – Well thought out approach to the FPS genre with effective controls that don’t get too confusing. But can become frustrating when consistently taking damage or dying, especially in the campaign mode. While the controls and game play are great in multiplayer, campaign is ultimately a bit of a disappointment in comparison. - 7/10
Sounds and Music – Some weapons sound a little weird from time to time and don’t really feel satisfying to fire. The music used throughout the game though, even in multiplayer, really makes you feel like you’re part of the action. The voice acting is a little dodgy from time to time, but it’s plausible. – 7/10
Visuals – The visuals are great, superb even. Infinity Ward clearly put a lot of thought into how they wanted players to see the war torn world they’d created. Both model and environment detail are done with some accurate precision. – 8.5/10
Lasting Appeal – The single player won’t last too long with only 6 hours of game play available during a single run of the story mode, though Spec Ops mode and extended difficulty modes add something else to solo play. Multiplayer will last you weeks, months or even years! And with the downloadable content, you’ll always have something new at your disposal. – 10/10