Product Type: Activision Xbox 360 games
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360)
Date: 24/11/09, updated on 24/11/09 (67 review reads)
Advantages: Features the best CoD campaign in ages, with a thought-provoking story and improved gameplay.
Disadvantages: Some may find it was overhyped, and thus disappointing.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Since it was announced, I've been getting slightly irritated with Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (MW2). It has recieved so much hype since its showing at E3 this year. I mean on the back of the box it says 'the decade's most anticipated game'. I just couldn't buy it, because at the end of the day, we've been having a Call of Duty game each year since around 2003, so why is this one supposedly so big considering none of the previous games actually changed much in terms of their gameplay, just catched up with the times with sprint or chucking back grenades. So why should I care about MW2? Well, I have to say it actually has some serious improvements which actually make it a pretty fantastic game, but is it really the game of the decade?
The area which I was shocked with most was the story. After a stylish recap at the begining of the game, you are put five years into the future after the events of Call of Duty 4. After the death of the main antagonist from the first game, his follower Makarov is out for revenge. It's up to the soldiers of several units of Task 141 to take him down. In the process, a war is started, many are killed and there are some very shocking betrayals and discoveries. It's a very interesting story which, while never helps you feel attatched to some characters, makes you hate and love others. It's a very intense and nerve racking plot which is explosive until the last knife is thrown. And don't think the story isn't going to shock you-one level in particular is so disturbing that it asks if you want to skip it before you start it, because it frankly is quite sadistic.
MW2 plays a lot like its predecessors. The game uses the now typical auto-assist aiming, where pushing the left trigger will lock onto the nearest target. Some say it's cheating but it does mean you can take out the multiple enemies you'll face without snapping your controller. You can also go prone and all the other typical moves of a first-person shooter. There are some innovations in the form of new weapons, like the riot shield which shakes up gameplay as new tactics are born, but the core gameplay isn't that different from previous games or other FPS games on the market. It's pretty much just killing whoever gets in your way.
However, the campaign mode is arguably one of the best in years. Call of Duty has been infamous for invisible walls blocking you down a specific path, but with Modern Warfare 2, there is rarely a moment, if not any, where invisible walls block your path. There's just more freedom to play, for example, in one of the first levels there is a huge blizzard which hides you from any guards nearby meaning you can either opt for hiding and saving the risk of death or go in guns blazing-it's up to you. Even when there is a clear objective, each level is much more spacious meaning there's more freedom in battle and one person's fight will be different to anothers. This is especially true when random but balanced weapons are thrown around on the field.
Of course Modern Warefare 2 maintains the intense firefights of the previous games. Huge fights with bullets flying around from everywhere will blow your speakers away. Even smaller scale battles are intense, for example there's one fight where you are in a dark tunnel where the new night vision googles aren't exactly effective, meaning you have to rely on seeing the other terrorists laser sights and hoping they don't see you first. And some of the intensity comes from being unable to fire, where you must sprint across a street and their rooftops to escape a town where all the citizens want to blow your face off. It's safe to say that, with the combination of different objectives, vehicle sections (like the often shown snowmobile section, which is just the cherry on top) and more, the campaign is varied and fun.
Unfortunately there are some issues. While there is usually more than one other soldier with you at once, there are no squad commands which could have shaken up the game considerably, though to be fair this isn't a tactical shooter. The other major issue with the campaign is that it is rather brief, like CoD4. Though there are more missions than the first game (18 here, around 10 or more on CoD4) they are shorter in length meaning the campaign is around the same length. Veteran difficulty, which is the easiest in CoD history, doesn't actually help extend the value much though there are a couple of irritating situations. But it's clearly obvious that you can take more damage though because of a more open level structure enemy placement can be sporadic. Despite these flaws, the campaign is probably the best Call of Duty campaign yet.
The newest mode introduced into MW2 is Spec Ops. This is basically replacing the co-op campaign and Nazi zombies from World at War, but it's a pretty fab replacement. Each mission is built for two players which is the player cap. There are 23 missions, and each has a star rating which is earned either by playing on Veteran or in some cases getting a good score. The mission design is fantastic from sneaking past groups of patrols on a snowy mountain to making your way through lots of enemies on a bridge. Its clear co-op was in mind because single player is incredibly tough on Hardened and Veteran. To earn all 69 stars you'll have to complete every mission with three stars, and to those attempting it, I wish you good luck as it requires true coordination and cooperation.
Of course the reason why CoD4 was so big is its multiplayer component. It's one of the best suites in the buisness and was meagerly copied into World at War with no improvements. That's far from the case compared to MW2's multiplayer. It's the same sort of thing as CoD4, you can play split-screen, system link or over Xbox Live with modes like Team Deathmatch, Sabotage and Search and Destroy. There are some new modes like Capture the Flag but it's not much different than Domination. The biggest changes come in the form of character customization.
Like before, after ranking up several times you can customize your class with your choice of weapons. There are some shifts in that as now there are more secondary weapons like shotguns and sub-machine guns, and the perks system return as you can choose perks like more health, more bullet damage etc. But the new features come in the form of deathstreaks and custom killstreaks. You can choose perks which trigger when you die several times in a row like Painkiller which gives you a temporary health boost for about ten seconds to help flagging players. Custom kill streaks let you choose what you are rewarded with when getting a three, four and five kill streak. These include a 15 kill streak rewarding an EMP bomb, or a 25 kill streak rewarding a nuke. The lower kill streaks are easier but the bigger ones have a large reward. Just like before, the lag is almost non-existant and the game, while similar to CoD4 and WaW, is improved very well.
It's also more satisfying to play, for example if you get the final kill, the game recaps that kill in slow motion for everyone else to see which can be gratifying, but lame if you are on the end of the gun. Each player can also customize their badge and brand, meaning each player can be unique with some funny emblems to express your personality online. If you don't dig it, however, then you may find MW2 to be light on content with its six hour campaign and spec-ops which is fun but won't last forever if you're skilled. If you dig it, you won't stop playing. Other improvements like picking a new host when someone quits or is disconnected makes the experience an improvement-just don't try the new third-person mode-it frankly sucks.
The graphics are incredible. Taking the already stunning graphics engine from CoD4 and making it 10 times better was the way to go. The lighting engine is incredible with fantastic rain and weather effects. The characters are animated very well and have more detail than CoD4 though pixelated shadows can hurt the models. The levels are spacious and fantastically detailed, like the market place flooded with stalls and live chickens which you can kill. It's clear the violence has been increased, with some scenes being quite disturbing. But it's just an evermore realistic depiction of what war is like, so it's not over the top. The sound is also great, with stellar voice work from everyone and the orchestral music swells perfectly when neccersarry.
Is Modern Warfare 2 good, bad or ugly?
It's a shame that this game got so hyped up before its release because it's made me skeptical before its release. But don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic sequel with a much improved campaign which doesn't force you down a path as much as previous CoD games and features one of the most shocking stories I've seen in a while. The new spec ops mode is a great co-op diversion which actually requires co-op, and while the multiplayer isn't drastically changed from CoD4, new improvements like host migration and custom killstreaks make it worth playing over CoD4. If you've never been into CoD then this won't change your mind but huge fans of CoD4 musn't hesitate, it's just that it's been overhyped to be the greatest thing on Earth when it's merely a stellar shooter which doesn't actually innovate a great deal.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released on November 11th, 2009 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. It is rated 18+ for strong, bloody violence and can be bought for prices from less than £30 to up to £50.
Summary: Modern Warfare 2 is finally here, and boy it does kinda kick ass.
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