I’ve remembered a number of large game launches in my many years of being alive and into video games. Sonic 2 was a huge event – a sequel to a bonefide classic. Mortal Kombat was the first time the news channels sat up and noticed (though for all the wrong reasons). Final Fantasy VII was huge, as was Metal Gear Solid & Grand Theft Auto – Vice City. However none of them pale in comparison to the sixth and most eagerly anticipated game released in the Call of Duty series – Modern Warfare 2.
It’s a direct sequel to the 4th game (the first Modern Warfare title), and was a bit of a slow burn hit if I can recall. I picked it up a year or so after it was released, and whilst I wasn’t instantly hooked, I persevered up to a point when I was: the single player mode was epic, with likeable characters & a storyline which actually didn’t suck meant that it was engraved in everybody’s memories when they played it. The missions were also incredibly varied, and had just the right amount of twists in it – everybody remembers the nuke, for example.
Modern Warfare 2 picks up the story 5 years after. Following the events of the last game, the Russian ultra-nationalists – lead by Vladimir Makarov, have secured a position in power in Russia, and it’s up to the US Army (lead by General Shepherd), and the “We’re the SAS Really” Task Force 141 lead by first game protagonist “Soap” McTavish to generally eliminate him and make all well with the world again. That’s the story, but there are a number of twists along the way which’d spoil the story, so instead, the focus of this review will be on the single & multiplayer modes.
Single campaign wise there’s two things people have said about it. Firstly the writers seem to like Nicholas Cage films a fair bit, as there are a number of scenes in the game that reminisce the films staring the world’s most average actor. They mainly nod to “The Rock”, with a shower fight scene & a ‘green flare’ scene. The second thing is that the game moves at a fair pace, which is a great thing as it’s all action, but terrible as you will finish the single campaign in around 5 or 6 hours.
On completion, there’s no real point to play the campaign again, but instead people who don’t fancy braving online mode can still get their thrills from Special Ops Mode, which is a number of one off missions, where you have to complete certain objectives to the best of your ability. Some are pretty straightforward, others are stupidly tough, however they offer variety to single player mode, with some of the more popular & memorable segments from the first 2 games getting extended missions here.
Onto multiplayer, and the game really excels in this segment. Multiplayer was the defacto way to play the first game, and this section has been expanded on greatly. New game modes include Capture the Flag (which is easily my favourite) and third person mode (which is stupidly tough), there are more weapons including the riot shield, javelin missiles and dual wielding small weapons, meaning that the secondary weapons are a lot of use, rather than just afterthoughts. There’s a lot more perks, some of my favourites include Scavenger, which allows you to restock your weapons from dead enemies, and Hardline, which decrease the amount of killstreaks to get rewards.
Speaking of Killstreaks, there are now a whopping 15 different killstreaks to unlock, from the old favourites the UAV at 3 kills, to the Tactical Nuke at 25 kills. You assign 3 to yourself depending on your skill. Of course, better players would try and land the tactical nuke (which is impressive), but by and large most people will stick at the lower killstreaks. If you are rubbish, you can also get death streaks, which is added health & martyr bombs.
So what it is like to play? In one word – epic. The short single mode is the only way I can fault this game. It’s an extremely polished first person shooter with likeable characters, great voice acting, great score, balanced weaponry, and is genuinely a game for the ages. The multiplayer mode has expanded on what was already brilliant, and the Special Ops mode is a nice addition as well.
It’s also a lesson in games growing up. Part of the controversy on release was one level – a massacre in an airport. After playing the level, it’s probably the most brutal level in the game, but it is very cleverly done so rather than feel pride in what you have done, you feel – dare I say – remorseful. It also makes you hate the bad guys, and explains a lot of the story. If you have seen a film such as – say – Black Hawk Down, it’s fine to play. What was nice on release was that rather than cry foul, large swathes of the media turned around and said “we want to play this, as it’s no worse than films.”, have games become such big business that people start taking gamers seriously? I for one, do hope so.
This won’t be for everybody’s tastes. It’s not going to convert everybody who hates first person shooters, but if you only have 2 FPS’s in your game library, make sure it’s the first game, and this. It’s an epic game. Buy it if you already haven’t.