Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is the much anticipated follow up to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The game takes place in a near-future situation, 5 years after the events of CoD4. Although the characters have changed, the familiar traits of CoD4 still remain, with a great variety of levels and a fantastic mix of weapons. The story is just as involving and packed full of twists as CoD4 although some of the events do seem slightly recycled. Despite this, the game remains a contender for the game of the year.
The levels and difficulty in Modern Warfare 2 have changed drastically. The difficulty, although the denominators (recruit, regular etc) remain the same the overall challenge of gameplay seems to have been cranked up. Those hails of bullets that were easily passable on CoD4 have become near deadly on Modern Warfare, and I’m only playing on Regular. The AI now seem much more clued up too, sneaking up behind you occasionally and ambushing you on the tighter levels, of which there are a lot more. The levels in the South America consist of close knit shanty towns, known as Favelas, where the streets and side alleys intermingle with the shacks. This provides the civilian-clothed militia a chance to hide amongst the innocent population and take crack shots at you, leaving you completely clueless as to who is shooting you until you see the muzzle flash. The claustrophobic levels also make the game much more frantic when under fire. You find yourself spinning, turning, searching for anywhere that can provide a safe haven from the onslaught of enemy fire cracking over your head and past your ears. The game lets up sometimes, to throw in other elements. Vehicles make their first appearance in a Modern Warfare game, which is obvious as the controls are slightly heavy. As well as vehicle sections, sometimes the game opens up with wider, larger expanses of beautiful graphical design for you to rip up. Huge brick prisons or colossal steel oil rigs all both provide the perfect setting to stage the next world war. The detail on all the levels, big or small, is fantastic and Infinity Ward has really pushed the bar up.
The game isn’t without its faults though. Many of these were thrown up before the game’s released, and even more were PC only. The console versions have quite a few little niggles that, if you take enough notice of them, can really get on your nerves. One of the biggest things, and probably the one that frustrates me most is the blocking of party chat on certain online game types. I can completely empathise with IW on this decision for playlists like Search and Destroy, or Headquarters but I fail to see where it comes into play for things like Team Deathmatch or Domination. I’d much sooner want to talk to people I know in real life, than get shouted at continuously by a guy from down south going ‘YOU LIKE CHIPS AND GRAVY’ or an American yelling ‘YOU LIKE TEA AND CRUMPETS AND SO DOES YOUR QUEENY’. I play the xbox primarily to talk to my friends, play online with my friends and not have connection to them severed whilst I’m playing a game mode that IW determine I can cheat in with party chat. As well as this the amount of recycled moments I have encountered so far is pretty annoying. I am roughly half way through the game (or so my friends tell me) and so far I have seen several events occur that have happened before in the game or in CoD4. In the opening two levels, I came across the same little event twice which frankly to me shouts uninspired. As well as this, a certain big event from CoD4 is thrown in again and the feeling of same old same old begins to creep in.
Fortunately, these niggles on the whole cancel themselves out thanks to the rather amazing guns and gameplay. The gun selection in MW2 is astonishing, dwarfing those of CoD4 considerably, as well as having arguably better guns overall. Many more compact weapons have been produced, increasing gameplay speed as well as making it more important to have a good aim rather than a powerful weapon. The big guns are still accounted for, this is demonstrated by the fact that the legendary Barrett .50 cal is available at level 2 online. Other new incorporations to the game include the duel-wielding of machine pistols, hand guns and some shotguns. Whereas on CoD4 if you ran out of ammo on your primary weapon, you were pretty much out of luck, the new range of secondary weapons, like the shotguns, provide a second chance to better your opponent, beating him with skill rather than weapon capacity. As well as weapons you can equip, the various streak rewards available online should also be mentioned. Previously on CoD4, the streak rewards were set in stone, making them easy to predict and often very easy to avoid. In MW2 the streak rewards are totally customisable with rewards ranging from predator guided missiles and precision airstrikes to AC-130s and, if you are so lucky as to get a 25 kill streak, a nuclear bomb which ends the game when obtained and detonated. Many others are included and have to be unlocked, making for a very varied online experience as you never know who is going to use what kill streak reward when you are planting the bomb on search and destroy for example.
The gameplay of MW2 isn’t vastly different from CoD4 but has been brushed up in a few places. The pace of the game has increased, as previously mentioned. Grenades seem to appear next to you in the blink of an eye, and in much vaster numbers. As well as this, the hails of bullets occur much more often, probably down to the increase in enemy numbers. Every nook, cranny and corner has an Ultranationalist holed up in it, just waiting to rip your brains out with his Desert Eagle. On top of all this, more snipers and RPG AI seemed to have been added, often into closer combat encounters. Every so often though, an angry Russian bloke will pop up, clutching a huge RPG and shove it right up your nose and fire. It’s like suicide bombing with an explosive stick. The word overkill most certainly springs to mind. When the bigger levels with longer range come into play, using the smoke grenade is much more functional than before. Especially with the addition of thermal scopes, smoke grenades are a very efficient way of dispatching large amounts of enemies, simply because once the smoke is deployed they have no idea where you are. Overall, a very welcome addition to the game.
One aspect of the game I am yet to mention is Specops. Specops is a kind of mini-game, where you play various challenges based around the levels of the game. You are awarded stars based on the difficulty you selected at the beginning. The missions are extremely varied and can be completed in co-op which is a great feature. The difficulties do seem a bit too easy though. Just, before I was playing for the first time with my friend, on veteran. We walked the first few levels, with almost no issues at all, and I’m not all that good at this game. It’s a nice addition, but I don’t have much to say about it as it is very similar to the campaign.
One very big talking point that this game has kicked up is all the hoohah surrounding the PC version. The complete removal of dedicated servers, including all the ability to mod as well as the demolition of the in-game console, has in many people’s eyes, completely ruined the PC version of this otherwise wonderful game. They also removed many of the custom features, and hinted at the possibility of paid DLC for the PC, something almost unheard of in PC gaming. Although I know very little about this subject, I’ll put in a few links at the bottom.
Modern Warfare 2 is, in my eyes, the game of the year. The little details they have incorporated into the graphics, the superb mix of weaponry coupled with the intense level design all add together to better its predecessor. Unfortunately several flaws do let it down; possibly knocking it’s potential to be a real historical game. I really do feel that with a bit more common sense and a bit more of a nod toward the gamer rather than their gold plated houses, the game could have been phenomenal rather than just exceptionally good. Maybe with updates in the future, hopefully letting dedicated servers be used, then maybe it will become a real winner. For now, we have to do our best to ignore the faults and make the most of what we have.