Will You Heed the Call?

If you’re like me you have been waiting for the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with a lot of anticipation. You got ticked off when the first trailer for the game came out and it was nothing more than sounds bites and a release date. We wanted more. When the subsequent trailers came out it seemed like was going to be the bomb. It teased us, as a good trailer should, about all the new gadgets and guns that were going to be at our disposal to dispatch the enemy. Well, the time has come. Modern Warfare 2 is here. Now that cooler heads have prevailed, mainly mine, it’s time to take a look at the good and bad of Modern Warfare 2.

First off, the game does not take place immediately after the events of Modern Warfare. I know that a lot of sources, even the packaging for the game, are making this claim, but it’s not true. It takes place five years after the end of the last game. No big deal in the long run.

The storyline for the game is like something out of a Bruce Willis movie on steroids. And just like a Bruce Willis movie, you have to just go with the flow because sometimes the story doesn’t make sense. Why would a massacre at an airport set off World War 3 between the Americans and the Russians? How did Shepard manage to turn the U.S. military against each other and U.N. troops? And we never learn what happens to Sgt. Foley and his team of Army Rangers defending the home front against Russians. I like a good story in my video games. It makes things more interesting and fun. Assassin’s Creed had a stellar story that added to the great play.

The set up is exactly the same as the first game. We bounce back and forth between different locations across the globe and complete different missions as different characters. The game play is the same as the first Modern Warfare and every other edition in the Call of Duty series. The same buttons do the same thing. New players should have no problem learning what each button does.

There have been some changes made to the single player mode. In Modern Warfare  there was an element of stealth involved. The stealth wasn’t on the same level as Splinter Cell, but if you went around running and gunning you would pay the price. There are very few times in part two where stealth comes into play. There is a point in the game when you are trying sneak onto an oilrig, but first you have to take out some guards. Hitting the X button at the right time starts a cut scene where we see the guards being taken out and their bodies being slid into the ocean. With Captain Price, you rappel down a cliff face and dispatch two enemy soldiers at the bottom. There are other times during the game that you start out stealthily, but it always ends in large-scale combat. The sniper rifle is the only other stealth that is utilized in the game. It’s used about the same amount of time as in the first game.

Infinity Ward improved on—and I for one am glad that they did—is the character AI. In the first Modern Warfare we were pretty much on our own. The other characters didn’t give too much support. In Modern Warfare 2, when the shit hits the fan, the computer characters are actually helping you out. Sometimes this doesn’t matter because there is so much chaos going on you can’t tell who is doing what. There are also times when you are left, on purpose, to fend for yourself.

As I mentioned in my opening night article, the graphics are amazing. I didn’t think that graphics could get better than what they were in the first Modern Warfare. Boy, was I wrong. Things don’t get this realistic unless you visit these places in person. Personally, I don’t want to visit the Arctic or Afghanistan so this is as close to being there as I ever want to be. The blood that splatters the screen after you have taken a hit looks real, too real. The draw back to having authentic looking blood splatter is that it tends to obscure the directional arrow making it hard to see where you are being attacked. All in all though, Modern Warfare is a visual treat.

Another nice addition to the game are the resupply points located at certain points in the game. There aren’t a lot of these in the game, but they seem to turn up when you need them the most.

My first big gripe with Modern Warfare 2 is things turn into chaos on a regular basis and the game quickly turns into gunning and running, with a dash of pray and spray. The action that occurs in the favela is a good example. It’s nothing but running and gunning the entire way to the extraction point with militia soldiers appearing out of nowhere. When you have finally downloaded secret information from Markarov’s cabin you are immediately ambushed by soldiers; a lot of them. Once you have fought your way out there are even more soldiers waiting for you in the forest. I tried to fight my way through the smoke a couple of times, but my game ended quickly. If I had a thermal sight on my rifle things might have been different. However, the cabin was overrun before I could find a weapon that had one. The quick fix was to run around the smoke, picking off any enemies that came into sight, and dash to retraction point.

I would have liked to have seen less chaos in the game and more tactics. After all Infinity Ward has said that the Modern Warfare series is as real as it gets (sarcasm intended). You will never see soldiers running around spraying ammo like you are forced to do in Modern Warfare. It gets boring doing the same thing that we did the board before. However, this is what happens when you take out most of the stealth involved in the game. A better mix of the stealth and the chaos, with more use of battle tactics, would have kept the came from becoming repetitive.

Infinity Ward made two big boasts about Modern Warfare 2. They promised that there would be vehicles and they promised new weapons. They weren’t lying, but they weren’t telling the whole truth. We do get to drive two vehicles: a snow mobile and a rib boat. At first it seems fun, but the novelty wears off when you realize that all you will be doing is driving down a hill or down a river. This was not what I was expecting. I was hoping that there would be actual combat vehicles in the game. Heck, in the other Call of Duty games we got to drive a tank and blow stuff up at the same time!

Infinity Ward also included a lot of new weapons. Most of the time the new weapons are almost pointless. It’s too chaotic to look for specific weapons or to even see what the weapon that you are carrying can do. Most of the time, if you see an X button you’re picking up whatever weapon that happens to be on the ground and using it. Attached to some weapons are thermal scopes (you can see enemies as red dots) and heart beat sensors (you can see anyone as dots that appear within range). These are more important than any new weapon because you need them to finish certain levels. Certain boards require that you have these scopes attached to the weapon so Infinity Ward was kind enough to see that we already had them attached. It’s pretty neat to see blips on your scope so that you can sneak around and take the enemy out without being spotted. Oh, wait; these boards also end in mass chaos so the scopes become pointless.

The other problem that I have with Modern Warfare 2 is that it is way too short. Maybe it has to do with the fact that there was nothing new to learn this time around. I know that it has nothing to do with my superior video game skills. If I said that was the case I would be lying. Believe me there are plenty of gamers out there who can run circles around me. The fact is that the game is just plain shorter than its predecessor. It took me less than 6 hours to complete the game on the regular setting.

To be fair, game time may increase when I start to play on the veteran setting and the hardened setting. However, I am willing to bet that a gamer who consistently plays on the hardest settings of a game will still fly through Modern Warfare 2 in a short amount of time.

Overall there is little difference between the single player experience of Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare. It’s not really worth the hype that we were bombarded with for months. However, that’s usually what happens. A company hypes a game so much that when it’s released there is always a feeling of disappointment. This is how I felt when the game ended.

Is it the game of the year? Well, I haven’t played every game that has come out this year, but it is a safe bet that it will at least be the first-person shooter of the year. It’s also a safe bet that if you liked the first one you will like Modern Warfare 2

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