Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Reader Review
The hype and first day buzz around this game was really quite exceptional. I happened to be off on release day so pitched up at the local shopping mall at 9am to retrieve my pre-ordered copy. There was a queue with over 100 people snaking through Sainsburys, hoping to take advantage of their generous £26 promotional price. I am not entirely sure why people get so worked up about the COD games. Perhaps it’s because I could never get into the multiplayer. I only recently realized that one of the main reasons that I found COD online so difficult was the total uselessness of the radar. I have red/green colour-blindness so cannot tell friend from foe on the map. I also find COD as a game extremely punitive towards those with inferior internet connections. Nevertheless I recognize that it is extremely popular online and that I am in a small minority in that respect.
My main memory of the first game would have to be the excellent feeling of camaraderie with your SAS buddies. This was down to the fine script and apt casting of the main protagonists. This is built upon in the sequel to good effect. The story started off quite well but then sullied itself with its nonsensical twist which seemed really incongruent in its context.
The level design went from the sublime to the ridiculous in parts. I really enjoyed the Gulag and the Blizzard (ignoring the crappy snowmobile bit) but found the Boneyard and Favela levels to be attritional slogs and sprints - hoping to get lucky by making it to the next invisible checkpoint. I feel you never quite know where you are with IW. Should you methodically cleanse and clear areas, camp and snipe or just peg it. You never quite know whether you will be facing an infinitely re-spawning wave of enemies or not. A repeat playthrough on Veteran showed that the Favela level was not as bad as I had initially thought, after 20 minutes of noisy chaos being shot in the chest, back, head and up the arse simultaeneously. Having some awareness of the scripting and checkpointing certainly helps with the enjoyment.
I felt that the area defence part of the main game was a good idea that could have been implemented better. It would have been nice to have been able to have some time to properly survey your surroundings, assess the strategic points and plan your defences accordingly, inititiating the attack when you were ready, and succeeding or failing by the ingenuity of your actions. In actual fact I think they missed a trick by not setting up the scene properly or giving you enough time to plan your defence. Maybe they preferred to induce a feeling of panic instead.
Checkpoointing can be an issue with these games. At one point having successfully defended the computer I was tasked with retrieving a component - only to be mobbed by about 15 enemies at the same time through 3 different doors. I was re-spawned mid stair with two enemies in the process of shooting the hell out of the computer. That made for 20-30 minutes of repeatedly dying trying to find the precise strategy that would extricate myself from the predicament. I was thoroughly sick of the portentous death screen quotes by the end of that section.
The ‘breaching’ sections were good fun and well implemented. The special ops mode looks great fun if you have someone available to play it with you. It was too difficult for me on my own. Hats off also to IW for the airport scene and daring to push away at the boundaries. That section made me think how good a ‘24’ game could be if the licence made its way into the hands of some developers with vision.
All in all - a very good and polished FPS with a popular online mode. But hardly the second coming of Christ.
8 / 10