“Running around through Rio’s shanty towns like a fish in a barrel is pretty cool. There’s one mission that’s deep in the Russian “arctic.” That one is pretty frikkin’ amazing. There’s also a complete nod to Red Dawn where you’re basically defending Apache Burger (famous Toronto after-club burger joint) and Tim Horton’s (famous blue-collar Canadian donut and coffee franchise) or, at least their equivalent in small-town USA, from an invading Russian army…“
Japer’s email hit my inbox like a grenade, all excited exposition and intense imagery, in such a way that I could barely identify the subject he was speaking of. Not because Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was foreign to me, but because his experience with the game was so different from mine. In fact, Japer’s swiftly written narrative was likely superior to that of the game I played.
Yes, I speak of that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – the one that sold 4.7 million copies in one day; the game Fox News described as a terrorist simulator; the game that seems destined for “game of the year” if sales and hype have anything to do with its ranking.
Full disclosure: I’m a newbie at this.
I’m an old-school gamer and as such remember (and enjoyed) when controllers had 8 buttons and the function of each made sense. The control scheme and button-mapping in CoD:MW2 differs (though only slightly) from the standards set by other shooters, but enough so that often times my on-screen counterpart would flay about as I tried to remember what button needed to be pressed to use the knife, jump or duck. Running was never a problem, thankfully. The game comes with an excellent tutorial. I suggest you run through it more than once.
Flaying aside, CoD:MW2 is a competent shooter but it just doesn’t feel immersive – though not for lack of trying on the developers part. Where CoD:MW2 falls down is in the story it tries to relate versus the action players encounter.
War is hell. The battlefields in CoD:MW2 are sprawling and detailed, teaming with enemies and allies all screaming something urgent in languages you may or may not understand. It’s all highly chaotic especially if you’re used to the stick-to-cover style shooters like Gear’s of War or Drake’s Fortune. This could be considered one of the game’s strengths as it’s probably truer to what actual warfare is really like. Your enjoyment may vary dependant on how well you react to the chaos. I often found myself racing through an area, survival instinct ablaze, trying to get away from the pandemonium and find a place to breath and measure the battlefield.
The game whizzes from locale to locale, set piece to set piece – so fast that there isn’t time to know who you’re playing or why. From Russia, to Brazil, to Afghanistan to the good ol’ US of A, you fight globally – but die repeatedly. You control multiple characters throughout the game, so growing attached to one of them can be difficult. While other shooters enamour you to the characters you play with story and plot, slowly building a affinity with their struggle, CoD:MW2 throws a gun in your hand and pushes you into the fray.
In this way, the first game in the series was superior. The story was completely engrossing. I had a sense of the people whose guns I was aiming and the interactive storytelling was more compelling. This isn’t surprising as this game, being a sequel to the first, re-uses many of the same characters. It’s not until the end where things start to crystallize and protagonist and antagonist start to take shape with purpose. Though the “why’s” are fuzzy, you begin to marvel at the “what’s.” You will also see Optimus Prime (or at least hear his voice) in a completely different light. But by that point the tale is all but told and outside of a grizzly finish, you’re done and off to the other modes of play in order to continue to get your CoD fix.
CoD:MW2 s a beautiful game with thrilling backdrops and wondrous locals but in an age where more and more videogames are blurring the line between entertainment and art, this world-spanning game is exactly that – no more immersive than monopoly for all it’s action and flare.
If you buy CoD:MW2 it should be for the online play…where you can punish newbies like me.