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Dreamweaver avatar 10:50 PM on 07.28.2010  (server time)
Modern Warfare 2 review

Till the roof comes off, till the lights go out, till my legs give out, can't shut my mouth'

Modern Warfare 2 is obviously one of the most anticipated games of the year, with it selling more games than what GTA4 did in its first week as well as hit movies like Harry Potter and the Dark Knight. However, is it worth the hype, or is the fans making it much more glamorous than it needs to be?

Story and presentation
To start things off, the story in this game is much stronger than it was in the first game. 5 years after the events of Modern Warfare 1, you'll be in the boots of Gary 'Roach' Sanderson, the FNG of the newest joint operations group Task Force 141, commanded by none other than Captain 'Soap' MacTavish himself. Although giving you a full list of playable characters will spoil some of the things, you will be jumping perspective of 5 different characters named Roach, Joseph Allen/ Alexei Borodin, James Ramirez, Sat 1, and Soap himself all with their own levels and objectives (except for the 4th one). However, just because there's more bodies around doesn't necessary mean a better story (for a more definite example, compare Michael Bay's Transformers 1 to 2). It does mean however that there's plenty of surprises in store.

While not necessary a spoiler, after Zakhaev's death in Modern Warfare 1, a man named Vladimir Makarov organized the biggest terrorist spree ever to hit Russia and manages to blame it all on America. How and whys would be considered a spoiler, but every scene done in this game is in first person, which means that you're not only seeing the events happen, you're in the event, and although you get minimal control over your character, watching the scene unfold in front of your eyes is definitely the highlight of the story. You'll feel every emotion from joy, anger, and even depression as you play this game simply because the story is that good.

What could've been better done is the main menu design. Instead of one menu that has everything like the first game, there are 3 menus for each of its game types: Campaign, Multiplayer, and Spec Ops. Each is represented by a picture and once you click on one, you'll be taken to a different menu, although when I say different I really just mean its own version of the same menu stuff. The design is bland compared to other games, and even worse compared to the first game, but since you'll be spending less time here, it's all for the better.

Despite what the trailers indicate, every "cut-scene" is in first person view of your character

What's still not changed from Modern Warfare 1 is the "briefing" loading screen/ video that you get to watch between missions.... at least some of them. Thankfully, the cut-scenes do vary just a tiny bit, and they won't show a video ALL the time, but seeing these things instead of in game interactivity like what was done in GRAW 2 (where you see the news and mission briefing on a camera on the way to a mission), you'll still be twiddling your thumbs as you wait for the next explosion to occur. At least this time you have a better reason for doing these missions instead of the half assed plot in Modern Warfare 1, but as nice the videos are, they get old.

Game play
If you remember that (default controls) L1/ Trigger is aim and R1/ Trigger is shoot, then you basically got the game down pat. There's almost no new controls needed in this game despite the new goodies you got. Picking up a sentry turret is as easy as pressing X/ Square and walking, and calling in air strikes and predator missiles are just the same as hitting the D-pad. You're still basically shooting through waves of enemies, but at least they're not unlimited.

Enemies aren't much smarter than they were in MW1, so you'll still be gunning down enemy fodder, but at least with the new gadgets it'll be more fun. Using a predator missile is extremely fun: you simply activate the laptop by pressing the D-pad (note that you're vulnerable as this happens) and control the missile to hit marked enemies from a first person perspective of the missile. It's a hoot to use, but you'll rarely get them unless you're beast in multiplayer, but they're fun when you get them, provided you don't get killed before then. It's also usable in campaign during certain missions like Wolverine, which was one of my favorites.

Even though the game play hardly changed, the environments sure did: from the snow-capped mountains in 'Cliffhanger' to the detailed airport in 'No Russian' to even storming Washington D.C. in 'Of their own accord' all provide beautiful set pieces with scripted events o' plenty. From the bland 'defend this position until they get too close' objective to dodging falling helicopters, you'll always be doing something different, but even though they still consist of gunning someone down, you'll like how Infinity Ward at least attempted mission variety.


The Heart Beat sensor: THE most kick ass attachment ever

Obviously, the multiplayer is the heart of the game, regardless if you play split-screen on the couch or over the internet over Live/ PSN. The campaign is short, so much of your life will now consist of trying to rank up to level 70, and then prestiging to do it all over again (optional). Much like the last game, you shoot guns to rank up to earn better guns to kill people with. And although attachments were included last year, there's plenty of new, creative attachments to strive for, like the mini radar that detects enemy heart beats, the full metal jacket (that gives bullets more punch), and rapid fire (I don't need to explain this).

It's worth mentioning that now the game is more balanced with the inclusion of the perks systems, which have all been revamped. If you hated the juggernaut perk before that made players in a fair fight nearly invincible or the martyrdom perk that made knife kills useless, be glad to know that they reserved it for the sucky players: A new system called the death streaks called people to get perks that'll give them a slightly better edge, but only if they died enough times in a row without a kill. Now, the painkiller perk is a death streak that's only given to one who died 3 times without dying as well as the martyrdom perk, and they both become disabled as soon as they get a kill (although not until the next enemy life).

So what if you don't suck? Then welcome to the world of 'kill streaks' which is far much better than last game's: instead of just getting a UAV, airstrike, and then a helicopter, you can get new goodies like a Harrier jet, a predator missile, and even be able to control the guns of an AC-130. And don't worry about everyone getting these as they're only really used by people who get like 8 kills without dying. In case you're like me and you're not good, but you're not bad either, then there's a goodie for you too: a 4 kill kill streak will give you a care package that will randomly any one of the goodies (except the nuke... yes, a nuke). Nothing is better than getting back at the best player in the game by getting that lucky AC-130 bonus from a care package.

Yes, you can haz rockets in the game

In case you think that it's totally unfair, there is a small reprieve: provided that you're a high enough level, you can get launchers like an ATH-4S or a Stinger to shoot down most of these kill streak bonuses. While UAVs are small enough to shoot down with an ATH-4S, bigger things like a Pave low, a low flying helicopter, will need the punch of a stinger missile. And nothing is more satisfying than shooting down a Harrier RIGHT when it comes into the field, especially when you get acknowledged for it: One of the best things in multiplayer is the call signs.

What's a call sign? Simply put, you get to pick a title that you earned and an emblem to show yourself off. While it's strictly cosmetic, and can even reveal your profession (guess what gun a player with the title 'ghillies in the mist' will use?), it's definitely nice to stand out from the crowd. Even better, whenever you do anything substantial like get a pave low or shot one down, on the top right hand corner it'll showcase your call sign and commend you for it. And if that wasn't enough, if you get the game winning kill, then the game will show a record of the last 5 seconds leading up to the kill, and it's a perfect time to show off (like this video: Modern Warfare 2 Knife Throw)

Spec Op
In case you don't want to kill your players, you can team up with them in this new game mode, although be warned: there is no online play aside from inviting a friend. However, if you have a friend online or off, then this mode will provided small chunks of fun. Basically put, it's a collection of mini-mission like the 'Mile High Club' in the first game (which oddly isn't here). You run through them with a friend on a chosen difficulty and if you die, you'll have to start the whole thing over unless someone revives you. Although the missions aren't as long as the campaign, a definite downside seeing as how World at War was almost full co-op, it's still nice to run and gun enemies with a friend, provided you weren't doing that during multiplayer.

Final notes

Hope you can run

Is this the greatest game ever made? No, I still find classics like Shadow of the Colossus superior, but to say that this game isn't good is a lie: This game is better in almost every way. Sure, what happens to select characters were interesting to see, but it got old after the 2nd one, not to mention the 3rd time around. The controversial airport scene was a nice treat and it was implemented nicely, but it was a one trick pony: no satisfaction comes playing this level repeatedly. And if I must nitpick one thing, it's the horrible ending that almost all sequels games have. While the fight was climatic for the characters, it paled in comparison to the last mission 'Game over' in the first game. Seriously, it even ended in a cliffhanger. What the hell? All in all though, online was still good, Spec Ops is a nice addition, albeit a small addition, and even though the ending of the campaign sucked, the ride to the end (as in the rest of the campaign) is just too epic for words RIP Ghost, Allen, Ghost.

Graphics ---- 8.5
-Graphics are notable almost the same, they just bumped up textures, lighting, etc. Still, the time they saved on making a new graphic engine to work on other aspects of the game was well worth it, and MW1 was a nice looking game.

Sound ------- 9.0
-The score is nice, especially the scene mentioned in the spoiler above, and the voice acting was definitely top notch as they had famous people in it, like the dude who played Private Jackson in Saving Private Ryan (in this game, he's Cpl. Dunn) and 50 Cent (although he's seldom heard).

Controls ----- 8.0
-The same as before: decent.

Fun Factor --- 9.0
-There's just too many wow moments in this game that it'll make your head spin. Sadly, once you boil it down, that's all the campaign has going for it. Multiplayer is still nice provided that you don't suck TOO much.

Final Verdict - 9.0
-To recommend this game to you is like asking you to breathe: You just gotta do it. I mean, if you don't have online, you may wanna reconsider unless you got 3 friends and 4 controllers. And if you don't plan to spend your whole life online, then just rent it as campaign is too short to recommend as a stand along title. Still, Spec Ops definitely gives this game an edge.

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