Modern Warfare 2 annoyed me before it had even landed on the shelves. First came Activision’s arbitrary price increase across all platforms, which made all gamers of the world grind their teeth in anger. Then Infinity Ward announced the PC version would not support dedicated servers, sparking an online petition signed by over 200,000 people, including myself.
Despite the cynical corporate bastardry preceding the game’s release, I must admit it is another stunningly designed slice of bombastic entertainment from Infinity Ward. It is not, however, the return of that bearded bloke with holes in his extremities which Activision’s colossal hype machine would have you believe.
Set five years after the events of Modern Warfare, the demise of Über-Terrorist Imran Zakhaev at the hands of “Soap”MacTavish has not made the world a better place. Zakhaev has become a martyr in the eyes of his native Russia, and his right-hand man Vladimir Makarov is causing chaos around the world. Such is the premise for newly created Task Force 141 to cause further chaos as they try to track Makarov down. While the plot is decent in theory, it is shoddily executed. Much of the story is insufficiently explained, resulting in many of the “twists”making little apparent sense without perusing Wikipedia.
This doesn’t stop the game from being some of the best fun you can have without a water-based lubricant. The gunplay is as exhilarating as ever, with an huge array of weaponry on offer alongside some wonderful new toys such as the Predator drone, a remote-controlled aerial missile. Although the pacing is better than the first game, there are still certain “hard points,” where it overwhelms you with endlessly spawning enemies. In particular, battling through the Favela in Rio de Janeiro will have you punching your screen in aggravation. True to form, Modern Warfare 2 stuffs dazzling set-pieces into your eyes like ocular Malteasers, the scaling of a crumbling ice-shelf in the second mission being one of my personal favourites.
Again though, these occurrences are so frequent that you occasionally wonder how much you’re actually playing the game. Also, there’s everyone’s favourite controversy stirrier “No Russian” (see “‘That’ Level”) of which I shall say nothing other than it made me blink, and that’s a lot of emotion coming from someone who happily murdered the Little Sisters in Bioshock.
Although longer than its prequel, the new single-player campaign remains frustratingly short. The multiplayer, however, could potentially provide years of enjoyment, with an absurd amount of achievements and unlockables, perks and killstreaks (including control of a harrier jump-jet). Getting started can be tough, as established players who have an array of perks have a distinct advantage, though random perk drops go some way to solving the problem.
For the less competitive player there’s also the spec-ops mode, 30 short missions that can be undertaken with a friend. Special mention goes to the divine “Overwatch” mission, where one player must protect his grounded companion using an artillery-laden Spectre aircraft. This mode is enormously enjoyable, and hopefully what Modern Warfare 2 will be remembered for.
Modern Warfare 2 effectively feeds us more of the same, albeit with jucier cherries on top, and after two years sitting in the fridge there’s a slight whiff of cheese emanating from it. Bearing in mind that the original was an action packed masterpiece, slightly-off Modern Warfare still tastes pretty darn good.