Video Games – Gut Reaction: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Michelle’s View – Not so Great

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Playtime – 5 Hours.

I finally got a chance to play Modern Warfare 2 today and I have to say, so far I’m disappointed, I only played the first four levels and plan on beating this game before I do a full review but my initial reaction – meh. It’s gorgeous and so polished that it feels a bit "lifeless." The first three levels sets up the story and shows how you get recruited for Special Ops. In the first mission you are a Soldier tasked with storming a base (lots of base storming so far). I’m not sure what the objective of this level was. I was just shooting some nameless, faceless enemies that are so far away that you never actually see what you are shooting at. Next, I was in an armored vehicle shooting up some Middle Eastern village, I didn’t know why I was doing it, I just was. The problem here again is the village looked amazingly real but once again I couldn’t tell who I was shooting at. Just pulled the trigger, sprayed and prayed I’d hit something. The idea of the opening level is to give a sense of how frenetic things are going to become.

In Level Two you join an elite Special Forces group and have a mission in some Snow covered place in a non-descript country looking for some doodad. The level starts off weird with a 3rd person view as you climb an ice mountain. After that your job is to storm a hanger in the snow – all stealth like with a silenced machine gun. The snow drifts looked beautiful. I could barely make out my enemies, the minute I saw their shadows in the drifts, I picked them off. There’s a great moment where your partner gets surrounded and you are forced to go to plan B which is to blow up the fuel dump as a distraction. You get away by jumping on the Snowmobile for an extended chase sequence. The controls are about what you’d expect here, a little flaky. This is another great set piece but, again, I can’t tell who I’m shooting at or even why.

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After this you get more back story on your recruitment into undercover Ops. The next mission is the infamous mall shooting and I have to say, I’ve seen a lot of weird, strange, things in video games, but this really did shock me. This is the first level of the game where you can clearly make out what’s going on, who you are shooting, and the game forces you to do it as you slowly walk through the Mall just killing everyone in sight. When you finally get killed at the end of it, I was just glad the level was over. In the first MW game, I felt connected to everything that was going on, I was truly shocked and kind of sad when my character got nuked – especially after all the hassle I went through to save that darn girl. Here, I just didn’t care.

This entire set piece, while stunning, is completely unnecessary. They could have just mentioned it happening, showed a quick 30 second cut scene. Did we really have to play an entire level in virtual slow motion? At the beginning of the game you do have the option to skip all "objectionable" levels, so clearly the Infinity Ward knew they would touch nerves with this. This is red meat for anyone who doesn’t like video games. The point of this level is to show you why the Russians eventually invade the US.

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After this you are shooting up a Village full of militia trying to capture some guy. I have no idea who this guy is, why we’re trying to capture him alive, or anything. I’m assuming he has information on the Russian Mall attack but that’s never made clear in the game – unless it’s mentioned during the cut scenes – which I tuned out. Whoever is doing the narration in this game is TERRIBLE, he sounds exactly like Vin Diesel. I just can’t listen to him. There’s a lot of minor chatter during the mission but I couldn’t hear most of it. I haven’t played enough to know if the A.I. is just really smart or they throw so many shooters at you that it’s almost impossible not to get shot up a couple of times. Where are my achievement points?? I’m at chapter 4 or 5 and haven’t received a single achievement point? I HATE games that give achievements for doing obscure things and not actually – you know, completing freaking missions and objectives.

Everything about MW2 feels like MW, but just a little bit better – accept the story, and that’s saying a lot because I thought MW was perfect. So far the graphics are stunning and photo realistic, but I think this adds to the "hollow" manufactured feeling of the game, it’s too technically perfect (It’s the same problem I have with Uncharted 2). I like my games to have some grit to them, I don’t want them to glisten and glean, like Listerine. I’m in this for the long haul and will finish MW2. I’m in a hotel for the next few weeks so I can’t really get my multiplayer fix, I’m going to assume it’s as good as MW. I haven’t really seen any jaw dropping moments yet, but this is COD, so, again, I’m assuming it’s going to happen. The game still has the same amazing COD gameplay that I love and it’s addictive as ever, I’m just not sure if I’m having fun yet.

Grades So Far

  • Graphics/Presentation A+
  • Story – C-
  • Control – A
  • Fun Factor – B-
  • Will I Finish? – Yes

Final Overall B

EM Gut Reaction
By Michelle Alexandria
Originally posted, 11.16.09