By Marty Mulrooney
I have recently had a terrible time trying to obtain a copy of Modern Warfare 2 for the PS3. To start, my original pre-order went missing in the post, and the retailer I had bought it from was out of stock and couldn’t offer me a replacement. (Only just got my refund today!)
Then, the next copy I ordered came damaged in the post (Hardened Edition) so it had to go back. Then, the retailer (I won’t name them to save embarrassment) took so long to process a replacement, I asked for a refund (still waiting on that, over a week now) and re-ordered again. That one came with a dent as well, so I gave up.
But I digress! I am actually HAPPY all of the above happened, because it somewhat killed the buzz of playing the game on release day, and let me approach the game long after everyone had already played it to death with a less hyped mind. Let’s not beat around the bush either; it is a fantastic game. But it also has some very serious flaws that make me think Infinity Ward were very lazy when it came to creating the single player campaign… (Contains Spoilers!)
Now, if this were a multiplayer only game, it would probably sell by the bucket load anyway. It is a fantastic, speedy, responsive little beast that is a blast to play online. (Another benefit I had of playing late was that any online problems have been ironed out.)
Yet let us not forget, the trailers and the majority of the publicity focused upon the single player campaign. This is where my main problems lie:
The story seems to throw any logic out of the window just so it can get a war started on American soil. The way it does this leads on to my next point…
I know there is controversy surrounding the “No Russian” mission. There has been since it was conveniently leaked. I rolled my eyes and assumed Infinity Ware would implement it tastefully and that the media were just overreacting. Well sorry, but I found myself half way between the two. Asking the player to control an undercover CIA operative who shoots down hundreds of unarmed civilians is a joke. There was no fun in it, and the forced slowness of the character’s walking made the player forced to revel in the bloodshed. (Skipping it doesn’t help either.) This series has already gone the way of the action movie… so why not play the scene like this: I am at the back of the terrorists, they are getting ready to shoot. I slow-motion shoot two of them but Makarov is too quick for me and starts to run away through the airport, firing as he goes. Cue frantic chase through panicked civilians as the airport police shoot at me, unaware I am a good guy. THERE is your moral choice; do you run up to them taking damage and knock them unconscious? Or do you shoot them dead for the greater good before the real bad guy escapes?
This botched interactivity happens again in the Rio de Janeiro level; I thought the roof top chase was wasted. I constantly wanted to run across the rooftops, chasing our man. Instead, a NPC did that, while I was shot at from all sides, the new blood-splatter effect becoming a bloody (no pun intended) nuisance. I wanted to catch the guy, not watch somebody else do it!
And again in the beautiful rain soaked levels of a war ruined Washington D.C! There is a brilliant part where the soldiers are tying to use call signs to identify each other. A response isn’t called back, and then a shoot-out ensues. I was worried… had we just shot our own people? No. Just bad guys. Blah!
Yet all of the above is just dancing around the real issue: the plot. The game just makes no real sense and this is damaged further by the great lengths Infinity Ward have gone to with realism in other areas. The catalyst for all of this is the discovered deep cover CIA operative that Makarov shoots and frames for the airport massacre… so nobody saw Makarov on a CCTV camera anywhere in or around the airport? The Russians just assume the one guy who was left behind (shot with a bullet from the other bad guys) was American, therefore making the attack American?!
The characters themselves are paper-thin; there is no development whatsoever. I wanted down-time in the trenches. I wanted soldiers chatting to me, so that when they took one to the head I actually gave a damn. The jumping between characters mechanic is good for the globetrotting aspect of the game (the locations are great) but half the time I couldn’t remember who I was actually playing and I didn’t care if anyone died. I couldn’t tell you anything at all about Roach for example. Apart from that he controls identically to everyone else you play.
The loading scenes are cleverly covered up with nifty computer graphics and mission updates. Sadly, this seems to be the full extent of the story being told. I am not saying I needed cut scenes. But one or two wouldn’t have hurt to be honest. One moment of interactivity near the beginning was great, pressing crouch to duck below the dashboard of a car as the driver is shot, before jumping out gun at the ready. Sadly, this was just a one-off. We soon move to the same old COD4 trick; respawning enemies as cannon fodder. The on-the-rails sections are even more tedious.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think this is going to get a good mark from Alternative Magazine Online when it comes to reviewing it. I just wish that the developers had given players some emotional investment in the single player game (I am on the last level and it has taken me 6 hours… and I am not very invested) and actually made me care about the events unfolding. Yes, it’s a helluva lot of fun and strikes me as an advanced arcade experience overall. Yet add on a price hitch and a very short length I sadly think that they really short changed us with regards to the underdeveloped single player campaign. What do you think?
Please note that this in an opinion piece and not the official verdict of the game from Alternative Magazine Online. Please keep any comments constructive and relevant!