Activision have done it again. Their incredibly popular Call of Duty series has had another big release in the form of Modern Warfare 2; quite simply the best first person shooter I have ever played. With stunning and immersive graphics, cinema quality sound and all encompassing game-play, it is quite obvious why the game broke all sales records in entertainment media history in its first week of release.
Split into 3 sections, the game has a level of longevity that will make its rivals green with envy. The first is the story mode, which sees you taking on the roll of various characters as you are swept along the twisting rollercoaster of a plot. The story itself is a well-woven tale of international intrigue and political upheaval to rival even the most complex Tom Clancy novel. There are moments of sheer genius and twists that will leave you gasping. And all of this is simply to guide you from one level of gaming glory to another. The missions vary from all out assault against an enemy army to small two man special forces teams stealthily stalking mountainous bases in driving blizzards. From fighting drug gangs in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to raiding SAM sites on oilrigs off Russia, the game is truly global in scope and infuses gamers with a real sense of the dire importance of successfully achieving the aims of your missions. Not to reveal too much about the story before you play it, I would go as far as to say that it continues from where the last game left off and raises the bar in all areas of the gaming experience.
The second section is special ops; a series of challenges based around the main game, which become available to play once you have successfully completed the main story on any difficulty setting. Hours of extra game-play is to be had here, with achievements galore available for the competitive warrior-at-heart. Some of the missions require two players and can be done co-operatively online or split-screen with friends, a nice little touch to break up the army-of-one mentality that first person shooters often engender.
The final section is the backbone of the series and has kept the previous titles selling for years due to the online community supporting their continued use: multiplayer. Playing against another human in place of computer AI is often a much greater experience and this is definitely the case with Modern Warfare 2. As with Modern Warfare and World at War before it, MW2 has an online army of players and games can be found at any time of the day or night, with often more than 150,000 players online at any one time. Missions vary from old school free-for-all to team death match and ground war, each with their own unique playing styles, aims and objectives. The only thing limiting the life of this game is the life of the platform it’s played on. The earlier games in the series still have a massive online following.
Weapons and tactics have been upgraded with beautifully rendered modern arsenals and the addition of such abilities as throwing knives and even Unmanned Air Vehicles available to the players to unleash hell upon their opponents. In all aspects MW2 is a step up from the already excellent titles preceding it. However, there are some downsides. Those with slower broadband connections will find it difficult to locate a multiplayer game to join, despite seeing 50 plus available games on your screen the system’s tendency to try and match download speeds (no doubt for the good of the gaming experience) can often mean that those players find themselves watching in vain as their system fails time and time again to match them to a game server. My only other major issue with the game is corners. Being a first person shooter, when trying to see or shoot around a corner the player is forced to move their entire body our to get a shot off and will often receive a bullet for their trouble. Games such as Quantum of Solace managed to incorporate effective use of cover and move into its otherwise first person shooter mould and perhaps Activision can look at doing this in future titles to further enhance the realism of the game-play.
Overall Modern Warfare 2 is outstanding, and despite having completed the game I know that its multiplayer and special ops sections will continue to entertain for the foreseeable future. If you own an Xbox then buy this game.