Disappointments of 2009 part I – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2

I am a very shooty kind of guy, I used to think. I like being plonked in the first person view, seeing my burly forearms and wrists, and shoot things that move.
If it looks angry, shoot it. Heck if it moves, shoot it. You know the sort? I always thought that is what I am. I prided myself in knowing exactly why mastery of control and craft lies in the hands on Valve and Infinity Ward, and no one else.

Nothing I knew about myself has been proven wrong, exactly. But I AM thoroughly surprised by why so few people have not mentioned this: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is rubbish.

RPS’s analysis of the No Russian level is bang on as far an analysis of a controversial level goes, but really, they didn’t come out and say this. Or maybe I missed this. In any case, the truth is that I really, really feel that the game is rubbish.

Of course I am only talking about the Single Player campaign here. The multiplayer is a thing of beauty. glitches aside, the crack of shooting things that move to get better and unlock better things to shoot people with is as addictive as ever, and works phenomenally. I could berate it for being too small (9v9? in 2009?), or lack of features other modern shooters have (no cover system, really? Are they still living in 2002?), but that would be unfair. They didn’t set out to make that game that eclipses all features. They knew what they could do well, and delivered a polished experience. It’s insanely fun, this multiplayer game, honestly.

But really, what were they thinking when they set out to make that single player game? First off, it completely robs the entire series of gravitas by going all James Bond on us. It was the same issue that could have been leveled at MW the First, but that game still kept intact the sense of being part of a bigger whole. Modern Warfare 2? That is not a nasty war business. It is jumping off a ski slope on a snowmobile shooting people in the face. It is infiltrating a Russian prison, killing all the guards, and escaping on a zip line while rockets fire all around you. It’s not war in it’s emotional gravity – it’s a Michael Bay movie with no consequences.

Which would probably have been fine by itself. But they wanted to bring that emotional depth despite not having the backbone to support it. So they created the cipher of a level that is No Russian. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said about it – it’s vacuous, and has no heft to it as a storytelling device.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Not that the storytelling has anything to it that would need clever devices. It’s downright stupid. Insulting, even. One entire mission has you take command of an SAS team trying to infiltrate a prison to rescue a “guy” who the arch villain apparently hates. Really? That’s your incentive? The enemy of my enemy is my best bud? The last act twist is so asinine that it actually, honestly makes no sense.

The gameplay is sweet, admittedly, but purely on a controls-mechanics-events level. The craft is solid. The design is barely there. At 5 hours of play on Normal mode, I would have expected more from the game experience itself. It’s nothing, it’s faff. The worst part? No one’s called IW’s or Activision’s bluff, though, and I am doing it now. For 74 Dollars, it literally is a rip-off, and a sub par game. There is no doubting the production quality, but the game just isn’t up to snuff. The multiplayer redeems the price point, but it does not redeem the single player experience.

Consider your self finger wagged at and chagrined, Infinity Ward! My not-read blog has chastised you.

(Bah. Humbug.)

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