First Impressions: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

November 12, 2009


Let’s recap. We had the furore over the infamous airport scene. We had an ill-advised viral marketing video. We had a glitzy, movie-premier-esque launch night. We had massive sales predictions of 11.1 million units sold in 2009, with a record-breaking 1.23 million sales on its first day of release in the UK alone.

Measured by any yardstick, the release of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a big deal. So I should have found my first few hours of the game to be astonishing, industry-defining; instead I found myself with an increasingly uncomfortable thought with every passing mission: ‘I don’t like it.’ Heresy!

Before I continue, I need to pre-empt the following with the assertion that I am, essentially, new to Call Of Duty games. Admittedly, I played the first missions in Call Of Duty 3 and the original Modern Warfare the first time I had an Xbox, but not enough to form any impressions. So I’m coming to the series as a fresh pair of eyes.

The main thing that irks me about the latest instalment is the pace. MW2 is mind-frazzingly fast; an unending hail of bullets, explosions and enemy targets that don’t give you a moment to relax, let alone take in your surroundings. It’s clearly a beautiful game, as any cursory glance at your environment can tell you, but what’s the point in that if you don’t have time to appreciate it?

Coupled with the punishing freneticism is the blood splatter that fills the screen when you get shot. Although clearly realistic in terms of its aesthetic, it effectively obscures whatever is shooting at you; so, more often than not, it serves less as a warning to eliminate what’s threatening your life and more of a harbinger of your impending death. Did it really need to be so intrusive? The last thing I need when attempting to rescue myself from a tricky firefight is to have the ability to even see my targets removed from the equation.

The game’s major currency is spectacle – each set-piece more bombastic than the last. But the sheer saturation of these events makes them lose their potency – the genius of Uncharted 2 (I know it has been getting a lot of mentions on this blog recently) is that each set-piece is exquisitely framed by moments of calm, giving you time to reflect on each situation. MW2 follows up one epic moment with another, diluting the previous set-piece at a stroke.

I’ll stick with the game through to its completion and I haven’t even touched the Multiplayer or Spec Ops modes yet, so I can’t include them in the scope of this initial impression. But the opening salvo of the single player campaign has left me a little cold; it’s telling that instead of leaving me with a smile, my session left me instead with a pounding headache and a feeling of stress. Perhaps this gung-ho, guns blazing rollercoaster ride is an accurate depiction of all-out war. But therein lies the rub. Not many people dream of being a soldier for one precise reason – war is hell.


4 Responses to “First Impressions: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”

  1. Tony Goff Says:

    Seriously you should start writing for magazines already, the only big site I’ve seen so far to avoid the hype and give it a less then glowing review was Now Gamer and even that was an 8.8…

    The pace is insane to say the least, the snow mobile chase had my eyes almost popping out my sockets (which was good) but you’re right in the sense that it doesn’t really let up and after that you have the frantic fight in the markets (which I’m currently dying a lot on).

    For me the narrative is a problem as well, if the game continues as it does then I’ll likely have no idea why I’m running around shooting people. As someone who likes narrative I find the loose trappings of the MW series disappointing.

  2. BillyBob Says:

    It’s an army game focusing on realism??!!
    How can a soldier stop and look around on a battlefield? This aint Oblivion.

    I thought the game was fantastic with ground breaking level design and superb voice acting.

    But my one critisism would be that its just way too short. But I’m guessing this is why the levels are so detailed. Crammed everything they could into each mission.


  3. Glenn smith Says:

    I think the game is brilliant and imo the main game is the multiplayer and the single player is sumthing to do wen ur bored (just my opinion)

    I loved MW1 and I want to marry MW2! The graphics have improved alot since MW1 and are great for a fps. The multiplayer maps are 100% better an bigger. The seamingly infinite gun/perk/equipment combo’s are insane and will have u coming back for more again and again.

    As for the single player pace I know I haven’t played it yet but I’m sure it’s not too fast and is probably realistic, it’s not like a soldier wud say ” hold on a min mr terroist can u stop shooting at me so I can look at those mountains plz?” 😉 maybe put the difficulty down abit? I don’t know like I said I’m yet to play it. Or maybe ur too old 😉

    Anyhow I think it’s a fantastic game, big improvement from the 1st one. 10/10 for multiplayer alone. That’s not a hype 10/10 it’s a I’ve played and love this game 10/10

  4. […] can be chaotic and confusing in such a tightly scripted environment. I desperately wanted my initial reactions to hold fast throughout the single player campaign for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – I […]

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