Developer: Infinity Ward
System requirements: Windows XP SP2 or Vista; Pentium 4 3.2 GHz CPU; GeForce 6600GT; 512 MB RAM (1GB for Vista); 16 GB hard drive space.
Release date: Available now
Modern Warfare 2, the latest installment in the Call of Duty series, has sold 4.7 million copies in its first 24 hours. At $60 a pop (more for some versions) this equals $310 million in one day. This is despite an ongoing boycott of the title over the lack of some, otherwise common, features. It also flies in the face of the ridiculous ruckus raised by the “think-of-the-children” crowd over the game’s content. Given current economic conditions as well as the opposition, these record-breaking sales are quite remarkable. Inevitably a question is raised: Is this game really that good? Before discussing that, however, let me tell you a little more about it.
MW2 is set 5 years after the end of MW. The story is similar to the first one, with American and British forces fighting both terrorists and enemy regulars in a variety of settings. Those include Afghanistan, a frozen airfield in Russia, the slums of Rio de Janeiro, American suburbia, and off shore oil rigs. Some of the characters from the original game, MacTavish and Price, also make a reappearance. The game mechanics are identical and the interface and controls have not undergone any noticeable changes. There is still a ton of weapons at your disposal and no shortage of enemies to use them on.
But is the game good? Yes, in fact it is incredible. The visuals and the sounds are of the highest quality. Every single mission is challenging, exciting and fun! There isn’t a dull moment, from running uphill on the streets and rooftops of Rio, to infiltrating a Russian base in the middle of a raging blizzard, to a Zodiac chase in the Afghan canyons. The enemies are more intelligent than before and no longer just spawn behind you. Instead they try to use alternate routes to flank you or otherwise gain an advantage. The game seems to do an exemplary job of recreating the hectic nature and confusion of combat.
As for the story, one of the early missions involves joining a group of Russian terrorists as an undercover CIA agent. You arrive in some Moscow airport and suddenly your team begins slaughtering civilians by the hundred. I did not expect that and so I was shocked. After stalling for a few moments I began shooting at walls and luggage. Although Russians are among my favorite enemies (rivaled only by Orcs and Zombies) I simply couldn’t just murder people like that. The whole scene, while short, was incredibly powerful. Far from making violence appear acceptable, it highlighted the sheer horror of indiscriminate butchery.
The multiplayer is fast, furious, and fun. There are five preset loadouts: grenadier, first recon, overwatch, scout sniper, and riot control. There are also five slots for designing your own class. Hundreds of customization options are available, from weapons, gear, and perks to titles and emblems. Most of these unlock as you rise in rank and complete challenges. The length of an individual match is under 10 minutes, which seems optimal. There are no dedicated servers, but the matching system appears to work well. Of course it would be nice to have more control; still the important thing is that your basic multiplayer needs will be satisfied.
If you liked the original MW you will certainly love MW2. Same goes for those who enjoy fast-paced action games. People who, like me, are suckers for powerful storytelling that messes with their emotions will enjoy this game immensely. Multiplayer junkies will not be disappointed, either. The only real problem with this title is the poor campaign length to price ratio. Somewhat offset by the infinite replayability of multiplayer, the game is still too short and too expensive. That is the only reason I am giving it four stars instead of five, although all other aspects are absolutely stellar. You should definitely buy it.