Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The math is simple: n00b hand-holding plus angry 'l33t' players equals a lot of bitching and moaning

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Activision Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Activision Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Activision Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Activision Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Pros

  • It's more Modern Warfare -- and really, isn't that what you wanted?

Cons

  • There will be blood spilled over the n00b friendly concessions, and the controversy will no doubt detract from the fun

Bottom Line

Infinity Ward returns with a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Modern Warfare that has already stirred up controversy over the now infamous airport level. But don't let that distract you from the real discussion: is the game any good? The game definitely has potential but its place in video game history will ultimately be decided by the fanatic online community who may take issue with some of the n00b friendly changes.

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The standard multiplayer also gets a nice boost with more of everything: more modes, more unlocks and more maps. Again, I played with members of the dev team who didn't pollute the experience with the usual online griefer shenanigans so take my impressions with a grain of salt but I played several different modes over a five hour stretch and honestly, I could have played for five more. It's a lot of fun and the devs tied a lot of carrots onto a lot of sticks to keep you playing: the rewards come fast and furiously in the form of XP and unlockables like custom emblems to trick out your callsign, and the objective based modes like the Counter-Strike-esque Demolition switches things up nicely from the standard "I kill you, you kill me" cycle.

But I also couldn't stop myself from wondering again how the diehards will react to this slot machine method of rewards: you hit so many jackpots over the course of your play time that it could dilute the sense of accomplishment inherent in reaching the higher ranks. This is great for casual players but the dedicated MW player may feel a little neutered; without careful balancing, the delta between the upper-tier players and the rest of the field might end up being too slim, leaving hardcore fans with less incentive to level grind their way up the ladder. After all, what's the point of climbing Everest if they're handing out jetpacks to everyone at basecamp?

Still, the potential for addiction remains intact and MW2 should replace the original as the de facto online war shooter, even as the online cognoscenti rant and rave about the changes. But even taking into account the potentially controversial tweaks I noted above, it's hard to turn a blind eye to the sense of polish that the devs brought to the table. I'm definitely biased here because I was given a pure dose of what the online experience could and should be, and obviously the real world version, the "street" stuff, can be incredibly impure at times, poisonous even, but it's hard to imagine MW2 failing to grab the attention of the established fanbase.

Of course, only time will tell if they latch onto it like children suckling at their mother's breast or if they sink their fangs in like rabid guard dogs going for an intruder's jugular: while I personally liked the game a lot, it's the diehards who will ultimately decide its true worth. That won't become clear until the game releases to the public and the fanatics have had a chance to tear into the full experience, so all I can do until then is add my lone voice to what will eventually become a choir. Based on what I've seen (and again, keep in mind the controlled environment in which I saw it) I'm singing the game's praises, but if you really want to know whether or not the game is up to snuff, wait and listen closely to the community to see if they sing sweet hosannas or scream bloody murder.

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