1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
For all its unadulterated brilliance, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a long way from perfect. There are flaws in this game that threaten to derail the player’s enjoyment — and we're not just talking about the javelin glitch.
Firstly there’s the single-player campaign: not only is it short; it’s messier than a post-nuke Sergeant Jackson. Roach and Ramirez’s globe-trotting missions feel like soulless roller-coaster rides that hurl the player from one incomprehensible set piece to another. The character beats are all-too brief, and the plot — with its rapid-fire cross cutting and frequent betrayals — is often hard to follow. There are several big plot twists in the game that are poorly foreshadowed; you simply don’t get the emotional payoff that you should.
The decision to unleash hell on American soil also cheapens the game tonally. This is B-grade science-fiction dressed up in military fatigues. Sure, the attack on the White House might be thrilling, but it’s also completely implausible. By dialling the spectacle up to 11, Infinity Ward has robbed the franchise of its gritty authenticity — it feels more like Starship Troopers
than Black Hawk Down
and the game suffers as a result.
And then there's the online multiplayer. No dedicated server support for PC gamers? No matchmaking for novice players? No local search options? Compulsory Steam account shenanigans? Rampant online cheating? Clearly, Infinity Ward fumbled the ball here. Don’t get us wrong, Modern Warfare 2 provided some fine entertainment in 2009 — but did it really deserve a free pass for all of those flaws?