Modern Warfare 2 was released over 5 months ago. By now, everyone’s played it to death, grown bored of it, yet not moved on because they simply must unlock that gun that shoots cars at you, or that toilet that launches nukes when you flush it, or whatever the latest over the top, ‘so ridiculous it makes Mission Impossible look like Platoon’ fucking gadget in MW2’s arsenal is. So why a review 5 months late? Because iv’e needed 5 months to hate this game as much as humanly possible without actually suffering from spontaneous head explosion.
MW1 was a game with some of the worst gameplay in an FPS this side of Hour of Victory. Yet somehow, it was more than the sum of its parts, and to be honest, is actually a cracking game. It manages to overcome horrible design decisions like constantly respawning enemies, and dated shooting mechanics, by having some excellent, memorable missions (death from above, all ghillied up, crew expendable, shock and awe) and an interesting, (if slightly uninspired) coherent story.
MW2, on the other hand, seems less like the original writers sat around a table discussing where the story could go from MW1’s ending, and more like they handed a blank sheet of paper to some kids with ADHD who had just spent the afternoon huffing glue & watching Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, and asked them to think of the craziest shit imaginable to put in a blockbuster that would make Michael Bay look like Alfred Hitchcock.
MW2 starts off like any other shooter set in modern times. I.e, you’re in a dusty shithole training the comically inept locals how to fire a gun, cause they’re obviously all too stupid from their years of hiding in caves and growing opium poppies to know that grenades roll downhill.
Shortly afterwards, you’re hand picked to join a secret service squad so secret the game cant even really tell you what the fuck is going on. Maybe the soiled napkin the writers wrote the story on got misplaced for a day or some dying orphan’s wish was to put this bit into a game or something, who knows.
Anyway, some shit happens, and you wind up several (days? weeks? months?) later as a fluent Russian speaker able to mingle with the most notorious of Russian gangsters and pass as one of their own. Then you kill a whole bunch of people in an Airport in Moscow, which somehow or another kick starts start World War 3.
And then shit gets really fucking retarded.
The Russians, pissed off that an undercover US agent was involved in the Airport massacre, invade America. Beginning with the all important conquest of…Burger Town. Followed by taking over Nate’s Diner, and then a Steakhouse. I mean honestly, i know Communism really fucked over the Russians, but surely to christ if they were that short on food they couldv’e just asked America really nicely to send over a big mac & fries. I mean seriously, was this the best fucking idea the developers could come up with? Or is it some wry nod to Americas fast food culture? Or just a really shit level where one poor bastard (Pvt. Ramirez) is ordered to go from Restaurant to Restaurant by himself fighting off the Russian Horde/shoot down helicopters/repel the entire invasion by himself while his brothers in arms decide to play a game of “catch it with your face” at every passing russian bullet like some kind of armed Lemmings?
I honestly find it hard to believe that in a room full of adults, discussing the possible ramifications of a Russian invasion on U.S soil, the best idea they could come up with was taking over a fucking food court.
As if the invasion of burger town wasn’t bad enough, on the hunt for the mastermind behind the Airport massacre, youre flown to Rio De Janeiro, for seemingly no other reason than to shoot the already unfortunate enough as it is slum dwellers, and to punish you for actually buying this game by forcing you through one of the worst levels in a game in living memory. You have the unfortunate as fuck bad luck to land right in the middle of the most heavily armed slum in Rio, forced to fight your way through wave after wave of enemies while a little peice of your will to live dies every fucking time some slum-dweller armed to the teeth with an arsenal that would make Rambo shit his pants kills you and you’re forced to endure yet another sobering anti war quote reminding you how horrible all this is, before you have to wipe the jam off your eyes and do it all over again.
Did we mention the jam? Yes, unfortunately you seem tob e carrying several jam jars strapped to the side of your head at all times in Modern Warfare 2, as any time you get shot, a jam jar explodes next to your face and smears the screen with a gloopy red syrup.
Not content with forcing you to play this section once, you’re soon back in the Favela for another go round of exploding jam jars and heavily armed homeless people, as you try to escape this living hell. It’s around about this point, 2-3 hours into MW2 that you’d literally chew off your own bollocks for a level as well crafted as Crew Expendable or as jaw dropping as the nuke scene in Shock & Awe. But, as you hurtle down a mountainside in a snowmobile capable of doing roughly 200 miles per hour dodging enemy helicopters and jumping gaping chasms, you realise that all the sublety and well crafted level design of MW1 is gone, and never coming back. Michael Bay has entered the building and wont be leaving until you feel like youve had your head stuck inside a steel trash can thats been whacked with sticks by a room full of 5 year olds for 2 hours.
And it’s a shame, because after those initial, ‘oh god i wish i was dead’ few hours, the game really drags it’s sorry ass out of the shitter and goes to work. Thanks to a few excellent levels such as The only easy day…was yesterday, followed by the quite brilliant Gulag, the game takes a time out from being an absolute fucking farce and really pulls it’s socks up. Hell, even the completely squandered Russian invasion levels finally drag themselves out of the mire, and content with having secured every fast food joint in Virginia, the Russians finally take over Washington DC with some rather enjoyable levels set around the Washington monument and the White House.
But, sadly, the ever pervasive shadow of the Michael Bay blockbuster is never far away, as this brief respite doesn’t last long before you’re in outer space, or careening down a runway in a jeep aimed at a planes ramp while being shot at by an entire battallion, or in the worlds fastest dinghy dodging Helicopters, RPG’S, and enemy boats alike. You’d honestly be forgiven for assuming you’d stepped into a James Bond game. It’s a wonder they didnt swop Captain Price as your sidekick for a demure brunette secretary or some bullshit.
And yet, i still enjoy this game. Iv’e finished the damn campaign at least 3 or 4 times. But i still cant figure out why i like it. Maybe the masochist in me loves being punished in the Favela levels? (edit: no, i definitely despise those levels with ever fibre of my existence). Maybe the lobotomised moron in me loves being force fed a completely incomprehensible story and loud bombastic set peices?
Whatever the reason, i’m forced to admit that, while completely inferior on every single level to it’s predecessor, once you cut about 3 hours of bullshit from MW2, youre left with about 4 hours of decent gaming. Which isnt saying much really. But probably about the best you could expect from a series thats now being churned out on a yearly basis for a few dollars more by Activision.
NB: I havent mentioned the multiplayer game aspect for as much as i complain about the SP, id be here all fucking week writing about how much the MP infuruates me.