It Ain't Perfect: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 is a "rather simplistic shooter"1. From "the spectacle and silliness of its single-player campaign"2 to "the issues over the single player campaign length,"3 "don't expect the game of the year."1 "This game just doesn't boast the set-pieces ... that made the first game stand out so memorably."9
"Where Modern Warfare 2's campaign drops the ball ... is in its actual storytelling."6 "The storyline certainly isn't going to win any Oscars."9 It "rambles along with holes you could drive a truck through,"5 and "the story beats are absurd (at one point you find yourself firing upon insurgents holed up in the Department of Justice)."2 "There's little of that gruff camaraderie that made the first time around really special."5 Instead, this time around, there's "a cast of characters more expendable than a minivan-full of American teens visiting that log cabin with the eerie music coming from it, where that serial killer is rumoured to have died."9
"What plot there is is all pretty poorly and confusingly delivered."9 "The game often expects you to already know the characters, extrapolate on one line of dialogue or a quick cut-scene, and then figure out the story from there."6 "We've played it through and we'd struggle to relate to man or beast more than 50 per cent of what's supposed to have happened "9 "At the end, it just gives up altogether and turns into a Bond movie,"5 "and, even more worrying, still haven't a Scooby why the main plot twist in the game happens or the motivation behind it."9 "In the end ... there's no real weight to anything you're doing. ... you never get a true feel for scale, or any actual emotional attachment to the events. ... It just doesn't stack up against some of the previous Call of Duty story modes, where single player was the obvious focus throughout the entire package."6
"Secondly the pace of the game is very one note."1 "With the right foot planted firmly on the gas pedal, there's little or no time for this game to breathe and evolve like the first Modern Warfare, which is to its detriment."9
"My main beef with Modern Warfare 2 is that it's too short."1 "Although the single player campaign lasts a short eight hours (or less, depending on the selected difficulty),"4 "the campaign can be completed in as little as four and a half hours."6 "With most players reporting a 6 to 7 hour run through on first completion on Normal difficulty, it's hard not to feel that Infinity Ward could have easily beefed up the campaign by a couple of hours to justify that price tag just a tiny bit more,"3 "I've been playing Call of Duty 4 steadily since its release, and my first completion of the Modern Warfare 2 campaign came in at just under five hours on regular difficulty. ... If you're going solo, you've officially been warned."6
"Secondly the pace of the game is very one note."1 "With the right foot planted firmly on the gas pedal, there's little or no time for this game to breathe and evolve like the first Modern Warfare, which is to its detriment.9 "There's no light and shade, no dynamics, few shifts of pace. I felt like the game was rushing me along, impatient with itself."1 "If you have ambitions to be treated like a blockbuster movie, you have to understand pacing,"9 but "Modern Warfare 2 is all climax and no-foreplay and often feels less satisfactory for that."1
"There are also question marks over whether the gameplay remains rather too scripted at times for its own good."3 "The basic gameplay still very much adheres to the tightly funnelled [sic], linear experience which every cinematic shooter tends to abide by."3 "The game emphasizes authored spectacle over emergent play,"2 and you "follow very direct, very linear commands through a very direct, slightly rigid space demanding that you stay on a course while chaos rains down all around you."8 "In Modern Warfare 2 -- just like its predecessor -- soldiers emerge from the same place and often do the same predetermined things. Once you've died a dozen times you'll start to learn all of the soldier routines, which exposes how scripted everything really is."7 "You still get sections that feel like a shooting gallery rather than a shootout, making you wonder if it's coincidence that the tutorial involves targeting cardboard cutouts."5
Modern Warfare 2 "eschews many of today's gameplay innovations ... heck there's not even the ability to peer round walls."1 "There are elements which could definitely have been improved. Top of the list is the new damage effect, which regularly delights in splattering claret all over the screen if you so much as dare as catch a stray bullet."3 "The blood-spattered screen showing the player health state [is] too over the top - making it hard to find the cover the game was prompting me to hide in."1 Even without the blood in the way, "targets can often be very confusing ... we often had immense difficulty in telling American special ops, camo-sporting soldiers from Russian special ops, camo-sporting soldiers. The result is an awful lot of collateral damage, most of which is sprayed out of your machine gun of choice."9 As far as the AI, "if you go looking for game-breaking exceptions then you'll find them easily."3 "You'll still have random issues with friendly AI, specifically with blocking your movement or deciding to walk in front of you mid-firefight."6
The game "regularly delights in splattering claret all over the screen if you so much as dare as catch a stray bullet."3 "The blood-spattered screen showing the player health state [is] too over the top - making it hard to find the cover the game was prompting me to hide in."1
"If you've played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the immense similarity between the two almost makes you feel like you're playing new levels in the same game."7 "The game largely recycles fundamentals"8 and "not an awful lot has changed."3 "If you strip away the bombast, this truly is the most conventional of sequels, with the unshakable feeling that you've cowered in a similar crater before two years ago, including an almost blow-by-blow retread of one of the first game's most iconic sequences."9 "It seeks merely to build upon the successes of its forebear while doing very little to expand its scope or redefine them."2 "Take a moment to step away from the gung ho experience, and you'll see that Infinity Ward spends a lot of time repeating tricks so successful in the first game -- you'll encounter a great deal of gaming deja vu on this journey."9
Welcome, modern warriors, to the third in our occasional series of "It Ain't Perfect" review roundups. As should be obvious by this point, this series takes negative quotes from a selection of overwhelmingly positive reviews for a well received game and assembles them into a completely negative whole. Any positive context surrounding the quotes has been deliberately removed, but rest assured, each complaint here was definitely meant as a complaint in the original review. The point isn't to deny the quality of what's generally regarded as a great game, but to call attention to the small sticking points that can be easy to overlook amidst the waves of praise for the biggest, most anticipated titles.
Much like the Uncharted 2 edition of It Ain't Perfect, almost all the negative points I could find for this edition centered on the single-player mode. Reviewers seemed to have barely anything negative to say about the game's multiplayer and cooperative "Spec Ops" modes, save for some complaints about the lack of dedicated servers on the PC version. It's increasingly clear that single-player action games, no matter how cinematic and well executed, are not as satisfying to most critics as the multiplayer counterparts included on those very same discs.
Come back to Crispy Gamer at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 13 to chat live with the Game Trust about Modern Warfare 2!