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Present Combat 2

Modern Warfare 2

The biggest media release of all time. Not the biggest game, the biggest anything. That’s what day one for Modern Warfare 2 was. Bigger than any album, any movie, any Sarah Palin book. Sure, anyone who played Call of Duty 4 probably saw it coming (and there were a lot of us), but is this game really worth all the hype? Eh, sure, why not?

Call of Duty 4 was an incredible game when it rolled out in 2007. One of the most engaging FPS single player stories combined with a revolutionary approach to competitive multiplayer made it one of the best games of perhaps the greatest year in the industry’s history. Now it’s two years later, everyone has ripped off the online gameplay and there have been some pretty damn immersive single player games. With that in mind, it’s kind of a shame that Infinity Ward played it safe and decided to make a sequel that simply went bigger and more refined, instead of a new direction.

The campaign mode took me a little over five hours to beat. Unlike the previous game, this story throws out any plausibility rather quickly. The developers recognized that the nuke scene was the one that really resonated with players, and clearly decided to try to deliver moments of a similar caliber on practically every level. So they made a crazy story involving nukes, Russians invading the U.S. and one disturbing civilian massacre. That scene, by the way, they warn you about ahead of time and give you the option to skip. It is somewhat chilling, and a disappointment that you pretty much have no options but to follow what happens to its one, weak conclusion. However, the single player is fun, albeit a little more Michael Bay than I would have preferred.

Oh, and the dialogue. Everything’s always “Oscar Mike this, Oscar Mike that.” It felt like the military jargon was kind of forced in, but I dunno, maybe that’s what its like out there. What does deserve props is the great voice cast featuring Lance Henriksen, Keith David and countless other celebrities in roles you may or may not notice (seriously, I found 50 Cent, but who’s Will Arnett?). There’s also a nice score from the legendary Hans Zimmer, which really gets the job done.

Of course the draw to this game is the multiplayer, and there are two modes here for you to enjoy. The expected competitive online mode, and a new cooperative mode called Spec Ops. Spec Ops is easily the best part of the whole game, pitting you and a partner is a serious of tough situations and asking you not only to survive, but to succeed. There’s a nice variety of objectives and a ranking system that keeps you coming back until you’ve got each mission perfected. Very nice stuff and I certainly can’t wait to hop back in for some more of that.

The main multiplayer mode is very much the same of the previous game’s, but slightly better. They’ve introduced death streaks, like kill streaks but for when you die a lot without killing people. Good. There’s lots of stuff like that, but you know, I’m not really gonna get into it because I still don’t like playing on Xbox LIVE with strangers that much and everyone I know that plays Xbox plays on my fucking Xbox. At least I can say that the splitscreen multiplayer is fun too. I bet most people don’t even know this game has splitscreen multiplayer. That’s like asking if a computer can play laser discs.

So, yeah, bigger, badder, more bad ass. It’s hard to argue with success, they say. Still, I wish Infinity Ward had felt comfortable taking a few more risks with what is now the king franchise of all video games… And everything else, I guess.