Wii owners who have been waiting since 2007 to experience the excellence of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, your time has come. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition is a successful port that includes the intense, breathtaking campaign and engaging, addictive multiplayer that made Call of Duty 4 such a hit. While the visuals lack a certain sharpness, the environments still convey the drama and diversity that help make the campaign so excellent. And though there are some minor aiming hitches, the controls are precise and customizable enough to let you be all you can be. The multiplayer system that first arrived on the Wii last year in Call of Duty: World at War is even more robust in Modern Warfare, making it the best online shooter experience the Wii has to offer. If you've already played COD4 on another system, there's no reason to pick it up again. But if you have yet to experience Call of Duty's first foray into the 21st century, Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition will entertain you immensely.
In the modern world, wars are no longer fought as massive clashes between sovereign nations. Conflicts are much more isolated and far flung, requiring mobility, flexibility, and, of course, superior firepower. The campaign in Modern Warfare embraces this philosophy, and you undertake a wide variety of actions playing as a few different soldiers. There are tense infiltrations behind enemy lines in which silenced weapons and stealth tactics are the order of the day. These missions require you to quietly eliminate enemies or just sneak past them undetected. Then there are full-blown firefights through Middle Eastern streets where the bombed-out buildings are crawling with enemies and a friendly tank is your only sure cover. In these missions, enemies continually pressure you, so not only do you have to dispatch them rapidly to avoid being overrun, but you have to push forward to your next objective. The environments are more or less linear, and though they have occasional lapses in sharpness or detail, they do a very good job of accurately depicting a variety of locations. In most levels, the terrain allows you to take a number of different approaches to any given section, giving you an invigorating sense of battlefield freedom while still spurring you onward.
Many of the missions throughout the campaign are intense and exciting for various reasons, but there are a number of dramatic set-piece levels that ratchet things up to a whole new level. From the first mission in which you race to escape a sinking ship, to the levels in which you become the powerful air support that you have previously relied on, to one of the most electrifying sniper sequences to ever appear in a game, Modern Warfare's campaign keeps you on your toes. You'll see some things you never expected to see in a shooter, and these dramatic turns are used effectively to create an expertly paced, immensely exciting experience.
Unfortunately, it's all over pretty quickly. The campaign doesn't last much longer than five hours. You can play through individual levels again once you've beaten them, and there's an arcade mode that scores you on your performance, but there's no way to share those scores online. You can also have a friend join you and add some extra firepower as a disembodied target reticle, but this feature is novel at best and ends up being pretty distracting. Still, despite the short length and so-so replay options, there's no denying that Modern Warfare's campaign is an intense, diverse, and exciting shooter experience.
And that's just the campaign. Once again, Call of Duty's online multiplayer is a standout. The core system is largely the same one featured in World at War. You earn experience for killing opponents, accomplishing objectives, and completing challenges. This allows you to level up and unlock new guns, new equipment, and new perks. Equipment includes explosives like grenade launcher attachments and claymore mines, and perks are battlefield bonuses that bestow a range of abilities. Some of these are similar to those in World at War, but many are either tweaked versions of old perks or entirely different ones. They are still a lot of fun to unlock and employ, and you can outfit a number of custom classes with different weapons, equipment, and perks to suit many different gameplay styles. There are also different kill streak perks that fit the modern setting, so players who string together kills can call in an airstrike or an attack helicopter to decimate the enemy.
One of the biggest improvements is the number of online game types available. While World at War was limited to a handful of Free-for-All and Team Deathmatch variations, Modern Warfare includes objective-based modes like Sabotage (plant a bomb on an enemy target) and Domination (capture and hold control points). These modes add some much-needed variety to the online scene, and the 10 player cap (up from eight in World at War) fits the well-designed maps very well. There is still no support for Wii Speak, and the Kill Cam has been lost in translation, so you won't get to how your enemy got the better of you. Yet despite these omissions, Modern Warfare's multiplayer not only more robust than its predecessor, but it's also the best online shooter action the Wii has to offer.
There's just one other wrinkle in this otherwise excellent package, and that's the occasional aiming hiccups. When you look down the sights of your weapon and are aiming near an enemy, your targeting reticle will snap onto that enemy. This assist is helpful when it works, but sometimes your reticle will jump back to where you were originally aiming or otherwise dislodge from your opponent. Sometimes the problem seems to be the result of frame rate stutters, and other times it happens while things are running smoothly. It's disorienting and possibly fatal, but fortunately it doesn't happen enough to become a full-blown nuisance. Extensive customization options that allow you to find your preferred aiming style go a long way toward mitigating this issue.
All told, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex Edition does right by the source material. The expertly scripted and intensely exciting campaign is just as entertaining as it was two years ago on other systems, and even the occasional lapses in visual fidelity and control precision can't keep it from being a must-play for Wii shooter fans. Though the multiplayer will feel familiar to World at War veterans, the modern guns, equipment, and perks will make it feel new again, and the expanded gameplay modes offer a lot more variety. Though there are a few hitches to deal with, the core excellence of this game shines through, giving Wii owners a great shooter to keep them entertained for months to come.