McTavish is back, and he's brought a lot of story, graphics and gameplay with him...
After playing COD4: Modern Warfare, I thought that the franchise has leaped into deeper waters with its fresh storytelling capabilities. It's away with all the typical 'go here, kill this' element in the story, and enter the 'guess who?' and 'you never saw that coming, did ya?' tag in the scripts. With Modern Warfare 2, Activision and its long-time partner Infinity Ward just ramped up that element and played with the storyline with many twists and turns in this very dark and deep sequel to one of the best games of 2007. A terrorist leader is dead, and so is most of 'Soap' McTavish's team. A new age has begun, and people who once thought of Zachaev as a menace to society now thought of the bastard as a pillar of a 'greater tomorrow'. His death sparked a nation's belief that Zachaev was actually right about everything. Civil wars occur, nations fight against each other and a new antagonist finds his way into the spotlight. The story is extremely difficult to understand, with all the personal beliefs of other NPCs (whose personalities are unexplored) undermining the essence of the story in itself and deftly changing the entire story in the process. It's like observing a movie that doesn't explain why people go bad all of a sudden. Most of the time, it really feels like the story is being rushed, and by so doing, more dramatic turns and better explanations are rudely summarized by the developers. And Modern Warfare 2 is mercilessly short, despite its fast-paced action-packed gameplay and scenarios that force players to jump between different locales. The twists are still there but most of the time, they end with giving multiple question-marks on gamers' heads. Oh, and it's really very disturbing, because at one point, you're required to do things that bad guys normally do. It's partly a very psychological game.
It's a graphically beautiful game. The technical and artistic components of the visuals are very well done. The environments are wonderful, with their entire war-torn feel accenting the intensity of the gameplay. It's fun to see a clutter of squatters' houses in South America and be able to traverse them, while shooting at enemies that come from every angle. But it's a shock to see a war-torn North America; it would really send chills to the spine when encountering a mug of the White House being tainted by war. It's a realistic attempt at recreating a modern battle scenario. Facial animations are great to observe. The physics is also a feat to behold in this game. Log a grenade at people and see their carcasses flying all over the place. It's a certainly beautiful game.
Modern Warfare 2's sound effects can rival even those presented in today's war movies. I assure an immersive romp throughout the game. With the developers giving particular attention to the sound effects, it would be a very defining experience that many players will enjoy and talk about for a long time. The voice acting is still top notch; with McTavish surprising the ears with his Scottish accent (I always thought he was British). Familiar voices can also be heard, such as Keith David voicing Sgt. Foley.
Shootouts are very popular these days and Modern Warfare 2 just makes it feel all the more natural and user-friendly. The interface is still typical, with only a few iterations in the hotkeys. New weapons heighten the experience, such as the Predator missile unit that's more fun to use than a generic RPG. Many scenarios require the player to press specific buttons to perform dramatic melee actions, and it's actually much easier to play the game entirely because of the precision that the mouse and keyboard can only bring. Enemies that are constantly shifting positions are no match for a trained hand on the back of a mouse. With the PC version, expect a lot of headshots. You alternate missions using specialists from the U.S. and the SAS, making the experience varied and roughly interesting as they individually take the fight through familiar and exotic locales. And there's this part where players get to be a terrorist and play Duck-Shoot with the most unfortunate 'crowd' in gaming history (get it?). It's sorely disturbing, and it would really let us think about what's left with our humanity as gamers. In this game, 'Mature' is 'Mature'. This should never be played by minors. Now, I observed that the multiplayer for the PC version has lesser features than its console counterparts. It really does feel like PC gamers are robbed of the more immersive multiplayer experience, because of the limited offerings in the PVP space. I'm sure patches or expansion packs will be released to answer this cry for justice. Still, the game is a sweet one, despite its reservations.
The game is great, though the story really needs to be more simple (not THAT simple, but a more 'able-to-cope-up-with-what's-going-on' kind of 'simple'). I loved the fact that a sequel is a sure promise, so it's another wait for one of 2011's most anticipated games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3!