Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 2Mikey 7 comments
Much negativity had been aimed at the new Call of Duty even before it was released. The most vocal majority rightfully came from the PC users camp, with the news that Modern Warfare II would not only cost around $AU10 more than most PC titles, but it would also be 'less of a complete package'.
Infinity Ward in all their infinite wisdom somehow came to the conclusion that it wouldn't be a good idea to include some of the standard expectations that came with every previous COD title. The crippled package therefore had no modding capability, no console commands, no dedicated server support, and most annoyingly no support for 3rd party maps. It took the ingenuity of some motivated hackers to get around the no-dedicated server issue which isn't really a surprise, but it also means that Infinity Ward could have easily included it but chose not to for undisclosed reasons.
News of these short-comings sparked some heated discussions and a boycott movement, which if this laughable picture is anything to go by it didn't really succeed.
For console owners who are used to paying more for the same (or less, depending on which angle you look at it from) on the same titles this is nothing new, but for PC users these usually standard extras are one of the compelling reasons to separate with your hard earned clams. Reading between the lines, this means that Infinity Ward are now treating PC gamers the same as console gamers, and as console versions of the game are outselling PC versions (in one case, by 400 to 4), it's clear where their priorities will be from now on.
How's the game play?
Gaming politics aside, MWII is actually a lot of fun. The single player campaign while very over-the-top and could have easily been penned by Michael Bay is still a little lacklustre compared to previous COD titles.
The creative cinematic moments that adorned previous COD releases seem to have been replaced with excessive balls-to-the-wall wiping out of enemy soldiers. It's definitely frantic, but it gets tiring after a while. There's rarely a moment to sit back, breathe and take it all in.
I found myself looking at the clock after a couple of hours of wiping out what seemed like endless waves of bad guys. After leaving the single player campaign that early in I found it very difficult to find a compelling reason to go back to it. I did several days later.
Luckily the muliplayer mode makes up for the single player campaign failings, although that has it's share of annoyances as well.
As you progress through online multiplayer battles, your rank is increased the more often you play and when you achieve tasks - like a long distance head shot for example. Rank is really the same as experience, so a level 1 player is nowhere near as experienced as a level 10. As your level increases a wider range of options becomes available allowing you to create custom classes to go into battle with. I'm currently at level 20 (with 70 being the maximum attainable) and even that low I have a staggering number of options to tailor my character with, such as different primary and secondary rifles, sidearms, shot guns, grenades, and 'power up' items like increased speed, better radar, increased accuracy, better bullet stopping power and sh*tloads more. Honestly it's so overwhelming that I'm rarely motivated to deviate too far from the customisation that's working for me so far.
Muliplayer balance is an issue though. As opponents are randomly selected, it's not uncommon to be dumped in a game where you are immensely outclassed by level 40 or higher players. When you're first starting out, or even at level 20 like me for that matter, it makes for some frustrating times. Low level players can be limited to a couple of guns and rifles while higher level players obliterate the battlefield in Harrier Jump jets, helicopters and satellite controlled missile strikes. And before you know it the game has ended before it has begun.
It not much of a stretch to imagine that Infinity Ward could have easily made it so players are closer matched, say with a 5 level variation higher or lower for example. That aside, when the games are more fairly balanced there's a lot of fun to be had.
Without dedicated servers, how does muliplayer work?
On paper it sounds feasible, but in action it isn't always so flash. When you search for a game the software rounds up the most suitable players (best ping) to join you with. The person with the best ping will automatically be assigned as the server. The obvious problem with this is if the person hosting suddenly has connection issues, or decides to just quit, everyone else's game is interrupted while a new host is automatically sourced and assigned server status. This is supposed to take round 6 seconds but in reality it can take a lot longer, as when it happens it's not too uncommon for others to quit as well, even those who might have been serving. This would never happen on a dedicate server scenario, as servers rarely shut down mid-battle to go outside and play.
Why infinity Ward thought this was a better solution to a dedicated server is anyone's guess, but the general consensus is that it
sucks balls isn't a suitable substitute for a dedicated server.
How are the graphics?
I've never been particularly fond of any COD engine, but the enhanced implementation in MWII is a step above the previous version. My main grievance has always been how static the environment looks. In many of todays games you can see trees, shrubs and leaves swaying in the wind while simultaneity casting shadows and reflecting the light correctly. No COD game has ever done that, but a recent 'compensation' has been made by having random debris floating around the scenery. Though it looks very odd indeed to see paper quickly blowing past while the trees and vegetation remains completely still.
On the whole though the graphics are pretty as evident in the screen shots, though they are nowhere near the same level that we've seen in other games, like the graphics card killing Crysis or Far Cry 2. But during the heat of battle none of this is really of any concern.
The 'No Russian' Controversy
Spoiler Alert! As Army Ranger Pvt. Allen you are placed under cover alongside the villain Vladimir Makarov, where you and your new fully armed comrades, casually walk through a Russian airport while shooting every innocent civilian in sight. To say the impact of having to take part in the '' scene is disturbing would be a gross understatement. Through out the entire COD series this is the first time you get to experience the ugliness of being a murderous villain, and when joining with Makarov it's as brutal as it gets. Thankfully and probably not surprisingly, children have been omitted from this scene.
Before any of this happens you are given the option to skip that part of the game altogether. But for some the horror hit a little to close to home, and Activision has decided to block the scene entirely in Russian versions of the game. This is possible on the PC versions of the game by an update via the Steam platform which is required to play, but there are also reports that the console versions are being recalled.
All things considered CODMWII is actually a lot of fun and worth the money. If you're not too fussed about the extra dosh you have to fork out, and if you can forgive the apparent 'consolitis', you could do a lot worse.
If you're only after a single player campaign, well then the news isn't that good with a reported measly 7 or 8 hours to be had. If muliplayer is your thing, I don't have to tell you that will keep you busy for as long as you're interested, but with no modding or mapping support, you may tire of the same maps quickly until Infinity Ward hopefully release more.
As a complete package, I'm giving it 3.5 stars.