Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as just a game, and not the genocidal product of pure, maleficent evil it’s been made out to be since the infamous announcement of IWNet, is really, really good. The single-player campaign is unflinching and uncompromising, and bravely goes deeper into its own fiction, leaving behind any semblance of authenticity in favor of a campaign more defining and personal. Its multiplayer is a lot of fun, with minor adjustments culminating into a better base game than Modern Warfare’s online component. Evaluating Modern Warfare 2 as just a game, though, wouldn’t be fair. The $60 price point lingers on a platform that isn’t affected by licensing fees, and the lack of dedicated servers is a pretty big issue, whether you care, don’t care, or if you don’t get it at all. You could take all of that as a back-handed complement then, because I still recommend Modern Warfare 2. The game itself is extremely good, even with all the bad decisions that weigh it down. It speaks volumes to the quality of the game, and if 5-hour roller coaster ride and a stable multi-player game sound good at a $60 price point, then you should totally go for it.

Probably the only part of the game that has remained unscathed throughout this whole ordeal with IWNet is the part that doesn’t require more than one able body to play; namely, the single-player. Set five years after everything that went down in Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 picks right up, with tensions still high and climate less than favorable for peace. Modern Warfare 2 starts off on a familiar track; the game tosses you into Afghanistan and takes you across the globe in the next mission before laying down the unbearable, pivotal plot point that changes everything.

You probably know what I’m talking about, and it seriously is a disturbing sequence, serving as the ultimate impetus that justifies every single action and mission that takes place afterwards. It begins to go off rails into the realm of total implausibility soon after, which is great. Modern Warfare 2 boldly goes forward, committing itself to all the ridiculous and insane events that transpire throughout the campaign. The level design has also seen a sizable increase on size and number of potential approaches, resulting in something feels like a cross between Call of Duty 2’s open-ended maps with Modern Warfare’s linear carnage. Every single mission has a memorable, unforgettable sequence that makes such an emotional, visceral impact, that it’s hard to imagine just how much better the upcoming missions can be. And yet, it usually is better. And so is the one after. It’s not just one breathless encounter after another either. Much like Modern Warfare, the game knows when to take it slower, tamping down the scale in favor or smaller, more black ops oriented missions before it unloads another concentrated bag of explosions and intensity.

 


"…as a collection of events, Modern Warfare 2 is unforgettable."

True, the game’s plot is a tangled mess, with twists that don’t make sense until you infer and connect the dots, and even then, some of the actions characters take can still feel vague. The game doesn’t do that good of a job of explaining anything anywhere. The super-slick loading screens are usually loaded with manly, almost tangential monologue that doesn’t address some of the plot holes that exist, but as a collection of events, Modern Warfare 2 is unforgettable.

But you know, there’s that other part of the game. Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer forgoes dedicated servers in favor of Infinity Ward’s P2P and matchmaking system, IWNet. In short, it works. IWNet finds games quickly, and all but one of the matches I’ve been in worked well. The game masks ping average by representing your connection with bars, so if a 100-ping average sounds absolutely unplayable, then tough luck, or hope you’re the host, which gives you that 0-ping advantage.

Honestly, the IWNet doesn’t kill the multi-player for me. I’ve never been one to join communities or try to become involved in tournament play. No LAN play, no mods, no custom content – it’s killed any possibility of a Modern Warfare 2 community from flourishing, but I’ve never been one to really get into the mod scene or the community aspects of Modern Warfare’s multi-player PC fan base. So no, all the omissions and cutbacks that I’ve brought up in this paragraph won’t affect my overall sentiment of the game, but it’s definitely something that will affect a lot of you, and Modern Warfare 2 is a game that has been dead before arrival for many. Tournament play will be problematic at best, and a game of teams turtling with riot shields at worst. No LAN play is, well, dumb and an unnecessary omission, and not having that range of infinite possibilities modders can bring will dampen the multi-player experience for a lot of you.


"I know I’m sounding increasingly elitist, but honestly, how is such a closed system so accepted?"

There are issues, however, that do bother me – there’s no way to moderate and kick players, there’s no way to set timers and adjusters except in private matches, and you can’t filter for a map you want to play, just hope the game hooks you up with the map you wanted. It’s way more restrictive and suffocating, much more than I thought it would be. IWNet is basically the same system that’s been used for the console versions, and it’s kind of incredible how easily this has been put up with and easily accepted. People are actually okay with not being able to choose your own maps? There’s no anger over not having the option to get in on a 24/7 map? I know I’m sounding increasingly elitist, but honestly, how is such a closed system so accepted? The world deserves better.

Even with all the drawbacks, Modern Warfare 2’s multi-player succeeds, just because the gameplay is so good. It’s still largely the same game as Modern Warfare, with tweaks and balances that make sense. Perks like the notorious Martyrdom have been sorted under Deathstreaks, which are perks that are activated if you die enough times in a row. The same goes for the Modern Warfare perk, Juggernaut, which is now a Deathstreak that buffs your health for 10 seconds. XP has also been scaled, so that you get experience in 50s and 100s at a time for a kill, making rewards more delicious, even if it’s just a perception thing. Bonus XP are also doled out for doing that little extra, like taking out a guy before he reaches his Killstreak or for finally getting out of your dismal Deathstreak. These are small alterations, but noticeably changes how the multi-player plays, and it’s changed for the better.

 

Perk structure has largely been left unaltered. You get up to the three perks, offering small bonuses like faster reloads. The biggest change is how all perks come with pro versions. The Commando perk increases melee range, while its pro version also comes with zero fall damage. The pro versions manage to act as extra perks, which kind of doubles the amount of perks you can carry. They act more like sub-perks in a sense; the bonuses a pro perk brings wouldn’t be enough to act as a useful perk on its own, but as a bonus for a pro, its useful.

So, there’s still a lot to unlock in the multi-player. You’ll get a taste of basically every single gun in the single-player, and since every single gun in Modern Warfare 2 is completely awesome, there’s a great push to just unlock and unlock. This coupled with XP bonuses, Modern Warfare 2’s multi-player is great. It’d be fantastic without the restrictive IWNet, but that’s how it is. Take that as another back-handed compliment – the multiplayer is so good that IWNet pulls the game down only so far.

The P2P system gets worse once you jump into Spec Ops. With the game’s stability entirely reliant one host, Spec Ops can either be a smartly implemented co-op mode or a succession of one disconnect after another. The game doesn’t host-migrate to the second player; it simply calls it quits and sends you to the lobby. You can’t just go into an open lobby or match-make either, making any of the two-player missions unplayable unless your disgruntled PC friend also caved and bought Modern Warfare 2. And! No voice chat, so the only way to get it working is through Steam’s voice and text chat, which is the worst way to communicate. However, once you get a good, stable game going, Spec Ops is a blast. While most of the missions can be played solo, it’d be the wrong way to play Spec Ops, frankly. The ones that integrate cooperative play are the best ones, as some of them even rework missions from Modern Warfare. “All Ghillied Up” makes its triumphant return as a tense sniper-intensive mission, and the always unsettling “Death From Above” makes its return with the obvious use of the AC-130. It’s a great addition to the game.

It’s really anything outside of the multiplayer game of Modern Warfare 2 when there’s very little to complain about. The game looks absolutely stunning, building on Modern Warfare’s technology, offering better textures, more wonderfully motion-captured animations, better particle effects, better lighting, better everything. Its presentation does so much to draw out raw intensity on the battlefield. The constant chatter and screaming between soldiers, the immense war that’s going around you whether you’re looking that way or not – Infinity Ward knows how to create a spectacle, and it never once feels calculated or rote. It’s always awe-inspiring, and rarely do you feel like you’re being singled out as the Super Soldier who Saved the World. Possibly the only true fault this time is the overabundance of music. Hans Zimmer’s score is great, but when you light Washington D.C. on fire, just let it speak for itself.

With the single-player lasting around five hours, most of your mileage is going to come from the multiplayer. The relentless campaign is a thrill, and just the single-player alone qualifies Modern Warfare 2 as one of the best games of the year, but whether that’s worth $60 is up to you. The multiplayer is fast, focused, and balanced despite all the new additions that could’ve wrecked it. Whether a 100-ping average and a restrictive matchmaking is something you can take is up to you. Modern Warfare 2 is a great game, and if it weren’t for all the PC-defining features that were stripped out of the game, it’d doubtlessly be superior to its predecessor. What we have here, though, is a game that’s lost a lot in its transition to the PC, and whether that’s something you can tolerate, well… you know.

 
8.5/10
Gameplay: 8


Graphics: 9


Sound: 9


Value: 8


 

12 Responses to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

  1. sfhand says:

    It would appear they switched mp to p2p in an effort to impliment a price gouging scheme called price discrimination. That means that if you live in the US you will pay more than if you live in China for the game. If you want to support this type of marketing buy the game and enjoy it. If not, stick to CoD4 and enjoy it instead.

  2. pajari says:

    It's not discrimination at all though- you pay more because you can obviously afford it, given the massive differential in incomes and standards of living generally between places like America and places like China. It's a scheme nearly all large software distributors make use of, anyway, so if it outrages you here it should outrage you elsewhere as well.

  3. sfhand says:

    Actually the scheme is called “price discrimination”, but don't take my word for it, do some research. A different perspective from yours could say if they are willing to accept x amount of profit from one person why aren't they willing to accept that amount of profit from everyone. Don't see much outrage in my post, but thanks for your concern. Oh, and while you're researching “price discrimination” you just might stumble across some articles about how most consumers feel about it and how it may be illegal in some countries…

  4. pajari says:

    No, sorry, price discrimination can't possibly occur in two completely separate markets where completely different sets of production relations persist. You and a Chinese man are not by any stretch of the imagination similar economically. I knew what I was talking about when I said it wasn't discrimination.

    In fact, why don't you research the prevalence of this phenomenon yourself? This practice is why you can now buy CD keys for all kinds of games at prices far below what you'd normally pay for the full game if you were to buy it fairly at the correct price- the CD keys are in turn bought from local distributors in less prosperous economies and the savings are passed on to you, the obscenely rich western cheapskate who will absolutely not tolerate the fact that some Chinese is getting a sweet deal on a freaking video game.

    And for the record I could also not care any less how furious customers are over the practice, it's perfectly legitimate for companies to sell games at a price commensurate with the local economic conditions. If they were selling it at prices $20 different at locations a mile apart in the same country, those customers have a point. But it's absurd to claim that you can or should sell the same game for the same price everywhere on earth, and therefore that everyone has the same amount of disposable income, access to the requisite technology, etc. It is, again, not at all 'discrimination,' not in the technical sense or the colloquial.

  5. sfhand says:

    You are wrong, here's why:

    Price discrimination exists when sales of identical goods or services are transacted at different prices from the same provider. In a theoretical market with perfect information, no transaction costs or prohibition on secondary exchange (or re-selling) to prevent arbitrage, price discrimination can only be a feature of monopolistic and oligopolistic markets[1], where market power can be exercised. Otherwise, the moment the seller tries to sell the same good at different prices, the buyer at the lower price can arbitrage by selling to the consumer buying at the higher price but with a tiny discount. However, product heterogeneity, market frictions or high fixed costs (which make marginal-cost pricing unsustainable in the long run) can allow for some degree of differential pricing to different consumers, even in fully competitive retail or industrial markets. Price discrimination also occurs when the same price is charged to customers which have different supply costs.

    The effects of price discrimination on social efficiency are unclear; typically such behavior leads to lower prices for some consumers and higher prices for others. Output can be expanded when price discrimination is very efficient, but output can also decline when discrimination is more effective at extracting surplus from high-valued users than expanding sales to low valued users. Even if output remains constant, price discrimination can reduce efficiency by misallocating output among consumers.

    Price discrimination requires market segmentation and some means to discourage discount customers from becoming resellers and, by extension, competitors. This usually entails using one or more means of preventing any resale, keeping the different price groups separate, making price comparisons difficult, or restricting pricing information. The boundary set up by the marketer to keep segments separate are referred to as a rate fence. Price discrimination is thus very common in services, where resale is not possible; an example is student discounts at museums.

    Price discrimination can also be seen where the requirement that goods be identical is relaxed. For example, so-called “premium products” (including relatively simple products, such as cappuccino compared to regular coffee) have a price differential that is not explained by the cost of production. Some economists have argued that this is a form of price discrimination exercised by providing a means for consumers to reveal their willingness to pay.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_discrimination

    There is plenty of other information available.

    And your feelings about consumer attitudes are meaningless to market forces whereas consumer attitudes are not.

  6. pajari says:

    It says right there in your terrible source that price discrimination occurs, as I said, from the same provider in the same market to different consumers. China and the US, again, are not the same market, you are not comparable to a Chinese consumer in this regard. Price discrimination by definition is not occurring.

    I also seriously question the meaningfulness of 'consumer attitudes' particularly as it pertains to games like Call of Duty, which seem to draw audiences who love being treated poorly (why else would they be paying for Modern Warfare?), as the collapse of the 'boycott' indicates.

  7. sfhand says:

    Wrong again…

    “Price discrimination requires market segmentation and some means to discourage discount customers from becoming resellers and, by extension, competitors.” Do you know what segmentation is? I suggest you look it up.

    Here's a better link for you:

    “What is price discrimination?

    Price discrimination or yield management occurs when a firm charges a different price to different groups of consumers for an identical good or service, for reasons not associated with costs.”

    http://tutor2u.net/economics/revision-notes/a2-

    Got that? “different groups of consumers, e.g. people in US and people in China.

    So what we have is a “global economy” with “market segmentation” in fhe form of “regional markets”. But, don't worry about it, everyone makes mistakes.

    I'm so done with this.

  8. sfhand says:

    Oh, and one last, when I mentioned consumer attitudes, I wasn't refering to CoD consumers (obviously with record sales most people don't mind), I was actually thinking of the history of the railways in the US and how they were forced by the government to end their price discrimination because of consumer attitudes.

  9. pajari says:

    It's telling that every time I told you you had no idea what you were talking about (you still don't, segmentation lol) you come back with some Econ 101-level link. Do you know so little about these things that you have to seriously look them up on Wikipedia and some hilarious tutor website? I'm glad you're done arguing with me, it means you might now have the time to crack open a book or something.

  10. r4i says:

    It sounds sometimes that you’re more turned off by the usually-dismal experience of anonymous multiplayer gaming than by the games themselves. Hell, I am. I don’t know that there’s a more miserable experience outside of hellfire and brimstone than a dozen D-minus middle school students all flaming each other simultaneously…

  11. vj says:

    Nice review…would have been nicer if you hadn't nicked those screens off the net. Some screenies from your own playthrough would have been so much nicer!!

  12. r4ds says:

    Still one of my favorite games of all time. And as good as black ops is, this one is so much better!

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Boxart

Info

  • Developer: Infinity Ward
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Genre: FPS
  • Release Date: January 28, 2015
  • Link: The Official Site
  • ESRB Rating:
Mature

Minimum Requirements

• Win XP, Vista, 7
• Pentium 4 3.2GHz or Athlon 64 3200+ CPU
• 1GB RAM
• 256MB GPU
• DirextX 9.0c
• 12GB HDD Space
• DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
• Internet connection required for activation

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