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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 explodes onto your screen with a furore of excitement. No surprise really considering the huge success of the first Modern Warfare 360, PC amd PS3 game. Unfortunately amidst this excitement and flashes of genius Modern Warfare 2 misplaces focus and ambition and turns into a rather messy overly complex experience. As my father used to say when I got overexcited as a child, 'It spoiled itself'.
The Call of Duty series has been increasingly gung ho in recent incarnations on Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3. Long gone are the days where I felt emotionally moved by the events I witnessed in the first two games. Instead. recent games have felt like a shooting gallery, where I am simply guided from one place to the next simply shooting anything that moved. I'm not complaining exactly as it has still made for an enjoyable experience, just one that lacks any real sense of emotional connection. Sadly this has gone one step further with Modern Warfare 2 where I found myself feeling like I'm participating in a mindless action blockbuster rather than a war film.
That the story is a mess doesn't help me, and makes it extremely difficult to feel any real connection to it or the characters. The narrative jumps from one section to another with quite tenuous links. Switching from one character to another also makes it difficult to feel any real warmth to you current character or comrades. There's simply no time to feel such attachment when the levels are relatively short and lacking in any sort of engaging development.
The most abhorrent factor is that the Airport level adds nothing to the game.
This is most noticeable in the now infamous 'No Russian' airport level whereby you are undercover as a CIA agent and must follow a terrorist group as they work their way through an Airport shooting everyone in their way. The irony is that if it was done appropriately it could have been immensely powerful. Playing as the 'other' side is a rarity in a game of this kind so there was a huge opportunity here.
Putting the player in a morally awkward scenario where the terrorist leader 'forces' you to shoot a cowering family could have cut to the heart of what drives the excitement in Modern Warefar and placed it under the microscope. It would have at least demonstrated the true horror of the situation. However because, yet again, the action is too rushed and unconvincing, there is no opportunity to feel a true part of proceedings. Instead, you feel more like a spectator than a perpitrator. The most abhorrent factor is that the Airport level adds nothing to the game. A cut scene could have ably replaced it and explained more of the storyline. Instead it is a level that seems to have been added to deliberately provoke controversy and nothing more. This inevitably vilifies those who are playing it, in the eyes of the mainstream media.
There were some set pieces which I really enjoyed though - one section where I had to raid an oil rig to free various hostages. This was rather tense as each room which was breached with c4, then had to be entered quickly so as to wipe out the enemies swiftly before they could shoot the hostages. Another level consisted of sniping at enemies from the top of a tower to attempt to protect the Washington Memorial. In terms of enjoyable individual levels, many of them were very enjoyable. The problem was that they felt too individual, too disconnected from each other. There was no sign of a strong narrative backdrop to hold it all together.
The single player storyline which feels far too incomplete and like a series of ideas jumbled together in only a vaguely logical manner.
I was willing to forgive Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for many of its failings due to still being an adrenaline rush of blockbuster entertainment; however the end left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt as if I was just watching the final scenes rather than playing them, leaving me thinking 'was that it?’
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It provides some great individual set pieces; it just lacks any real feeling or depth. While the multiplayer mode offers great improvements upon its predecessor, this is to the detriment of the single player storyline which feels far too incomplete and like a series of ideas jumbled together in only a vaguely logical manner.
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