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November 12, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - First Impressions

I wasn't at EB Games at midnight like many people, but I did go out Tuesday afternoon and pick up my reserved copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 since I've been chomping at the bit to get at this game.  There are few games that I will buy on opening day: Grand Theft Auto IV is the last one I can remember.  I popped it into my Xbox and played for an hour or so before dinner Tuesday night.  Then, yesterday, we were off for Remembrance Day, so I got a lot of time in.  What do I think?

This game is as freaking awesome as it was supposed to be.

I'm only a few chapters into the main story, so I can't comment too much on it, but I do like what I've seen so far.  It starts shortly after the first game ended.  So far, I've already been taken to a vast array of locales, from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan to Rio and then back to Moscow.

This is the first game I have ever seen with a warning and option at the beginning of the game saying that one of the missions may be very upsetting and giving you the option of skipping it with no penalty to your completion of the story or winning of achievements.  The mission has been rather controversial, so kudos to Infinity Ward for allowing it to be skipped if the person wants.  Of course, unless you've read news stories about it, you don't know what you're choosing to skip.  For that reason, I'll give you the details here.


You're sent undercover to become close to the main villain of the game, Makarov.  One of the things you have to do is walk through an airport in Moscow, joining him on a terrorist attack on the airport, mowing down civilians as they stand in the security line-ups, and then as they run away from you.  You walk slowly through the terminal and the carnage is quite visceral.  You don't have to shoot anybody if you don't want to.  Makarov never comments on the fact that you're not firing.  But when the SWAT teams and army arrive, you do have to take part in that.  The mission ends in quite a surprising manner (though not as surprising if you've played the first game and know the lengths to which Infinity Ward will go).

Whether it's the first-person aspect of the whole thing that adds to the intensity, I'm not sure.  It is a bit unsettling, though.  Not enough for me to skip it, but enough that it did affect me.  It's the time-honoured story tradition, though.  Make the bad guy look more evil by having him do an extremely evil thing.


Since I'm not very far in the story yet, let me comment on the multiplayer, which is of very high quality.  There are quite a few maps (I'm guessing 8, but I'm not sure) that you can play on, everywhere from Afghanistan, Karachi, the airport terminal, the slums of Rio, and the wilds of Russia, or one of the other former Soviet republicsSince the maps are based on the single-player maps, I'm not sure.  I haven't found a map I don't like yet.

You get Experience Points (XP) for every kill but also for doing other things.  If you die a few times in a row, the first kill you get gives you an extra "Comeback" XP bonus.  If somebody is just about go on a killstreak that earns them bonuses and you kill them first, you get bonus XP for that.  You get "revenge" bonus XP if you kill the guy who killed you last.  Things like that.

You also get bonuses for going on kill streaks of your own.  You start out with the following:

3 Kills: UAV (that's basically radar so you can see where all the enemies are on the map, for those of you who don't know.

4 Kills: A Care Package gets dropped from a helicopter.  this can have any number of bonuses from a sentry gun you can place anywhere on the map to a Harrier jet airstrike, but you have to go recover the package first.

5 Kills: A Predator missile strike that you can control and have it land wherever you want.  When you're on the receiving end of one of those, you get just a small example of how it must feel to be one of those Al Qaeda types in Pakistan when the Predator missile hits.  Yikes!

As you earn XP and gain levels, you can increase the quality of your weapons, gain new kill streak bonuses, and extra "perks" which improve the person you're playing.  Some perks include "Sleight of Hand" which allows you to reload faster, "Stopping Power" which gives your bullets a little extra oomph to take out the enemy quickly, and that sort of thing.

I'm not going to get too far into it now because this post is already getting long and I want to delve more fully into the game.  But rest assured, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is definitely all it's cracked up to be.  The graphics are gorgeous (as the screenshots attest) and the gameplay is great too.

If you're a fan of shooters, you can't afford to be missing this game.

And if you do play multiplayer, look me up!  Xbox Live handle is "hist" and I'll be on it quite a bit over the next few weeks.  See you there!

*Update*: I guess I should add, for those who may not be familiar with the term (Hi Mom!) that "multiplayer" is when you play online against other players from around the world who are usually better than me.  But I survive (well, actually, I die a lot, but I also get my fair share of kills, so I do all right).


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