"Modern Warfare 2" Review for the Xbox 360

11/29/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, David Voyles

Making the change from a World War II setting and into a modern era is a large step for any franchise, especially when sales are beginning to dwindle due to an over-saturated market. When Infinity Ward took control of the "Call of Duty" franchise, no one could have predicted the monumental success of "Modern Warfare." Reinventing the multiplayer component, providing weapons and tools never seen in a video game before, as well as a charismatic cast of characters and locations, greatly contributed to its success. After a two-year hiatus, the question was this: Would Infinity Ward’s second attempt at the franchise prove as successful as their first?

Clearly, it has. "Modern Warfare 2" has absolutely destroyed a number of records which sat before it. How about making over $300 million in the first 24 hours of its release in the U.S. and U.K. alone? After five days, an unprecedented $500 in gross sales has shattered all previous entertainment records. That’s across all forms of media, folks. To get a handle on things, you need to take a look at what stood before it: "The Dark Knight" (the movie) made $203.8 million in five days, worldwide. The movie version of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" holds the record for the highest grossing first five days worldwide with figures of $394 million.

GTA IV is the previous holder of the ‘Five-Day Sales’ record, earning $500 million. (Source: Thesixaxis.com) But you can’t judge how good a title is based on sales alone, right? Well, the average metacritic score is 94 as well, so it’s got to mean something.

First and foremost is "Modern Warfare 2"’s single player campaign. Similar to the first "Modern Warfare" title, you take control of a number of characters, both American and foreign, and the game has you swapping between them for each of the campaign’s missions. While at times it does get a bit confusing trying to figure out which character you are playing, it does help to break up the monotony of being the same character in the same locale for too long.

The locations are certainly one of "Modern Warfare 2"’s strong suits--they vary so wildly that you never know what to expect on the next mission. Players are taken from an airport terminal in Russia to icy glaciers, the deserts of the Middle East, and even what appears to be a post-apocalyptic Washington DC. This is the first title I can recall playing on American soil in a modern setting, nonetheless one with such detail, it does an outstanding job. My only qualm with the single player campaign is its length. The say the least--it’s short. Most gamers should expect to finish it in less than six hours. This is not to say it’s a great experience, because it is. The pacing is non stop, and it’s a thrill ride from beginning to end. Rarely are there moments where you can stop to catch your breath and take in the glorious environments. This reviewer plays on a 62” screen with a 5.1 home theater, and I’m hard-pressed to remember another time when I have been so engrossed within a game.

The phenomenal soundtrack is to thank for that. the composer is Hans Zimmer, who has a plethora of success on the big screen, as seen in such films as "The Dark Knight," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Black Hawk Down." Never have I felt such an emotional attachment with a title because of its soundtrack, but this one blows the rest out of the water. "Final Fantasy VII" is the only soundtrack I believe could hold a candle to it, and those of you who have played that classic will understand what I’m talking about. The mission in Washington DC, in particular, stands out as one of the emotional strong points in the video game, particularly because of the soundtrack. The sound effects do a good job as well, but are certainly not the strong point of the title. The 5.1 effects help to immerse you in the environment, but the bullet sounds still sound fake and contrived. There is no bass or thump when shots are fired, and it is difficult to discern one gun from another. It’s hard to understand why Infinity Ward would put so much effort into this title, only to leave this unchanged. "Bad Company 2"’s gun and sound effects still wear the crown in gaming.

As mentioned before, "Modern Warfare 2" displays a variety of environments and locations for players to transverse and destroy. Each location looks completely different from the last, and the variety in environments is astounding. Skies flash with gunfire, jets fly overhead, helicopters fall from the skies--and this is just what’s going on above your head. At times, textures on characters and guns look outstanding, but at other times, particularly when it comes to trees and foliage, the textures leave a bit to be desired. Some points in the game I believed were the best thing I have seen yet on the Xbox 360, then others I felt were just generic and run of the mill. Consistency is key folks. A final note of the single player campaign is its pacing. It doesn’t let up, even for a moment. Just when you think things will slow down for a moment, they become even more hectic. A number of familiar sequences appear as fans of action movies will recognize.

Now, onto the incredible multiplayer campaign. If "Modern Warfare" set the standard for what all multiplayer FPS titles should be, then "Modern Warfare 2" raises it a few notches. Everything included in the first title is here and then some. More customization options have been included, along with better balancing of both perks and weapons. Gone are the days of predetermined kill-streak rewards as Infinity Ward ushered in the idea of the player choosing three out of a number of available options which must be unlocked by leveling. To balance the playing ground, “care package” air drops are now included, where a box is dropped from a helicopter after a five-kill streak.  Players are offered any one of the kill-streak rewards at random.

Furthermore, some of the more popular guns from the first title have been moved to higher levels, including the infamous M-16 and AK-47, which many players felt were too overpowered in "Modern Warfare." Players now are rewarded death-streak bonuses, as well, in order to ease the learning curve for newer players. Stealing another person’s class/perks after someone kills you is one of these, as well as martyrdom, or increased health for a number of seconds upon respawning. In short, most of the flaws from the first outing have been addressed and corrected in "Modern Warfare 2."

Finally, for those who enjoy cooperative multiplayer, "Modern Warfare 2" offers Special Ops missions, which are basically small scenarios which didn’t quite fit within the plot line of the single player campaign, but seemed interesting enough to warrant adding to the game itself. It’s a great experience to break the monotony of multiplayer deathmatch games and it earns Infinity Ward some extra points here.

So, is "Modern Warfare 2" the monster that everyone makes it out to be? Absolutely. I would say it has a very good chance of becoming the game of the year by a number of media outlets, but perhaps that has something to do with most companies moving their largest titles to next year in fear of sales being hurt with this game. If you’re in the market for a top-notch game with beautiful graphics, perhaps the best multiplayer found on the Xbox 360, and a single-player campaign that just won’t quit, then you’ve come to the right place.

Check out the trailer for "Modern Warfar 2" below. Thoughts?

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  1. Jim said...

    Okay, now I'm stoked to play this. Is it as good for the PS3?

  2. Kelly said...

    My son would love this game.


  3. nintendo dsi r4 said...

    Video aims to be a one-stop shop for video, but it needs more compelling content and reliable playback.

  4. Dave said...

    Modern Warfare 2 is hot right now and can be a challenge to get while in inventory.

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