As many of you might know by now, Modern Warfare 2, the sequel to Call of Duty 4 aka Modern Warfare, has the record for highest grossing entertainment launch, ever. You heard right, not only had it sold more than any other game before it for its launch, but more than any other movie as well. AUD$325 million was apparently the figure. I must confess that I'm in the minority here in saying that I haven't actually played the original Modern Warfare so I'm not aware of some of the intricacies in the plot for the sequel - nevertheless I don't think this is too much of a disadvantage since it'll allow me to assess the game stand-alone instead of comparing it with the original.
The sound is excellent although I suppose it's not too much of an improvement over the original Modern Warfare (although of course, I cannot really say) - definitely the sound isn't as great as what they have achieved in another, older FPS known as Day of Defeat: Source where you have a dynamic audio system meaning that muffled sounds of gunfire in the distance were actually other players firing their weapons! It would be good to see more FPSs adopting this since it adds to the immersion.
Voice acting is excellent and done by professionals. As mentioned earlier, I think this would have surely been the case for Modern Warfare as well. Interesting bit of trivia, I noticed that two voice actors of major roles in Mass Effect provide the voices for this game, i.e. Lance Henriksen (Admiral Hackett in Mass Effect and General Shepherd in Modern Warfare 2) and Keith David (Captain Anderson in Mass Effect and Sergeant Foley in Modern Warfare 2).
The music is of high quality and you'd expect that with Hans Zimmer, an accomplished movie score producer, providing the main themes. It makes you feel as if you were in one of those war movies, like Black Hawk Down (which Zimmer of course, composed the score for as well).
I'm a sucker for themes though and I can't actually recall any of the music in the game hence why it doesn't get a perfect score - not to mention the music in this game isn't treading any new ground in the genre.
No complaints about the graphics - they look pretty sharp and it works with no noticeable framerate loss on my machine - and that's the way it should be! Good to see a game that just works out of the box without any need to fiddle around to enjoy it.
Modern Warfare 2 - Singleplayer Gameplay Video
The plot is exceptional and scripted so you feel like an action hero, doing all those dangerous missions and stunts like leaping across cliffs or onto helicopters. Of course it's also very linear plus the singleplayer campaign is short (only 4-5 hours), but you'd expect that from a Call of Duty game as they tend to emphasise quality over quantity - a game that is short, but sweet.
For those like me who haven't played the original Modern Warfare, don't panic, I don't think it's really necessary to since the game is still a rewarding experience without having played it. The only things you'll be left in the dark about are perhaps the motives behind a couple of the villains in the game and the background history of a couple of the good guys. While that would normally be a pretty big problem in a movie or TV series, not so much in a military FPS since you're more focused on the action anyway so a light story doesn't matter.
There's not really much to explain here since if you haven't heard of or played FPSs before, have you been living under a rock for the past 20+ years (argh now that's just showing my age)? As most of you know, an FPS (First Person Shooter) has you playing in first person with an assortment of weapons at your disposal. You basically run around killing enemies and enemy vehicles as you try to get from one point of the map to the next (or achieve some other objective). Anyway Modern Warfare 2 splits the game up into missions where you take the role of different characters in different hotspots in the fictional conflict. This allows you to experience what is happening on the ground (and in one short "mission", up above in space). Not much new ground is made in this area, since this is how singleplayer FPSs have worked for a long time, however set-pieces within missions of the game and certain views/backdrops are awesome enough to warrant the game a higher score, but then again, would you expect any less from a Call of Duty game?
Modern Warfare 2 - Co-op Gameplay Video
In terms of the singleplayer campaign, there's probably not too much replayability there, besides hunting down Intel items or playing on a different difficulty, as the game is only 4-5 hours long. The replay value for Modern Warfare 2 comes through its other two modes, co-op and multiplayer.
In co-op mode, you can play with one other player to complete certain scenarios at one of three difficulties. Scenarios vary from simple ground assault, to racing snowmobiles, to supporting a comrade to escape by firing the cannons of an AC130 Gunship. The co-op mode is great fun but why only two player? It would've been nice if they had four player as in the previous Call of Duty game, World at War. You can also complete some of these scenarios solo if you so wish.
In multiplayer mode, you play online with several other players and there are quite a few game types to play. There's your usual Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture-The-Flag and Domination games (where you control areas to earn points). There's even a Sabotage game type which is eerily reminiscent of Counter-Strike "de" maps ("BOMB HAS BEEN PLANTED!"). There's a decent variety of games and of course there are lots of guns, perks, accessories, weapon skins, emblems and titles to unlock which allows you to customise your character somewhat and keeps you coming back for more!
Overall the game is very well polished and PC-friendly in terms of the control of the menus (that is mouse-driven as opposed to button-driven). I haven't experienced any Crashes-to-Desktop either but I have noticed that ALT+Tabbing isn't allowed once you're in-game... so maybe that helps with keeping the game stable or something!
The only drawback is the controversy of Infinity Ward deciding to drop dedicated server support. This makes it impossible for professional gamers/clans to setup their own practice servers or have servers reserved for matches. Problems with this system also manifests itself with casual/"pub" gamers since each game is hosted by the player with the "fastest" computer and if said player decides to drop out, the game pauses to find another player to host which is most of the time successful, but sometimes not, resulting in the game being disbanded.
Modern Warfare 2 - Multiplayer Gameplay Video
Overall - 80%
Although Modern Warfare 2 doesn't break any new ground and it has some minor issues in terms of its implementation, it is nevertheless a welcome, well-rounded addition to the Call of Duty series.
The game is available, well, just about everywhere! Won't be hard to find!