All the trailers, all the anticipation, all the excitement, all the desire to play, all of it for one game; All of it was worth it.
Lock and load, boys and girls, this is going to be an intense ride
My goodness ladies and gents, where to begin.
Let's start with gameplay and, more specifically, controls. Yes, the gameplay is almost exactly the same as last time around, but there is a tighten tweak on an already solid set of controls. New additions this time around is an almost automatic aiming mechanism. When you steady your shot on character you can pull out and aim again and the next target will automatically be in sight. Can I just say that this could have been great the first time around in the original Modern Warfare? It would have been nice, but still it's great to see Infinity Ward not sitting on their laurels; rather they have tried, and succeeded, to improve their already great control system. This is my first big compliment to the developers. Not often do FPS manufacturers decide to improve upon their controls (well, those devs that don't make awful control schemes), but Infinity Ward found a way to make it all better. Again, they didn't need to make it better, but they did and it was shocking that they could find something to improve.
Moving along soldiers....
Related directly to controls is the wonderful arsenal that has been provided by Infinity Ward. Figuring that you probably weren't impressed with the slew of weaponry from the first game, the developer has added new things such as controlling a Predator, directing a strike from a moving vehicle with a laser pointer on your firearm, calling in airstrikes and heavy weapons such as Javelins. Folks you will have an entire slew of ways to kill your favorite horrible enemies. I think this is probably the biggest plus in the gameplay. Basically whatever weapon you can dream of for a game like this, more than likely it has been added. The best moment in the game where you realize such a large variety of goodies is near the end of the game when you raid a safe house. You uncover a wall covered in weapons of all sorts and you can literally pick and choose which one fits your fancy. Exciting? You bet your ass.
Now you have to find a place to use these wonderful weapons and the game gives you three modes right off the bat. The first of the modes, and more than likely the first thing you'll do, is go into the campaign. The campaign plays exactly like a movie and it makes you feel like you're involved. You start off with an invasion of city. The battle is intense and will keep you involved right from the get-go. The first battle is probably more intense than the second, but it's purpose is to get you immediately use to the fast-paced environment and hardcore firefights. You won't have a restful moment after this and you'll feel like a seasoned veteran. For me this was a bit much the first go around, but having tasted it a few times I now appreciate and understand why the game does this to you. So before you freak out thinking your a horrible gamer, please understand that the game is throwing you into the fire right at the start. There's nothing wrong with this and the second mission takes that tension away. Anyway, the campaign flows and flows and flows like no other FPS campaign that I've played. Clearly Infinity Ward understood that gimmicks are okay (as you found here and there in the campaign for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare), but storylines are far more important. Out of the entire campaign there is only one oddity you should be warned about. When you first start the campaign you're going to be asked to skip a mysterious level because it may 'offend' you. I'm kind of divided about this. I discussed this with several people, who never played the game, and asked what they would do if they saw a message like this and the response was the same, "It would make me want to play that level even more." That scares me a bit. On one hand I commend Infinity Ward because they created an 'out' for gamers to avoid this 'certain' level. Regretfully, I think that most people will go ahead and play this level and let me just say, this level was done in rather 'questionable' taste. If you don't want the level revealed now, please turn away.
(SPOILER BEGIN) The level that is in question involves you, a CIA operative, infiltrating a group of Russian militia, who intend on slaughtering an entire airport worth of people. This people aren't guards, not police (well, not most of them), they aren't military; these people are innocent travel goers. I know what you're going to say, "But Nathan this is just a game." I agree with this statement; it's just a game. Understand that this moment is simply to define an evil character in the game and nothing more. Your character, the CIA agent, is killed at the end despite what you do. So my question is, how in the world does this help the story by including this level? Simply put, it doesn't. This level serves no purpose other than to show the most violent side of a bad guy. That isn't enough to include this as an option for gamers to play. A cut scene could have been used for this or maybe even a still shot description with a voice over. Folks, I generally don't mind games that have 'questionable' moments in them. Though I don't play GTA, I understand why people do. This is different though for some reason. I didn't feel comfortable playing it and what's worse is that there isn't a way through it without killing innocent people or police. You can't kill the Russians. You can't really avoid killing anyone. There's literally no way out of it other than completely not including it in the game at the beginning of the campaign. (SPOILER END)
Anyway, the story is damn good and you'll find yourself wrapped up in this tangled web of tragedy, betrayal and redemption. You'll get to defend the land, perform a daring prison break (for a familiar face) and you'll get involved in a fast-paced boat chase. The campaign alone could have entertained you, if not only for 4-5 hours. There's so much to do that you'll want to replay it.
Infinity Ward knew that wasn't enough though and included a couple of more goodies for you. The second mode of play is the Special Ops mode. This mode allows you to play certain missions and garnish certain trophies and accomplishments. For example, there is a mission where you'll be in a firefight with Russians on a bridge. They'll repel from the sides and you'll have to dig down to hold them off and ultimately eliminate the bad guys. The great thing about Special Ops is that you'll get a chance to do some split screen action with a friend. That's a huge deal considering how detailed and fun this game is. It's fun watching someone play, but even better to get involved. Excellent stuff and a welcomed mode to the family.
The last mode you'll get is the 18 player Multiplayer mode. You can go online and enjoy a nearly lag-free experience in bigger, better environments from the original. I know how much this mode was played to death in the first game and because of the improvements (which include much better spawning areas), you'll find the online mode a welcomed addition to this already monster of a game.
So with all this information, how's the replay value of the game? Like I said in the campaign section, you're going to get about 4-5 hours of gameplay from the campaign. This number could certainly go higher when you up the difficulty. Ladies and gents, the difficulty, even on regular, is insane. There were times in the game where I wanted to shift the difficulty during the gameplay (and yes, you can do this), but had to hold off for your sakes. The difficulty is a point I want to discuss briefly as there are parts in the game that certainly will make you want to throw the PS3 controller at your local cat/TV. One in particular is going to get your goat and that's your jolly adventure in a South America village. Apparently everyone who lives there owns guns and is an expert firearms guru. You'll find yourself easily confused and easily frustrated during this stage; mark it down, it's a guarantee. For me, and I know I'm a minority on this; this is a bit of a downer for the game. You should go into it having a chance and this particular stage doesn't give you a snowballs chance in hell. All the other stages in the game are fine, even the all out gunfight at the end. If you take into account the difficulty level can be upped here and there then you're certain to get more time out of it. Plus, as I've not found a lot, there are some goodies that extend the experience. Given the depth of the weaponry, the small side quests of collecting intel and the endless multiplayer love fest, you'll find the $59.99 just right.
Need more proof?
Presentation like no other
As I'm sure you've heard, the presentation in this game is perfect. I'm not just saying the looks. The game excels above and beyond in looks, in sound, in acting, in story, in environments, in everything. Let's break this down.
Sure you've seen the trailers and you're certain of how this game looks. Nope, nada, you haven't seen the game in HD. You haven't experience the lively environments and the sheer depth of visuals that the game has in store for you. You haven't truly seen anything before purchasing the game. I went back tonight and looked at the trailer that we had for this game and it doesn't do the game justice. Need an example? Wait until you see D.C. on fire. The broken streets, the fiery red flames of invasion spanning everywhere; it's absolutely insane. It gets better when you hop on helicopter and have to fly over the area and take out enemies. Wait until you get to the War Memorial; it's dead on the actual one. Oh, and the character models? They are sick in the worst way. They are so incredibly detailed that you forget that is a game. The characters will draw you in and you'll remember their faces. Need an example? (sheesh you're pushy) Wait until you break out your old friend from jail. When you see his face you'll know him. How many games can show you a character without announcing a name and you go, "Oh, wow"? Not many. What about the atmosphere? Dust blows, blizzards cover your eyes and when someone casts out a white flash or a smoke grenade, you're super screwed. The environmental effects are as beautiful and deadly as all the other visuals.
The final piece to all of this is dedicated acting. How about this list:
- Keith David (you'll know him when you hear him)
- Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan anyone? He was the sniper)
- Kevin McKidd (He starred in Rome the television series)
- 50 Cent (he's already got experience with gunshots; perfect fit)
That's just a taste of the voice acting. That's an already insane amount of talent to make the game realistic. That's just what all of those people do too. They make the story better and make the experience real.
That last set of words in the previous sentence is important. To date, there is no other game to date that will have you so wrapped up in the outcome. By the end of the game I was determined to finish the mission. Not to write to this review, not to make sure my wife doesn't hate me for spending so much time with it; no, it was to get the bad guy. There are only a hand full of games in my nearly 30 years of gaming that have made me want to drop all things to finish the mission. It's that good people.