Friday 4 December 2009

Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 (PC)

I bought Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare a couple of years ago and was, frankly, blown away by the outstanding graphics (even on a fairly low end PC), exciting and involving narrative and intense gameplay.

I've been through the game a few times, although my few forays online have resulted in intense frustration as I was repeated killed without even having a clue where the opposition was.

I was, therefore, looking forward to Modern Warfare 2. The trailers looked good (more of the same, but MORE somehow), but the initial release price put me off (COD4 still sells for more than I paid for it - Around £15) and I imagined it would be some months before I got hold of a copy.

A chance offer of a big discount (£25 off!) changed that and I soon had COD : MW2 on my PC and was ready to go.

The PC version of the game installs Steam which forces regular updates and downloads - I could do without this personally. Some say this also means that you cannot resell the game if you tire of it, a big negative in my view (especially at the high initial purchase price) if true.

Although very much the same kind of experience there are actually a number of things I don't enjoy as much about MW2 as I did MW.

First off the colours sometimes seems a bit too vibrant on my PC (see the photo in the boat for a good example).

The washed out colourations of COD4 were different and lent the game a different feeling, but the new games is too bright for my eyes at times. This might be an issue with my oldish graphics card, but it was a negative (albeit a small one).

On the positive side, the graphics are still grand, detailed and wonderful (more on that later, though) and the performance is still outstanding even on my AMD2 PC - this is no gaming Monster PC - except on the ultimate detail settings (and you don't NEED that to enjoy the richness of the games graphics, although it does reward you if you have a high end PC and graphics card).

Secondly the game seems more manic than COD4. There's still a narrative of sorts, but it feels less convincing and coherent and the action is unrelently 'press-on', which means all too often that you can't take in the rich and amazing vistas on offer - You are rarely rewarded (except with a lot of blood spatter) for stepping back and considering the situation and the lean option has been removed, which means cover is strictly on or off and often stepping out from cover will get you killed instantly.

The game also seems rather easy compared to the original. On the Regular setting I often found levels where I really struggled in the original game (I'm not a gaming hotshot!), but I found no such challenges in MW2. Some list the Favella level and the Burger Bar level as challenging, but aside from a few brief delays (especially in the Favella) I encountered little to stop my progress through the levels and the time it takes to play through all the levels in the game seems much less than to play COD4:MW. It took me around 10 hours to complete the game (over a couple of weeks, but I've heard people claim to complete it in 6 hours).

Some of the levels seem to be almost lifted directly from TV programmes or films (Generation Kill - see image below - or Red Dawn viewers will spot the obvious influences), whereas the original game seemed, on the whole, more, well, original...

The controversial "Terrorist training" level is a bit distasteful, but you don't have to shoot civilians (I didn't, but most people I know did!) to get through to the point where the security forces engage you. That said, if shooting people in a computer game is really going to upset you, you're unlikely to buy MW2 and it does come with a prominent 18 rating (in the UK at least) and you can choose to simply skip the whole level at any point during or before it.

Finally, the end of the game is a little disappointing - the speed boat chase is out of character (a bit like a rubbish first person driving game on a console) and the final scenes involve little or no skill or control and the denoument is really just a, frankly, silly rehash of the original game's ending.

That said, the end does leave the narrative suitably open-ended, if a little obviously erring towards a "Soldier of Fortune" kind of plotline.

Overall, Call Of Duty : Modern Warfare 2 is more of the same, but somehow less...

If you have COD4:MW then you'll probably enjoy MW2, but if you only buy one of the COD : MW games make it the original and save yourself a few quid.

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