Review by slobmeat

"Not for the average FPS gamer"

Intro
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I'm a heavy gamer, but rarely play first person shooters. All my X360 friends were playing this game and since I occasionally enjoy some FPS, I thought this was the one to play online.

Graphics
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The graphics are nice, what more can I say.

Sound
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The sound and music are fine. It'd be interesting to play with surround sound in multiplayer.

Story
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I found the campaign's story somewhat confusing - mainly keeping all the names straight. The missions jump back and forth between several different soldiers and there are a lot of different characters. This is neat because it lets you see different military forces working together in separate parts of the world. I might be missing something having not played Modern Warfare 1. If I played the game again, I'm sure it'd make a lot more sense though. There were some cool and varied missions. The locations also varied from snowy airstrips, to an oil rig, and a destroyed city. I even liked the ending. Overall the story was ok.

Gameplay
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First off, don't play the campaign through on Veteran (hardest) like I did. It's VERY hard. Enemies can kill you in 2-3 shots. A lot of missions seemed to require luck to make it to the next checkpoint. There are frequent checkpoints to help you out and you almost always have an invincible story ally. After I beat it, I replayed some missions to search for intel items on “easy” and that was too easy. If you stick with “Regular” or “Veteran” most should enjoy that.

It seemed like a standard FPS gameplay wise. I wish it had a cover system like Mass Effect 2 or Gears of War. You can only crouch and then pop out manually.

Multiplayer
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**Despite beating the campaign on the hardest level, I wasn't even close to prepared for online play. This is not a game for the average FPS fan. People online are incredibly good. Compared to them I am terrible, with a kill ratio a bit better than 1 kill per 2 deaths. Even after 20 hours of online play, I haven't improved much.

There is a fair amount of customization for your character. You start off as Level 1 with access to only a few weapons and perks. You can set up custom classes (or play with default setups). You get to pick from a variety of weapons, Assault Rifles, SMGs, Pistols, Launchers, etc. You can pick your equipment ranging from grenades, throwing knives, C4, to blast shields. You also get to pick 3 perks. An example is Cold-Blooded, which makes you invisible to thermal scopes, UAVs, and air support. As you level up and get kills, you unlock attachments to your weapons like a grenade launcher, different kinds of sights, silencers, and more. You also get to set your killstreak rewards that you earn for getting consecutive kills. These can be a simple UAV or sentry gun, or powerful air support, and even a Nuclear Bomb.

There are plenty of mini-achievements to keep you going. Attachments need to be unlocked for EACH specific weapon. All the perks have a pro level that can be unlocked if you do something enough times. There are also challenges (like kill multiple enemies with a grenade, 5 times) that earn you extra XP. Once you hit level 70, you can prestige and restart at level 1 too – 10 times I think.

There are only about 10 maps though and more are available if you're willing to pay $20 for 5 maps (2 packs). There are the standard game types - deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, etc. Each game can have different rules, but generally you respawn almost instantly, there's no friendly fire, and your health regenerates.

I was told there are no dedicated servers and that one player acts as the host. This seems to create lag. My guess is that this helps you as much as it hurts you though. The enemy's killcam of you can be very frustrating. On your screen you'll see yourself hit the enemy with a few shots before you die, but on the killcam you never fired and they didn't get hurt at all. Another example is that you'll turn a corner and think you've escaped some gunfire, only to die and see on the killcam you were killed before you made the corner. One time I turned and ran a few steps and then saw the enemy turn a corner and appear in front of me and kill me, but on the killcam it was the opposite, they turned their corner first and killed me just as I turned mine.

Generally everyone just plays for themselves with no teamwork. There isn't much chat mid-mission, just annoying people in the intermission before the next match. There are no controlled bases, and people can spawn anywhere. Sometimes you even spawn right in front of an enemy. Stealth is not rewarded at all and you usually get shot from behind. Everyone just runs full speed and leaps out windows like a maniac with no ill effects.

Other players have days of playtime, as in 100s of hours. When they kill you, you get to see what they saw. This helps you learn and you see some pretty amazing skills. People play with very high sensitivity and can spin around almost instantly and still lock onto you and kill you in 2 shots. I saw a guy leap out a window and across a street onto a roof, then jump off and shoot 2 people mid-air, race around a corner and knife someone, and then throw a grenade over a building and hit another poor target. Once players get about 5 kills in a row, they start getting powerful killstreak rewards like Harrier jets that only boost the kill count more and unlock even stronger rewards. Some people even survive long enough to get 25 kills in a row, enough to call in a nuclear bomb that ends the match. Players also know the maps very well, so they know where you'll be hiding and can also spot you easily while prone, with camo, and in tall grass.

The game finds you a match pretty quick, but you end up playing with high level people. Even if their level looks low, like 20, they're probably prestiging (restarts you at level 1), so they're not a beginner like you. There's no option to play with real newbies and have fun.

It's too bad they didn't include more from the campaign in multiplayer. You can't shut doors, or use breaches, or repel down ropes, or use any vehicles, or slide down slopes – it's just shooting.

Another annoying aspect is the way damage works. You heal after about 5-10 seconds. This can be changed in the rules, but none of the matches I tried disabled it. Also, it seems like you only have two hit locations, head or everything else. You can die from getting shot in the foot 2-3 times. I think you should stumble or fall down instead, and take more shots in the foot to kill you. The same is true for the arms, you should take less damage and drop your gun or suffer accuracy penalties.

It's disappointing that IW doesn't do more to stop cheaters. The leaderboard is full of people who have cheated. At least the top 1000 have stats like 3 million kills and no deaths, negative stats, and stats so big they overflow the columns. I don't understand why these players haven't been banned and stricken from the leaderboards. You'll also get several voice messages offering to instantly level you in exchange for Microsoft points.

Length
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The campaign will probably take you less than 10 hours. Then there are several Special Ops which could take another 10. Multiplayer could last you hundreds though.

Overall
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The campaign was decent and fun on a normal difficulty setting – but most people probably don't care about this. Multiplayer is what players want and it's frustrating because of everyone's high skill level. It is a FPS though, and there's nothing major wrong with it. Most people with have fun with this type of game. As someone who's not typically a FPS fan, I don't recommend this game to similar players because of the high skill of other players – it'll just make you angry.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 06/10/10

Game Release: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (US, 11/10/09)


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