With throngs of bros and fanboys rushing to get the latest kill simulator known as “Modern Warfare 2” from their local shopkeeps, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the original that started this craze, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” A game that everyone heralded to be so good that it blew Halo out of the water in terms of FPS dominance, and thanks to a billion dollar marketing campaign, it would have you believe in that hype (and is trying to do it again, mind you.)
And in truth, it is pretty good. A well executed game that delivers a lot of fun, with the multi-player at least. Yes, like “Halo” itself, Modern Warfare is something of a clone with add-ons that, while really fun to partake in, suffers from the weight of its mediocrity at points. The biggest problem is that the game lacks any real GOOD single player game. The second biggest problem is that the multi-player game is so well made; it turns into the shield for any criticism about it.
But let’s not throw it out just yet. The game has you star primarily as “Soap” McTavish, the poorly named new recruit to the British Special Forces, kind of the Green Berets of the Isles, led by Lemmy’s cousin, Captain Price. Price is as stereotypical as they get, and this is also a foreshadowing for later, since the game pretty much goes from cockney Brits to gun toting Americans with bazookas for crotches to a Black Marine who performs hip-hop. It’s good to see that Infinity Ward is above stereotypes.
But the point of the single player campaign is to take control of McTavish and a few other characters, including Price himself, through missions that involve a terrorist plot against an unnamed Middle Eastern Country that does not resemble Iraq in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM, and Russia, because we all know the Cold War is still going on. I guess the “Modern” part of the game does make sense since the only real evils of the world are the Middle East and Russia.
And from there, it’s actually pretty standard. If you have played a Call of Duty game by Infinity Ward before, such as “Call of Duty 2,” you know what to expect. Tons of enemies spawning and respawning with semi-scripted events happening, your comrades, with their names lit across their foreheads, dying and respawning as well, or not dying at all, for some reason. Scripted environments and mission objectives and kick ass action sequences.
The controls work well through all of the missions, and the game plays real well of course, but the problem is the boring side of 90% of what you have to do. It’s mostly going to point A to stop, find, kill or capture item X. Throw in poor driving missions and a kick ass sniper mission, which in my opinion is the only cool part about the game, and you got Modern Warfare.
Other than the aforementioned sniping mission, there are some other cool aspects too. One sequence has you manning a remote controlled attack gun from above, shooting enemy soldiers from below in a sort of Black and white night vision mode. It was a definite break from the rest of the game, and kind of fun to try something new, but it felt too short and was too easy to get through. Another mission has you attempting to escape what is supposed to be a nuclear bomb, which is also done really well and has such a potent ending to it, it is hard not to like the effort into the unknowingly commentary that Infinity Ward put into the game, one where morality and war can be questioned.
But these moments aside, the single player campaign borderlines James Bond lunacy; One level for example has you storming a military base underground with a 30 minute time limit to diffuse a nuclear bomb, kill the mastermind behind the whole game, and to fight through corridors after corridors of baddies by the skin of your teeth. This turns into fiction over a real interpretation of Modern Warfare fast, despite trying to show how a Special Forces unit operates. Plus everyone has talked about the ending, so I won’t say anymore on that.
And you know what really gets me? Everyone says the multiplayer is so damn good; it can forgive the single player storyline being somewhat uninspired and standard. And you know what, they are also wrong? Ok, the multi-player in the game is brilliant. It takes a novel concept, leveling up your Avatar, which gives you access to weapons and special abilities. Plus, depending on how good you are in the game, you can access special abilities such as attack helicopters and bombing runs to help you, or your team, achieve their goals in battle. It is a great system that, like it or not, the gaming world has pretty much emulated since then for multi-player. But it is not enough to save the game. The maps are thought out but small, the good weapons are only accessible through playing it, and the variety of matches is severely limited online, hell, Halo has at least ten different multiplayer type matches alone, Modern Warfare has what, three maybe? It’s really good and what they have done is innovative, but it is still no excuse for a half-done game.
The game is graphically really good though. The opening movie alone showcases the flashy in game graphics, the textures and design are well constructed, and the locations are surprisingly varied, even though most of them boil down to corridor fighting in the end due to the linearity of the game. I still say the best aspect of the game is the sniper level, hiding in the grass and sneaking around looked so good and believable. It is hard not to love that level.
The sound is good too. The music, save for one really annoying and out of place rap song, is really good. It’s somewhat subtle, but also at times sweeping when necessary. The sound effects are just fantastic, with every explosion and gun pop resonating around you in various tones, a great mimic to how it should sound, at the very least. I also liked the voice acting but the fact that they all were stereotypes really annoyed me though.
But when the dust is clear, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” is at beast a decent game to play. It is definitely a multi-player experience, but the single player, like Halo, is really, REALLY weak. So painfully weak that I considered giving this game a C, but that would be unfair I think. While “Modern Warfare 2” looks like it will continue in this trend, and the “Call of Duty” series is has been doing this for years now, I doubt it will change. Any nuances made to the gameplay are on the multi-player line of the game, the sole reason why it’s hyped to be the best game ever made, which makes me laugh, frankly. If they want to make a multi-player only game, I’m all for it! In fact I bet it would be amazing. But generating a crappy storyline that borderlines cartoon lunacy that is short, pointless and obviously not even what people are focusing on is not going to give this game an A.
Final Score- B