Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare will always be remembered as a title that changed the way we play games online. From the induction of prestige rank to the perk setting, Modern Warfare allowed gamers a sense of bragging and customization unheard of in the FPS world. Activision and Infinity Ward’s title took home countless Game of the Year awards that year and left both reviewers and gamers (same thing) extremely satisfied.
Fast forward two years to 2009. We’re on the heels of the release of Modern Warfare 2. The sequel and next iteration into the Call of Duty franchise from Infinity Ward. The developer, publisher and game itself has a lot to live up to. Gamers around the world have imbued the title with a ton of hype and expectations, anything less than a perfect experience will leave many feeling disappointed. Thankfully, Activision threw a killer event last week in Los Angeles to show off the multiplayer aspects of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. You’ve probably already read a decent amount of previews for the event, but I was saving my thoughts for the launch of our website tonight.
I’ll first let you know that I took part in 29 matches and my team was actually successful in winning every single one of them. It was quite impressive. This other previewer and I absolutely dominated the competition (of course, I dove into play after everyone had already had a few drinks, so this may have been why we were doing so well), with each of us landing in the top 2-3 every single game. One of the things I learned right off the bat was that if you’re going to be successful in Modern Warfare 2, either make sure everyone else is a little buzzed or always remember to shoot in quick consistent bursts. This is the best way to achieve maximum accuracy with your weapon and to mow your opponent down. While there were a lot of guys running around just holding the trigger, you could tell these were the noobs of the party and easy take down.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pro. In fact, I’m sure when the game launches, I’ll have less than a 1:1 ratio. However, when it comes down the realm of reviewers, I’ll boldly claim to be one of the best gamers in the bunch. That’s right, I said it. Moving on.
The Infinity Ward team had player resets going on every twenty minutes, so we were limited in what guns we could unlock and use throughout our experience. The games start out much like they did in the original with all of the users in the lobby setting up their classes or picking their weaponry until finally being dropped into a map. One of the first things you’re going to notice once inside the game is how much more refined the entire experience truly is. The attention to detail in the surrounding environment is not only impressive, but completely unexpected. It was quite evident from the get go that the development team spent a lot of time perfecting this title and giving it the enhancements it needs to be that leap over the original.
Once you get over the “awe” factor from the environmental enhancements, you start sprinting around and firing off bullets. This is when you realize that Infinity Ward went with the “it’s not broke, don’t fix it” policy, but also decided, “We should probably improve upon it as well.” While the gameplay mechanics are 100% Modern Warfare 2, the ability to use perks like Unlimited Sprint and devices like the Tactical Insurgence help elevate the gaming experience to that next level.
I had the chance to play through three maps during my time with the game: Highrise, Afghan and Rio.
Highrise takes place on the very rooftops of buildings that feature a helipad with a stationary helicopter surrounded by air conditioning units. This level was particularly fun because it involved blowing out a lot of windows and enjoying the glass effects that would follow. Highrise is more for your close-quarter combat enthusiasts, but if you’re lucky to hold up in the office building long enough, you may be able to find an advantageous sniper spot. Regardless of how you want to play this level, you should go into it expecting to die often.
Afghan is a level filled with rugged hills and an airplane crash site. This map is a little bit more wide open than Highrise. This obviously means that there is a lot more potential for snipers to find spots they enjoy. I often found myself moving back and forth at the top of the hill trying to mow down enemies from a distance (mowing down enemies from a distance offers up more reward points). This is also a level where you can enjoy flanking an enemy from one side of the map to the other due to how the hills form.
Rio takes place in an urban arena of buildings, alleys and roads. You need to run up stairs, across rooftops, throughout buildings and what not to be successful here. This is more of a hybrid of the first two maps I discussed and it allows for a nice balance of long-range gunning and close-quarter warfare. It’s definitely one of my favorite maps because you’ll often find yourself being picked off without even realizing where the bullets are coming from. Thankfully the kill cam is still in place to bring light to the situation.
The kill cam has also led the way for the shining beacon of light that is the “Game Winning Kill Cam.” Basically, at the end of every match, you are able to check out the kill that sealed the deal in either your victory or defeat. These prove to be often hilarious as some of the ways people gain the last kills are great (especially when you earn a Crotch shot from it!).
For you Kill Streak fanatics, you’ll be happy to know that the new customizable streaks are definitely cool. While I didn’t have a chance to play around with it, the idea of being able to optimize your kill streaks and how you use them is something I look forward to. One of the things I did notice is that the kill streaks are stackable. If you earn a predator missile after earning a UAV, you can still utilize the UAV after the missile. This adds the potential to do some serious damage depending on how you customize your kill streaks before the match.
Finally, the opposite of kill streaks is the death streak abilities. Death Streaks allow for noob players to get a better sense of what builds work and don’t work as well as an opportunity for a health boost (this will probably aid against base raiders as well). The two death streaks on display were Copy Cat and Pain Killer. Copy Cat allows you to steal the class of the guy who kills you on your fourth consecutive death. This means you may be given access to a weapon you haven’t already unlocked. Pain Killer allows you to respond with a boost of health, giving you the chance to eliminate a pesky insurgent or infidel. They’re out there, believe me.
Despite being a heavy PlayStation supporter and loving the idea that Uncharted 2 could potentially and deservingly win Game of the Year this year, I find it hard pressed to believe that any title is going to dethrone the Modern Warfare name from that honor. From just my little segment of time with the title, I could tell that Infinity Ward wanted to truly blow their fanbase away and I think they’ve achieved just that. Whether I receive a review copy or not for this upcoming shooter won’t matter. I’ll still be there on at midnight upon release picking up my night-vision goggles to wear on the car ride home!