Modern Warfare 2 to the industry represents the biggest single release of the year. While I don’t exactly agree that it deserves the honor, the core shooting mechanic is one of the best in the FPS genre regardless of platform. Modern Warfare 2 has all the right set pieces from a sheer ice wall to the American capital; yet playing through the campaign on hardened, I was able to complete the game in little over 6 hours. The second half of the campaign hosts two of the most memorable single player missions I’ve played in a game in recent memory, The Enemy of My Enemy and Contingency; but Wolverines which has you fighting through the streets of Rio, is in my opinion one of the worst levels I’ve had the chance of playing ever in the FPS genre. Rio simply is a clusterfcuk, I literally died 5-6 times in some sections and like a light gun game the swarms of enemies would always pop-up out of the same place. The Rio level represents one the most tedious and aggravating missions I’ve ever played in video game.

Modern Warfare 2’s plot is over the top referencing Red Dawn quite a bit, in stark contrast the fourth mission is one of the most un-easying and emotional moments that most people playing the game will have experienced in a video game. When you first boot MW2, the game will ask you if you would like to be warned when an extremely graphic mission when you get to it. The game puts you in the shoes of a CIA operative that has infiltrated a Russian terrorist cell, the mission opens with you walking out of a freight elevator on to the concourse holding a LMG a long side 3 other individuals. One individual says “no russian”, and then they open fire. The first-half of the mission plays out like an interactive cut scene while hundreds of civilians are mowed down in front of you, if you pause the game gives you an option to skip the mission. You can walk through the concourse not firing a single bullet, yet if you shoot the terrorists your mission fails and is reset, admittedly killing the terrorists would have likely changed the entire plot going forward. However it highlights a serious flaw in the series linear game play, not being able to play out the mission as your instincts guide you, cheapened the experience for me. The mission is in a grey-area having the mission in the game opens it up to flak from the outside media, yet the liner game play extremely limits my experience and alongside the ability the skip the mission almost feels like a cop-out, failing to move the industry forward in storytelling. The whole game feels conflicted between serious and over the top, for example the mission preceding the airport level ends with a driving sequence on a snow mobile shooting your glock GTA style at enemies on snow mobiles.

Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer on PS3 and 360 features some of the best multiplayer action to-date on the console, and from the short amount of Spec-Ops I played boasts an excellent co-op. However as I’ve been vocal on many community sites including this blog, IW has completely destroyed a great experience that was Call of Duty 4 on the PC platform. I do not support Infinity Ward’s naive and greedy removal of such basic features that not only make the PC platform unique but also allow competitive e-sports to thrive in a fair environment. Infinity Ward and some notable arguably ignorant journalist have claimed that the removal and implementation of a closed system would enhance the experience for the casual player, clamp down on piracy, and eliminate cheating. Already everything claimed has been debunked, visiting a torrent site shows that piracy is greater than ever for the game, and that the online mode has been already partially cracked. Not only that but last week  1up ran a story about aim-bots and hacks already being available. I agree that matchmaking has its place, but like in Left 4 Dead it can coexist alongside dedicated servers. With the removal of basic unique platform features that enhance the PC gaming community like mods and servers on the PC, and combined with the wide amount of choice in the FPS genre with vibrant communities like Team Fortress, Battlefield, Left4Dead, Counter Strike, and Call of Duty 4, I cannot recommend the game to any seasoned PC gamer. However if you’re looking for a top-notch multiplayer experience on the console platforms this is the game for you.

(disclosure: I did not purchase the game, I had a chance to play it both on a co-workers 360 and a complete play through on the PC with a friends steam account)

PC version is clearly a console port, minor quirks ex. inability to change resolution before watching opening cut-scene at sub-par blurry non-native resolution.
super sharp and crisp, runs great, nothing industry standard.
fitting score, great weapon and ambient sounds. overall great, nothing outstanding.
Plot Development
conflicting tones in story, linear gameplay harms plot and emotional development.
Core Gameplay
excellent shooting mechanics, minor quirks ex: removal of basic and useful lean movement
great setpieces, outstanding missions & poor missions like Wolverines!, extremely short.
removal of basic unique pc features harm community and gameplay, while console multiplayer offers best of series.
Modern Warfare 2 has its highs and lows, overall it boils down to Activision’s anti-consumer removal of basic pc features and linear gameplay that inhibits the plot development, of what could have been a GOTY contender.