Review Archive #2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

These reviews I am republishing on my blog were originally published on texasteamplayers.com (now teamplayergaming.com) and are my copyrighted work.  Please do not repost or use these reviews in part or whole without my consent.

 

Intro:  It was midnight November 10th, 2009, and I spent 20 minutes in line to pick up my Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  The ride home was unbearable, not a green light to be seen.   I got to my house, opened my copy and slipped disc 1 of 2 into my DVD drive….   45 minutes remaining on install…..  WHAT!?  Was this an omen of things to come?  Get the full story inside.

 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PC VERSION)

Publisher:  Infinity Ward/Activition-Blizzard

Release Date:  November 10, 2009

M.S.R.P.:  $59.99

Rating:  M (Mature 17+)

 

Article by:  Kyle “Rumble” Bousquet

 

It was an ominous start to my Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 indoctrination.  Almost an hour to install.  The Daily Show with John Stewart was on Comedy Central, so at least half that time was spent well.  The last half hour was torture.  Once it was all installed I noticed it sync’d up with Steam all by itself.   That was nice.  Then things all came apart.

When I double clicked the link for the single player game about 1/2 a second after the Infinity Ward logo started spinning the screen froze.  I could hear the clicks of the menu as I moved my mouse around, but the screen stayed frozen.  I figured it was worth a second shot, so I started it up again, with the same result.  So I tried again, and again, with no luck.

 

Half an hour on the Infinity Ward website and forums led me to find that Windows 7 64-bit can have this very problem with CoD:MW2.  While I didn’t find a solution on the site and forums I did find a solution through trial and error.   I edited the .cfg file in the Players directory of the game and changed the default resolution from 1024×768, to my monitor’s native resolution of 1680×1050.  I started the game and “VOILA!” the menu appeared.

 

I quickly set all my binds the way I like them and dove into the single player experience.

 

For the purposes of this review I later installed CoD:MW2 on my Son’s 32-bit version of Windows 7 so I could review the Spec Ops and Multiplayer components of the game.  I still dock Infinity Ward for having a crippling 64-bit bug for some users.

 

Gameplay

 

WOW!  I use that word because it can mean “Wow that’s awesome!” or “Wow, that sucks!”, much like the single player experience.   I played the extension of the original CoD4:MW storyline, and not Spec Ops first.  The story picks up 5 years after the original, and at times blows your socks off both in story and action.   The enemies are way smarter, but even on Hardened difficulty I found many of them died a bit easily.   I liked the ability to continue the story from the last MW, but two hours into the single player experience and far too often I was thinking “Really?  This is the story they are trying to sell me?”

 

I was equally disappointed at how frantic the pace is in the single player game.  I played a lot of CoD4:MW the past week so I could judge the new game accurately, and while the old game had a fast paced gameplay, the new one is near breakneck speed.   You really can’t even take a moment to reload and get your bearings or the AI will spawn enemies all around you and you’re done for.  I will say that Infinity Ward continues to excel at level design, and the single player campaign is superbly designed.  The level design really shines in both single player, Spec Ops and Multiplayer modes.  In this case it saves the gameplay score from an abyssmal score.

 

On the gameplay front I would say it’s a draw.  Excellent AI and the ability to continue the old story are countered by easy kills and a pace only Buggs Bunny’s nemesis the Tazmanian Devil could handle.  In the end the level design props up the score and makes it higher than it would be based on the other positives and negatives in gameplay.  The environment really is an integral part of the gameplay experience, and the variety of weapons and vehicles you can drive really all mesh together very well.

 

Graphics

 

Clearly the team at Infinity Ward stepped up the graphics engine for this foray into the MW universe.  The familiar desert setting from the first game is improved but not so much that I noticed a whole lot the first time through.  The sandstorm effect was a noticeable improvement, but not much else jumped out at me.

 

Then I got to the first snow level…   I was left picking my jaw up off the keyboard.   The snow, the ice effects, the blizzard/storm that rolls into the base!  It was really impressive.  Player and Enemy models are also improved, as are the textures throughout.  The more I played the more I realized they really did pay close attention to detail on all the textures and little things you never really think about.   For instance, the inside of rooms don’t have just one or two props laying on a table.  You will find a plethora of items strewn about on tables, counters and the floor making the setting come alive.  I can only liken it to Crysis and how they put a lot more objects in rooms than I had ever seen before, but with CoD:MW2 it seems more realistic.

 

Sound

 

I was a little disappointed in the sound this time around.  While the soundtrack was loud and compelling, just as in the previous MW, it overpowered the voiceover and the character voices.  I was never able to strike a balance that worked for me, where game sounds and music blended perfectly. If Infinity Ward had nailed this I’d be giving the sound a solid 100.  Unfortunately they didn’t and it really hurts their score.

 

I was very impressed with the voice actors again, as I was with MW.  They did a great job of making me believe they were real people living through this military event.  I was convinced that  General Shepherd sounded exactly like Optimus Prime (Transformers), but I haven’t seen the voice credits yet.  It’s most likely not the same actor, but his voice really is memorable.

 

Teamplay

Once I had my fill of the Single Player story mode I restarted CoD:MW2 to give Spec Ops and Multiplayer a try.  Wouldn’t you know the game started locking up again at the Infinity Ward logo.  I was not able to successfully start the game again in single or multiplayer modes on my 64-bit system.  After taking the time to get it installed on my Son’s computer I was able to play both modes.

 

*Here is a note to all developers out there who may be reading this; The surest way to get a 0 in any category when you release your game is for the damn thing to be crippled at launch.  I couldn’t launch the multiplayer component of the game even after two hours of reboots,  web searches and tinkering. So without my Son’s computer the review would have been dead.

 

Spec Ops is a 2 player only co-op style multiplayer mode.   I played with a few people I didn’t know, but over all I was pretty pleased with it.   Like any other multiplayer mode, if you get stuck with a real loser for a partner you’ll really get frustrated quickly.  I had one person who was just slow and absent minded which really isn’t good in a fast paced game.  Spec Ops isn’t the single player campaign played in co-op but more like small one act plays.  Think the bonus mission on the plane at the end of CoD:MW if you beat the game.  I think Spec Ops mode is a nice addition and it does help teach teamplay.

 

The full on multiplayer was fun.  I think Infinity Ward made a mistake by excluding dedicated servers, and there was a few instances where I was waiting for the match making software to find players (even with 8000+ people playing), but once in the multiplayer game I fell into a familiar rhythm of sneaking around  the map looking for heads to pop.  I didn’t really think Infinity Ward did enough new in multiplayer for me to give them stellar marks here.  I did enjoy it, a lot, but the matching system and the bugs on 64-bit Windows 7 really soured me.  The matching system in particular had me playing people from Europe more than the USA, which to me means there’s something really wrong with the matching system.  Another factor that again helps boost the games scoring is the excellent level design.

 

SCORES

 

Gameplay:  75/100  (I would need a case of Red Bull just to keep up with the pace of the game)

Teamplay:  70/100 (I expected more but Spec Ops mode brought up the score)

Graphics: 90/100  (I was more impressed the longer I played)

Audio:  80/100 (Would be a 90+ if I could get music and voice blanced better, maybe if I ever get the game working again I can fiddle with it more)

Conclusion:  78/100 (Infinity Ward needs to patch this game immediately!)

 

Infinity Ward should be ashamed they shipped this game with such an obvious flaw in it.  If their own forums are any indication a thorough testing on Windows 7 64-bit would have uncovered this problem.

 

Minimum System Requirements

• CPU: Pentium 3GHz or AMD64 3200+ or better

• GPU: Shader 3.0 or better 256MB nVidia GeForce 6600GT or ATI Radeon 1600XT or better

• Ram: 512MB (Windows XP)/ 1GB (Vista or Windows 7)

• Hard Drive: 16GB free Hard Drive Space

• OS: Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32 or 64-bit)

• Internet Connection Required

 

Reviewers Son’s System Specs:

• CPU: Pentium 4 3.0GHz

• GPU: Nvidia GeForce 9400GT

• Ram: 2GB

• Hard Drive: 250GB Seagate Barracuda SATA

• OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit

• DirectX: 11

• Sound: Creative Labs X-Fi Extreme Gamer Fatal1ty

• Optical drive: DVD/RW

• Internet: Broadband (8mbit cable)

 

Reviewers System Specs:

• CPU: Core 2 Quad Q6600

• GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 216.

• Ram: 4.GB

• Hard Drive: Dual 500GB Seagate Barracuda’s in Raid0

• OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

• DirectX: 11

• Sound: ASUS Xonar X2 5.1 with Turtle Beach 5.1 Surround Headphones

• Optical drive: DVD/RW

• Internet: Broadband (8mbit cable)

 

*Thanks to my wonderful and understanding wife who let me sleep all day so I could stay up all night and get this review done.

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