There was a point in time when nearly everyone picked up Infinity Ward’s games for their single player campaigns. But after the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, those days are evidently over. Some say it’s because the draw for multiplayer is so strong. Others say it’s due to the fact that Infinity Ward hasn’t done anything noteworthy with their single player campaign in quite some time. It’s a bit of both, in my opinion.
For the longest time, Infinity Ward was known for their intense firefights and cinematic set pieces. Over the years, I’ve felt that they’ve honed their cinematic skills, but neglected to improve on their formula for producing engaging battles. The enemies won’t flank, they run around with no rhyme or reason and they continue to pop up like this was some light gun shooter on rails. I did not enjoy these “battles” at all. It was more of the same and I’m tired of it. The only reason I kept pushing forward was to see what other craziness Infinity Ward had in store for me.
And how crazy it was. The “story” I mean. It’s not surprising that this game feels like a series of unrelated globe trotting excursions tied together with a very loose narrative — the writer practically admits it. It makes for a varied game, but that’s about it. Every excuse to move from one location to the next felt farfetched and as much as I enjoyed the set pieces, they contributed very little to the story. I did not finish the campaign feeling satisfied.
But, like I said, I was entertained by most of the set pieces embedded within Modern Warfare 2. Whether it was breaching walls to save hostages or rappelling down the side of a cliff, these moments always delighted me. The ones that didn’t were few and far between and usually involved some high speed vehicle. I found them to be cheap and throwaway like the enemy soldiers they tossed out to me during said sequences.
So what if there was some way to focus on what Infinity Ward does best and mitigate the burden of taking out waves upon waves of enemy troops by my lonesome? Does such a mythical game exist? Fortunately, it’s found under the banner of “Spec Ops”. In this mode, a friend and I could take on these fun bite sized scenarios together without the distraction of a senseless narration. A variety of scenarios included anything between having to fend off waves of enemy soldiers to clearing a path for my partner via AC130 gunfire. The relentless nature of the enemies was tempered by the fact that they divided their gunfire between the two live humans instead focusing on just one. This resulted in more manageable gun battles. Plus, we were able to revive one another with ease which also put things in our favor.
Much like with the first Modern Warfare, this game works best while on the move. If I took time to smell the roses and admire the scenery, I would be disappointed by the absence of quality details. The developers were more into setting up a grand stage with lots of stuff happening rather than focusing on fewer higher quality details. It would have been nice to have it both ways, but that’s the sacrifice you have to make in order to maintain 60 frames per second on a console. Thankfully, the more important aspects such as lighting, gun and character models were given significant upgrades. They really pop out at me now.
I enjoyed bits and pieces of Modern Warfare 2‘s campaign, but it’s the Spec Ops mode where the game really shines. With that in mind and the ever popular multiplayer, I have to wonder if Infinity Ward wants to even make these campaigns anymore. Without the campaign, they don’t need to work on the already weak A.I. and confusing stories; they can focus on creating kick ass scenarios. And if you’re looking for just that, the Spec Ops mode is just for you. The campaign? It’s nothing to write home about.
Next up, some thoughts on the multiplayer.
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For more information on Modern Warfare 2, visit the official website.