"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," likely the biggest video game of the year, went on sale at midnight Tuesday. And hype has hit a fever pitch. Analysts expect the mature-rated title to become the most successful entertainment launch ever – demolishing sales records for movies and video games. Several Innovation commenters told us they plan to skip work today (or all week) to play the game. And finally, the embargo on reviews has lifted, letting loose a torrent of praise.
If you haven't purchased the game yet – and its 96 percent Metacritic rating isn't motivation enough – here's what reviewers are saying about the blockbuster release.
While the story in the first Modern Warfare surprised many with its power and depth – moving deftly from explosive to disturbingly quiet moments – the game's multiplayer was what made it a blockbuster. Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb says that both aspects are back, even if the single-player parts try a little too hard.
Rather than taking a ton of huge big-budget risks, Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer carefully builds upon the developer's previous success in ways that will astound people who have spent the last two years learning every corner of every map in the previous game. Instead, the risky stuff is saved for the single-player campaign, which offers tightly packed thrills and rock-solid gameplay, though the narrative is so wild it can get exhausting. [Giant Bomb, 5 out of 5]
Many reviewers agree that the game's action and pacing set Modern Warfare 2 apart from most other first-person shooters.
The player is both thrilled and disorientated by the constant pace of the action which comes so thick and fast that the player really does feel that death (or at least game over) could come at any second. It's in this way that Modern Warfare 2, more than any other shooter in the market, both challenges the player's reflexes and accuracy while at the same time engaging their primal need for survival. It all adds up to some of the best shooter action money can buy. [The Telegraph, 10 out of 10.]
If you're not interested in playing this game online, be forewarned: IGN was far more excited about the game's mulitplayer mode than its five-or-six-hour campaign.
For the strictly single player crowd, however, Modern Warfare 2 is surprisingly short, and doesn’t live up to the standard set by previous Call of Duty games. The campaign can be completed in as little as four and a half hours, and the missions make better scenarios and moment-to-moment adrenaline rushes than they do a cohesive, well-told story. [IGN, 9.5 out of 10]
This is where the game really sparkles, according to most reviewers.
Multiplayer is every bit as good as you'd expect. Infinity Ward has refined rather than revolutionised the Call of Duty 4 formula, but the key here is customisation. You can create a personalised profile with your own emblem and call sign, unlock your own killstreaks and even unlock 'pro' versions of perks if you want to push your character as far as possible. It's polished, smooth and leagues ahead of almost every other FPS on Xbox 360. [Offical Xbox Magazine UK, 10 out of 10]
New Spec-Ops cooperative mode
The new game adds two-player co-op scenarios. Much like another recent blockbuster, "Uncharted 2," MW2 places these battles in familiar locations, but outside of the normal storyline.
You and a buddy can battle through a series of bite-sized challenges; borrowing scenarios and locations from the single-player story, each mission has you and a partner completing tasks together (like surviving an enemy onslaught in a shopping center or racing against one another in snowmobiles). Spec-Ops is more than the usual "battle against waves of enemies" but not quite a full, stand-alone story. Instead, it sits in a middle space that's surprisingly fun and engaging. [1Up.com, A+]
To add a little "balance" to this applause, we turned to the publication that gave the game its lowest rating thus far: the thoughtful UK mag Edge, which gave the game a 9 out of 10. (That alone should say something about the caliber of Modern Warfare 2.)
As an experience, it is occasionally undone by a tension torn between being serious and being Clancy, being massmarket and being complex. War games aren’t funny, it says, then starts a war against ‘Ivan’ that’s straight from Red Dawn.... So which game is Modern Warfare 2? Is it that mechanic-defining, comprehensively structured and plainly excellent shooter with the best multiplayer in the genre, or a game that entirely fetishes its subject while being mock-serious about it, with the best multiplayer in the genre? We’re not sure it’s either, or neither. Modern Warfare 2 is brilliant, and just a little bit dumb. [Edge, 9 out of 10]
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