Modern Warfare 2: It’s not that’s it’s a bad game, per se…

…it’s just not a fantastic one, either.

If you’ll ignore the whole multiplayer controversy, the whole “Infinity Ward screwed us”, “Steam prevents resale”, “the game isn’t balanced for your grandmother”, “there’s no customisation” and many other issues besides, the game isn’t half bad. (I may or may not be kidding about that second to last one. We’ll see.)

I had to think long and hard about the purchase of this one. After reading multiple reviews online, their stories of the horror of multiplayer were shocking. I eventually caved after EB Games held a Monday Madness sale where they sold MW2 for $73, with free shipping. Rather than buy it from Steamerica (as opposed to Steamstralia who are selling it at the rip-off price of US $89) for US $69 and then having to download roughly 12-15GB of content, I took the plunge. It’s only money, right?

The single player, as short as it is, is pretty good. The general gameplay is satisfactory – while it’s no game-changer by any means, it’s similar enough to the first Modern Warfare to keep existing players of the series entertained, while sucking in a whole new generation with new weapons, weapon sights (personally I’m a huge fan of the ACOG sights, followed by holographics, red dot, and finally, iron sights), locations, and an ending that more than paves the way for a Modern Warfare 3.

All in all, I finished the single player on the Regular difficulty just under the 6 hour mark. Not looking for any enemy intel along the way netted me 50% completion – but the thing is, like the recent FPS- with-RPG-elements game Borderlands, I don’t really feel compelled to complete the game again. Not because it’s not a good game, but because it’s not a great one – why do the same thing over and over again? When the only thing that’s for certain is you’ll “die” (I use that term losely) more, the enemies will be harder, and there’ll be less ammo/ weapon pickups, there’s kinda no point…

Multiplayer is just a bag of hurt. It’s not just bad, it’s unpredictably bad, which is about three times as worse as when you’ve discovered the girl you like is taken, or a lesbian. Not that there’s anything wrong with either, but I digress. Joining a multiplayer game involves a ritual involving a blue moon, a skinned cat, and a chook that has been washed in pigs blood, and staying connected is a matter of performing the above acts while hanging upside-down over a 300 metre high gorge. Or something. Yes, I’ve deliberately cranked out the sarcasm today, but only because there aren’t any phrases in the English language that can describe just how bad MW2’s multiplayer can be. I say can be, because it can, on the very scarce ocassion, be actually playable. I don’t think I’ve been in a game where I haven’t stuttered in a momentary lag spike, but it is ocasionally playable. And that’s that; bottom line is, “play at own risk”.

But wait, there’s more! I’m can’t decide whether this recent trend of “recycling” content in games is a good one, but it’s happened twice with both L4D1 and L4D2 with their Survival and Scavenge modes respectively, and now it comes to MW2 with their “Spec Ops” mode. Whatever the trend is, it works – Spec Ops has easily doubled my playtime for MW2 alone, and that’s a good thing – they may have screwed multiplayer, but playing with one other friend on select missions is pretty cool nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong, campaign co-op would have been awesome beyond all imagination, but hey – beggars can’t be choosers — right, Infinity Ward? 😉

Look past the lack of customisations for the PC version. Look past the repetitive campaign gameplay. Look past the infinitely-screwed multiplayer, the lack of dedicated servers, the fact that Spec Ops is nothing more than a gimmick, the fact that your enemies are smarter, more accurate, and can take many more hits than you. Look past all that and you’ll find a game which is actually pretty good. It’s not great, but it’s not horifically bad either.

Sure, recommend this to your grandmother. Just don’t be mad if she starts saying things like “danger close”, “tango down”, or “weapons hot”, because you’re probably not balanced enough for that 😉

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