Coming to a firm conclusion about Modern Warfare 2
is pretty difficult, not least because the strengths and weaknesses of the three main game components are pretty distinct to that mode.
The singleplayer mode is universally fantastic with few, if any weakpoints in terms of story, pacing and the way you experience the events. Playing through it is sometimes frustrating when you find yourself pinned down or stuck on a particular bit, but these kind of issues just go with gaming territory.
What really undermines the singleplayer game is how obviously manufactured the entire game is and how quickly the appeal can wear off after the first go. Racing a countdown timer and dodging bullets is fun the first time, but coming back later to find the exact same hail of bullets can take the sheen off.
Regardless, the singleplayer is a hugely enjoyable experience and, replayability and linearity aside, it’s definitely something we’d recommend to all gamers on all platforms. No other game we’ve played this year so completely delivers the feeling of taking part in a high-budget and believably over the top action films and television, with influences ranging from Black Hawk Down to True Lies to 24, judging by the levels.
Consensus: We like it
No matter how strong the singleplayer game is though, the co-op mode is even stronger and Spec Ops is one of the best ideas to invade our PCs in a long, long time. Since Left 4 Dead
co-op modes have been showing up in a lot of games – but it’s Modern Warfare 2
which pushes teamplay to the next level with an array of self-contained levels. It’s a shame there’s no LAN option, but that’s more a problem with…
The multiplayer. It’s here where the first really significant chinks in Modern Warfare 2
’s armour appear as, while the actual core game itself is pretty good, the IWNet framework that it’s built around is pretty underwhelming and annoying. It’s still very functional admittedly and gamers are still able to jump in and play with relative ease, but there are elements of it that are thoughtlessly implemented and make very little sense – such as the lack of text chat in lobbies.
The idea of IWNet was supposedly to make the game much simpler and easier to get into for more casual gamers, according to Infinity Ward
. That aim has been completely achieved assuming you want to get the bare minimum from the multiplayer experience – but it also makes it more of a hassle in many ways, especially when it comes to trying to play your favourite map or play with just a particular group of friends. The constant returns to the lobby and the restrictions on what you can customise are more awkward than tin-foil underwear.
IWNet doesn’t, it has to be said, ruin Modern Warfare 2
. Nor does the huge problems we had getting the PC version to install (which was probably exacerbated by Steam server overload). Nor does the fact that 50 Cent voices a multiplayer character. Modern Warfare 2
is still an excellent game despite all these things and it undoubtedly offers one of the most addictive multiplayer experiences we’ve seen this year, as well as the most exciting singleplayer and most polished co-op.
IWNet does grate though and the fact that elements of it are completely needless and counter-accessible is the one thing that we really have a problem with in an otherwise brilliant and incredibly bold game.