The long-awaited Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Some loved it. Some don't. But it is still a huge success with more than 100 million downloads in just the first week of October, becoming the top-selling digital launch in Activision's history. That's massively insane! Gamers around the world already felt the taste of what's it like playing the game since the Open Beta. Overall the game is great, with its new game engine that really blows you away with its realism. The Campaign with its darker and deeper storyline than the previous Call of Duty titles. And Multiplayer... With lots of campers. Aren't we all hate campers?
Call of Duty is perhaps the most divisive mainstream gaming brand of all time; a gung-ho, partisan blockbuster combat romp selling us a vision of rough and ready spec-ops superstars travelling the globe with their guns and their competence, helping freedom fighters while killing rogue paramilitary groups, without pausing too long to consider the differences between them.
The story is a pulpy, mashup of real-world proxy wars and brutal localized conflicts that panders to US sensibilities. Urzikistan could be Syria, it could be Afghanistan, it could be the Ukraine or Chechnya. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that hard men and women are putting their lives on the line in hidden, deniable ops where the rules are bent – and that can include the odd war crime.
The problem is, it’s fun and it’s really well made. Modern Warfare looks astonishing, from the almost photorealistic cinematic sequences to the intricately detailed in-game environments: the desert towns, the city streets, the remote villas. Sometimes you just have to stop and admire the orange glint of the sun of a burned-out vehicle.
And this is the best campaign since Call of Duty 4. From an incredibly tense raid on a terrorist stronghold in north London to a bloody siege on an embassy roof, it is exciting and brilliantly paced. There are references to the series’ past, with particular moments – a helicopter raid during which you take control of missiles from the air; a long-range sniper mission – that will remind veterans of classic missions Death from Above and All Ghillied Up. There is always some new high-tech toy to try or a fresh perspective on the battle in hand.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare, meanwhile, is a slickly produced, well constructed military shooter filled with thrilling set-pieces and moments of fraught tension. It’s also a good run-and-gun online shooter, which wants to bring something fresh to the way online team-based competition works in this genre but isn’t quite there yet – new maps will inevitably follow.
If you tire of the online action, there is always the campaign to replay at a higher difficulty level. A new “realism” mode takes the challenge up to the max, removing all the on-screen information so you have to rely on memory and your senses to know if you’re about to run out of ammo or if a grenade has just rolled up alongside your cover point. This mode brings a whole new dimension of heart-in-the-mouth suspense, completely changing the pace and complexion of the action. Despite yourself, you are dragged into the fray again.
So, what do you think about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? Is it the best game ever? or not that best?