Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Photograph: Activity

Every Friday, The AV Club The staff starts our weekly open thread to discuss gaming plans and recent gaming glory, but of course, the real action is in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What are you playing this weekend?

discussing Call of Duty A critical perspective can be complicated. The series is so big and popular that every new game is going to sell 100 million copies, regardless of what anyone says about it, so there’s not much. fun For the writer or reader, “the graphics are good, the gameplay is good, therefore the game is good.” It offers an opportunity to explore and address what games are saying, which is almost universally gross: troops with unchecked power are really good. War crimes are okay if they are committed against bad people. Guns are cool. Gun Gun Gun Gun Gun Gun. (I certainly did Did this tooDuring my many years Trying to say something About Call of Duty on this website.)

But getting caught up in the implied approval of the whole lot Oh-rah macho army The crap is losing what the game is really trying to do, which I think is worth talking about new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II—Not because I think he’s secretly brilliant, but because I think large parts of this game are messed up. They’re an interesting mess, though, and they speak more to the developers’ extraterrestrial ambitions (or perhaps an undue level of trust in players) than some kind of questionable desire to depict war crimes.

Meanwhile Modern Warfare II’s campaign, I kept thinking—as I often do Titanfall 2. of Respawn Shikhar Mahapurush forebear is the best first-person shooter ever, and one of the reasons for that is a brilliant single-player campaign in which each level plays with some new mechanic that takes what you’ve learned in previous levels and twists or expands on it. (Which, as it happens, is also his design The perfect video game Kirby Super Star). MWII It tries something similar, and every time it does, it’s absolutely fascinating.

For example, the series has always had less shaky levels, where you’re suddenly a gunner in a tank with what’s effectively a shooting gallery or whatever, instead of a dude on foot. At one level, MWII It sets something up by tasking your character with providing cover fire to a friendly convoy from onboard a helicopter. You assume that’s how the level will play out, but after a few minutes your helicopter crashes and you’re thrown out of an open door, hanging upside down from a rope. It’s cool, and it plays with expectations in a smart way that also serves as a little showcase for the sort of tricks developers can pull.

Then the level continues for another six hours (if you suffer as much as I do) and it’s annoying. You quickly free yourself from the helicopter, and it turns to a new gimmick: you have to jump from one car to another in the convoy. while the Shooting the bad guy’s car while the Trying not to die while the Preventing your car from exploding while the Protecting against landmines while the Constantly maintaining speed so the bad guys you’re chasing don’t get away.

It’s like every level that makes it so much better. A raid on an oil platform during a storm is all about cold-ass rain effects and stealthy merc-ing dudes, but then you switch to a huge cargo ship that’s been rocked by a storm that’s a triumph of modern video game technology and an infuriating set piece where containers slide across the deck if you touch them. They will kill you immediately. The smart way to win is to ignore the awesome level design and just run to the finish, which is a waste of the whole dang thing.

It gets to the point where you’re desperate for some traditional mindless people COD Action, sitting behind some cover, going out to kill the bad guys, that’s what they do, but there’s surprisingly little war in this big war game. Instead, it’s a lot Hitman-ish sneaking missions and terribly punishing open-ended stealth levels where you’re 100 times more fragile than you are on any other level.

But those levels Looks very interesting on paper. You collect random objects and turn them into weapons. You have to hide and outrun the bad guys. Entire games are built on such setups and here COD It’s tossing it around as another thing to do between shooting guys and shooting other guys… maybe that’s the problem. The developers are making the game do things that you weren’t really introduced to, like sneaking missions, or the game is asking players to do things that they didn’t really teach them to do… like sneaking missions.

So a big swing that doesn’t work a more engaging experience than doing the same thing every other year? I think it is, but at the same time, if every Call of Duty There was some desperate experiment that tried really hard and failed most of the time, I got sick of the same games in the series that didn’t try enough new things. But at the same time, the standard multiplayer is as good as ever. Die-hard fans will complain about the slight incremental changes, but whatever. They are fine. You shoot other people and it makes a satisfying sound if you get them before they get you, and if you get enough guys, crazy shit flashes on the screen telling you you did a good job. As much as we’d like it, that’s all video games have to do sometimes.