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Tuesday, 10 November 2009 01:19

CoD: Modern Warfare 2 - midnight launch first impressions

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been scooped up before the rest of the world by Australian gamers and jaws are already dropping.

Infinity Ward’s much anticipated sequel to their magnum opus, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, has hit shelves today at the stroke of midnight, awaited by packed queues at EB Games stores across Australia.

The game has seen waves of support from gamers expecting the pinnacle offirst person shooting cinematic excess and at the same time stiff opposition from lobbyists who take the game as morally obtuse. After road testing the game in the wee hours of the morning, it seems both audiences are in for one hell of a ride.

Modern Warfare 2, in expected fashion, takes on the cinematic scope of asimulated Black Hawk Down, but exceeds its similar predecessor in many ways in this regard and also in gameplay. Whether you’re traversing icy slopes over precarious looming pitfalls or desperately dashing over rooftops in the slums of South America to a hail of gunfire ricocheting off tin rooves, the action will keep you constantly on your toes and play out more like an action flick than just a game.

And onto its cinematic allure, the hotly debated ‘terrorist scene’ leaked onto the web only days before release portraying a player gunningdown unarmed civilians is presented as horrifically as it sounds – but this isn’t a bad thing.

The mission is a precursor to an all-out bout of destruction between theUS and Russia that the game follows. As an American soldier infiltrating a Russian terrorist group, players are set loose on an airport full of civilians and ordered to follow their leader’s actions after being asked the question of moral debate: are the lives of few worth saving the lives of many?

Players are forced to unleash on innocent civilians to gain the terrorists’ confidence in a tragic scene and are only able to walk at a slow pace which, when juxtaposed with the civilians’ chaos and harrowingsoundtrack, is able to conjure a hesitation from shooting and a rare sensation in typical video games: remorse.

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From here on out, the twists keep coming and the first person cutscenes place the player right in the action.

More important than any story, though, is the upgrade of the gameplay, which is noticeably enhanced in the new Call ofDuty iteration. Instantly noticeable differences include the improvement of graphics, the difference is melee, the new array of weaponry at hand, level structure, and most importantly, a reinvigoratedenemy AI system.

Levels are spread out beyond the typical linear hallway feel of most FPSgames. The course ahead of the player is generally straight forward, though getting from A to B requires a skilful choice of flanks to take and paths to follow, with resistance coming from all angles.

The enemy AI uses this to its advantage; the enemy is now smarter.

Usually players learn the general tactics of a game’s AI characters, though in this game the enemy constantly finds new ways of flanking the player and their team, giving the game the edge over its predecessor anddissolving the old strategy of duck, shoot, duck, shoot for a more aggressive one by players who want to make any progress.

Melee has changed from the last Call of Duty game to take on a slicing action rather than stabbing with the knife, which leads to more near misses that can become irritating, but at the same time allows for quicker action.

Fans of the first Modern Warfare will remember the distinct occasions ofharnessing the power of modern weapons that the World War II game fad could not deliver, and Modern Warfare 2 delivers here (Oh, the fond memories of the AC-130 Spectre Gunship). In the first few missions alone, players assume the role of a Humvee gunner, manoeuvre remote controlled missiles from aircraft, take down helicopters with Stinger missiles and even take down enemies and jump cliffs on a snowmobile likesome kind of Bond film.

The rest of the game will be told in time, but for now, the question must be asked: has Infinity Ward lived up to its reputation with Modern Warfare 2?

As simply as it can be put: Yes.

As to why: You’ll just have to pick it up and try for yourself.

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