Bi-Pixel Reviews: Modern Warfare 2 – Part Two

Here is part two of the Bi-Pixel reviews. If you missed part one, click here.

Before we begin, I have tried my utmost to avoid spoilers. What appear as vague, sporadic statements are actually beautifully surmised acumen to help you, the eager reader. That and poor writing.

shite

“Hello narrative, how are you today?”
“I’m good thanks, how you been keeping?”
“Sorry, I can’t answer that.”
“Okay, how’s plot doing these days? The one I keep hearing about?”
“Sparta!”

This year’s summer blockbuster has been repackaged in the form of a video game. Modern Warfare 2 arrived last week under some heavy scrutiny brought on by its Arnie credentials and children’s attire. So what does one make of this spectacle? Let us begin.

cod

The game is not trying to portray a docudrama so I will forgive the ludicrousness; we are in it for the thrill, not the accuracy. The problem is when it you are able to fully comprehend it, it’s fully preposterous. The characters are just too flat and often indistinguishable. As a narrative, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does not measure up to the best video games, including its predecessor. That is not to say that the original Modern Warfare was in any way realistic, rather, a plausible logical progression of real world military events that we have seen, read, heard or even actively participated in.

ss

Modern Warfare 2 seems to revel in its multiple protagonists to the point of self-parody – switching between the characters quicker than a Kyle moral stance. Four different characters get at least one full level a piece and for me that became a problem. Due to the small amount of time I had to spend in each character’s shoes, it diminished the impact of the events that take place around each character. When John Smith takes that inevitable bullet, John Smythe steps in to fill those unassuming shoes.

Remember the ‘holy shit’ moments from the original? Well, the good guys at Infinity Ward have taken that set piece and ran with it for 5 or so hours; one jaw dropping moment follows the next. The problem with the Schwarzeneggisms is that they lose their bite after a while, the game tries so hard to flummox the player that at times it feels like you are in an episode of 24 (season six, I would be okay with the Bauer 1.0). For a game that tries to stir such a vitriolic response through these set pieces it me left wondering why the game tries to place the character so specifically within their environment. Why was it that Soap in Durkastan feels more believable than Roach Sanderson in Afghanistan?

MW2

That ambiguity of the previous instalment left the player to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, this time round we haven’t developed the capacity for analogy. The script seems as if it were written by a 9/11 conspirator. The game over screens that recite ambiguous smuggery from Voltaire and Gandhi are now coupled with quotes from progressive forward thinkers like Rumsfeld and Cheney. The morality of conflict underpins the narrative of the franchise, I accept this, but what is more concerning is how Modern Warfare 2 revels in sheer delight at the despicable atrocities on screen. The game’s power lies in its perverse achievement – you actually feel bad for playing it. Take for example that controversial incident. The game slows down to absolute zero, while you walk through taking in the ‘scenery’. Infinity Ward should have put signs up around the terminals at this point.

“Look what you are doing!”
“Yes we designed it, but you are playing it, yes you……David!”

cod

I know i’ve defended the right for this particular scene, having not experienced it within a narrative context. Having now digested the scene within its context, I can safely say that it offered nothing to the flow of the game. It occurs far too early to hold any weight, we don’t know the character at this point and have only just dipped our toes into the plot when the onslaught proceeds. If it had come at a later stage of the game, when some emotional attachment (okay a bit far stretched) had been cemented, I would be the first celebrate. After all, the industry has had its fair share of critics since the first pixels blipped. A scene like this only supplies ample resources to the snobs who sneer, while divulging in subtitled, silent snuff films. I guess my main gripe with the single player campaign is that it feels like it has something to say about our political climate, it tries to shock and heckle, but it essentially hands you firecrackers for 5 hours then highlights what a bastard you are for using them. I must admit though, when done right those bangs are mighty impressive.

boom

Dré

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