Skip to content

Modern Warfare 2 Day#1: Shell Shock

I wasn’t planning on playing Modern Warfare 2, but a friend got it for me (thanks, Doug!) and I decided it was good for my game design chops to play like the best selling game I can remember. Modern Warfare 2 is a strange single player experience. There’s no denying that the game is gorgeous, but the play is very odd in that I often have no idea what is going on or how well I’m doing. I will certainly finish the single player, but it’s not at all what I expected. Spoilers within.

I should start by saying that this is my first for real Call of Duty. I’ve only played demos before this, a little Call of Duty 4 and a little MW.  I certainly didn’t do enough to form a real opinion. I also SUCK at military FPS games. I mean, I really suck. I’m generally not that good at FPS play, and there’s something about having an army setting that drains my limited skills to nothing.  So there’s that to consider as well. I am not a typical user of this game by miles and miles.

The title is awfully sparse — it’s just a text treatment on a plain background. I guess people know what they are getting. I do some adjustments to screen and color.  Sigh…why is a vertical decision about screen height controlled with a horizontal slider? Come on.  The game then asks me if I want to see disturbing missions. I have heard a little about this, but I don’t know the details. One interesting thing about this choice is that it defaults to “I will not be offended” rather than the safe choice. I of course choose to see all. I then have to verify with a second confirmation, this time defaulting to no. I have to admit that this kind of builds anticipation for what disturbing missions I’m going to face.

I start a single player game. The first title is  “for the record.” The intro shows a pretty green map overlaid with lots of army-ish clips and music that I can’t help wondering if  were captured from a previous game. Are the green lines nuclear arcs?  Well –I’m getting some green explosions, so I’ll take that as a yes. The game reveals it takes place 5 years after the first. We go to Moscow, and some guy named Shepherd is talking about things how things change, and refers specifically to how the Russians now hate us again. There is always an enemy, he says. We start with the rangers.  I’m somebody named Allen, and I play through an interesting tutorial where I’m teaching NPC soldiers to shoot at a shooting range. A soldier tells me to shoot a targets to “demonstrate” it to others — voice-acting is decent to good so far.  Boy, this game is pretty. And the rap in background is cool and quite immersive.  I learn basic control: trigger to shoot, b to crouch, LT to sight, LT can snap to targets, rb for grenade.

I finish that scene and am called to an obstacle course where I have to shoot paper targets and not paper hostages in a certain amount of time. Oh how I suck at this stuff. I do a crap job the first time shooting far too many hostages and taking far too long,  and then a slightly less crap job the second time. The obstacle course ends with an order for me to go to see some supervisor. I get to set difficulty at this point, and I set it to regular in order to torture myself. I come upstairs to follow orders, but there’s some crisis, and we fade out as we head to the vehicles to go somewhere.

Oh, we’re in Afghanistan — no wonder there’s a crisis. The voiceover during the load is  lots of military propaganda about why we’re fighting over here; the images are lots of military technology. We end up on what I think is one side of a river with baddies on the other. I get control and there is lots of shooting, but I literally can’t see anything. I don’t even see the opponents on the other side of the river.  I’m told to shoot at the bad guys to suppress them, but I’m honestly just firing my grenade launcher over a river at random. The game seems to approve because it advances. Some bad guys come up on bridge attacking a bridge making machine that we have. I try to take them out with grenade launcher but fail to kill them. That causes the scene to restart. I play through my random grenade lobbing again, and then use my assault rifle on the guys on the bridge. This time I kill enough of them to succeed, and then I run up to to the bridge and man a turret on a jeep.

Once I’m on the jeep, there’s a moment where we wait as we prepare to go. The banter here is okay but the cowboy shit is starting to make me sick. Is this genuine to the military? There’s lots of military jargon; is it accurate? We start to drive through the city. As we go, there are some interesting ethics here — as we drive, we see guys watching us from buildings. They are probably scouts for the enemy, but we can’t shoot them until they shoot at us. That’s an interesting moment. It’s only a moment though, because someone somewhere shoots and all hell breaks loose. Again, this is so fucking crazy I have no idea what’s going on. I’m just shooting this mini-gun aimlessly with no idea if I’m hitting anything. It gets worse when I get shot — blood fills my screen and I can’t see anything. At a certain point, the jeep blows up and we end up on the street. It appears to be set piece; could I have anything to prevent or change it? I’m outside the jeep getting shot at from who knows where. I get shot and the game tells me I need cover. I run up to the jeep and I think I have it but I don’t, get killed, and have to redo the jeep blow-up scene. Umm…are any beginners supposed to play this game? I’m finding this totally crazy. I keep trying to learn to find cover and such, but I’m dying a lot doing it. I finally make it to cover, and then there’s a short run killing a few enemies and eventually reaching a pick up zone.

The game fades out and when we come back, I’m now CIA and part of the 141. The scene is in winter, and we’re in media res climbing along an ice ledge I can’t see. There’s a guy in front of me leading me somewhere.  The guy reaches a point where he starts climbing and I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that. I walk to where he was standing, but there isn’t any fine control here and I fall to my death when I misstep in a way I don’t notice.  WTF is going on. I redo it, and when I get to the climbing spot, I enter a  set piece of first person ice climbing. I’m honestly not sure how much control I actually have here. When we get to the top, I have to follow over him as he jumps over a cliff, or I guess that’s what he did. Man, it would it be nice to have any idea what I’m doing. I run and there’s a set piece of me from first person perspective missing the jump, sliding down an ice sheet, and then him saving me. I do have to climb up, and okay I do have control over the ice climbing (which is hitting alternating shoulder buttons to use my axes) since I die once when I’m too slow doing it.  When I get it right, we come over hill and there’s a radar on my gun showing heartbeats in the distance. Is that a real piece of technology?  That’s freaky to consider. We take down two guys in a coordinated simultaneous shots, and that feels nice. The mission, which I find out only at this moment, is to sneak through this base planting explosives. I get across the camp without getting shot, and at one point, I take down four guards at once, which gets me yelled at for breaking cover but doesn’t change the game at all. Once I’m across the field, I plant the explosive on the fuel, and run back to meet my partner somewhere else. I get a little turned around but then make it into this hangar to do something else. My buddy sends me upstairs to get something, and it’s a clear set-up for a scene. Guards come in as soon as I get up there.  The guards are threatening, but the guy tells me to do the deed. The trigger appears in my hand, and I blow up the fuel thing. That distracts the guards so that we kill our way out. Then we run away, covering each other out as we head out of the camp. We exit camp, and typically of this game, I’m not sure where we’re going.  I die once when my buddy stops and I walk out in an open field to shoot at people for seemingly no reason. I’m pretty shaken and confused by all of this, and that’s enough for one night. I save and quit.

Posted in Hardcore.

Tagged with .

One Response

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Douglas Yee says

    Yay, you’re playing my game!

    Don’t feel bad about the first mission with the Humvee in Afghanistan. I played COD4 extensively, 100+ hours of gameplay and whatnot. I was confused as hell and didn’t know what was happening in that mission either the first time. That’s kind of the point.

    From a couple friends who have been to Iraq with the Army and the Marines, I can verify that yes, the military jargon is completely accurate. But heartbeat sensors are pure fiction.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.