Much has been said about the price tag of Modern Warfare 2 in the build up to its release, and not much of it publishable. But if a videogame’s worth can be measured by how much of it stays with you after you’ve put the pad down, then even the most indignant will have few complaints if this hugely anticipated sequel ends up delivering as much as the original did two years ago.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the original Modern Warfare was the fact that most people didn’t put the pad down, devoting untold hours to mastering its thrilling online component long after they’d come down from its monumentally brilliant, if brief, single player campaign. Having mastered such a winning formula, the last thing you expect are radical changes, and so it proves.
Picking up from where the 2007 classic left off, you’re once again on the trail of a Russian Ultranationalist leader as he plots the destruction of the West. driven by a desire to cause maximum mayhem to the West. Having spun the death of his predecessor as an act of martyrdom, and successfully convinced his followers of the tyranny of the West, Vladamir Makarov proves to be an adversary with an impressively evil CV.
Shock tactics quickly become a feature of Modern Warfare 2, so much so that the game specifically checks – twice – if you’d rather not be subjected to scenes of gratuitous violence. Evidently revelling in its new Adult Only status, Infinity Ward waste no time in repeatedly pushing the violenceometer needle into the red, depicting the kind of shocking scenes we’ve long been used to in gritty dramas, but rarely get exposed to in games in such uncompromising fashion. Expect an ugly media frenzy to develop as the wider world wrestles with the ramifications of What This All Means. [We started without you, actually - Ed]
What it means in the context of the series is simple: that terrorism is an ugly business, and Infinity Ward hasn’t tried to mask the reality, or trivialise what it looks like. Whether it crosses The Line is perhaps a topic to wrestle over at length another time, but it’s hard to divorce yourself from how brutal some of the scenes really are, even when, in truth, it’s still some way from reality. The fact that it’s often unclear who the bad guys actually are, and that it’s you that’s pulling the trigger is, of course, the difference.