I deliberately refrained from weighing in on the debate surround ‘that’ scene in Modern Warfare 2 until I’d actually played it – a shocking perspective, I know – and having just finished the game, I’m glad I did.
A lot of gamers will naturally jump to the defence of their hobby; how it’s an important step towards them becoming a respected and accepted narrative art form and blah blah blah. I actually disagree here. While Infinity Ward should have every right to put such scenes in its games and I applaud Tom Watson’s level-headed approach to treating adults like… well, adults, in playing it I felt that it was controversial for controvery’s sake. It could have been handled so much better – but I guess that wouldn’t have generated the column inches, which is the real crux.
It’s totally unnecessary, and an extremely heavy-handed attempt to shock, and as far as being avant garde with this stuff goes, the revolution in the first Modern Warfare’s opening stages was far more effective, catching glimpses of dissidents being executed and such. There’s nothing clever or subtle about four men with machine guns opening up on people and shooting someone as he tries to drag his wounded friend to safety.
It feels tacky already, but coupled with the fact that the rest of the game feels like a Michael Bay film – the scene comes immediately after this ridiculous chase, for instance – it’s hard to see it as anything but exploitative. Sad, really, because it does stand out more than it should.
That aside, though, I loved the game. Putting aside the online mode, it’s a five-hour rollercoaster. Like the airport scene it’s not subtle, but this time I mean it in a good way, like The Rock and Con Air, which find themselves imitated repeatedly. I played through most of the game in a single sitting and it constantly kept me enthralled and keen to do it again at a higher difficulty.
Is that too short? As I’ve said before, I’d much rather have a top quality five hours of gameplay than the same content stretched out over ten, and it’s not like the campaign is all that Call of Duty games have to offer. I think that this game is good enough to warrant playing through more than once, and I’m still yet to touch the online/offline co-op Special Ops missions, which are apparently a highlight. So even if one scene is rather tasteless, and even if Activision is intensely disagreeable and it seems to be rubbing off on Infinity Ward, I can’t deny that this is a great game. I love this series, and this is right up there with the best of them, and will be a fixture of my Xbox 360’s disc drive for months.