Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game diary of sorts - pre-game expectations

As it is now, not only the highest selling game on record, but the highest selling entertainment product, it is clear that Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 - the sixth game in the Call of Duty Franchise - is of great cultural significance.

I feel then, an obligation to track my experience and impressions of the game as I experience it now in the game’s early existence. Rather than any kind of generic review, of which there will already be hundreds if not thousands; I would like to make a game diary drawing on what I have learnt in the field of film studies. Although this is sure to generate a narrative heavy approach, the importance of the gameplay cannot be understated. My particular focus will be on where the two meet; that is where the gameplay enhances the way the story is told (or the world is experienced would be a more appropriate description).

Having played the original Modern warfare, I am aware of the game’s intentions to stay as close to realism as possible. This does not simply refer to the photorealistic graphics but more importantly to the immersion brought about by the gameplay, the physics that are present and the narrative tools implemented to suspend the viewer/player’s disbelief in a way that has them enchanted by the gameworld. The first Modern Warfare had a very linear story, which to describe as original would be far-fetched to say the least. Where it excelled was its techniques in telling the story. For those who played it think of the way you experienced the Nuke scene. This could have been shown as a beautiful full motion video cut-scene; it would have looked fantastic and exhilarating. But the choice to have you still playing the game, dragging your body to the opening of the helicopter having been blown out the sky, seeing from your first person point of view the devastation caused - being free to look at where you want - then dropping dead. That was new, immersive storytelling that cannot be experienced in other mediums.

I have to say of my pre-game expectations that I already have an impression – generated by media and fan community coverage - of a controversial mission involving the massacre of Russian civilians. The first time you turn on the game there is a disclaimer warning of one mission that players could find very offensive and consequently gives you an option to completely remove this mission from the story. Yeah I’d love to have less content for my money thank you and miss out on the videogame event and media spectacle of the year (apart form maybe GTA’s full frontal male nudity). Clearly I am not convinced that Infinity Ward are concerned for my psychological well being, but I understand that they need to cover their backs from their own (legal) massacre. Not knowing the full details and not having experienced this apparent controversy yet, this is all I will mention for now, I just thought it necessary to point out that the spectacle of this event has already been heightened.

The bad side to having played (and loved) the first instalment of Modern Warfare is the same problem faced by any sequel: when a franchise is so groundbreaking in its first installment it is natural to expect more than ‘more of the same’ from the sequel. Think of how Terminator 2 raised its game after Terminator for instance, in comparison to the disappointment of the Matrix sequels after we experienced its initial genius. In their own right very good (ok satisfactory at best) films, but following something so groundbreaking, they were – frankly speaking – a disappointment.

These are my initial impressions and new posts will go up either per mission or per every few missions.


  1. oooh cant wait to get a ps3 next year and play this badboy

  2. I wasn't all that impressed with the story of MW2. For me it was/ is all so disjointed.

    The gameplay, is just one of grinding forward, continuing the main story rather then developing it, almost just a passive observer, having no control of anything that happens.