Review: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered – more like Modern Borefare
Where is the multiplayer, Infinity Ward?
Do you remember the old Colin McRae Rally games? Do you remember how your co-pilot would pepper your ear every five seconds with instructions? Go right. Turn left. Slow down. Watch Out. Go sharp. Put down the Special Brew, it’s ten in the morning.
I almost wish Infinity Ward did something similar when it remastered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Crouch down. Aim down your sights. Hold your breath. Squeeze. You just killed a father of three. Sure, it’d certainly dampen the suspense, but at least it’d elevate the feeling that you are doing something for some concrete reason.
Traditionally, Call of Duty titles has suffered one major Achilles heel: a weak campaign mode. And the game-buying public has always been content to look the other way, thanks to the various well-received multiplayer modes. But the remastered version of Modern Warfare 2 has no such saving grace.
Instead, you’re left to chew over a wildly disconnected story that awkwardly jerks you across disparate narratives, as you shoot and maim yourself to.. something?
Look ma, no multiplayer
The irony of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is that it seeks to set out a conspiratorial, Fredrick Forsyth-style backdrop, but instead gives you the kind of meandering, chest-thumpingly jingoistic dollar-store narrative you’d expect from a Dolph Lundgren VHS. It does everything in its power to make the story feel utterly irrelevant to the carnage being wrought by your hands. You’re just going through the motions, grinding until you hit the welcome relief of the rolling credits.
Unlike some other Call of Duty games, which take place in countries like Totallymadeupstan and Fictionstralia, Modern Warfare 2 is set during a lover’s tiff between the US and Russia. And while this isn’t exactly the most original setting, MW2 does at least win points for the variety of locales you get to murder through, with the game flinging the player through aircraft boneyards and explosive-rigged oil platforms.
It’s not just the locales; you also take the perspective of a variety of allied special forces soldiers. Modern Warfare 2 first puts you in the shoes of Private Joseph Allen, whose career progression sees him cleaning latrines and training Afghan grunts to shoot, before being promoted to undercover work with the mysterious international terrorist Vladimir Makarov.
I say mysterious, but actually, I mean obvious. Really, really obvious.
Everything about him could easily have been transplanted from a minor character in Red Dawn. He effortlessly epitomizes every fictional Russian antagonist ever: from the name to the cheapness in which he holds human life. You could tell me he was the last thing Tom Clancy’s oxygen-starved neutrons conjured up before he departed this mortal coil, and I’d believe you. Because Vladimir Makarov is a very obvious, lazily-written antagonist.
And it’s here where I have to mention the controversial No Russian level. Embedded with Makarov, Allen participates in an airport massacre that sees the player casually wander the duty-free aisles recklessly spraying volleys of .50 BG at perfume saleswomen and BlackBerry-toting business travelers.
As you make your escape, darting through the landing gears of parked Boeing 727 jets, Makarov shoots the player in the chest, leaving him for the encroaching Moscow police. This provokes outrage, with Russia declaring an all-out war on the US, culminating in an invasion of the Continental United States.
No Russian was designed to be shocking — and indeed, the game allows sensitive players to skip it without incurring any penalties. But in the broader context of the campaign mode, it just feels lazy and cheap. It’s the gaming equivalent of the solitary funny punchline in a Larry the Cable Guy movie, and does nothing to elevate Modern Warfare 2.
War never changes, but games do
The sad part is, Call of Duty games have, at least, in recent years, been about the storytelling. With Call of Duty: World War 2, we got a genuinely gut-wrenching tale about the human capacity for cruelty and bravery. But there’s no such depth in Modern Warfare 2. It’s just banal, casual brutality with no obvious point or parable.
At least it’s short. If you don’t stop for pee breaks, or make use of an empty Fanta bottle, you can comfortably speed-run through the campaign in around six hours.
And without sounding too unfair, it’s a pretty solid port. Graphics are measurably improved over the original, with plenty of detail to admire as you scan your eyes across the carnage. Controls are fluid and well-designed. And the AI opponents remain formidable opponents.
It also retains the high points of the original. As before, the voice acting is top-notch, with Kevin McKidd (John “Soap” McTavish) especially good. But those attributes can’t save Modern Warfare 2 from feeling dated and crushingly boring.
And god, it’s so boring.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is currently available on PS4.
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