E3 ‘09: Modern Warfare 2 Eyes-On Impressions – War Is Beautiful
In advance of going to this year’s E3, there were only a handful of games at that I was really, really looking forward to seeing, and Activision’s “Modern Warfare 2” was at the very top of that list. The original was one of the best first person shooter games ever released, and the follow up could only get better. As a general rule, I do my best to not have expectations of games before I see them, mostly because I usually get let down, but I slipped on this one, and I had really high hopes for “MW2” … and it lived up to every single one of them.
At Microsoft’s press conference, and on the show floor, fans of Infinity Ward’s greatest game got a brief look at what was to come next in the “Modern Warfare” series, but behind some closed doors at Activision’s booth, there was a lot more to be seen. Activision was showing an entire snow covered level of shootouts, snowmobiles, and pure awesome. It went a little something like this…
Much like the press conference demo, the level that Infinity Ward were showing started off with your leader (and the character you played most of CoD4 as), Soap MacTavish, taking a small break with the player (a.k.a. Roach), smoking a cigarette on the side of an ice-covered mountain. Once the break was over, the player proceeds to following him up the side of the mountain, using only the ice hooks attached to his arms to pull him up. One hell of an arm work out, and one death defying jump later, Soap and the player make it to the top of the mountain and make their way to infiltrating an enemy air base. Outside of the base, Soap and the player need to use cover, teamwork, and an extremely helpful attachment on their guns that detects where the enemies are to take out the base’s guards, and make their way inside. It was amazing how few shots were actually fired in the first half of the demo – only three or four from each of the characters – but the second half completely made up for that.
Once the duo made it inside the base, they split up, with Soap going to look for a satellite, and the player going to look for intelligence. Just as the player finds and downloads the info he needs off of a computer just above the hanger where Soap has gone, Soap’s position becomes compromised, and he ends up staring down the barrel of every gun on the base, and it’s up to the player to react, and figure out how to get out of their safely. It’s about now that the shit hits the fan, and Soap and Roach manage to take out eight or so guards by remotely detonating some explosives and the two of them then proceed across the base in an attempt to escape with their lives. Along the way they manage to plant a set of explosives on a fueling tank as a backup plan, amid waves and waves of enemy soldiers. As they escape the base, heading down a hill, they detonate the explosives, and make off with a couple of stolen snowmobiles. After an intense high-speed chase, some extremely unrealistic jumps, what could be the best snowmobile shooting ever included in a game, the team make it to the pickup helicopter, and escape safely to their next mission. It was an intense site to be seen.
In the short Q&A after the demo, some of the Infinity Ward developers emphasized some of the graphical upgrades that they were most proud of including the updated texture shading, and HD lighting. They made it clear that these tweaks weren’t going to directly influence the gamplay but that they helped create a more immersive environment, and that was an important accomplishment for this game. They have made some other slight changes including balancing out the infinite enemy spawning that the “CoD” franchise has become known for.
In the end, “Modern Warfare 2” might just be a souped up, prettier version of its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the running for game of the year… but we’ll have to wait and see more of the single and multiplayer before we can even consider that.