Infinity Ward's a company that does a great job at getting all the little things right and, in turn, all these things come together to make a very immersive game. Which is why I was surprised to find one little glaring error when playing alongside NPCs that talk to you during the mission over the radio. As an example, I was playing Roach and on a mission with Call of Duty 4's Soap MacTavish who would give me orders over the radio like Captain Price did for him in Modern Warfare. Staring straight at Soap, I saw neither emotion nor his lips moving when he was talking to me on the radio. It looked weird given that other times of the game, other characters would talk with you and you could see their facial movements. It seemed if it wasn't a scripted event, the character's lips never moved even though you could hear them in your earpiece. While it's not something that makes or breaks a game, it's just something I found a little odd considering how well that team does in doing all the little things right.
At E3, I asked about what improvements have been made to the engine since Call of Duty 4 that makes Modern Warfare 2 better visually. One of the things that help improve the games' visual quality is the new texture streaming feature which can accommodate more detailed textures with the new technique. You can see the effects on the soldier's clothing for example as well as many other parts of the game. Visually, Modern Warfare 2 is a sharp looking game that's a nice improvement over Call of Duty 4 and you'll definitely notice a cleaner and more detailed game. The levels of detail in some of the levels are amazing as I was impressed in both the architecture and texture quality presented. For example, the market in the game contains both produce and live chickens in cages. As the shootout progresses, you'll see items explode and fly around in the air. Chickens will start flapping like crazy as gunfire is exchanged. And yes, you can take out the chickens should you choose to do so or a stray bullet decides to blow through the poultry. When lying in the grass on one of the U.S. missions, you can see how detailed and realistic the lawn looks now as it's not just simple little green lines anymore. From top to bottom, most of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an improvement over Call of Duty 4.
Not all is well though as one of the most glaring problem to present itself is the shadow that's cast on the ground from a soldier. You can see some pretty bad pixilation during some certain circumstances making for a really bad visual. I'm surprised Infinity Ward didn't try and fix this as it's pretty apparent when it happens and it looks really, really bad compared to the rest of the game.
The engine now also allows for bigger levels as well so you'll be able to fight in more open and expansive areas in the game. Level design is, again, top notch, with some well designed maps that you fight through single player games. I was really impressed with the fight through a suburb of U.S. and then going through the White House taking care of Russian soldiers. Level design for multiplayer games has good and bad points though. Sometimes I would get caught in certain areas when running and there are almost always multiple access points on all locations on the map making it hard to find a safe place to hide. Some people might like this though as camping can really bring down a multiplayer game and the maps presented makes it hard to find good camping spots. I’ll get into multiplayer more though in a bit.
Similar to the A.I Director in Left 4 Dead, Modern Warfare 2 also incorporates some intelligent aspects for enemy behavior with such things as different spawn points and dynamic behavior based on how you are doing. The enemies can act independently if they feel they can attack you faster rather than follow a specific path to you. What's nice about these little changes is that if you do replay the game like I do, you'll get a slightly different experience each time so it extends the replay value a little.
Some new weapons make their way into the game but one prominent addition is the riot shield. With this and crouching, you're pretty much immune to gunfire and it can be a great tactical advantage to maneuver through areas of large enemies with this equipped while your squad mates take out any opposition. You can bash them with your shield should they try and get to close to you so you're not completely helpless. I can see those who are adept at teamwork on multiplayer games having one or two people equipped with this to help clear out the enemies while minimizing casualties. Another cool little addition is the sentry gun. If you ever saw the extended scenes in the movie Aliens, then you know what I am talking about. These things monitor for enemy movement and unload a world of hurt on them. The gun's even equipped with a red laser so you can see where it's aiming. You can pick these puppies up and place them in strategic spots and move them if necessary. It's definitely one of the more fun items to use in both single and multiplayer games.
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