A languid breeze gently rustles the tall amber grass, the summer sun warm and radiant while the sky a translucent blue spurns reality. But this calming facade is fickle and fleeting and is instead supplanted by a mounting terror. Explosions mar the earth while smoke and darkness converge. An al out sensory assault is underway with aural and visual schizophrenia akin to a Jamesonian postmodern wasteland. Its raining bullets, your gun splayed in sanguine and green and brown, shakes in your hand. A hand pulls you up and out of your darkened little womb…we’ve got a war to fight.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare was a testament to the brilliance in storytelling and entertainment that video games have the capability to produce. My own bias placed in among the best games I have played for the 360 (along with Fallout 3 and Bioshock) Combined with incredible gameplay and moderate social consciousness it was a bona fide success on all fronts. How then does one top what is believed to be the pinnacle of first-person shooterdom? For starters, by recreating the integral aspects of the first Modern Warfare as well as ratcheting up the intensity (and at times absurdity)of the story Infinity Ward has done just that.
Its not just the impeccable graphics, which in as varied settings as desert Afghanistan to frozen Siberia to Brazilian slums to Russian airports, all look fantastic. Its the gameplay itself that makes MW2 outshine even its predecessor. The levels all flow amazingly and with a new spec ops game type that has great replay value the possibilities are endless. Additionally, the multiplayer online content is sure to give every 13 year old endless orgasms, I know i got one.
In fairness to those who have not yet started or completed the game yet, I’ll try to keep my plot based commentary to a minimum. I certainly will not give up any of the head exploding twists or button mashing frustrations that periodically arise.
What I will do, however, is delve into the generalities of the game, as well as a minor discussion of the social context. The most striking thing about MW2 and all CoD games for that matter is the lack of political and civilian control within the games. Let me elaborate. Certain events take place in the game that certainly warrant the attention of the president and public writ large. In my opinion this is beneficial to the overarching aesthetic. This politically vacuous arena the CoD play inhabits only bolsters the games ominous tone. There are no campy videos of the president giving speeches or even news reports of terrorist aftermath. This helps to both solidify the helplessness of the player as well as ground them in a singular military consciousness, one that provides unilateral streams of information. Apocryphal truths are inevitable in this setting and serve to wrench the player throughout the game.
How timely this game is, coming out on the brink of a decision to send yet more troops into Afghanistan here in the real world. Though the focus in MW2 quickly shifts away from Afghanistan to a broader scope. The implications of the eight year and counting war are littered throughout the game. The opening training sequence is cleverly depicted through an American unit training Afghan units. MW2 also brings the theatre of war somewhere it hasn’t been in almost 200 years, TO FUCKING AMERICA. The allusion to 1812 is rampant and one can’t help feeling a surge of thrill in fighting to take Washington D.C. back from ************, those fuckers. Where Fallout has long discarded the capital, MW2 yearns for its restoration. We rebuilt it once…we can rebuild it again.