Archive for Game Review

MGM: Modern Warfare 2

If you’ve been following Call of Duty at all recently then you’ve already heard, seen and probably played the controversial No Russian level.  But even with all the talk and infamy, there’s more to examine with Infinity Ward’s latest offering than ten minutes of fictional terrorist footage.  Many continued to play the first Modern Warfare well after its release and has since become one of the most critically acclaimed and top selling games of this generation.  And now we have its sequel, Modern Warfare 2, bringing plenty of new content to keep fans coming back.  How well does it all manage to be?

Matt’s Thoughts

One more year, one more Call of Duty game.  If I didn’t know any better I’d say Activision were becoming a new version of Electronic Arts with how frequently they’re releasing games for the same franchise.  Fortunately, unlike recent Need for Speed games, the Call of Duty series still manages to at least be decent even with some installments are clearly inferior to others.  I’m glad to say that Modern Warfare 2 is, all things told, one of the better entries, though not everything is blissful here.  The campaign is fun but is way too short to fully enjoy, the story is still uninteresting and I really found the No Russian level to be unnecessary.  And just like the first Modern Warfare, the online is ultimately both the pinnacle and downfall of the game.  On one hand, the amount of content, variety and combinations you have available to use and unlock is quite astounding and the matches can be very fun and tough to stop playing.  However, some of the perks and killstreak rewards seem unbalanced and a sizeable chunk of online players still love to camp or cower in the same area.  This is unfortunately boosted by design choices for some areas in the maps that seem intended for these annoying players.  Even with all that said, when the game is fun and plays out as it should, the experience is quite invigorating.

Greg’s Thoughts

Although I seldom enjoy the Treyarch-developed entries, I’m glad that Infinity Ward at least contribute half of the Call of Duty games.  With that in mind, it’s needless to say that Modern Warfare 2 is one of my favorite installments for the franchise.  While I doubt the series will ever hit the high mark Call of Duty 2 left on me Modern Warfare 2 is a very admirable effort despite inconsistencies.  Matt essentially sums up the online portion.  Matches are usually quite fun and addicting but when you’re against a team of people hiding in buildings (whether alone or together) it’s almost sympathetic to just leave the match.  As for the campaign, I actually found it to be one of the better single player modes for the series and arguably the best since Call of Duty 2 (thought not nearly as good).  The story is also a step above that of 2007’s Modern Warfare even with it being too short-lived to match its potential.  Overall, I’d consider this my second or third Call of Duty game and, were it not for the hit/miss online mode, I’d call it better than Halo 3 online.

Michael’s Thoughts

I’m not sure how Greg can consider Halo 3 online great (it was good for a year, but that’s all), but Modern Warfare 2 pretty much blows any other (console) FPS out of the water right now.  PC gamers have and continue to brew an absurd, silly storm over not getting dedicated servers and, quite frankly, if console gamers can live without them then anyone else can.  I will agree with Greg on the campaign and story, both of which have easily the strongest emotional scenes in a Call of Duty game (that’s not including No Russian).  Of course, most people bought and are playing this game for the online mode and even though there’s a large amount of cowards online that’s not a direct issue with the game itself.  When matches aren’t dominated by these morons (for lack of a better term) it’s tough to put the controller down and, were it not for vehicle fees, I’d have bought this game from the get-go.  Modern Warfare 2 steps up the competition for future first-person shooters and it’ll be interesting to see how Infinity Ward decide to continue improving or revitalizing the series.

MGM: Need for Speed Shift

NFS Shift

EA hasn’t exactly been consistent about their Need for Speed franchise; both in regards to its styles and the overall quality.  Until Pro Street, the vast majority of these games had you driving recklessly and illegally in what were obviously arcade racers.  But then the aforementioned title came around, putting you in sponsored events and attempting to offer a more realistic driving experience.  Unfortunately, this translated into a poor game that had so many issues it could’ve been carried out for a good essay’s worth.  The next game, Undercover, attempted to revitalize the racing action from entries such as Most Wanted yet was about as fulfilling as its predecessor.  Now EA is giving us Need for Speed Shift, the first of three NFS games coming out this year alone, with this one bringing the series back on to closed off circuits.  Have developer Slightly Mad Studios given us a game worth checking out?

Matt’s Thoughts

This really wasn’t my kind of game.  I’ve about lost all faith in the series after the last two installments and Shift did little to reestablish this.  Granted, I’ve enjoyed the arcade-style NFS games since they’re the easiest to get into and the most straightforward.  But titles such as Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport really aren’t my style since they demand careful, precise driving.  This is not what I want in a racing game; I want speed, recklessness without consequence and an overall fun time.  The latest NFS entry leans more towards the simulation route, however.  While Shift does get fast and reckless, it’s not in a way that I (and I’m sure many others) will enjoy.  The visuals and cockpit view are nice, but I’m so used to driving in third person which really feels awful in this game.  It’s tough to decide whether I’d take this or the previous installments (it’s a disliked style versus obviously bad quality debate), so the best advice I can offer is if you want an arcade racer don’t put this on your list.

Greg’s Thoughts

Shift was definitely an interesting experience; which in my case means it was a mixed bag.  At first (with the default settings) it felt really awkward and imprecise, but after toying with the control sensitivities it became rather fun.  The game opens the option for you to be a precise or aggressive driver, which is definitely a nice touch.  However, the AI is still some of the lousiest you’ll find, especially if you’re trying to be precise (they LOVE to ram, slam and spin you out).  What I loved was the cockpit view (very immersive) and sense of speed, both of which contributed to make for an intense experience in all of the high Tier races.  However, the AI, fairly weak car list and disappointing customization options all bring this title down.  Like previous NFS games, this one feels like another year or so of development could’ve yielded a far superior package.  As it stands, this is a game that those who enjoy most any racing game will probably like in parts.

Michael’s Thoughts

This racing franchise has been in hot water recently but I’m glad to say that this return to form is a (mostly) successful one.  Shift is essentially what Pro Street wishes it could’ve even been even at half-decent quality.  The highly-emphasized cockpit view is a real treat, providing great immersion, a constant rush of adrenaline at high speeds and having perhaps the best racing game audio in a long time.  Racing action itself is also generally intense and quite fun.  Admittedly there are a lack of modes to keep things interesting (with Drift being bittersweet) but the game doesn’t demand you to complete so much.  This means those who just want to beat the game quickly can but those like me who enjoy the racing enough can keep going through for more cash, cars and potential possibilities.  Everything isn’t so great here, however, with the AI being the definition of inconsistent, a bare-bones online portion, too many recent cars included and not enough overall customization options.  If you know what you’re getting and are interested in the game then give it a rent to see if it tickles your fancy and decide if a purchase is in your best interest.  Otherwise, I think most of us will be more than content with Forza Motorsport 3 when it comes out.

Our final verdict is that if you enjoy just about any style of racer or like games that go for a simulation-oriented approach, then Shift might be worth a shot.  Even so, the game has some issues that prevent it from being able to maintain most people’s interest for very long (everything can be unlocked very quickly, car selection is fair, customization is limited, minimal online play).  Fortunately, this is at least a step back in the right direction for the franchise and we hope this will continue to be the case for future entries.

For my personal opinion and more details, you can check out my review on TalkXbox:

http://www.talkxbox.com/review1316.html