Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare is one of those shooting-people-in-the-head games I find more than vaguely distasteful, but for reasons that subsequently escape me some time ago I bought a copy. And I played it. And I… er… enjoyed it.

Not the shooting-people-in-the-head parts, however. No, those parts make me feel ill. As do the moving-around parts – I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to motion sickness in these sorts of games. No, the bits I enjoyed revolved around the clear sense of video games coming of age, of establishing themselves as a solid, narrative-based entertainment medium, even an art form. Elite may have rocked in its day, but it’s amoeboid compared with Modern Warfare‘s highly-evolved and sophisticated approach. COD4 wasn’t the turning point of that particular story, but for a while there it was viewed as one of the more sophisticated, ambitious, and successful games. Yes, I bought it for research purposes. Honest.

What’s interesting about the sequel, the imaginatively-titled Modern Warfare 2, is that a year or so on this progression of the whole sector seems to be regarded as much more credible. True, many stories about MW2 have focussed on its sales records, or the furore surrounding an early scene in which the player shoots civilians (sort-of. Turns out it’s more complex than that, obviously).

However, reviews like that at Eurogamer are fascinating for their rhetoric as much as what they have to say about the game directly. This is erudite, thoughtful, insightful journalism, of the sort one might expect to be reserved for arts or film reviews.

Which is, of course, entirely fitting. MW2 appears to be one of those big dumb action movies that, curiously, isn’t as dumb as you’d expected when you walked in the cinema. It’s having to appeal to the lowest common denominator to make back its production costs, but that doesn’t prevent it from striving towards a higher ideal. And if that isn’t a sign of an established, mature, and creatively fulfilling sector, then I don’t know what is.

I still don’t think I’d like it, but I’d probably run out and buy a copy if I wasn’t already immersed in Dragon Age: Origins.

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