Friday, March 12, 2010

Modern Addiction 2

It’s 2:00am and I’m in an Afghan desert crouched behind a large boulder, loading a new clip into my assault rifle. My step-brother is nearby, running around like a drug-crazed maniac, firing grenades at nothing. The six other guys on my team are somewhere out there trying to burst through enemy lines. In the distance I can hear a door slowly creek open. “Are you still playing that fucking game?” my wife asks in a daze on her way to the bathroom.

Indeed I am still playing the highly addictive Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Sure it came out months ago and I’ve finished the solo campaign, but the reason for my insomnia is the online multi-player option. There is something about having endless opportunities to group up with people all across the world and shoot it out over a bevy of maps and objectives. I was never a fan of a first person shooter game because quite frankly it makes me dizzy trying to figure everything out. Now I can’t put the controller down unless I’ve logged five matches or more.

Fourteen multiplayer game modes allow for any player to find their niche. Theses modes vary from the self-explanatory Capture the Flag, to the all out blood bath of Team Deathmatch to the bomb-planting Demolition and the base-capturing Domination. There are 16 multiplayer maps on which these games unfold, with an anticipated release of additional maps through downloadable content. The maps range in size and difficulty based on whatever game mode you may be in. Currently you can battle it out on top of a sky scraper, in an airport terminal or through the streets of Karachi. You will surely find a favorite and least favorite map to play on in no time.

Killing enemies, accomplishing objectives, and completing challenges allow you to gain valuable experience points in the game. The more points you get, the more you increase your level thus unlocking more guns, equipment, and perks. You are given up to six customizable weapons packages to bring to the battlefield, allowing you to highlight different skills and then switch between them to adjust to the flow of battle.

With the 14 game modes, 16 multi-player maps, dozens of unlockable weapons and attachments, per-weapon, per-perk and per-item challenges, it’s easy to see why this game is so addictive to the masses. Tack on the fact that at any given time, hundreds of thousands of people are online and ready to play and you have a gaming experience that never duplicates.

My only gripe about the whole experience is that you cannot customize an online match. Instead there is a matchmaking service that randomly pits you against others and chooses your map of play for you. This was apparently set-up this way due to rampant cheating in past incarnations of the Call of Duty series.

The headset is almost worthless if you are thinking about strategizing with your teammates. It seems instead to serve as a vessel for kids to swear and for others to spew hate. From time-to-time you will find a decent group of people to chat or bust balls with and it can be fun to mess with others who take the game more seriously than I do. I personally enjoy when my step-brother pretends he is an elementary school student with a snow day. Of course you can opt not to use the headset, but I think it is worth finding those few, hilarious players out there.

My Xbox 360 had sat dormant for months except for the occasional streamed movie through NetFlix. Now it may be on the verge of overheating at times due to marathon online sessions. I’ve tried to throw in Madden again to distract my brain, but I keep coming back for more Modern Warfare. I’m not sure when this addiction will end, but until the intervention comes I’ll just sit back and continue to fire away.

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