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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: n-Space
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 6
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Before I get into the thick of this review, let me make one thing very clear: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized is not a DS port of Modern Warfare 2. It may share the same box art, but make no mistake: this is a standalone product. But is it any good? Yes, it is.

Modern Warfare Mobilized is one of the most technically impressive DS titles of the year. It earns its place alongside the likes of Moon and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, though it looks much more like the former. Fully-rendered 3D environments are a must-have when it comes to Call of Duty, and Modern Warfare Mobilized does not shy away from that tradition. However, it's not always pleasing to look at. This is due in large part to the environments, which grow more and more stale as you advance through the campaign. The framerate takes a few hits when the action heats to a frenzy, but not usually to the point where it actively impedes your progress.

"Hwagh!" This monosyllabic expression of brief agony will assault your eardrums thousands of times over the course of Modern Warfare Mobilized's campaign. There are no alternatives; each enemy you gun down goes out with an obnoxious but mercifully short "Hwagh!" It's not really fair to begin explaining the game's audio package with this, because as a whole, it's really quite good. There's a lot of voicework in this game, and for the most part, it lives up to the high standard set by the other Call of Duty games. Explosions and weapons fire sound intense, if tinny. The music becomes a bit annoying after a while, but it's not bad enough to keep your mind off the action.


Gameplay:

Bad guys have a nuke. Go get it back. That's the story that drives the action of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized. But let's face it: you really don't care why you're shooting up enemy soldiers and blowing stuff up. You don't need any motivation in this game besides this: if you don't kill them, they will kill you.

Since the Call of Duty formula is used and reused by most modern first-person shooters, it's becoming hard to imagine if the formula will ever change at all. You run through each level, killing enemies and completing special objectives. These objectives range from destroying enemy APCs to doing a little bit of reconnaissance with a robot that looks a lot like a pipe bomb. There are new things to see in this iteration, as well; one mission will have you remote-piloting a UAV. As you scan buildings, you must fend off enemy SAMs. Should one get a lock on you and fire a shot, you must deploy flares to send the missile off course. This mission isn't on par with World at War's PBY Catalina sequence or Modern Warfare 2's Predator Drone engagement, but it's good in its own right.

If you can get five friends to pick up a copy of the game, you can have some fun with the multiplayer component, which offers pretty much what you'd expect when it comes to the series. Modern Warfare Mobilized also includes online play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service, but it's difficult to find matches at the moment.


Difficulty:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized can be a difficult game. This has less to do with balancing issues and more with the hardware itself. There's no getting around it: the Nintendo DS is not exactly an ideal platform for twitch-based shooters. It doesn't matter whether you're a southpaw or not: it is very difficult to engage enemies who are attacking you from all directions when your aiming is governed by imprecise touchscreen controls. Furthermore, many of these enemies can actually one-shot you if you're not behind cover. This can be frustrating, as your character's movement is slow at default. Of course, this is best explained in the next section, so I'll save the specifics.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized is a pretty lengthy experience, which is kind of odd, considering the franchise's freshly-earned infamous reputation for ridiculously short campaigns. The replay value is further boosted by unlockable bonus modes (which are essentially segments of previously-played missions). And then, of course, there is the multiplayer.


Game Mechanics:

The biggest problem with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized is that too many of the mechanics are mapped to the touchscreen. It's true that this is probably the only way n-Space could have made a workable control scheme, but it still harms the overall package. Grenades, guns and the ever-helpful action icon are mapped to the left side of the touchscreen. It also bears mentioning that, in DS tradition, aiming and turning are also controlled this way. Tapping the gun icon will reload your currently-equipped weapon, while holding the stylus on the icon will allow you to switch to your sidearm. If you've played a Call of Duty game, you know that switching to your sidearm is an extremely quick and effective strategy for getting out of a sticky situation. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel quick at all in Modern Warfare Mobilized. The trademark "aim down the sights" mechanic is mapped to a touchscreen icon as well, which can sometimes prove to be somewhat problematic. Take into account that you're moving with the D-pad (tap Up twice to sprint and Down twice to crouch) and firing with the triggers, and you could run into trouble faster than you can say "carpal tunnel."

If you've got a Nintendo DS and want to take your Call of Duty experience on the road, this game will fit the bill. It's not the best first-person shooter for the platform and there are some imperfections, but they don't hobble the game. As a whole, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Mobilized is a fine example of a developer rising above hardware constraints and making a product that feels worthy of its pedigree.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition Nintendo Wii Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition

 
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