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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 10 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Two years. That's how much time Wii loyalists have spent missing out on one of the most successful first-person shooters of all time. It's true that the Wii got the third entry in the series, as well as last year's bloody vision of World War II. However, it never got Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare... until now. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition is plenty late to the party -- almost too late, in fact. On its own, Reflex is a great first-person shooter and a worthy port, but it should come to nobody's surprise that this is not the definitive version of Call of Duty 4.

It would be redundant to say that Reflex is technically inferior to its next-gen counterparts, but it's something nobody will be able to overlook. Low-resolution textures and a struggling framerate are the biggest offenders, but those who have played the next-gen versions will miss the impressive lighting effects, fiery explosions, and blinding smoke. To be fair, this is not a particularly bad-looking game. By today's standards, it's just not a very good-looking one.

Reflex's sound design makes it easier to forget about the lackluster visuals. Harry Gregson-Williams' pulse-pounding score is still fantastically exciting, and the explosions sound much better than they look. In addition, the voicework makes the transition without a hitch. I still get chills up my spine hearing Gaz say "Team Deathmatch... let's do dis" right before a multiplayer match begins. Additionally, Captain Price has never sounded better.


Gameplay:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition is the Wii version of the installment that pushed the venerable franchise into the future, or as the title implies, the modern era. The story behind the action isn't as silly or contrived as it is in Modern Warfare 2, but is narrative strength really the main force behind these games? Of course not.

Modern Warfare is the story of a Russian Ultranationalist's attempt to restore the Soviet Union by any possible means. Of course, this starts an armed conflict, and you are thrust into the fray with an impressive arsenal of modern weaponry at your disposal. You'll spend most of your time playing as Sgt. "Soap" MacTavish of the British 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, but you'll also step into the shoes of Sgt. Paul Jackson of the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Force Recon. If you haven't already played Call of Duty 4, all you need to know that it's an action-packed campaign with a few genuinely shocking moments.

The campaign's gameplay bears all the trademarks of a Call of Duty game: by that, I mean you must shoot enemies and complete objectives. The game changes things up on you by putting you in different situations. From a stealthy raid behind enemy lines in the Ukraine to an eerily calm support mission aboard the devastatingly powerful AC-130 gunship, the levels are intense and sometimes unforgettable. The campaign's biggest flaw is that it's almost criminally short. Since it's not the primary focus of the game, this is somewhat forgivable.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a phenomenon, and that's mainly to the credit of its staggeringly deep and fiendishly addictive multiplayer component. It is the meat of the experience, and it's what you'll return to the most. The sense of progression you get as you rank up and unlock new toys is a huge part of what makes this game such a success. There are a ton of modes, from Deathmatch variants to King of the Hill variants such as Domination. For the most part, the multiplayer fares well in the transition. There's an unfortunate disconnect between yourself and your opponents in this Wii port. This problem is unavoidable because it is native to the hardware itself; there is no voice chat, and let's face it -- nobody's a fan of the Friend Code system.


Difficulty:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition features variable difficulty levels and control presets. The variable difficulty level (from Recruit to Veteran) is a trademark of the Call of Duty franchise, but the control presets are Wii-specific. Don't worry: the presets accommodate players of all types, even if some of them make Veteran difficulty that much more unforgiving.

There is a difficulty curve here; you would do well to tackle the campaign before getting slaughtered online. It's going to take a while to get a feel for the controls; they don't feel quite as tight as those in other Wii shooters (most notably Metroid Prime 3: Corruption). It's easy to lose track of the cursor as it approaches the sides of the television. Since that is how you turn your character, the occasional unresponsiveness can be quite a problem.

Note that I urged you to complete the campaign before you get slaughtered online. I didn't say finishing the campaign would keep you from experiencing an online baptism by fire and lead. Regardless of your skill level with shooters, you should probably prepare yourself for an initially humbling online experience, especially if this is your first experience with a Call of Duty game. It takes a long time to progress from whipping boy to trained killer, but the journey is every bit as satisfying as the destination is.


Game Mechanics:

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition, the control presets make the difficulty curve a bit less harsh. Even with these valuable tools, the Wii-mote/Nunchuk controls simply don't feel as good as a controller or keyboard and mouse. That being said, Treyarch's default scheme works the way you'd probably imagine. There is some awkwardness with melee attacks and grenades, as well as reloading (shake the Nunchuk). It's great that it's all customizable, but that inadvertently causes a problem of its own. You see, when you map a function to the button you want, it's usually at the expense of another mechanic that is every bit as important. The auto-aim effectively removes any sense of pride gained from achieving long-range headshots, but sometimes it's for the better.

If you own an Xbox 360, a PlayStation 3, or a modestly powerful PC, you probably already own Call of Duty 4, and therefore have no reason to pick this game up. However, if the Wii is the only modern gaming console you own, now is your chance to see what all the fuss is about. Make no bones about it, though: you will be getting the shortest end of the stick with this release. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Reflex Edition tries to retain everything that made Call of Duty 4 great, but it brings too many weaknesses for it to stand tall with the rest of them. It's a bit too little, much too late.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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