|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: n-Space||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-6||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
There's no way to sugarcoat it. Call of Duty games are best on high-end PCs and next-generation consoles. Developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch have always gone out of their way to wring every last bit of performance out of the world's most advanced platforms, and the results have been incredible; whether the setting is World War II Germany or modern Russia, players feel immersed in the frantic commotion of battle as gunshots ring out, downed enemies writhe in pain, and teammates bark out instructions.
In other words, don't expect too much from developer n-Space's most recent take on the franchise, the DS's Modern Warfare Mobilized; this game won't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up the way its big brothers will, and not just because the violence has been toned down to a T rating. However, the developers did just about everything they could with the resources the DS has to offer, and the result is a terrific game in its own right, a sort of miniature, alternate version of Modern Warfare 2. This is one of the console's best first-person shooters, offering an original story, a meaty campaign, and a whole slew of gameplay modes. The game has its share of (mostly minor) problems, but the sheer fact that the developers crammed so much content into such a small package makes Modern Warfare Mobilized an enormous accomplishment.
In many ways, it's impressive how close n-Space came to recreating the Call of Duty style. The between-mission briefings will feel instantly familiar to fans of the series, even though the cutscenes are gone, and there's a lot more voice acting than is typically found on the DS. Even the sound effects are a decent approximation of their next-generation counterparts, especially when you listen on headphones. (We wish the enemies made more than one noise when they died, though.) The missions themselves have the same variety, with stretches of first-person shooting punctuated by turret scenes, vehicle missions, air-support runs, and simple tasks like placing charges. In a nod to the DS's stylus controls, Mobilized also includes simple mini-games in which you guess passwords and manipulate the components of devices you encounter.
In other areas, Call of Duty fans will notice the DS's deficiencies. Sometimes, that's because n-Space made great decisions in terms of how to use the console's power. For example, the graphics are blocky and the textures are weak, but the game runs smoothly no matter what transpires onscreen. We'd much rather deal with so-so visuals than with graphical hiccups, so this is an acceptable tradeoff.
There are a few areas, however, that could have used some improvement. The A.I. is particularly problematic. Your two teammates love getting in your way, often preventing you from ducking into cover when you're taking damage. Occasionally they fail to move forward when you've cleared an area (we had to restart the console once when they wouldn't come to open an elevator). They're invincible, and sometimes they'll just stand out in the open; if you try to join them, thinking their position is safe, you're dead in a split-second. The enemies, meanwhile, stick to simple patterns, and now and then they won't be triggered when a real human would clearly have become aware that something was up. When they do attack you, their aim is perfect and you die almost instantly.
The level design, while acceptable, isn't particularly inspired. For the most part, the first-person shooter sections are a matter of moving down a linear path, triggering room after room of enemies. To be fair, there are plenty of other levels (vehicles, turrets, etc.) to break up the monotony, but FPS is the game's bread and butter, and it seems a little by-the-numbers.