|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treyarch||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: 1-10||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
September 2, 2009 - The Call of Duty franchise has always been strong, but with Modern Warfare, Activision unleashed a blockbuster powerhouse that now strikes fear in the holiday competition. As developers Infinity Ward gear up to release the next installment in the series, their sister company, Treyarch, steps in to finally bring the first game to Wii. Are Nintendo fans in store for the full treatment, or will Modern Warfare suffer a similarly ill fate as so many other ports before it?
If, by some miracle of nature, you're not yet familiar with the game, let's catch you up to speed with a bit of background. The Call of Duty franchise, as a whole, has always revolved around World War II - and truly, who hasn't had enough of that? Along with competing series such as Bros. In Arms and Medal of Honor, Call of Duty has ensured that first-person shooter (FPS) fans have had no shortage of games focused on this great struggle.
Modern Warfare, however, took many of the traditional Call of Duty mechanics and sensibilities and brought them into the present. The settings, situations, and characters were easily identifiable, and the game, overall, resonated in a more urgent way for audiences. Both the gameplay content and character behavior have been debated and analyzed repeatedly for their gritty nature, and it's a testament to just how far along some aspects of gaming have come in terms of being compelling entertainment.
What set Modern Warfare apart from the pack, however, were two huge factors: a single-player campaign that hit the player with an onslaught of non-stop action, and a multiplayer component so in-depth and feature-rich it's still being played by millions of people almost two years after release. What Wii owners should be psyched about is that Treyarch has promised to bring all that greatness to Nintendo's home console. From the tour de force story mode, to the crazy addictive online frag-fest, Modern Warfare Wii sets out to leave no option behind.
If you've seen any of the recently released screenshots of the game, well, it might not be enough to get you excited for Modern Warfare on Wii. The character models are blocky and low res, and the environments are clearly less defined. Of course, the game comes to Wii with one major improvement - something the next-gen consoles simply can't measure up to - and that's controls. Treyarch is modeling the game after the best of the best in terms of Wii FPS, and you'll have your selection of control options based around using the Wii Remote (to aim your reticule) and Nunchuk.
Like Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 and The Conduit before it, Modern Warfare Wii will attempt to give players a deep level of customization, allowing each player to fine-tune elements of the controls to best suit their specific preferences. In addition to this key difference in gameplay, the Wii version will also sport local co-op, much as World at War on Wii did. A second player can use a Wii Remote to jump into the game at any time to add a second reticule and additional firepower. The main player will be the only one with actual character control, however, leaving the second player with more of an on-rails experience.
What might shock and surprise players, however, is that the developers plan to carry over all that multiplayer goodness from the original versions of the game. The leveling system will be in place, and just like the next-gen and PC iterations, players will be able to rank up and unlock perks through extended online play. Up to 10 players can compete, with all the same modes and functions as before.
An unfortunate reality is that - though the gameplay will reportedly be intact (along with extra goodies) - there's simply no way for the Wii to keep up in terms of presentation. The visuals are taking a noticeable hit, in spite of Treyarch's claim to have upped the fidelity and effects from what Wii owners experienced with World at War. It's hard to understate the impact the visuals have on the overall experience, and it remains to be seen whether the Wii version will be able to pack a similar gameplay punch when all is said and done. No, graphics aren't everything, but they're an important element that just won't come to Wii unscathed.
One aspect of the game that has a better chance of translating faithfully, though, is the soundtrack, which played an equally powerful role in immersing players in the adventure. A constant barrage of rounds and explosives matched with an unrelenting musical score kept players gripping their controllers with fierce intensity. We hope to see a clean migration of the aural elements over to Wii, though no audio/video footage has been made available yet.
It might seem cold comfort to some that Wii owners are only just now getting the first game in the Modern Warfare series while next-gen gamers ready themselves for part two. If you only own a Wii, however, here's your chance to experience the game's greatness. Should Treyarch come through and bring this masterpiece to Wii without a hitch, there's ample reason for Nintendo fans to rejoice. We'll find out for sure just how good a job the developers have done when the game releases this holiday season.
CCC Freelance Writer