Though adamant Wii owners have had access to some acceptable, and even a few truly excellent, first-person shooters on their console of choice, it feels like they’re still stuck playing catch-up to the deluge of quality FPS titles regularly released on higher powered gaming systems. The older entries in the Call of Duty series are no stranger to Nintendo’s console, but the first game in the franchise to bring the fight up to speed with the flashy, high-tech zing of modern times has been conspicuously absent… until now.
Most serious gamers have their crosshairs set on the hot holiday blockbuster Modern Warfare 2. Again, Wii owners get the shaft, since it seems some version of the game launched for nearly every other gaming console imaginable. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. As a consolation prize for their patience, Nintendo enthusiasts finally get a shot to dig into the tense, gritty firefights and grippingly poignant present-day conflict found in the original game with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Reflex Edition. The two year old, dialed down graphics are certainly not as sexy on the Wii, and there are some other subtle blemishes that appear on this port. Nonetheless, it’s a game you’re going to absolutely want to pick up, especially if you don’t have a chance to play it on another console.
Modern Warfare – Reflex features the exact same excellent plot and level structure found in Call of Duty 4. Playing as various members of the British SAS Commando and U.S. Marine forces, you’ll uncover a conspiratorial plot between Russian ultranationalists and a rebel sect in the Middle East. Alongside a rotating group of soldier comrades, you’ll suit up with the latest military tech and firepower, and drop into the middle of some of seriously intense combat situations in an attempt to keep the world from a being bathed in a global nuclear meltdown.
The perspective jumps around between a handful of different key soldiers and other characters throughout the game, as you’ll push your way through a near constant cacophony of flying bullets and deadly explosions in sweaty-palmed missions that span the Middle East, Russia, the Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. Whether you’re frantically shooting your way into and then dramatically escaping a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean or creeping along shredded alleyways in a sand-strewn city trying to avoid RPGs and explosives thrown from the rooftops, you can bet your biscuits the action doesn’t let up for a second.
Some of the game’s visual slickness is definitely lost in the HD-to-Wii port. It’s all but expected. The frame rate also takes a substantial hit at times during extremely busy sequences, which can be frustrating when it costs you the (virtual) lives of your entire squad. Despite the downgrade in graphical fidelity, Modern Warfare – Reflex is still a pretty good looking game, and the overall impact of the settings and events you’re thrust into are just as sharp and biting as before. And we’re not just talking about the crazy missions where you’re fending off enemy soldiers coming at you form all angles with high-powered explosives.
For instance, you’ll get to experience the terrorist kidnapping and assassination of a Middle Eastern president from a first-person perspective. After being beaten, driven through the decimated streets of a the city amidst a bloody revolution, and tied up to a stake in the middle of an arena with a video camera pointed at you, a rebel soldier points a gun at your head and pulls the trigger. The screen goes black. Welcome to Modern Warfare. Unusual camera angles, changes in perspective, and jarring sequences like the one we just described punctuate the bloody and violent nature of this conflict.
The “Reflex” addition to the game’s title is spot on, as you’ll need some good ones to keep the shrapnel from tearing up your digital hide. With the Nunchuk and Wii Remote combo, the first-person point and shoot controls that are new to the Wii version work well most of the time. There are moments with the default control setup where it feels difficult to get the proper view angle when chaos erupts around you, though there are a lot of adjustment and customization options available for you to tweak things until they feel just right. You can adjust everything from the cursor and turn speed right down to button configurations and the dead zones at the edges of the screen. For serious shooter enthusiasts, the game also works well with the Wii Zapper peripheral. If you have a pal handy, a second Wii Remote can be used to blast away enemies on the same screen, which is a nice feature.
It only takes a handful of hours to blast your way through the enthralling solo campaign, but that’s only half of what makes Modern Warfare – Reflex worth checking out. The online multiplayer modes are some of the best currently available on the Wii, and you’d be seriously missing out if you only focused on the main campaign. Starting out with a few limited but fun options like team deathmatch and free-for-all, you can easily jump into team missions across some nicely designed maps that are riddled with hiding spots, choke points, and strategic vantage points. As you play in more matches, you’ll gain cumulative experience for your killing skills that eventually level-up your profile and unlock additional multiplayer modes, classes, and extras to check out. There are also a few different weapons load outs to pick from, including standard assault, special ops, heavy gunner, demolitions, and sniper. Log in some prolonged online sessions and you’ll soon unlock a ton of other cool modes like sabotage, tactical, domination, cage matches, and more.
Treyarch had its work cut out for it in bringing a high-definition smash hit like Call of Duty 4 to the Wii, but the team really pulled it off. While there’s no real reason to pick up Modern Warfare: Reflex if you already have access to the game on a more powerful console, this faithful Wii port doesn’t pull any punches and delivers a killer experience that matches the intensity, spirit, and gameplay of the other versions. Graphical weakness and sporadic chugging issues aside, this is still a must-have shooter for the Wii.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
Visuals and frame rates take a hit from the Wii, but it’s still a generally good looking game with lots of interesting settings and situations to fight through. 4.0 Control
Bountiful customization options let you tweak the controls until they’re just right. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Lots of exciting sound effects, like near-constant sprays of bullets and dying comrades, keeps the action pumping. 3.9
A short and satisfying solo campaign is beefed up substantially by excellent online multiplayer options.
4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.