I've been playing online team-battles of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" on Xbox Live. And the other day, I heard a teammate say he was a military guy in real life, then he announced, "Y'all don't even know how much more realistic to war this is than 'Call of Duty 4.'"
I'm not a military guy in real life, so I don't know what he meant exactly - but I get his gist.
The online multiplayer of "Modern Warfare 2" is a slightly better first-person war game than the battles of "Call of Duty 4," which itself was ridiculously addictive.
"Modern Warfare 2" comes with 16 maps of battlefields, allowing you to perch with weapons atop rooftop skyscrapers, and on the streets of Karachi in Pakistan, and amid the dust of a quarry, an within the bowels of an airplane graveyard, and much more.
These aren't just maps. These are lovingly crafted, finely illustrated and realistic-looking, moving-picture locations that make you feel like you're getting shelled in vibrant locales around the world.
Plus, naturally, you can keep switching up what kind of online battle to play. There are 14 types of battles, including the usual death match, team death match, and capture the flag.
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to retailer Game Crazy. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Dragon Age: Origins" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, PC; rated "M" (blood, intense violence, language, partial nudity, sexual content)
2. "Borderlands" (Take Two) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3 and PC; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, mature humor and strong language)
3. "Dragon Age: Origins" for PS 3
4. "Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City" (Rockstar) for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of tobacco and/or use of alcohol)
5. "Dragon Age: Origins" collector's edition with bonus content for Xbox 360
6. "Forza Motorsport 3" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated "E"
7. "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" (Sony) for PS 3; rated "T" (blood, language, suggestive themes, violence)
8. "Tekken 6" (Namco) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "T" (alcohol reference, crude humor, mild language, suggestive themes, violence)
9. "Borderlands" for PS 3
10. "Tekken 6" for PS 3
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
Sometimes, I half-shout, "Kill, kill, kill" into my microphone. There is a purpose for that insanity. It's a way to remind myself and teammates we have to be ready to pull the trigger of our guns every single second as we creep around a battlefield.
Seriously, if you turn the corner of a farmhouse in Brazil, and you're unprepared to then suddenly see an enemy gamer who you must blow away, you're quite likely to be shot to death by said rival.
The intensity here makes the online version of "Modern Warfare 2" one of the best games of 2009.
Also, you can play a new cooperative campaign with friends, where one of you shoots enemies from the battlefield, while the other gamer hovers high in the sky in a plane, dropping bombs and bullets from above.
That cooperative mode is pretty neat, and maybe even groundbreaking, and can keep you playing way longer than the solo campaign.
So, oh right, the offline solo campaign: It looks great, it plays great, and it's pretty detailed with all those same maps - but you can breeze through this story-based solo campaign in just five to 10 hours, which is not a good time value for a $60 game.
There is a shock to the solo plot: At one brief point, you play as a CIA agent infiltrating a terrorist cell, and you and the baddies walk through a Russian airport shooting hundreds of civilians. This is a plot point that leads to a war in America. It's startling.
When war comes to America, you play as a U.S. soldier defending Virginia, for a while, leading to the following, somehow charming, and absurd bit of dialogue:
"Ramirez, we still have hostiles at the Burger Town!"
Burger Town looks a lot like Burger King, and apparently, the drive-through will not be left in tact after World War III. Enjoy your Whoppers while you can, people.
("Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" by Activision retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 - Plays most fun as an online first-person shooter, or a cooperative game, but is too short as an offline solo campaign. Looks fantastic. Challenging. Rated "M" for blood, drug reference, intense violence and language. Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.