Thursday, December 17, 2009

Modern Warfare 2.1.0 - Bad News Fast

This is the second part of a multi-part Modern Warfare 2 review.

Dying disconnects me from the Call of Duty experience more than any other thing, and it's interesting to see how and why. I'm always surprised by how much of my death I can take, how it gives and takes from my experience, and how the designers use it to control my behavior. And I like considering ways it might be improved.

Bad News Fast
I learned an interesting lesson about how dying affects immersion when playing Metroid Prime for the GameCube. The game was easy for the most part and -- beyond a few transgressions at game start -- enjoyable. But about 2/3 of the way through the game I died in a difficult boss fight, and was yanked right out of the experience. What just happened? Where am I? What now? I was pissed, and found myself in "chore mode", where I just wanted to get past the serious transgression, and it better not happen again soon.

Why this bothered me so much was of interest because I've played so many games wherein I die over and over again and still enjoy myself. What made death in Metroid Prime so annoying and death in Call of Duty acceptable seemed to be a matter of timing. Introduce death up front and I unconsciously accept it as part of the game experience. If you have a design pill you know is bitter but plan to use anyway, introduce it and let me adjust to it early.

I think it's good that they introduce death early in Call of Duty. But it still messes with me. More on that next...


  1. Was it the deaths at the airport that bothered you or was it the random killing off of important characters? I'd say that unlike MW1 this game started off with a little too much dying and a whole lot less narrative unlike its predecessor which detracts from any sort of connection to the experience.

  2. Whoops, I guess that wasn't clear. I meant /me/ dying. The player.