Modern Warfare 2: Steps to Help Avoid the Sophomore Slump

By Joel Taveras

August 3, 2009

Ever since E3 of this year, Infinity Ward has been very hard at work with teasing us all throughout the summer.  Whether it was the prestige edition un-boxing video, the countless tweets from Robert Bowling (@fourzerotwo), or the world premiere multiplayer trailer, Modern Warfare 2 has thus far had absolutely no problem with making front-page headlines. It is to the point that other games that were set to launch alongside the giant have for the most been conveniently “delayed” to 2010. Now I am all about hyping games, and to be honest, sometimes the waiting and anticipation is the best part. With the anticipation comes the worry. The main thing that has me concerned is that as great as Modern Warfare 2’s predecessor was, it definitely wasn’t perfect. If all the issues that were present in the original somehow carry over to MW2 (and I really hope they don’t), it can spell out sophomore slump for the blockbuster title.

I would be lying if I said I that I wasn’t in complete awe while watching the multiplayer trailer for the 1st time. I remember when playing COD4 with friends and saying how the next game would need to have more kill streak bonuses; and now look, 1st trailer right out of the gate and we have AC130 gunships. Awesome. That same night that the trailer came out I suddenly had the urge to jump onto COD4 online (it’s been neglected ever since the launch of this site).  Good thing I had because it made me come crashing down to earth from the MW 2 high I had been on the whole day.

I have to put this out there and say that I play COD4 on the PS3, and that is only because when the game launched most of the people on my XBL friends list would never get off of Halo 3 or Gears of War, so I opted to buy it for the platform in which I had more buddies who would actually play the game with me. So for those of you who you thought you had connection/host migration issues on XBL, you haven’t seen anything.

COD4 online on the PS3 feels; well for the most part, broken. And when I say broken, I mean to the point that there are plaguing issues even with simple features such as voice chat. I can think of many instances that I would go into a friend’s lobby  which would be packed and yet not even one person would be able to hear me. Or vice versa when they would come into my room. In a game that which relies so heavily on teamwork and communication I think I speak for everyone when I say that the inability to communicate is simply unacceptable.

The voice problem is something that would unfold pretty much on a daily basis. Now what if you couldn’t even get that far? What if you try to play with friends and you get (my favorite) the “cannot connect to host” error message. I guess voice isn’t an issue when you can’t even get into the room. Infinity Ward would eventually provide some information as to why it was happening, and what had to be changed on a player’s router settings to avoid complications. Rather than fixing the obvious network issues on their end, they expected people to have to turn into honorary Cisco network technicians just to get their game to play the way it should have played from day one. No other game on PSN or XBL (respectively), has ever given me as much trouble to play it as online as COD4.

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Lag can deem any game unplayable, and no game is immune to it completely. COD4 manages to set what I think is a new standard in lag. Lag so bad that certain maps are simply unplayable. Currently on the PS3, I don’t think I’ve ever made it through (and if I did it was probably only once) an entire ground war match on the “Bog” map. I understand that ground war matches have a lot going on at once and I’m sure it takes some serious bandwidth, but seriously IW, not being able to get through one whole match if the room is packed is inexcusable.

At this point, support is the most important thing that IW can give to Modern Warfare 2; something that COD4 simply never had. Throughout the games existence COD4 only had 2 patches and the variety map pack, while COD:WaW made by the “inferior” developer Treyarch has just released it’s third map pack. World at War isn’t even out for a year and it’s already received more support than COD4 has receieved in more than double that time.

With so much hype surrounding Modern Warfare 2, it is still quite easy for the title to fall short of everyone’s expectations. Sequels usually have to go above and beyond the call of duty (pun intended) in order to surpass the success of the original. With all the money that will be coming in from selling night-vision-goggle-equipped-prestige-editions, IW better use it towards paying for better network help in order to avoid all of the intolerable issues from the original.

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Joel Taveras

Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.

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