Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Reflex Review
By now you've likely conquered Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's solo campaign on all difficulty levels, racked up plenty of multi-player perks, and grown exceedingly tired of the controversy over "that mission." Hell, you may have even strapped on those special edition night vision goggles and attempted to scare your cat in the dark. So, with that fight finished multiple times over--and your cat huddled under the bed--where's a trigger-happy gamer to aim his cross hairs next?
Well, you could fire up one of the other two Call of Duty games released this holiday season."What other two Call of Duty games?" you say. You heard right; despite being pushed entirely out of the spotlight by their blockbusting next-gen brothers, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: REFLEX for the Wii, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Mobilized for the DS arrived right alongside Infinty Ward's FPS juggernaut. The latter version follows a companion story to the PS3 and 360 title, but the former is actually a Wii-fangled port of 2007's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I'd already planned on revisiting the original upon completing the sequel, but this reimagined entry offered me the unique and curiosity-piquing opportunity to play through it again in a whole new way. So, rather than firing up my 360 for a repeat play-through, I locked and loaded my Wii-mote, and popped REFLEX into the glowing blue slot.
The first thing that struck me about this surprising Wii-boot was its incredible faithfulness to the original. Don't misunderstand;the visuals are pretty ugly next to the PS3 and 360 versions, but the Wii's modest tech specs didn't stop the developers at Treyarch from cramming damn near everything into this port. Levels, story, characters, weapons, set pieces, and even the tiniest of details have been recreated to give Wii owners a taste of what next-gen console fans have been "booyah-ing" about since 2007. From the dramatic ocean escape opening to the tension-amping sniper flashback mission, it's all here. And, while I mentioned the steep graphical downgrade, I must also add the usual "for a Wii game" stipulation. Yes, it'll hurt your eyes if you're accustomed to the superior versions, but for a Wii game it actually looks quite good. Finer details in the smoke and fire effects have been chopped as has the sophisticated lighting and shadowing tech, but for the most part Modern Warfare looks like the belle of the ball next to other Wii shooters.
Of course, you probably expected the non-HD visuals to be dialed down a bit, but what about the controls? Can you play what's arguably this generation's best first-person shooter with the same hardware that has you wildly flailing your arms to swing a virtual tennis racket? Absolutely. Aiming isn't as precise, and the Nunchuck and Wii-mote still doesn't match the solid feel of a good old gamepad in your hands, but they generally get the job done at least as well as The Conduit or Metroid Prime Trology. Some customization options also allow you to bring the controls in-line with your particular preferences, making the experience as refined as possible. As with other shooters on the console, it took me a good 30-60 minutes to get comfortable with the unconventional controls. But after enduring this modest learning curve, I found myself nailing headshots, taking out clusters of baddies with well placed grenade tosses, and effortlessly wielding the Wii-mote like a piece of high-tech military hardware.
REFLEX also brings plenty of solid online action to the multi-player phobic console. Up to ten players can participate in a variety of modes on multiple maps, and even rack up many of the RPG-like perks that make this series' competitive play so addictive. There's no support for voice chat, so some of the strategy is sapped from team-based play. However, on the plus side, players don't have to jump through the much-maligned "friend code" hurdles that sully so many of the system's online offerings. As with the other console's versions, REFLEX's replay value gets a significant boost from its robust online offerings. And, given the sparse competition on the casual console, this solid entry easily serves as its best multi-player shooter.
Treyarch did more than an admirable job porting last year's Call of Duty: World at War to the Wii, and with REFLEX they build on that success. Despite a step backwards in visuals and slightly inferior controls, 2007's best shooter finally invites Wii owners to join the fight in a port that duplicates the tension, drama, and addictive gameplay of the original. Wii owners, looking for a break from the console's crowd of casual titles, definitely won't want to miss this one. And even those who've already played this adrenaline-spiking military shooter on one of the higher powered platforms may dig experiencing this modern classic in a whole new way. Modern Warfare may be late to the Wii party, but the wait was worth it.