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PETER HOSKIN reviews Call Of Duty – Modern Warfare II and NTFTB

The plot may be Tom Clancy lite, but boy is this slick! PETER HOSKIN reviews Call Of Duty – Modern Warfare II and New Tales From The Borderlands

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II (PlayStation, Xbox, PC, £59.99)

Verdict: The artistry of war

Rating: **** (4 stars) 

Suit up, soldier. It’s not just time for another Call Of Duty release; it’s time for another Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

There was a game that went by the same name — albeit with a number 2 instead of a Roman numeral — back in 2009. This new one isn’t a remake, nor even a retread. It’s more a riff on the original’s themes.

Or perhaps ‘themes’ is too grand a word. Basically, this one will have you taking out a lot of bad dudes — again. It will give you a story made out of scraps of paper from Tom Clancy’s bin — again. It will want you to believe that grown men go by names like ‘Ghost’ — again.

Suit up, soldier. It’s not just time for another Call Of Duty release; it’s time for another Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II

If this makes Modern Warfare II sound unimaginative, well, in some ways, it is. There’s a formula to all Call Of Duty games and especially to the Modern Warfare line. Shooting. Spectacle. Special forces. It never changes.

But, in other ways, there’s a whole lot of imagination on display here. As a mixture of sight and sound, this game is impeccable. And while there’s nothing to match the terrible majesty of the nuclear explosion in the very first Modern Warfare, there are still a dozen sequences that will invade your long-term memory — from a café raid in Amsterdam to a slip-slide-y gunfight aboard a boat in rough seas.

And then, of course, there are the game’s various multiplayer modes, which are more generous here, in both number and quality, than ever before. The formula is close to being perfected.

Bring on what will no doubt be called Modern Warfare Two in ten years’ time.

Don’t believe what the textbooks tell you. Alchemy — real-life alchemy — actually happened in 2014.

That was when the developers at Telltale Games took the lead in the form of the Borderlands games, a series of snarky first-person shooters in which everyone breaks the fourth wall so insistently that you end up wanting to break their noses.

And they turned it into gold in the form of Tales From The Borderlands, a narrative game that made you care about the characters from this dumb sci-fi universe. It was warm, inventive, and much fun.

That was when the developers at Telltale Games took the lead in the form of the Borderlands games, a series of snarky first-person shooters in which everyone breaks the fourth wall so insistently that you end up wanting to break their noses 

Now there’s a second game in the better series. It’s called New Tales From The Borderlands. And everything is golden once again, right?

Hmm. Not quite. This one certainly looks like the original game, as you lead a trio of down-on-their-luck space citizens — the scientist Anu, her loser brother Octavio, and the frozen yoghurt peddler Fran — through a colourfully junky world.

And it mostly plays like the original game, too. You’ll be choosing between different conversational routes to progress the story, with the occasional bit of frantic button-mashing to keep you on your toes. It’s an easy way to fill an hour.

Now there’s a second game in the better series. It’s called New Tales From The Borderlands. And everything is golden once again, right?

But what New Tales doesn’t have is… well, it’s hard to define. The jokes just aren’t as funny. The characters aren’t as carefully constructed. The whole thing is just that little bit more Borderlands. 

Which may come as no surprise, given that this one was made not by Telltale Games but by the people behind the mainline Borderlands series.

Still, I guess it means that alchemy, of a sort, has happened again. Gold has been transmuted into a muddy bronze.

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