Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) is a good game. It’s not revolutionary by any standards, but it’s still the best “tactical” shooter every made. It offers so many game modes that you can virtually re-create the game style of your favorite tactical shooters. From Counter Strike single life matches to Unreal Tournament mayhem, there is a huge variety of gameplay available.
The graphics are nice but not a major leap forward from the Call of Duty 4 (COD4) engine. However, the art is top notch which really creates an enveloping environment. From desert to snowy mountains to suburban United States, each location is rich and realistic enough to suspend belief.
But let’s stop talking about all the things that this game does well. If you played COD4 then you are aware of all the awesome multiplayer offerings that MW2 offers - except for dedicated servers. Now this was the most controversial issue with MW2: People were so much opposed to not having dedicated servers that over 200,000 people signed up to boycott the title.
Regardless of the boycott, and not surprisingly, the title still managed to out sell COD4 in the first weekend of sales. The match-making system that MW2 implemented works, and it works well. I have yet to join a server with a bad ping and not once has a match been canceled due to a host losing connection.
In the event of the host losing connection the match is put on pause and within ten seconds the entire game is switched to another server and gameplay resumes from exactly where it left off. This can offer interesting moments if the match pauses right as you and your opponent make eye contact. Then you are forced to wait and see who is the quickest on the draw when the match resumes.
Still I feel that the game loses something very important by getting rid of dedicated servers. For one, dedicated servers offer specific map rotations and game modes that can be quite agreeable. For example in COD4 I had a server that only did a certain rotation of maps in hardcore mode. I had a specific class designed for this server alone.
With the new match-making system, no longer can I design a class for a specific map as game maps are now randomly chosen, and even though players have the option to vote out of a specific rotation, votes are rarely passed.
However, the specific map rotations are only a minor concern, compared to the most important thing MW2 loses. Dedicated servers offer the ‘usuals’ a chance to get to know the strangers that you fight against. In COD4 I could log onto a favorite server and receive a few hellos from familiar opponents. Perhaps even log into their Ventrilo server and chat with them.
Now when I log into a match I am playing with a group of people who I have never seen before, all with their own stupid little call signs which make them “unique” and recognizable - except for the fact that I am never going to see any of them again. First person shooters do have communities, most of which are formed through familiars playing on dedicated servers. However, because of its match-making system, MW2 has seemingly doomed people to always be playing strangers.