Sunday, January 3, 2010

The dust settles: MW2 and matchmaking


What a drama that was, and how unwarranted it was, too. As I'm painfully aware, there are still plenty of people who will waste no time in extolling the horrors of matchmaking and just what a low and depraved group of individuals comprise Infinity Ward; no doubt they do this despite begrudgingly playing (and probably enjoying) the game. MW2 created such an uproar that despite being literally half the world away from my own PC, I figured it pertinent to look back on the entire fiasco and share my thoughts here. I've also got little else to do for the next few hours, so naturally, typing this will amuse me enough to kill some of that time.

Right from the outset, my predicament varies drastically from that of many MW2 owners; I had the game pre-loaded, all ready to go, but I couldn't play it. It wasn't until four weeks after its release - nearly five, in fact - that I finally got to fire up the game which has caused one of the biggest online shitfights I can recall. Communities fractured, friends became arch enemies... it was absolutely ridiculous, and in the end, it was also absolutely pointless. While I have no doubt at all that various people will disagree with me, I thought MW2's multiplayer a drastic improvement over the ever-frustrating experience of the original Modern Warfare. The touted lag was nowehere to be seen; in fact, I ran into no more trouble with it than I have in any of the locally-based dedicated servers I frequent. Yes, occasionally the game has to pause for a minute or two while it migrates hosts, and yes, that has resulted in my painful and very avoidable death on multiple occasions. So what? It's a minor annoyance. It happens maybe once every five games for me, and that's at most - some days it won't happen at all. One unfair death or missed kill a day is hardly justification for the mess that followed the big announcement.

One of the other major concerns was the tactical nuke; again, this was something I found to be a non-issue. If one person can seriously get that many kills in a row without dying, it's a pretty sure sign to me that there's a severe skill stack going on, and most of the time that results in the game being little to no fun at all for those of us who still whoop with glee when we get killstreaks of more than five. An early ending to a game is hardly a life-ruining experience, and if it keeps happening, there's nothing stopping you from dropping out to find another match. I guess we're all just so used to being spoon-fed by developers that today's gamers will suffer a severe mental breakdown at the thought of actually needing to act on their own behalf.

Another concern - the customisable killstreaks. Again, non-issue. Don't like getting hammered by that C-130? Then find some cover and stay there, like any sensible being equipped with a survival instinct would do. I don't see how the new killstreaks are any worse than MW's helicopters or airstrikes were - in fact, a number of them are significantly less destructive and in the case of the care package, even useful to the other team if captured. Truth be told, the two killstreaks which proved most disruptive were - and brace for a shock here - the air strike and the helicopter. Amazing.

After several days solid of enjoyable play in various gametypes using matchmaking, I can honestly say that I'm glad Infinity Ward dared to rattle the cage of the PC gaming community. I'd even go so far as to say I'm glad that they went on to thrust a gigantic middle finger at those who couldn't accept this change.

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