Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex review

  • Action-stuffed story
  • Core of CoD4 remains as satisfying as ever
  • Tense, dramatic soundtrack
  • Visual splendor of the original is lost
  • Inconsistent framerate
  • Difficult controls

Modern Warfare 2 may have received all the hype (and a good-sized dollop of controversy), but no less than three Call of Duty games were released on November 10. While PS3 and 360 owners got their hands on the latest game, and DS owners got a rejigged handheld version, Wii owners were ‘treated’ to a port of its two-year-old predecessor instead. On the one hand this feels like a cynical attempt to wring more money out of the series, but on the other hand… well, Reflex (AKA CoD4) is still a bloody good game.

The Wii experience is roughly equivalent to playing a PC game in low resolution, with a lower framerate that occasionally dips to almost unacceptable levels. Nothing has been added – aside from the obligatory motion controls, which don’t ruin the experience but don’t enhance it that much either – but then, crucially, nothing has been taken away. It’s the same Modern Warfare underneath.

As the first Call of Duty to take place in the near future rather than the by now rather cliched World War II, CoD4’s setting still feels fresh. No longer constrained by factual events, the story skips across the globe with higher stakes and more urgency – we all know how WWII ended, but it feels like anything could happen in Modern Warfare. And it occasionally does – there are a couple of surprising twists along the way.

There’s great variety to the campaign – the story flips between Russia and the Middle East, and every mission seems to offer something new. There are a couple of gripping set pieces - our favourite being the tense sniper mission based in Pripyat, the Ukrainian city devastated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, which now lies abandoned.

Taking us around just five or six hours to complete, the campaign is definitely on the short side, but at least it never outstays its welcome.

The substantial online multiplayer from World at War, the previous Wii Call of Duty game, makes a welcome return, and apart from the setting very little has changed. It’s still solid, it’s still a rarity on Wii (although The Conduit is another option, if you fancy shooting aliens rather than terrorists) and, disappointingly, there’s still no voice chat support. Compared to similar games on other consoles, Reflex’s multiplayer is still lacking, but in the Wii’s barren online world it’s probably your best option for virtually killing each other.

In its early days the Wii struggled with first-person aiming, but the controls here, for the most part, are fine. The Wii remote helps slightly with precision aiming, but it’s not quite as spot-on as using a mouse, nor as comfortable as aiming with an analogue stick. The button placement is a bit clumsy, too – to use secondary equipment like night-vision goggles or the grenade attachment you need to hold left on the D-pad and press a direction with the Nunchuk’s analogue stick. It works, but in the heat of battle (which, being Call of Duty, is kind of all the time) it can be needlessly fiddly switching between equipment.

All of Modern Warfare is here, but with no improvements or additions this is nothing more than an often-clumsy port. Visually it’s fine, if never spectacular, but on some stages we found it hard to distinguish the enemy from the murky background. The framerate is low to begin with but occasionally dips even lower – in particular on the final part of the last level, which stuttered so frequently it was hard to finish.

In spite of this, the core of Modern Warfare is superb, and if your only option is playing it on the Wii it’s still worth it for the thrilling campaign and solid multiplayer mode. The technical issues don’t render it unplayable; they do, however, make it a much less appealing proposition than the other versions of the game. Anyone with a choice of platform would be mad to pick this up. Though if you’ve got another platform you probably bought this two years ago.

Nov 17, 2009

More Info

Release date: Nov 10 2009 - Wii (US)
Nov 10 2009 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Treyarch
Franchise: Call of Duty
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:


  • bsgpro - May 22, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    some people piss me off like the one reviewing this game just because the Wii is not as "good looking" does not mean the game play is bad and the graphics look pretty much the same as the hd consoles just minor differences the controls are awesome and very customizable so no one should complain at all about that, unless you are to lazy to lift your arm.
  • rickie - January 26, 2010 2:54 p.m.

    Sykes' appraisal of MW Reflex is pretty much right on. I've seen the XBox and PC versions (attempted to play XBox) that just amaze me at picture quality, etc. However, I disagree with his comments on poor control layout. I find the Wii controller and numchuck superior to the standard XBox controls.
  • camelfro - December 17, 2009 9:40 a.m.

    i just started playin and its suprisingly good with addictive multiplayer and yes it falls short of the true next-gen consoles but afta playin this i think ill pick up WaW
  • Cwf2008 - December 10, 2009 6:13 a.m.

    Not bad but no voice chat on multiplayer? THat is utter bullshit you need communication for multiplayer most of the time. And for any Wii owners out there and the 2 or 3 people that dont know the biggest twist of CoD4, here it is: THEY NUKE 30,000 MARINES, Soap kills that Russian guy, and Price actually lives
  • micdog2009 - November 23, 2009 6 a.m.

    I play COD : WAW alot and there is always a bunch of people on there.
  • TheHolyHandGrenade - November 18, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    @crubdunky They already have broken the mw2 severs anyways. and cod is hardcore if you want to play it hardcore(10th perstige, all challanges unlock, amazing kill/death...)
  • Gameguy151 - November 18, 2009 2:10 p.m.

    @crumbdunky: yes, they are marking it down for that, that's nintindo's fault for making the wii have shit graphics. also, it's the freakin' wii dude, you think anyone under 70 actually cares about it?
  • pimlicosound - November 18, 2009 1:38 p.m.

    @crumbdunky: As far as I can tell, there is no assisted aiming in COD multiplayer. If there is, and everyone else is using it while I've missed it, I must consider myself to be doing really well with my handicap.
  • aion7 - November 18, 2009 1:49 a.m.

    @StoneSpore With generalizations like that we can deduce that no one that would go to GamesRadar owns a Wii. Generalization is seldom the right way to go.
  • clucky120 - November 18, 2009 1:43 a.m.

    i have played cod waw for wii. only twice have i got less than a 4 vs. 4. i later got an xbox360 the point is several people will play and more people will learn the cause of real first person games
  • crumbdunky - November 18, 2009 1:17 a.m.

    COD is a "hardcore" shooter? Mate it's as arcadey and pick up and play as they come which is exactly why, when other shooters on the Wii die a silent death, WaW marches ever onward to a surprising 1.5 million and beyond at the last count. The aim assisted COD series is perfect "my firstest shooter" fodder for Wii owners wanting more than party games now they've noticed their little white box does other things than JUST Mariokart you know! While MP3 might have been a bit serious and gamey COD is everywhere! It's on the news FFS! They , newer gamers, will have seen MW2 so why not give them the first one even if IW were far too up themselves to ever make it themselves(the tossers). Besides, no "hardcore" shooter would go FROM dedicated servers to P2P, now would it? COD aimed at core gamers! I've heard it all now I really have. What are games like Operation Dragin Rising and the Battlefield games, MAG or Counterstrike aimed at then-supermen? Alongside Halo COD is the most approachable shooter available with it's aim assisted gameplay and as such is PERFECT for the Wii and it's demographic where there were a lot of people(over a long while admittedly but Wii COD doesn't get advertised does it?)ready to shell out for WaW last tme out. Whatever, COD just isn't a hardcore shooter, imo, not at all. Even some xconsole only shooters are more core than COD these days. Killzone2 is by a mile AND even has proper dedicated servers and no assisted aiming online. Christ! Even the 60player online of R2 is as hardcore as MW/MW2/WaW!Jeez. Oh, and GR, you're REALLY marking this down because it's a Wii game port that isn't as good looking as the PS360 game? Really? That's fair.
  • StoneSpore - November 17, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    oh come on, no one that owns a wii in the first place is probably even into call of duty this series is geared mainly towards hardcore gamers, not the sit back and relax type

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