Call of Duty: Modern Warfare brings out a range of different opinions from players. Some praise it, while others, well, don’t. Everything from changes to game mechanics to map design has caused players to voice their different viewpoints.
However, one thing is usually agreed on by most players, that being that the mission Clean House is the best mission in the Modern Warfare single-player campaign. I fully agree with this myself and would even go as far as to say it would be in my top 5 COD missions of all time. But why is that?
A Modern War
To get a better understanding of the Clean House mission, we need to take a look at what Modern Warfare was trying to achieve and depict with its single-player.
Modern Warfare set out to deliver a single-player experience that conveyed the nature of combat today. Where the line between good and bad, enemy or non-combatant, is blurred.
This is paired with wanting to portray the horrors of war, and the lives it wrecks. The victims of war are more than the soldiers who lost their lives.
Modern Warfare tried to do this and succeeded some times. But ultimately failed to stick with me. It’s no Spec Ops: The Line. But like I said some times it did, the hospital raid during the mission Hunting Party for example. However, Clean House delivered a short but effective experience one that I certainly haven’t forgotten.
Clean House puts players in the shoes of Kyle Garrick a member of the SAS who is in the process of carrying out a counter-terrorism operation in Camden Town, London.
The mission sees Garrick and his fellow regiment members clear a residence of terror threats with surgical precision and coordination.
The building happens to currently have targets and non-targets in it, meaning you have to check your shots. Everyone it dressed casually as well, making the task more tricky.
Everyone can pose a threat, even those you save from being used as a human shield go for a gun and turn on you in the blink of an eye. Don’t get trigger happy though as not everyone will try to kill you, especially the baby and mother.
The setting isn’t a battlefield full of tanks, jets and battleships, it’s supposed to be a home, a place to feel safe and comfortable. This together with not knowing who’s going to try and kill you, blurs the lines I mentioned. You may even end up with civilian blood on your hands. The game won’t actually fail you for killing innocents (unless it’s the baby).
Hide and Shoot
You must also be on the ball for not just identifying visible threats but the threats who hide. Usually, enemy visibility is important in games, but here people are hiding around corners, under beds, firing through doors and busting through doors while throwing out a hail of bullets.
You have to be prepared and alert at all times, as a friendly solider can potentially find out, and he can get shot through a wall. Unless you eliminate the would-be shooter before this happens which nets you an achievement. Though on the first go without knowing what can happen I doubt you will pull this off.
Sights and Sounds
I think Clean House is such a stand out mission because of its superb atmosphere. This is down to multiple different reasons all coming together to deliver something great.
First off is the night vision goggle effect that enables improved visibility in the dark. It puts you somewhat out of your comfort zone, while also giving you an advantage in combat.
I would say the night vision effect is the most realistic I’ve seen in a game, but the closest I’ve ever personally got to wearing night-vision goggles is when I briefly tried a friend’s set that came with his MW2 Prestige Edition a long time ago, and I’ve kind of forgotten what they were like. So I will say it’s the closest to how I imagine it looks through night vision goggles.
Oh, I would like to mention the laser sights and gun tilting that are used because of the goggles because both are brilliant touches that immerse you in the game.
The narrow halls, stairways, door frames and being so close to others can give off a claustrophobic feeling. Assisting in creating a hair-raising experience.
To fully obtain an eerie atmosphere, Modern Warfare incorporates silence and subtle sounds to great effect. You can hear voices and gunfire in other parts of the building conveying the scope of this operation.
The silence as you slowly move up the stairs puts you on the edge. And when the silence is broken by screams or gunshots, it hits much harder. The sound dynamics make the moments of action more impactful and meaningful. Especially when other missions have either a machine gun spraying, bombs going off, and/or jets flying by on average roughly every 2.67 seconds.
Slowing it Down
You think that clearing a building is pretty run-of-the-mill for COD, but Modern Warfare does things a little differently.
During Clean House, the pace is slowed right down. It’s quite the contrast from the bombastic nature COD has become known for. You cannot really sprint and walking is slower than usual. You won’t be unloading magazine after magazine in full auto action movie-style as your assault rifle is in single-shot mode. Forcing you to aim and be more precise.
The slower pace helps emphasize the methodical nature of the mission while giving the player time to take everything in.
The Wolf’s Den
Another mission in Modern Warfare (The Wolf’s Den) starts similarly to Clean House. A night-time raid on an antagonist’s compound plays very closely, complete with night vision, and identifying targets.
I think it was quite clearly inspired by the Bin Laden raid that was carried out by Seal Team Six and portrayed in the film Zero Dark Thirty.
Although the selection isn’t as long as the Clean House mission, it was still nice to see such a well made part of the game return somewhat.
I wish the rest of the campaign was as memorable as Clean House. There were glimmers here and there, but nothing really came as close.
It goes to show what COD can do when it tries something new and mixes up the formula. Another example would be All Ghillied Up from COD4, with its change of pace and gameplay. We all remember laying in the grass as enemy soldiers and vehicles went by.
COD is capable of good single-player campaigns, Black Ops 1’s campaign was fun and explored an intriguing time period. While telling a story I could get into with fan favourite characters like Viktor Reznov.
Or the Black Ops 2’s campaign with choices and multiple endings, both were cool to see COD do.
Let’s not forget COD2 and WAW’s top-notch depictions of the Second World War either.
It’s just a shame more recent efforts haven’t really been of the same quality, if the game even had a single-player campaign that is. Modern Warfare made a step in the right direction however with one mission, in particular, knocking it out of the park.