The controversy caused by leaked scenes of a level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 where the player mows down innocent civilians at a Russian airport has done nothing to slow sales of the much-anticipated game. Released worldwide on November 10, the game has set an all-time entertainment industry record, grossing an estimated US$550 million in its first five days.

The sales figures eclipse the previous five-day worldwide movie box-office record of US$394 million set by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as the previous US$500 million record for a video game set by Grand Theft Auto IV. Such revenue should lay to rest any lingering doubts people may have regarding the popularity and potential earning power of videogames in the entertainment landscape.

"In just five days of sell through Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has become the largest entertainment launch in history and a pop culture phenomenon," said Robert Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard, Inc. "The title's success redefines entertainment as millions of consumers have chosen to play Modern Warfare 2 at unprecedented levels rather than engage in other forms of media."

Having completed the single-player campaign of the game, as so many fans who have bought the game also will have done given its short length, it’s nice to see a game that lives up to the intense hype it received leading up to its release. The single-player campaign makes up for its short duration with intense, action-packed moments, (albeit with a slightly confusing storyline at times), but is so good it obviously leaves you wanting more.

The level in which the player takes part in the Russian airport massacre that caused the controversy is likely to leave many players, me included, more than a little uncomfortable. That was presumably the developer’s intent, but it’s hard to argue that the game wouldn’t be better off without it.

The short length of the single-player campaign is also offset by a Spec Ops mode and multiplayer mode. Spec Ops mode is much like the final secret area of Modern Warfare in which the player is thrown into a range of scenarios such as blasting through an area or defending an area from waves of enemies. These missions can also be played in co-op, which is a great addition for those wanting to share the experience with a friend.

Meanwhile, multiplayer mode manages to improve on the already high standards of its predecessor. According to Microsoft, more than 5.2 million multiplayer hours were logged on the game on the first day alone, with more than 2.2 million unique gamers playing the game on its November 10 release date – a new record for Xbox LIVE.

There has also been some fuss regarding the lack of dedicated servers for the PC version of the game, which has been replaced with a Matchmaking system, similar to consoles. This has left players in many parts of the world at a distinct disadvantage when matched to a server where they end up with latency issues.

Nevertheless, developers Infinity Ward have managed to produce a top-notch title that lives up to the expectations resulting from the now classic Modern Warfare and thoroughly deserves its record-breaking sales figures. Anyone still umming and ahhing about whether to drop down their cash for Modern Warfare 2 can rest easy that it will be money well spent.

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