Modern Warfare 2 Online Play Crippled by PS3 Security Breach

January 25, 2011 Written by Mike Hartnett

One of the biggest fears shared amongst PlayStation 3 owners, after the console’s massive security breach several days ago, was that wannabe hackers would exploit this weakness, and use it for their own gain to cheat and modify games online. It didn’t take long for these fears to manifest themselves as reality, and now one of the most popular online shooters around has been brought to its knees.

Considered to be almost unplayable by some, Modern Warfare 2 is the first online title to be severely interrupted due to the recent jailbreaking of the PS3. Reports started trickling in shortly following the introduction of Geohot’s PS3 jailbreak code to the public; from there on out, things began to get much worse. Users far-and-wide have reported rampant cheating online, with alleged hackers using everything from modified weapons, to aim-bots and beyond. Obviously, we wanted to examine whether or not the situation was really that bad, and, unfortunately, it is.

Upon jumping online to take a look, we were met with a modified lobby on our very first try, where knife kills were disabled. This was followed by more modded lobbies as the night went on, each one varying in complexity. From certain individuals just trying to cheat, to others creating all-new game types, which was certainly interesting. Needless to say, the frequency at which modded lobbies were encountered went from rare to exceedingly common. Roughly 50% or more of the lobbies we entered had some sort of modification applied, which is a real downer for those logging in to play the game competitively, or even just fairly. Though every so often we would run into a modified lobby that was actually fun; one in particular utilized the “Gun Game” mode from Call of Duty: Black Ops where players acquire an upgraded weapon with each kill, pretty cool for those who prefer Modern Warfare 2 over the newer Call of Duty installment.

But despite some of the more unique modes created by some of these renegade coders, the most common modification was that of the blatant cheat. Aim-bots, automatic thermal vision, and a full-on admin menu were just a few of the nagging cheats we had come across in just a few short hours of play. It’s also quite a shame that level and prestige rankings are essentially meaningless now. Sure, challenge lobbies existed before the jailbreak, but are now far more prevalent, making skilled players’ prestige levels indistinguishable from those who attained their ranking through illegitimate channels.

So, if one were to ask whether or not Modern Warfare 2 was playable online, we would have to answer “sort of”. While we were able to get into many lobbies which were void of any foul play, we ran into an almost equal amount which fostered it. And the real downside is that, according to Robert Bowling of Infinity Ward, these issues can’t readily be fixed:

“Games rely on the security of the encryption on the platforms they’re played on,”

“Unless the security exploit itself is resolved on the platform … updates to the game through patches will not resolve this problem…at this time, we do not have the ability to restore or adjust individual stats.”

“we are looking at every option available to us to help any user affected,”

Call of Duty: Black Ops apparently doesn’t suffer from the same security issues as Modern Warfare 2, so if you’re looking for Call of Duty refuge, that’s probably the only way you’re going to find it. Modern Warfare 2, as a competitive online title, may be severely damaged, but it’s still worth a look if you want to mess around a bit, or experience some of these bizarre new mods, as frustrating as some of the cheaters may be. If you come across blatant cheaters, Activision recommends that you go through the PSN’s official complaint form, but in all honesty, it’s like fighting a fire with a water pistol.

Have you come across something bizarre in Modern Warfare 2 that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below! If Infinity Ward does manage to supply a fix, we’ll be sure to let you all know. Until then, be sure to stay tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle!