Modern Warfare Night-Vision

Like most major game releases, the first-person shooter from Infinity Ward was available in several different elaborate collector’s edition bundles when it was released Tuesday. The grandest of them all, the $150 Prestige Edition, includes (among other things) a pair of night-vision goggles.

Would these things even work? Before playing Modern Warfare 2, I knew it was my journalistic duty to scrape up five AA batteries, fit the goggles’ rubber straps around my enormous noggin and walk out into the dark California night.

I flipped my front porch and driveway lights out, toggling the power on the top of the visor. A screen, set no more than 4 inches from my eyes, flickered to life. I could see my front stairs plain as day — that is, if my front stairs were one of the locations in the Paris Hilton sex tape.

Another switch atop the visor toggled between the familiar sickly green night-vision coloration and black-and-white imagery. Just right of that switch was a selector that further illuminated my surroundings — like night-vision high beams.

I slowly made my way down the front walk toward the driveway, my hands stretched out before me like Frankenstein. I could see all potential obstacles — the posts on the chain link fence, the bush and basketball hoop that skirt the drive.

But because I was looking at a tiny screen, there was a disconnect. The goggles may have illuminated the night, but I was still robbed of my depth perception.

In the middle of the driveway, I pulled the goggles off to see just how dark it was outside. Unassisted, I could see only the neighbor’s porch light and hints of freeway lights on the horizon. I pulled the visor back down and headed toward the guest house. This is generally a precarious journey late at night: I’ve stubbed many a toe on the way out there.

With the goggles on, I easily sidestepped all potential pitfalls and peered through the screen on the open half of the guest house’s Dutch door. Inside I saw Joe, my cat, peering back at me. In the green light, his eyes glowed, featureless. Cats don’t have great night vision either. He was probably thinking, “I hear that big clumsy dork outside, but I can’t see him.” I pulled my visor off again to see what he was seeing. I could only make out the orange cat’s silhouette in the dark.

As I walked back to the house, I imagined all the fun that I could have with these, if only I were 13 years old again. The 13-year-old me would never take them off. But 36-year-old me’s eyes were starting to feel tired and the goggles were digging into my forehead.