Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 doesn't revolutionize online gaming like it's predecessor did.

By King, Posted 14 Dec 2009

The Call of Duty series emerged as maybe the most dominant in the First-Person Shooter genre after the first few WW II games on the PS2, and continued on into the next-generation of consoles. But it wasn't until they moved into the Modern Warfare scene with Call of Duty 4 when Infinity Ward really hit a home run. It was a prodigious success, and the multiplayer mode still has a massive amount of avid players. So how could they possibly make the sequel top this?

Upon entering the campaign, after you help train a local squad you encounter two soldiers playing each other one-on-one in basketball, and you can faintly hear 50 Cent's “Crime Wave” being played by a group of soldiers in the background. Continue through the Afghanistan base and you overhear soldiers having discussions before you go take your combat test. Things like this aren't important to the game, but seeing them in the opening of the game shows the attention to detail and how it tries to embrace you in feeling like you're really part of this war.

The campaign will take you through action packed firefights through places like Rio de Janero, snowy Kazakhstan, Washington D.C., and Afghanistan. There's even a battle that takes place in a regular U.S. city, which is something you don't often see in war games. The environments are a treat to look at and provide a great background for the missions. For the majority of the game you'll find yourself in control of Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson, part of Task Force 141. As in other Call of Duty games, you get to control multiple characters, and Modern Warfare 2 lets you play as U.S. Army Ranger Joseph Allen and Private James Ramirez, a member of 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. “Soap” MacTavish also can be played as for a brief (though important) part of the campaign.

The story takes place five years after the events of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Ultranationalists have taken control of Russia and name Zakhaev a hero. Vladimir Makarov, who had worked with Zakhaev, is now committing terrorist attacks. The story takes a lot of twists and turns that I'd rather not spoil for you. Not to say it would be something to get terribly upset over. Simply put, the story is a disappointment. It ends up seeming more like an excuse to go on exotic missions across the world than a well thought out plot. It has a few shining moments, and the set-up for Modern Warfare 3 was nice, but overall it is way too dramatic for it's own good.

Saying that there's never a dull moment in Modern Warfare 2's campaign would seem like a compliment, but that's not entirely true. The over the top action scenes and huge moments at every turn are great, but it never sets up a truly spectacular moment and can feel tiring at times. It doesn't give time for the characters to gain a sense of depth you hardly have time to develop an idea about what the hell is going on in the story. Sometimes the game can make it feel more like a shooting gallery than a true story mode. I will give Infinity Ward props for how they handled “Soap” though. Seeing him as an NPC through the eyes of another character can make you feel more attached to him and they make it exciting to finally play as him once again.

That's not to say the campaign doesn't offer it's moments. Even if the story isn't all that you can still have a ton of fun here. Whether your defending a war-torn Washington D.C., roaring through Kazakhstan on a snowmobile, or working your way through a gulag in Russia, there's missions in Modern Warfare sure to get your adrenal glands going, and the cinematic feel adds a nice touch. It provides a great challenge which forces players to make use of their surroundings to shield themselves from fire. The tactical approach can be more enjoyable and rewarding than your typical run-and-gun first-person shooter.

Clocking in at around six hours the campaign's blockbuster set-up doesn't last long. If you play on one of the easier levels it will be closer to four hours, but if you dare try Veteran, you may be able to squeeze seven or eight hours out of it. But be warned because Veteran can be extremely tough during certain missions. One or two well placed shots is all it takes for you to be down and out making it frustrating to not even be able to spot the nearest blockade so you could let the newly added blood splattered screen clear. I'm not holding this against the game for the fact that you never have to touch Veteran if you don't want to. I'm just pointing out that even the best players will get stressed by this difficulty.

What you've read so far may be steering you in the wrong direction. I've done a lot of complaining about the campaign, and while everything I've said is true, it's better than the average first-person shooter's single player. The story has its major down falls, but the classic Call of Duty formula propels the game into remaining a highly enjoyable experience. But single player wasn't what made the original Modern Warfare so popular and the same case can be made for the sequel.

It's not that Call of Duty's competitive multiplayer is radically different than any other game, but it just is such a rich experience with smooth and addictive gameplay. It doesn't hurt that the online system has a lot of depth, either. There's 70 ranks to aim for, plus 10 levels of prestige for the truly dedicated. There's a good number of guns to unlock and a plethora of challenges for all of them. Newly added is the ability to customize your callsign. These are kind of like nametags. You choose from the graphics and emblems you've unlocked by completing specific challenges and they appear on the user interface several times at particular events  during multiplayer gameplay including: whenever a player kills or is killed  by another player, when a player completes or affects an objective  in a match, when a player is being spectated (including killcams),  or other significant events such as calling in major killstreak  rewards or executing multikills. If you're someone who enjoys unlocking things, Modern Warfare 2 has a big sense of achievement to be offered.

17 different game modes are available to be played online in Modern Warfare 2. These range from your standard Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Domination, to Search and Destroy, and even 3rd Person game modes. The 3rd Person game modes (Cage Match and Search and Destroy) are an interesting new take on gameplay, and while they're difficult to get used to after playing in First Person, they offer a nice variety. I was expecting them to feel broken, but playing in 3rd Person was a satisfying experience with basically no glitches. But once you get past the feeling of “Hey this is cool, I'm playing COD in 3rd Person”, you'll head back to the regular modes you've invested many hours upon.

One thing that does make Call of Duty's online unique are the killstreaks. In the first Modern Warfare you were rewarded new ways to take down enemies after getting a specific number of kills. This fun idea was enhanced in the sequel now giving you the ability to choose 3 killstreaks you want to use during a match. For example at 3 kills you can get a UAV, 7 a Harrier Strike, and at 11 an AC-130. It can get annoying sometimes because a few of the killstreaks are very dominating and you may respawn and die before having a chance to get out of the way, but they put a great twist on the match and it's a huge improvement to have made them customizable.

The other distinguishing feature of Modern Warfare was the perks which have also been amended. Firstly, if you use a perk often enough it will upgrade and give you a second ability. It's simple but gives you reason to keep using a perk. The most significant improvement of perks is simply the choice of them. There's not really any that feel exceedingly cheap, like martyrdom was to some in the previous game. There's one more change though. Having trouble even getting one of the killstreaks mentioned earlier? Don't worry, you'll be given a little boost with the deathstreak perks. There's painkiller, which gives you a little more health for the first 10 seconds of that life, copycat, which lets you steal the class of the person who just killed you, martyrdom, let's you drop a grenade next time you die, and final stand, which is like last stand but you can use your primary weapon,  equipment, crawl and come back to life if you stay alive long enough. If you're afraid that these will ruin the game and make noobs take over, well don't worry because these simply can give struggling players a boost and maybe take the frustration off. And plus since you have to die either 3 or 4 times and up to get one of those the players probably aren't good enough to be a real threat.

If the lush, competitive multiplayer isn't convincing enough, a new mode called Special Ops has been thrown in. Spec Ops consists of 23 missions that can be played single player or with a friend at home or online. The missions are based on campaign missions from the first and second Modern Warfare titles. For completing a mission on regular you get 1 star, 2 for hardened, and 3 stars for completing on veteran.  You have simple tasks like fighting off wave after wave of enemy, planting bombs in a set amount of time, or stealthily taking out guards, there's some very creative missions. For example there's a mission that has one player up in an AC-130 gunship guiding the on foot player through enemies on route to the objective. The addition of a co-op mode does wonders for replay value and players who are more keen to objective based missions rather than online will get a lot out of co-op.

As fun as Spec Ops is, it doesn't reach it's full potential. When playing online there is frequent lag. Usually not enough to make it unplayable, but enough to make it frustrating when your crosshairs are skipping across the screen and causing you to miss the shot. Even when playing online with my neighbor I experienced a heavy amount of lag. Playing solo will still make Spec Ops fun for a little bit, but to get the most out of it a second player is a must. Problems with connectivity online aren't just in Spec Ops, this is also something that haunts competitive online multiplayer. While it's one of the best games online, it's servers are some of the worst. At least 10% of my matches have been stopped in the middle because we had to connect to a new server. It's a becomes a big pain when you're in the middle of a match, then have to wait 30 seconds to 2 minutes to get back going. With other FPS games able to run perfectly, and Resistance 2 going flawless despite having at least 3 times more players at once, you would think the most popular of them all would be able to hold up.

Two thousand words in and I haven't uttered the word graphics a single time yet? While everyone has more than likely seen the game in screenshots or commercials, the Modern Warfare 2's visuals are worth mentioning. Up close things look grainy and undetailed, but it's in motion that this game shines. The blast of gunfire shattering the environment, frags bouncing around, blood staining the ground as it pours from your wounded teammate, all comes together to make Modern Warfare 2 something special. Character models are well detailed and look life-like. This just might be the best looking game to ever grace multiple consoles.

Keeping up with presentation, this Call of Duty game sounds terrific. The soundtrack, composed entirely by Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight anyone?) it sets the mood and is responsible for making the experience that much better. I don't know about Game of the Year, but Modern Warfare will be in my discussion for Soundtrack of the Year, that's for sure. On a smaller note, the battlefield also sounds great. I can't say from personal experience that this is what war really sounds like, but it's what I would imagine it to be. The guns sound believable with each having a unique sound. You can tell the developers spent a lot of attention to detail on how the real life counterparts work and they did an excellent job of incorporating them into the game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 doesn't revolutionize online gaming like it's predecessor did. In fact, it really doesn't introduce any new ideas to the First-Person Shooter genre. However, it's still a better game than most and it's just plain fun. If you're buying Modern Warfare 2 mainly for the campaign be warned, because while it delivers many thrills, it's short and has little replay value. The new co-op mode “Spec Ops” is a great addition to give some depth to the game, but competitive multiplayer is the main focus here. If you're becoming tired of online FPS games, you might not miss much by skipping out on this game, but for those who want more First-person action or still are looking for their first should look no further. It has it's far share of flaws, but at the end of the day, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is one of the best shooters around.

Logan Smithson, Noobfeed

comments powered by Disqus
  • Most briefed review I've read on MW2. Very well written.

    Posted Dec 14, 2009
  • Embarassed Okay, I found it.

    Great review, very clear, it's a very difficult decision this one, because I really like my Single Player campaigns, but the online sounds pretty great.

    Posted Dec 14, 2009
  • I badly need to play this game.

    Nice review. I'm going to publish this at fb.

    Posted Dec 14, 2009
  • avatar RON

    I got to admin that this is very good writing. Great review.

    Posted Dec 14, 2009
  • very nice review! it's something people shouldn't miss

    i also published this in facebook.


    Posted Dec 14, 2009
  • Very nice, and vey well-thought-out. And as far as I can remember, it's the first Modern Warfare 2 review I've seen that wan't all "OMG MW2 IS T3H BEST!!!1!" :P

    Posted Dec 14, 2009
  • Thanks for the comments guys. Also what does publishing on Faebook do? I have a FB page but don't use it much or know much about the site.

    Posted Dec 14, 2009


General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Infinity Ward
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2009-11-10

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