Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

November 16, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has the potential of being the biggest game release of all time. The hype leading up to the release has been massive, and it is safe to say the game lives up to most of that hype.

The story picks up sometime after the events of the first Modern Warfare, although it is sadly a letdown compared to the original. The narrative in Call of Duty games has never been fantastic, but Modern Warfare changed that by introducing memorable characters and some truly intense events. Modern Warfare 2 has the intense events and set piece levels right, but the actual story (and how it is told) is rather incoherent. There are a couple of nice twists, but they are rather meaningless and add up to a conclusion that just screams “SEQUEL!”

In terms of presentation, the game is beautiful. It is hard to top visuals like this, and it only amplifies the intensity of combat. Although there is not much of a graphical leap from the original, it still looks amazing by these standards. The score of the game, composed by famous movie composer Hans Zimmer, is fantastic and fits the mood of the game perfectly. On a technical standpoint, Modern Warfare 2 is a masterpiece.

The gameplay is separated into three main components: the single player campaign, the Special Operatives (or Spec Ops) co-op mode, and the competitive multiplayer. All three contain enough content to fit into their own game, but together they make up one excellent package. And although a lot of people will be buying this game just for the multiplayer, the campaign and co-op mode both supply extra content for those who want to take a break from ranking up online.

The story itself is not that great, but the actual gameplay of the single player is as intense and as fun to play as the first (if not more so). Many of the events are scripted, and the game proceeds in a very linear fashion (maybe even more so than the original), but there is a lot more variety both in the environments and in the things you do in each mission. Some people may be put off by the game’s linearity, but others will find the incredible rush of the action packed missions to be enough to look past it. 

The newest mode, Spec Ops, is a one to two player cooperative mode in which you take on different challenges using areas and scenarios from the campaign (and even some from the first game’s campaign). There are a variety of mission types, including survival modes in which you must face off against hordes of bad guys, and even some where you have to make it from one end of the map to another. These levels are tough, so it is recommended to play with a friend (especially on the higher difficulties). But if you can find someone to play with, you will also find yourself spending hours playing this very addictive game mode.

The multiplayer is the main selling point for many people, as it still remains the best competitive multiplayer shooter you will find. With a large variety of game types (from old favorites such as team deathmatch and sabotage, to new modes to the series like capture the flag) and plenty of character customization, the multiplayer is as deep as ever. 

You still gain ranks for earning points based on kills and special challenges you can complete, and there are still tons of different weapon types and perks to add to your character. The perks are like special abilities, and you can equip three per character. They could do simple things, such as make you reload your gun faster, or do something like jamming enemy radars in a small radius. 

There are also killstreaks, which award you for getting a certain number of kills in a row without dying. They range from a UAV (which detects all of the enemies on the radar), to summoning a helicopter to help take out enemies, and even a tactical nuke which decimates everyone on the map (including yourself). There are also now deathstreaks, which are ways to help newer players get a better chance of surviving and ranking up in the very competitive world of Modern Warfare.

All three of these gameplay types combine to form a game that is well worth the $60. Even if multiplayer is not your thing, the added Spec Ops mode will give you and a friend a chance to try out several different cooperative modes without worrying about being frustrated with the competitive side of the game. Overall, this is a sequel that lives up to the hype and manages to surpass the original in just about every way. It’s not perfect, but you won’t be complaining when you find yourself still playing this game six months later.

Pros: Amazing presentation; fantastic score; single player campaign is more intense and fun than the original; Spec-Ops is a great addition to the game; multiplayer improvements are welcomed, and the mode is as addictive as ever

Cons: Somewhat incoherent story; linearity of the campaign may be a problem for some

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.