Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

16 12 2009

Intro

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter that was recently released worldwide on November 10, 2009. This title is the sixth installment of the Call of Duty franchise but Infinity Wards first work since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare which was universally praised and basically put Infinity Ward on the map of top tier developers. In traditional Call of Duty fashion you assume the role of multiple characters as you progress through the single player campaign. This installment picks up five years after Call of Duty 4 and ventures to many different settings like Afghanistan, Siberia, Washington D.C. and Rio de Janeiro while trying to counter a new Russian ultranationalist terrorist organization set to invade the United States.

Can this new title build on the success of Infinity Ward’s previous title or are we set up for a disappointment? Continue reading to find out.

Single Player

In the eyes of most gamers not much needed to be done in order for Modern Warfare 2 to be successful and it appears Infinity Ward as followed that model. Most of the change was done by way of small yet effective revisions. The core aspects you would expect from a Call of Duty title are all intact and return. For instance the controls which have now become the default controls for most first person shooters make them feel natural and just as effective and fluid as before. The graphics remain top notch presenting you with the same immersion into the environment as you have in the past. The attention to detail put forth in making every environment appear tangible was done with great success. The overall classic Call of Duty mission structure remains the same as well. You progress through the story from multiple points of view and complete various on screen objectives to fulfill that particular mission.

While some of the revisions did obviously positively affect the game others seemed to highlight some negative consequences. For example the enemy and friendly artificial intelligence, or AI, has been vastly improved but still is not perfect. On a positive note the friendly AI actually seems to help you progress through some sections instead of being completely useless as it was in the past. However when a lot of enemies were on screen the majority of the enemies found it necessary to shoot at your character rather than your team mate who may have been an easier target. Another welcomed revision was the exclusion of endless enemy re-spawns but even with that I still had trouble determining if I was to advance or sit back and fight. The game at times had to artificially tell you what to do instead of you gathering that information through gameplay. In my eyes none of these are fatal flaws just something I noticed, especially after playing such a brilliantly crafted single player experience like Uncharted 2.

The sound and voice acting while not a stand out also didn’t seem to hinder the game in any way either. The overall difficulty did seem to be refined by the exclusion of invisible barriers and endless enemy re-spawns however all it took was one level, Rio de Janeiro, to change that. Although that level was the exception and not the rule the utter confusion and frustration that level caused forces me to include that here. The checkpoints while overall were non issues again in that particular mission were thought provoking as they were in awkward areas with enemies still attacking. Therefore if you die, which I did often in that level, restarting at that position made it difficult to progress. As if that wasn’t enough the blood effects when shot made it difficult to see and even more difficult to determine which direction you were being shot from thus adding to my confusion.

The story was intense I will give it that but at times it felt as if Infinity Ward was doing things to simply out do themselves and provide shocking moments. Let’s take the ‘No Russian’ level as an example, while I appreciate the fact they are willing to tackle that type of thought provoking content it had little effect on me. This was due to the fact that because the story progresses the way it does you have no emotional attachment with your character and are often times confused who you are actually playing.

The story may be cliché and over the top and at times confusing to follow with the abrupt plot twist amplified by the lack of a back story and immediately being thrown into the next mission. But none of the Call of Duty games have been about story but simply the full immersion of the gun fights, frantic pace and constant struggle to survive and push forward; in this aspect Modern Warfare 2 excels.

Multiplayer

The reason most, including myself, will decide to purchase this title is the fast paced addicting multiplayer feature. Infinity Ward made what most would say is the de facto multiplayer in Call of Duty 4. If that’s the case then nothing has changed in my eyes. Infinity Ward once again stepped up to the plate and delivered an impressively strategic and intense multiplayer along with being expansive and detailed. Like the Single Player the fundamentals of the multiplayer have not changed, the controls, overall feel and leveling aspect all return but have been tweaked to perfection.

However those small tweaks pay out huge dividends; for instance you know have the ability to customize your kill streaks which can range from something as simple as calling in a counter UAV or a harrier strike to something more complex like controlling an AC130 or calling in a tactical nuke and ending the game. Along with various new weapons like the ACR, SCAR-H and TAR to name a few you also have new ways of outfitting your weapon and or load out. For instance all of the perks and attachments have been reworked adding new perks like commando and cold blooded and resorting some of the less popular perks like martyrdom to a death streak instead. Also some of the older perks like Deep Impact are no longer perks at all and are instead an attachment, full metal jacket, yet have the same effect. The level of customization is unprecedented as you even have the ability to customize your call sign and emblem which will be shown after you kill an enemy or successfully complete the multitude of challenges presented to you. While the learning curve may seem steep its actually quite friendly to newcomers as even the preset classes are useful and include features that aren’t unlocked until higher levels which presents an even playing field for all of the players.

If the vast competitive multiplayer isn’t your thing then don’t worry, your covered. Infinity Ward as also included a cooperative multiplayer feature called “Spec-Ops”. These brief missions which borrow scenarios from the single player have varying objectives ranging from silently sniping incoming enemies to providing cover fire from an AC130 to help your partner reach an extraction point all of which present different challenges. As you complete these missions on 1 of 3 difficulty settings you gain stars which are then used to unlock more missions. There are a total of 23 missions each ranging in pace, objectives and gameplay. These missions can be completed either locally via split screen or online with a friend. While most can be completed solo the real fun and enjoyment come when you are playing and communicating with a friend. In my eyes “Spec-Ops’ is a great break and change of pace from the regular multiplayer grind the gameplay never seems stale or repetitive yet still contains that classic Call of Duty feel.

I have already and will continue to sink a lot of time into this multiplayer, the competitive multiplayer is challenging yet fun and very addicting. The “Spec-Ops” mode lets you play bite sized segments that remain intense throughout the mission and are satisfying to play with a friend. This gives Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 in my eyes one of the most expansive and full featured multiplayers to date and definitely not a mode to be taken lightly or ignored.

Overall

Overall the single player campaign was a good exhausting 6-8 hour tutorial for the multiplayer. The enemy AI and Friendly AI was much improved actually helping you progress through certain sections. The gameplay and graphics are on par with what you would expect from a Call of Duty game with major set pieces coming to a rest with such a dramatic twist it will always keep you guessing. While the actual plot may be difficult to follow and progressing through the missions can cause some confusion the single player campaign was delicately crafted and ultimately fun to play.

However the true reason this title shines is obviously the multiplayer. While the revisions may be small if looking from the outside the effects are significant. The ability to customize almost every aspect is a welcomed change along with the opportunity to be rewarded with almost everything you do. The multiplayer is a perfect blend of ease ability and accessibility for the new comers but has all of the components for the hardcore players as well. Both options serve different purposes and are addictive and fun which is the ultimate goal. Infinity Ward took what was an already great multiplayer experience and refined it to make it better in almost every aspect.

By now we all know the answer to the question presented above, at least from Infinity Wards point of view. Modern Warfare 2 was one of the biggest entertainment releases in history and easily shattered the previous game release record. The game has sold a ton and will only sell more as the holiday shopping ensues. Therefore if you are one of the eight individuals who haven’t gotten your copy then by all means do whatever it takes and go pick yourself up a copy. Modern Warfare 2 undoubtedly will be on many game of the year list and one you don’t want to pass up. I can easily say that this title is worth a pick up even if you are not a huge fan of the genre. I can not stress enough – go get it.

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To read about our stance on the review process click here for more answers. Find all of other reviews here; better yet bookmark that section so you won’t miss any of our future reviews as well. If you would like other information to be included in the reviews give us some feedback and let us know, or if you would like us to review a specific title drop us a line we welcome and encourage your feedback. Enjoy!

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5 responses

17 12 2009
Shaha44

Great review. Unfortunately, I have only played the first two levels of the single player, and what I have played of the MP I have really enjoyed. Cheers another great review!

17 12 2009
GregHorrorShow

Agree with the majority of that – I was a touch disappointed with the single player but enjoyed the multiplayer, although I’m not a huge fan of ‘twitch’ shooters.

Will no doubt stick it back on at some stage but have been mainly playing the Battlefield Beta instead.

16 02 2010
Game of The Year: 2009 « Beyond The D-Pad

[…] Shooting all the way to the # 3 spot is… Modern Warfare 2 […]

12 04 2010
Creola Morron

Just wasting some in between class time on Stumbleupon and I found your entry. Not normally what I like to read about, but it was definitely worth my time. Thanks.

1 01 2011
Call of Duty: Black Ops Review « Beyond The D-Pad

[…] grounded the story in some truth this time around instead of the completely ridiculous story of Modern Warfare 2. Even with this unity and truth based story Black Ops still showcased stellar larger than […]

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