Alan Baxter On November - 10 - 2009

The hype train has well and truly rolled out this year for the much anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with the train finally arriving at the station and into the hands of us excited gamers. Modern Warfare 1 sold a staggering 13 million copies worldwide, making it easily one of the best selling video games of all time and it still has a strong online community to this day; alot for MW2 to live up to then! Fortunately, Infinity Ward hasn’t let us down and have provided a sequel worthy to the 2008 game of the year.

I’m going to come out straight away and say that MW2’s campaign is pretty short by today’s standards, taking me a mere 5 hours to complete. Luckily then that I’ve always believed in quality over quantity, and my God Infinity Ward have delivered in this aspect. It might be short, but MW2’s campaign is epic in everyway and easily resides among the best single player experiences I have had with a game. The majority of the campaign contains the non-stop fast paced action that you’ve come to associate with the Call of Duty name whilst providing incredible moments that will literally make your jaw drop in astonishment. Infinity Ward have been clever enough to include a few geniusly incorporated stealth missions to provide variety and nice change of pace to the game. If you thought the Ghillies in the Mist level from MW1 was good, wait to you see what MW2 has in store for you on the stealth front. Whether you’re chasing a culprit through the shanty towns of Brazil, sneaking around in a blizzard taking out the enemy or infiltrating a highly protected prison to escort a notorious prisoner out, Modern Warfare 2 is sure to provide you with one of those “Oh My God!” moments.

What would a huge Triple A title be without a bit of controversy? The story line and certain missions in the campaign might upset a few and cause an outburst to ban video games for life; a yearly occurring over-reaction by those who don’t realise it’s just a game and tries to spoil the fun for everyone else. Certain missions of the game take place in Afghanistan, where obviously a war is currently taking place; this was a brave decision by Infinity Ward as this could offend those with family members currently out with the Army. You will even be welcomed at the start of the campaign with a message warning you that a certain scene in the game could be upsetting and whether you would like to be notified when the time arises so you can skip the mission! I personally think Infinity Ward have been clever in bringing in some controversial issues to the game as it will no doubt give Modern Warfare 2 more publicity and possibly help increase the game’s sales even more.

The campaign takes place where Modern Warfare’s left off. The Russians are re-establishing themselves as a world power again after the death of their leader Imran Zakhaev, with his close associate Vladimir Makarov taking advantage of Zakhaev’s death and gaining the support of the country. In fear of Russia becoming too powerful and re-enacting revenge on the U.S.A and the rest of the world, the legendary group of the best Special Operative soldiers around the world called Task Force 141 are sent in to extinguish any fears. You play as a number of soldiers from this prestigious Task Force and team up with the likes of Soap MacTavish and General Sheppard who appeared in MW1. Although only short, the campaign is surprisingly deep and features a fantastic plotline full of twists and turns that you never see coming. I found myself starting to care more and more for the well-being of my squad as the campaign progressed; something I don’t usually find myself doing in a video game.

The Call of Duty series is famous for its Veteran difficulty modes which are known to cause much frustration to gamers around the world. Whether it be the spamming of grenades, the countless respawning of enemies or the two bullets hit and your dead, the series has been a burden to many gamers over the years. I’m very glad to report that Infinity Ward have finally sorted the difficulty level out and have stopped enemies from having infinite respawns; once you clear an area out, you’re now free to advance forward. There definitely seems to be fewer grenades launched in your direction now aswell, resulting in you not having to frantically change position and be exposed to enemy fire ever 5 seconds. This definitely seems to be the easiest Call of Duty on Veteran difficulty mode which might displease a few of you, but still infuriatingly hard none the less.

A good musical score or soundtrack can help bring a huge amount of tension, excitement and atmosphere to a game; Modern Warfare 2 is a perfect example of this. Infinity Ward have hired world renowned composer Hans Zimmer to produce the music for the game. Zimmer has composed music for some of the most popular films ever made, including Gladiator, The Dark Knight and the Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy. Zimmer has brought all of his musical experience to Modern Warfare 2 and created a truly spectacular orchestral score for the game. The music creates the perfect atmosphere for each setting, either slowing down the score for the more stealth based missions or dramatically increasing the tempo of the pulsating violins and instruments to create an adrenaline rush to get you pumped for some action packed gameplay. If you’re enough to own a surround sound system or expensive headphones, they’ll get a serious workout in your time with Modern Warfare 2. The game sounds incredible, whether you have bullets flying behind your ears or the deafening noise of fighter jets flying around your living room, the sound effects really immerse you further into the gameplay.

Modern Warfare 2 unfortunately doesn’t include a cooperative campaign unlike Call of Duty: World at War, but Infinity Ward have more than made up for this. Infinity Ward have gone on record stating they came up with tons of awesome co-op ideas for the campaign which unfortunately they couldn’t squeeze in due to certain issues, so instead they have created a co-op game mode separate from the campaign entitled Special Ops. Special Ops mode consists of 23 missions which become progressively harder as you unlock the later missions. You are awarded with how well you do in each mission by a star system; one star for reaching an easy goal, two stars for a hardened goal and three stars for the most difficult objective being achieved. You can only earn the higher stars and objectives if you play on Veteran difficulty mode, so be prepared for a tough challenge! Luckily you can take on these missions with a friend via Xbox Live or split-screen on the same console, or if you’re feeling brave, on your lonesome. The missions vary from breaching walls and getting to a certain area, taking on waves of enemies such as Gears of Wars Horde mode, and even ski-mobile races, among other scenarios. The missions are in all honesty re-makes of Single Player missions but they are still fantastic fun to play with a friend and provide a new challenge from the normal campaign.

Call of Duty is most famous for its fast paced and extraordinary deep online gameplay. The original Modern Warfare made a clean sweep of online awards and still has a strong following to this day; proving it already has a very solid base to work on. Infinity Ward have understandably only made slight adjustments to the online play instead of completely overhauling the mode, seeing there is no point in trying to fix something that isn’t broke. The online play in MW2 thankfully has just enough additional features to make it feel fresh and keep you hooked for another two years until an inevitable sequel gets released.

The main pulling point for me is the progression you make online, ranking up and receiving new weapons and perks. Infinity Ward have spiced up ranking system, now rewarding you ten times the amount of experience points than you earnt in MW1. This doesn’t appear to affect the gameplay however seeing you now need more EXP to level up; it just seems to dramatise the game more and make it feel like a Hollywood blockbuster happening on your TV set. There’s something that makes 500 points flashing up just that bit more exciting than 50 points. Those of you committed enough will be interested to hear there is now 70 levels to gain before you can enter the dreading Prestige mode which resets all of your ranks and weapons. The downside of this is it takes loner to reach Prestige mode, but the extra levels allow you more time to unlock a larger amount of weapons.

Infinity Ward wanted to give the player more customisation options this time around and have done so in a number of ways. Firstly, you can now customise your killstreaks. Instead of having rewards set in stone, you can now unlock and choose which killstreaks you want to use; with a maximum of 3 being allowed at any one time. For example, you could have 3, 4 and 5 kills selected at the same time which would reward you with a UAV radar, a counter UAV radar and the lethal Predator Missile which is a new addition to the series. The downside to this is that you won’t be rewarded new weapons if you reach higher killstreaks. If you’re brave enough to select an 11 killstreak, you’ll be able to call in an AC-130 Gunship which will obliterate nearby enemies, and if you think you’ve got the skills to reach an incredible 25 kills without dying, you can unleash a Nuke bomb, filling the screen with a bright light and guaranteeing victory for your team.

The amount of perks available seems to be decreased since MW1, with the aim in MW2 to upgrade the perks instead of earning countless new ones. For example, achieving 150 kills while using the perk Sleight of Hand, which allows faster reloading, will give you the perk Sleight of Hand Pro which allows even faster and more efficient reloading to give you the edge in battle. As you gain EXP and rank up, you unlock banner and emblems which can give you an authentic look to your in-game gamercard so to speak which displays your rank and gamertag.

The most significant and welcomed improvement in Multiplayer has to be the new host-migration. If you have ever played Call of Duty online before, you’ll be well aware that people quit if they’re getting beat or just need to leave for a certain reason, and if they were the host, the game would end and you’d be left frustrated and needing to find a new game. Infinity Ward have cleverly introduced host-migration which now will search for a new host and re-start the game in a 5 second countdown instead of ending the game all together. This lets the game flow and ensures you always complete a full game.

Modern Warfare 2 utilises the same graphics engine as the original game, the IW 4.0 games engine. The graphics have been slightly upgraded at best, but fortunately Modern Warfare looked great already and MW2 continues this trend. The game manages to constantly keep a smooth framerate and avoid any jittering, and this is vital in a game which contains so much fast paced action gameplay.

Overall, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a masterpiece and improves on every single aspect of the original game. The campaign is more epic, a Special Ops co-op mode has been added to increase the longevity of the game, and the highly addictive multiplayer has been made that much better with simple yet highly affective additions. You owe it to yourself to at the least rent this game and give it the attention it deserves.

Categories: Feature, Xbox 360 Reviews

2 Responses

  1. Jack says:

    One day WeDoTechs reviews will count towards Metacritic hopefully!

  2. Dean Case says:

    Need to pick up this game sometime soon….

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