The lights are on
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Developer: Infinity Ward
Release Date: Nov 10, 2009
Pros: Intense Single Player Campaign, A Multiplayer that is as enjoyable as the first,Gorgeous environments, Slew of perks and customizable options to choose from, Host Migration is a great addition, Spec Ops captures the fun of Campaign in co-op form
Cons: Wait, what was the point of me doing this mission again?, Multiplayer will be unforgiving for first-time players, Must unlock most multiplayer modes, Short Campaign
The first Modern Warfare proved to be a huge success, becoming the third best-selling video game for 2007 on the Xbox 360. The incredible campaign and addictive multiplayer provided hours of entertainment. It made perfect sense that a sequel would follow the hit game. Despite the huge amount of controversy the game has stirred (Lack of Dedicated Servers, terrorist level, and a "distasteful" video on grenade spam), Modern Warfare 2 delivers a solid FPS experience.
The story picks up right where the last one left off. You will assume the roles of various marine core and special forces units 5 years after the death of the main baddy from the last game, Zakhaev. Turns out after Zakhaev was killed, someone worse has risen to take his place known as Makarov.
The plot seemed basic and predictable, but takes many unexpected turns. My only problem was, I had to play 2 games worth to figure out why I was on a particular mission most of the time. On the load screens you simply hear people ramble on about honor and the reason for war, with the occasional plot being divulged. The comm chatter in-game explains many of the plot's and mission's basis, and its hard to hear when you are firing an M16 with explosions going off all around you. You'll have a basic idea of what's going on, but play through twice to get a full understanding. The confusion is furthered by the reappearance of a certain character without any explanation and the re-use of a voice actor from the first one for a totally different character in this installment.
Modern Warfare 2 is treated just like the first, with a symphony orchestra to escalate the moment. The music in the game feels like that which you would hear from a blockbuster war movie. Somber tones play in the background as you investigate a war-torn battlefield and picks up to give tension to a fast chase.
MW2 captures the sound of a battlefield wonderfully. Whether in multiplayer or campaign, you will constantly hear the sounds of bullets whizzing by or explosions going off around you as your teammates yell out enemy positions. The most satisfying explosive sound comes from the AC-13 gunship. It's terrifying to hear when its not on your side, but the sound of joy when its you firing the rounds.
Another worthy mention has to be the voice acting. No stale commentary or cliche' ridden dialogue, just well delivered one-liners and military chatter you would typically hear in the field. The key figures in the game truly capture their characters with respective dialect, no terrible accents. You will have little trouble finding a favorite character personality.
Visually, Modern Warfare 2 is as stunning as its first installment. Environments in this game stand out the most. You will be underground one minute and emerge to find a flame-ridden battlefield the next. There are desert canyons, lush white forests, and even small suburban homes. The attention to detail is not just evident in the campaign, as Multiplayer maps carry over that same incredible look. You may find yourself progressing through the game slower as you glance at the incredible detail for each of the unique levels.
Character models look and move much like the first Modern Warfare. I seriously took time staring at one character's beard because of the fact that it was actually gathering snow. The mocap work is evident, as each marine in your squad moves and signals much like you would expect.
Lighting plays a huge part in what makes the game look so great. Shadows pass over the wall as a group of enemies patrol near you or a small vehicle fire lights a segment of the street. In one stage in particular, you are basically in pitch black and must rely on the occasional lightning flash for assistance in locating enemies. Even subtle effects like rain are displayed perfectly.
Modern Warfare 2 comes with 3 different modes to choose from:
Personally, this is the part of the game I look forward to the most. Call of Duty has been known for its incredibly fun campaign mode, offering an experience that draws the player in through various methods. Modern Warfare 2 delivers a campaign just as solid as the first.
Though only about 7 hours long, each stage provides such an incredible experience that would influence you to replay certain segments again and again. With a shooter, it's very easy to get into a repetitive nature: Go here, shoot some guys, go here, shoot some guys. Modern Warfare 2 mixes this up by continually throwing in different elements to vary the gameplay.One particular stage that comes to mind has you going through a war torn town after an EMP explosion. This cuts off your red dot sight, nightvision, and radar completely. It was almost a throw back to the original call of duty, only iron sights and call signs for communication. It's little elements thrown in like this that continually mix the gameplay up and keep the player interested.
Other added elements include a new "breaching" segment. These segments involve the player blowing open a door and infiltrating a room in slow motion. This is incredibly satisfying when you simply snap to enemy after enemy placing a single round in each to clear a room. This is made difficult for you as the shots you take must hit their intended targets, as a majority of the rooms contained explosives littered through the room.
Then there is the highly controversial airport stage, No Russian. When I came across this stage and first stepped out the elevator, my jaw dropped as I watched my Russian friends mow down an entire set of civilians while I, the CIA agent, stood in place. I get the idea of the stage, to show you the catalyst for the war the rest of the game covers and to provide a general hatred toward the enemy, Makarov. Now I've mowed down my fair share of pedestrians on GTA, but this was different for me. It almost felt like this stage was a small morality choice the player had to make, but both decisions led to no consequences. It's not like if I don't open fire they would get suspicious of me and if I do they would be encouraged that I was one of them. I was in no way offended by the segment and I understand the reason for its existence, but I feel like the option to fire a weapon during that scene has caused more trouble for the game than helped it.
Overall this is a mode that many skip to go straight to the multiplayer, but is well worth any shooter fan's time. Though through the smoke and mirrors it boils down to many different firefights during different times, it holds your attention and provides a great experience.
Instead of adding a Campaign co-op, Infinity Ward took a different approach by adding Special Ops missions. These missions are essentially 2 players against the AI in different scenarios or situations from the campaign. This could range from stealth missions, to getting across a bridge in a certain time, etc.
What truly stood out was the missions involving one player on the ground and one player in a vehicle laying down heavy fire. In one mission, I was on the ground while a buddy of mine manned the AC-130 gunship. My objective was to get across the field while he would lay down fire to clear me a path. On the more difficult setting, this requires very strict coordination, as I ducked down in a building calling out enemy positions. This is exactly what I wanted from a co-op experience, truly feeling in the moment of the fight.
Each mission requires team work to get through, and the missions can get really difficult as new tiers open up. The only downside is that there is no open lobby system to search over Xbox Live, it's either split screen or grab a friend who isn't on multiplayer. As you can imagine, it's hard to pull people away from the multiplayer long enough to give this a try.
It's difficult indeed to surpass the first Modern Warfare's multiplayer experience, but the sequel holds true while adding a few new elements. Some old modes make a return (Deathmatch, Capture Points,Ground War) with the addition of a few new ones like the 3rd Person Mode versus option. As you progress through the multiplayer you level up and unlock different things. These range from new weapons, to new modes, to new emblems to showoff. You even unlock killstreak awards to customize what you receive for getting kills without dying.
Customization is much more elaborate this time around. When you unlock a custom class, you can begin assembling favorite weapons together. You pick the weapon (loads to choose from), scope (ACOG, red dot, holographic, etc), and even the custom weapon skin it has. In addition to a main weapon and sidearm, you can choose up to 3 Perks. Perks give you a boost in some way. They make you run longer, hold more ammo, and even steady your aim when firing from the hip.With new people coming in it's easy to get scared of what weapons the higher ranked player possess, but luckily there is a Deathstreak perk as well. Die 3 times in a row without a kill and you can use Copycat to steal the other player's custom class and making it your own. You even unlock emblems and tags that you can show off to others.
The Host Migration is a great addition to the multiplayer, and fixed a huge annoyance from the previous installment. Gone are the days when a single person could quit and close a game down entirely, now you simply wait about 10 seconds and everyone is back in the game exactly where they stood. Although sometimes the servers tend to lag on occasion, rarely would I come across an unplayable level.
The only downside to the multiplayer is the learning curve new players must go through. Though chances are you played the first game to death, there are those who are just experiencing this for the first time. There are only two modes they could typically play on and not get completely dominated: Regular Deathmatch or Merc Team Deathmatch. Any other mode and you are bound to be facing a team/party/clan of some sort that is far beyond your skill. If it's your first time playing the game, just expect a nice welcome basket of predator missiles, airstrikes, and sniper bullets all headed your way.
Modern Warfare 2 holds true in providing another incredible addition to the Call of Duty franchise. With a Campaign that holds up just as well as the first and the addition of Spec Ops, there is no shortage of fun to be had playing solo. The multiplayer delivers another addictive experience, that will truly lock you in and have you playing late to get just one more level. Despite the controversy, this title was well worth the wait.
(Played through Campaign Normal & Veteran, with some time spent in Multiplayer, and Spec Op Missions)
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