With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 nearly upon us, Activision offered a chance to chat with Infinity Ward about the game's new Special Forces mode. This primarily co-op offering consists of a couple dozen self-contained challenge levels, all of which are playable either single-player or with a buddy via split-screen or online. Infinity Ward says the amount of Special Forces content is roughly equivalent to the length of the single-player campaign.

The idea behind Special Forces is to release Infinity Ward's talented level designers from the constraints of the story-driven campaign. This opens up new gameplay like timed snowmobile runs, bomb defusing segments, and superpowered enemies that take multiple bullets to the skull before going down. Multiplayer-focused toys like sentry guns, which don't work terribly well in the more heavily scripted single-player campaign, are a better fit for Special Forces, so expect to get a chance to play with those in co-op. Getting to apply Modern Warfare's outstanding gameplay fundamentals to even more outlandish scenarios is an appealing concept.

Special Forces levels are reportedly much more open and freeform than we're used to seeing from Infinity Ward. Since they're designed as challenges, there are fewer constraints on the AI. This means that your foes are far more aggressive as well as more adaptive to your tactics. In the higher difficulty levels, not only do the bad guys get tougher and smarter, the maps themselves change. You might have longer open-field sprints to get to your next cover point, or worse sight lines for the protected spots you do find. Even members of the Mile High Club (the last game's notoriously difficult Achievement, granted for completing the airplane bonus level on the hardest setting) will find challenges worthy of their skill here. You'll need to develop a solid rapport with your partner in addition to bringing your A-game in terms of twitch skills.

One thing that Special Forces does not do is tie back into your progression or persistent profile for single- or multiplayer. Each of Modern Warfare 2's three modes is a self-contained entity. Infinity Ward doesn't expect to have online leaderboards for timed runs or other performance metrics for Special Forces, which is a head-scratcher.

Believe me, I hear your cries for more concrete details on Special Forces and what kind of awesome setpieces we can expect from Infinity Ward when all the restraints are taken off of the design squad. Right now, that's not in the cards. One way or the other, we'll get the full scoop when the curtain is pulled back on the full review – which should be very soon.