Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Cover
Platforms PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
Genre Evolution of FPS
MtAMinutes to Action 7
Keep Playing? Yes
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The first Modern Warfare is the best first hour I have ever played, it was full of action, had great cinematic yet interactive story telling, and paved the way for one of the best single player experiences ever. All in all, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had a lot to live up to, and I can confidently say it did.

Modern Warfare 2 doesn't need much of an introduction being the biggest video game release of the year. It's faced a bit of controversy though, both on the gameplay front and with PC gaming fans, but with the sales the game is seeing, it doesn't seem to be affecting its reception one bit.

While playing the game's first hour though, I was really interested to see how it would live up to its predecessor. The most impressive thing about Modern Warfare was its sound design, I was constantly amazed by the explosions, gun fire, and incessant chatter on the radio. I had never heard a game quite like it. While we kept hearing about the improved multiplayer, graphics, and insane story intended for the sequel, not much was said about where its audio was going. Well, let's see for ourselves. Here's the first hour of Modern Warfare 2.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select the Campaign and the first hour of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 begins. The caption tells me that the story picks up where the first one ended, looking forward to it! The opening cutscene starts, "For the Record." Various maps appear with lots of interconnecting green lines, scenes from the first game fade in and out, with quotes from the old Captain Price.

01 - Man, there is no doubt that this is a direct sequel to the first. Ah, the final scene from the first game... where lots of bad stuff happened. Five years later...

02 - So maybe not directly after the first game, but close enough, same disturbed world at least. A map of Moscow appears, and General Shepherd begins narrating, "the more things changed, the more things stay the same." Russia is going through a bit of a revolution it appears, Zakhaev is the new hero of Russia! What?!

03 - I'm Joseph Allen in the Army Rangers, "S.S.D.D." is the first level, and it's about to begin. I get control and Sergeant Foley (voiced by Keith David, the Arbiter from Halo 3 and Captain Anderson from Mass Effect) begins speaking and giving instructions.

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Afghanistan Army Rangers

04 - My training exercise, though I'm really "training" the locals. I learn the difference between shooting from the hip and aiming down the sight.

06 - Being an experienced Modern Warfarer, this was easy, and I'm on my way to the course. I take note of my surroundings, we're in some Middle Eastern nation, desert everywhere with helicopters circling overhead. There are even Army Rangers playing basketball.

07 - The course is known as "The Pit."

09 - And just like the first time I ran the course in Modern Warfare, I don't do so hot, but the game does recommend Regular difficulty, I'll take it my first time.

10 - I head back up the stairs and we're moving out! The loading screen appears and lets me know we're in Afghanistan. Shepherd begins talking again, more about the power of the U.S. Army and freedom than anything specific about the next mission.

12 - All right, we're suited up and ready to head out. I'm launching grenades across a river and take out three guys at once!

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Army Rangers Bridge

14 - We've only fought long range so far, while that's fun, I like things a little more heated. Our Rangers have completed building a bridge(!) and it's time to forge ahead. I hop in a jeep and man the turret on top of it, the air strike is about to commence!

15 - A tall building gets bombed and falls down, epic. The jeep begins moving.

17 - It's too quiet in these narrow streets, and then all hell breaks loose. Insurgents on every side, on every floor of seemingly every building begin shooting rockets and small arms fire at us. Blood splatter continues to cover my visor, is it mine? I survive one explosion, but then the next rocks our jeep and we're forced on foot.

20 - Through one building, nice to know the knife is still effective. We enter a school.

21 - Not a place for learning though, but a place of death.

22 - Amazing how the evolution of first person shooters has brought us to this.

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Soap Siberia

23 - We reach General Shepherd and board a chopper, the first level is complete. Short but sweet.

24 - Looks like we're heading into the ocean. Shepherd has reassigned me to Deep Cover, the best of the best of the Rangers.

25 - The map located Soap, the hero from the first game! I'm now playing as Roach, and we must be in Siberia or something. Soap McTavish, visible for the first time, asks me to follow him.

26 - We're hanging onto a cliff miles above anything except air. Freaky even in the game. Soap begins climbing further up, I follow. Right trigger for the right ice pick, left trigger for the left. Some jets fly over and nearly knock Soap off his perch.

27 - Soap takes a leap of faith into the chilly air and grabs onto a ledge. I follow and nearly slip all the way down, holy cow. Soap saves me, much like Price saved him in the opening of the original.

28 - I finally have my gun out, hope we're seeing some action soon. I have a heartbeat sensor attached to my gun, acting as my radar. The first bogeys go down.

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Kazakhstan Soldiers

31 - We make it to the enemy base and split up. Soap tells me to use the blizzard's cover to sneak in, they'll never see me coming.

33 - It's fun taking them out without any fire back. I also knife a guy who's sleeping in a chair. No rest for the weary.

34 - Whoops, I alert a truck of my presence and the swarm comes down on me. Get to try again right where I messed up though.

37 - Well, I was never much one for sneaking missions, and alert more guards as I plant some charges. I manage to escape this time though and meet up with Soap to enter into a building.

38 - Haha, Soap tackles a guy into some lockers and then stabs him in the throat. Seemed a bit over the top!

39 - In the game's most awesome scene yet, Soap is comprimised and about 10 guards are standing outside with guns pointed in. I'm hidden above and he tells me to initiate Plan B. Roach brings out the bomb's boom switch and I ignite it. The game goes slo-mo as the bad guys react, giving us time to blow them away. Time to escape now though!

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Snowmobile

41 - Reinforcements arrive on snowmobiles but we knock them off and roll down a hill.

42 - Haha, we've hopped on some snowmobiles!

43 - This is like some insane Bond movie! Guys on snowmobiles are everywhere, I've got some sort of fully automatic pistol to shoot with, and there's helicopters above raining down on us.

44 - I just stuck like a 200 foot jump across a ravine. We reach the getaway helicopter and we're done.

45 - Makarov appears to be the new bad guy. Newspapers fly by showing off his atrocities. "He's your new best friend." Looks like we're about to play the infamous airport level. My God. The game even warned me about this when I first turned it on.

46 - "No Russian."

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 No Russian Airport

47 - Five of us walk out of an elevator and look upon a group of travelers. They pull the trigger, gunning them all down. I can't help but watch. Chaos. Makarov is with us.

48 - One man struggles along on the floor, visibly shot. It's as if the game is giving me the ultimate moral dilemma: shoot him? I pass. I haven't taken one shot.

49 - Makarov points at stragglers, and they're gunned down by the fiends I'm with. No one has stood a chance. He tosses a grenade into a glass elevator, causing it to explode and crash down.

51 - The Departures board has turned completely over to Delayed.

52 - The cavalry has arrived, Makarov whispers, "For Zakhaev."

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 No Russian Departures

54 - I begin fighting at this point, they're not innocents anymore, even if I'm still on the wrong side of things. It speeds up the level if anything else.

57 - We're done... Makarov hops into the back of an ambulance, but then knocks me out of it. Allen: Killed in Action. That didn't take long.

58 - Soap and Shepherd are talking now, their credibility died with Allen, and now need to trace Makarov's footsteps. The first step is in Brazil.

59 - The man we're looking for was either just killed, or did the killing, don't know yet. I duck down in the jeep I'm in, but my driver was too slow. His brains have been splattered across the dashboard, where's Tarantino when you need him?

60 - We run through the streets of Rio de Janeiro chasing our mark. Chaos everywhere, again. Innocents run wild, an eerie reminder of the horrors I just completed (and of the film City of God). I'm told to shoot our target in the leg, and I do, first try. And that's the end of the first hour of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Rio De Janeiro

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 7

What was awesome: Modern Warfare is back, and as intense and fun as ever. The action in Afghanistan was that of a very typical shooter, but with all the polish of a Call of Duty game. Then we jump to the snowy Kazakhstan and we're reintroduced to the original player character of Modern Warfare, and it feels like we're at home with just Roach and Soap taking out tangos. Third, is the infamous and controversial airport stage, and it was as emotional an experience as I've ever played in a video game before. And finally we head to Brazil, for what looks like to be a very tough street roaming stage with bad guys in every window. This game sure has variety.

Combat is as tight as ever, Infinity Ward definitely did not make many drastic changes to the engine, but why mess with a good thing? It's a bit odd how the first major firefight pits your enemies 100 yards away where it takes more luck than skill to take them out, but other than that, I enjoyed every battle.

The developers have taken the scripted events made popular by Half-Life and used them to their maximum potential. I don't mean this as a slight at all, but at times it almost felt like I was playing an on-rails shooter, but in the best possible way. Like the game was guiding me from awesome event to awesome event, directing the best experience possible while still giving me the freedom to play with my own style.

And yes, the sound design is still great. I liked it more than Call of Duty: World at War which had a distracting Keifer Sutherland talking to you every few seconds. The explosions will still rock your speakers but the voice acting and narrating is astounding. When Makarov whispered "For Zakhaev" at the end of "No Russian," I got shivers down my spine.

What I liked: Well, the game looks absolutely stunning, and there's a fun snowmobile chase scene, and of course everything I just mentioned above!

What I didn't like: If anything, the game is jumping around very quickly from location to location with different characters. In just one hour, we play in four distinct areas with two characters, and I expect there will be at least one more introduced soon. The story obviously has a lot to tell in a short amount of time, so I guess we should get comfortable and enjoy the ride.

Gameplay: Modern Warfare 2 controls perfectly and moves at just the right pace. The scripted events keep you on your toes (your first time through at least), but the game is simply so immersive it's hard to tell when you're being driven along and when you're in full control.

Fun Factor: One of the most enjoyable and diverse first hours I've ever played. Modern Warfare 2 also pulled on more of my emotions in one hour than many games can achieve in 50 hours. Excitement at returning to the Call of Duty world, shock at Russia's response to Zakhaev's death, exhilaration on the snowmobile ride, and then simply being overwhelmed by the airport level. Great job, Infinity Ward.

Graphics and Sound: Simply looks awesome, I played it on my parent's 50 inch HDTV and was amazed at the amount of detail in the characters and textures. I was also extremely satisfied with the developer's continual focus on excellent sound design. The Call of Duty series continues to set the high water mark in this regard.

Story: Modern Warfare 2 is moving very quickly, leaving little time for major events to sink in. Knowing the series though, there's tons of surprises ahead, and probably plenty more player character deaths. I'm glad that Activision included the "No Russian" level, however. The video game industry needs to grow up and this is a huge step forward in getting some respect.

Would I keep playing? Yes, I absolutely can not wait to go on. I beat Modern Warfare in one sitting, this one will take at least two, but that's probably it.

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Mohawk