Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Genre Degraded shooter sequel
Score 7  Clock score of 7
Buy from Amazon

Remember that big game from late last year? The one with all the controversy where you shot civilians in an airport, defended America's cities against direct attack, and weren't allowed to run your own multiplayer dedicated server? Yeah, that one. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In my circle of gaming friends this game came and went. I beat it and pretty much put it away for good. Apparently it is still really popular though, and I like to keep track of every game I beat now, so I present my full review of Modern Warfare 2.

The game was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows, and is the direct sequel to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that features what I believe to be one of the best first hours I have ever played (so good, in fact, that I went on to beat the game in one sitting). The game as a whole was also very good, so I had high expectations for Modern Warfare 2. The first hour of it was impressive and pressed me to play on (but across multiple sittings this time), but in the end, it wasn't able to hold my attention as much as the original.

Here's my impression on the single player campaign, I did not play enough multiplayer to properly grade or judge it, in my opinion.

What I loved: I hailed the first Modern Warfare for its brilliant sound design and it shines through again in the sequel. They have some really special sound guys at Infinity Ward/Respawn Entertainment and its incredible how they're able to translate movie-quality sound effects and dynamically fit them into Modern Warfare 2. Communication between the squad is great and you can hear every bullet and grenade fly by. I was hard pressed to find something out of place or lacking, and always made sure I either played the game with headphones on or the sound pumped way up.

The great Call of Duty gameplay also returns along with their excellent scripted events throughout each level. Repeated playthroughs will reveal what's scripted and what's not, but the first time through you have no idea so you're just having a blast. Very few gameplay elements changed from one game to the next, so if you were looking for another groundbreaking game in that respect, you probably want to look somewhere else.

What I liked: Well, I enjoyed the original Modern Warfare's cast of characters and world. I didn't think it necessarily needed a sequel, but I was really pleasantly surprised when I played the first hour and saw that was a direct continuation. In the long run, I'm not sure if this was the best idea as suddenly they had to work within the limits of their existing realm of characters and events. Too bad with the current events between Infinity Ward, Activision, and Respawn Entertainment, we'll probably never see the vision of the trilogy as it was originally intended.

Modern Warfare 2 features a few extra single player (and multiplayer) modes beyond the main game. Spec Ops is probably the best and most time intensive, throwing out what some might consider the boring cruft of a mission and forcing you to play only the highlights. There's great variety here and the game challenges you to better yourself with lower times and better scores. I had a friend who was addicted to this mode and eventually collected every single star it had to offer.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Mohawk

What I didn't like: The story is absolute insane, this time in a bad way. The original game, while grand in scope, still felt believable. The game is constantly reminding you that you're playing the DIRECT SEQUEL to Modern Warfare or it's trying way too hard to be edgy and over the top. Every where you turn there are main characters dying or characters from the first game returning in totally inexplicable ways. And then you're snowmobiling off a cliff or detonating nuclear bombs over American cities. It was just bizarre and left me feeling out of touch with the plot. The rapid fire levels sometimes make it difficult to understand what the heck your mission is and how it fits into the game's Michael Bay-wannabe story. Greatly disappointed here after the first game's stellar showing.

There's also, in my opinion, a pretty lame twist near the end of the game that left a bit of a sorrow taste in my mouth. Which kind of reminds me: in some ways, Modern Warfare 2 is trying way too hard to be like the first one. There are tons of moments throughout the game that just feel like they're blatantly ripping off the first and trying to pull on the same heartstrings or employing the same gameplay elements. It becomes pretty obvious when you don sniper suits and crawl through the snow...

There's also no AC-130 stage in the main game, which is probably good due to my last complaint, but if you were looking for something as cool as this experience in the sequel, it's sadly missing.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Snowmobile


Gameplay: A lot more of the same which is a great thing. I can only think of a few new features but nothing to write home about. If you like shooting things then you will like Modern Warfare 2's shooting. You might not like the snowmobiling though.

Fun Factor: I compared the story to a Michael Bay film earlier (as an insult), but it's also as fun as a Michael Bay film (mostly a compliment). Tons of huge action set-pieces but the game almost feels like it's trying to be a James Bond ripoff at times with snowmobile chases and triple agents. It's just missing a love interest (and a female in general...). I wasn't too bothered about the game's length, it is short (you can count the hours on one hand), but there's no filler. I like meaty games that don't beat around the bush.

Graphics and Sound: The Call of Duty series is the best aural experience this generation, and the graphics are still a marvel. No complaints here.

Story: A giant step down from the enjoyable yet believable tale of the original Modern Warfare. The leaps of logic this game expects you to believe are way out there and are a giant flashing beacon of a reminder that you're just playing another badly written video game.

Overall: 7
While still a fun game, a lot of the luster has been lost from the original Modern Warfare. Maybe I'm unfairly comparing Modern Warfare 2 to Call of Duty 4, but when you have such a great predecessor, you expect a lot more than what we got after two years of development.