Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Activision
Call of Duty:
Modern Warfare 2

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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ere we are with the most anticipated game of the last couple years finally on shelves. It’s predecessor, the phenomenal “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” was such an amazing experience that it quickly negated all the “Halo 3” hoopla and became this writer’s favorite FPS of all time – so much so that I was still playing it right up to the release of this title.  No other game in all my years of gaming has equaled that longevity, replayability, and overall satisfaction. So here we are with the sequel.

Was it worth the wait? Damn right it was. Seasoned players might bemoan the short single-player campaign that clocks in at around five hours on the normal difficulty setting, but let us not forget that it’s predecessor was also short, though extremely satisfying in both storyline and character development. So even though an hour has been shorn for this game’s story, the tale that unfolds is no less gripping. Russians invade the U.S. five years after the previous story’s conclusion, and all your favorite characters like Captain Price and Soap MacTavish have returned.

But let’s be honest – most of the fans play it for the multiplayer experience, and this is where “Modern Warfare 2” truly delivers. Rather than reinventing the wheel and making a mess out of what worked, developer Infinity Ward built upon what made the original so addictive and exciting, solidly building upon the foundation while making minor changes here and there. Indeed, most players who absolutely hated the Martyrdom and Juggernaut perks of the last game will be happy to know that this time around, the former is merely a one-time bonus, and the latter has been completely removed and replaced with a timed variation called “Painkiller” that merely lasts a quick ten seconds after respawn.

The big thrills this time are reserved for the Deathstreak system. You’ll recall that players were previously rewarded with a UAV after three kills, and airstrike after five, and helicopter support after seven. This time out, however, players are able to unlock a whole slew of new goodies and set them accordingly. I personally enjoy doing a UAV/Care Package/Sentry Gun with the Hardline perk thrown on top. This particular perk allows players to rack up their Deathstreak rewards with one less kill than is normally required. The Care Package can contain anything from a UAV to a remote helicopter that the player can control to gun down enemies. The Sentry Gun can be placed in areas seeing heavy firefighting and will automatically hone in on enemies and gun them down. Sweet.

The fact of the matter is there are so many new perks and so many new Deathstrike rewards that players will be experiencing new ways to kill until Infinity Ward releases its next sequel. You can even throw combinations of things on your secondary weapon this time, so the choices are near limitless. Truth be told, I thought I was going to just jump out of the gate and be great online the first time out, but I had my ass handed to me plenty. When I was finally able to create my own class of weapons and be reunited with my favorite MP5 (although this time it’s the MP5K), everything fell back into place nicely. I was able to get a good feel for everything on the smaller maps (as the larger ones can be daunting even to old pros), so if you do happen to be an old pro, don’t be surprised to feel a little frustration the first few times around the block.

The single-player campaign has plenty of stunning moments, with perhaps one of the best one being an all-out war in the White House with the power having gone out and everything only being lit by fires and blasts of lightning outside. There are a couple of vehicular missions thrown in as well that reminded me a bit of the moments in “Half-Life 2” where Gordon Freeman had to jet around willy-nilly on that goofy jet ski contraption, although here it feels less chaotic and the controls are much nicer.

In addition to the multi- and single-player modes, there is also a new Spec Ops mode that players can enjoy solo or with a friend locally or online. This mode features a round of missions that feature everything from running the target practice gauntlet that players encounter at the start of the game to picking off waves of enemies with sniper rifles and Patriot missiles. It’s a bit more fun with a pal, but it’s completely doable by yourself.

So, there you go. Game of the Year, Best Sequel, Most Likely to Be Played Two Years from Now, etc. “Modern Warfare 2” is indeed a fine surprise, as its predecessor was so damned excellent that it seemed impossible to equal, let alone surpass. But Infinity Ward has done it again, making sure that just about every other FPS to follow will fall short of its high mark. But then again, when you’re the best at what you do, this is to be expected. Here’s looking forward to the next experience.

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