Do you remember when the Xbox 360 first came out, and the one game that made the 360 worth buying was Call of Duty 2? I remember playing that game well into the morning hours for a good week. I couldn’t believe just how good the game looked, and the way the game immersed you into World War II was just unreal. At that time, I honestly didn’t think that games could look any better. Of course, a couple of Gears of Wars and a Call of Duty 4 later, games did look better, but I’ll never forget that feeling the first time I walked around a little French hamlet and just being in awe of all the details on the houses and the streets. Or that part when the Germans were storming a Russian building and the Russians inside starts screaming and shouting to steel themselves for the assault. Why am I bringing this up? Because, I felt it again. After all these years and all the games that came out in between, I am once again find myself in awe.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn’t just add new things and refine the best things about its predecessor. Modern Warfare 2 evolved from its predecessor. For example, aside from the usual military installations or some outdoors areas, some of the missions take place in urban areas like the favela in Rio de Janeiro. Stop and look around. The houses have a kitchen with some plate by the sink. Some houses have a TV and a bed. The walls are covered with peeling wallpaper. It feels like this isn’t just some made up level with strategically placed obstacles just so you’d have an interesting place to shoot people. People live here, and here you are disrupting their lives, barging through the area with guns blazing. Actually, that feeling of intruding on people’s live are even more powerful in some of the more familiar areas.
If you ask me, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about the story in the first Modern Warfare. Chances are, I won’t remember the story for Modern Warfare 2 either. Most of it happens in between missions and told by a bunch of disembodied voices while the screen shows off some cool looking weapons being deconstructed and reconstructed. I will however remember where we fought. The first Modern Warfare have always brought the fighting to foreign soil, to places that either I’ve never heard of or is completely made up. Not only does Modern Warfare 2 takes you to some place that you might recognize like Rio de Janeiro, it takes the fight straight United States soil. Fighting through some made up military installations in some mountains somewhere maybe fine and all, but fighting off enemies while hiding behind a counter of a burger joint in the suburbs of Virginia feels totally surreal. Suddenly, the fight feels that much more real when you can relate to your surroundings. Modern Warfare 2 does such a good job of bringing the war closer to home, including some imagery of destroyed U.S. landmarks, that I can’t help but feel a little patriotic when I got to fight off the invaders.
The quality of the moment to moment gunplay and combat in general probably bears some mentioning as well. Unless the developers had fundamentally changed how shooting works, not much can be said except that they didn’t change anything. Why would they? The act of shooting any weapon in the Call of Duty games has always been excellent. From how each weapon sounds differently from each other to the different muzzle flare that each one gives off right down to the insane amount of detail of each weapon, Modern Warfare 2 cannot be beat when it comes to making the player feel like they’re actually firing a live weapon in the hands short of actually putting a live weapon in their hands. On the other end of the gun are your enemies. They’ve remained largely unchanged from before. They use cover and try to flank you while using a generous amount of grenades. All of which are very standard stuff in the Call of Duty world. Nothing has changed or broken, and although that doesn’t sound like much of a compliment, believe me it is.
All this is fine and all, but the reason that everyone has put the first Modern Warfare on such a high pedestal is the more-addictive-than-crack multiplayer mode. Everything from the first Modern Warfare returns and is expanded upon, PC version issues aside. The legendary leveling system returns here and has a slew of new challenges to go along with it, which makes leveling up even easier then before. Perks are back too, and this time even those can level up. If you use any one perk enough times, an additional effect gets unlocked for it. As ever, the online matches I’ve played have been rock solid, and finding a match to play in has been quick and painless.
Meet the new riot shield. The ultimate weapon in certain multiplayer modes.
The new mechanics are also extremely well done as well. Customizable Killstreak bonuses facilitates your style of play like the ability to jam radar so you can sneak up on people easier or getting the sentry gun so you can camp better. Modern Warfare 2 also makes losing a little less frustrating with XP bonuses for things like managing to make a kill after a streak of deaths or taking revenge on the guy who killed you last. Also to help lessen the frustration of losing are the new Deathstreak. They’re like Killstreak except it counts how many times you’ve died in a row before the bonus can be used.
Infinity Ward has done it again. They’ve made a console FPS masterpiece. From an engrossing single player mode to the brilliantly designed multiplayer modes, including the co-op SpecOps mode, Modern Warfare 2 deserves every bit of the hype that it has garnered. Now onwards to Modern Warfare 3!
- Marvelous graphics
- Amazingly detailed environments
- Great choice of locations
- Addictive as hell multiplayer
- Uuuuhhmmm… cost $60?
- Therapy. After what I did in the third level.