Infinity Ward has a seemingly impossible task in front of them. When Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hit, it quickly became a huge success. It was a best-selling game and rivaled the likes of Halo 3 in online multiplayer. When its sequel was announced, hype quickly swelled around it. As always, you can't make the same exact gaming experience. It has to be better than the original. Anything less would look like a failure in the eyes of gamers. Well, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is out and already it has broken sales records. But is spending your money on it actually worth it?
The short answer to that is yes. All of what you loved about Call of Duty 4 is there and they have added much more content that makes it feel more substantial that just a slew of DLC packs.
The story of Modern Warfare 2 is even better that its predecessor. Taking place five years after the events of Call of Duty 4, the Ultranationalists have taken over Russia led by one of Imran Zakhaev's former lieutenants: Vladimir Makarov. As he launches a wave of brutal terrorist attacks, you assume control of multiple military operatives and try to turn the tide of this new war. You travel around the world to places such as Brazil, prison gulags, and even a war-torn Washington D.C. The scope of this story is much more engaging than that of the first one. There are even more sequences that feel more cinematic in nature and even more jaw-dropping than anything that happened in the first game. I will say that there was at least one mission ending that I played three times just to make sure that it really happened. And since then, I have watched the end of the same mission multiple times on YouTube. And no, it's not the infamous Russian Airport mission.
As much controversy that is swirling around this mission, it goes without saying that it has sparked some debate. But that is probably due to the fact that news outlets have picked up on it. While I would like to say that this mission is a crucial mission to the gameplay, it pretty much left me with more of an: "Eh" feeling. While this mission does prove to be the catalyst that sets the campaign in motion, the amount of violence in it really should not upset many of the mature gamers (You know; the 17 and up audience that SHOULD be playing the game and not 12-year-olds.). In an era of GTA where you can wipe out an entire city-block, run over countless of respawing civilians and gun down tons of police officers, Modern Warfare 2 seems tame in comparison. Even though it is a mission you can skip, Infinity Ward did not hold back with the imagery you see in it and this is mainly due to the fact that you can't run through the civilian killing part of it. You must slowly chug through the airport as you see many dead civilians on the floor or crawling on the ground trying to find some bastion of safety.
While this is perhaps the better storyline of the two games, Modern Warfare 2's storytelling is not all there. It is actually quite the let down. Modern Warfare 2 does not have too many parts where you can just stop playing and watch as events unfold and that is a shame. The storytelling events try and take place during load screens before missions, but that is just usually filled with holographic maps and GPS locations of the next operative you will assume control of and it just doesn't deliver that same way a cinematic cut scene can. It doesn't leave an impact with you by just seeing blips on a map.
The controls for Modern Warfare 2 are tight and very responsive. The shooting mechanics are incredible. Even for gamers new to shooters, they will feel very comfortable using them. One of the greatest mechanics this game possesses is the down the scope feature. Not only does it zoom in for a better firing position but if it close to a target it will automatically latch onto it making it prime for firing. When I first used this in the first game it made hitting my targets much more easy and it is something greatly needed in this game.
This game bolsters that it is one of the most realistic shooters out there, so you won't be battling bright blue aliens clearly distinguishable from your human allies. Unfortunately you will be up against people that at times will look like shades of brown and shadowy silhouettes. When I first played Modern Warfare, I lost several times mainly due to friendly fire. It sometimes gets frustrating not knowing when to fire. One second of hesitation and an enemy will unload half a clip into you.
The game looks downright amazing. As stated before, this is helmed as a realistic shooter and it looks great. Grenade detonations kick up lots of dust and debris, flash bangs blind and disorient you. And besides weapons and gadgets, the environments look downright amazing. The graphics are a serious step up from its predecessor. While the first Modern Warfare had very little different environments shown, here you will travel to many different looking locations, each with its own sense of style and feel to them. One of the first introductions to this is where your captain and you sneak onto an enemy base during a snowstorm. You can see the snow stick to your captain' beard and your vision is somewhat diminished and it gets hard to see enemies in it. It looks incredible.
Once you are done with the campaign, you are told to boot up the new SpecOps mode and it is something you should not pass up. Many of the missions you play are inspired from the campaign, but there are some originals spins such as surviving wave after wave of ever growing forces, kind of like Gears of War 2's Horde Mode. This is a thing that is sure to keep players playing. It also makes a player get better and try harder difficulties. In order to unlock stages in SpecOps, you must gain stars. For just completing a task, you usually get one star. However, you get more stars for getting faster times in time trial stages and for beating stages on harder difficulties. To experience the full package, you are going to have to bite down and defeat a few of these levels on Hardened and Veteran mode, so good luck. Also, you don't have to take on these levels alone. This mode supports two player split-screen and online co-op. However I can't stress enough that if you want to play this online, make sure you and your partner has a good connection. I tried to play an early level with a friend online and it was a disaster. It took us over 20 minutes to actually start up a game and once it finally got started, it wasn't much better. There was an incredible amount of lag and I was jumping all over the place. It very necessary for this to work as once you get into the more difficult missions, it requires more communication with your teammate. If you don't have a great connection, you are better off playing by yourself or settling for coach co-op.
Perhaps the biggest thing that will keep players playing this game for years on end is the multiplayer and it is quite extensive and quite the improvement from the first one. The game is still pretty much catered to the hardcore players, but newcomers won't find it as frightening as other shooters. For one, death streaks are awarded to players who are having a tough time staying alive. They can get perks that will hopefully given them a leg up against some more advanced players and net at least one kill. Also, unlike it's rival, Halo 3, Modern Warfare 2 gives you experience just for playing unlike the other that only gives you experience for winning. One of the coolest things in these matches that will make you want to get better is the kill streaks. If you net yourself a set number of kills without dying you can utilize things such as calling in air strikes, controlling an AC-130, or even calling for a game winning nuclear strike for the players that can seemingly dodge bullets. There are also many guns and attachments a player can unlock and use by completing certain challenges in matches that pretty much boil down to killing a set number of enemies using a certain gun or perk. Not only that, but Infinity Ward has improved its multiplayer function by changing some of the small things as well. For instance, in the first game, if you wanted to change character classes, you would have to go into the menu choose the new class and have your character topple over and die on the spot. In Modern Warfare 2, it has the grace to change your class the next time you respawn. It is these things that keep the player playing and wanting to get better. Multiplayer is going to be the backbone of this series and already out of the box, it has a good start.
Before it was even released, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had a lot to live up to and I am pleased to say that it wasn't all talk. This game truly delivered. It looks better, it plays better, the story is more intense and the multiplayer is more inviting. And with the inclusion of SpecOps, the longevity of this game is sure to have increased as well. However it still needs to work on such crucial things such as storytelling. Overall it is still a great game. If you are a fan of shooters….you probably are already playing this game.