Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (Campaign) – Review

For the better part of 20 years, Call of Duty has been reinventing itself time and time again, even during its more turbulent years, and they have continued to dominate the FPS genre. Continuing from 2019’s ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ reboot, we follow Captain Price once again into the fray, as he assembles Task Force 141 while the world teeters on the brink of destruction. Infinity Ward take the helm for the sequel ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ with producer, Activison, looking to regain the coveted top-selling game title they used to hold on a yearly basis.

The rejuvenated engine and playstyle of Call of Duty was dramatically overhauled with 2019’s Modern Warfare, and this has been the core experience that players have been working with while playing the stand-alone ‘Warzone’ Battle Royale mode. The most immediate impact of Modern Warfare 2 comes in the revamped player movement and weighted weapon physics, bringing the game into the closest simulation to real life for the series we have seen. That is not to say that this is the ultimate realistic experience as there is still an element of fun that shapes how the game handles. The movements just felt more deliberate, the speed felt more natural and the slides, dolphin dives, and drop-shot maneuverers have been tuned to require a more cautious approach. The weapons have been finely tuned as well, leaving a resonating boom in your ears and a need to control your shots to handle the impressive kickback.

With the overall feel of Modern Warfare 2 feeling like a tightly tuned rig, I was eager to jump straight into the campaign. It was a bold move to think they could top the original campaigns of the same name but the 2019 version was one of their best in a decade. Bouncing between the main protagonist, Ghost, Soap, Price, and Daz, you take control of the leaders of the ground forces that would engage in highly coveted missions across the globe, all in the attempts to thwart growing threats from AL Mazrah that branched out to Europe and the US/Mexico border. The rules of engagement are increasingly blurred, and the involvement of General Shepard and Kate Laswell broadens the vision of the story and offers a larger scale of understanding as events unfold.

For those that played the original campaigns from the 2007 and 2009 versions of Modern Warfare 1 and 2, there are familiar beats that the story follows that made me make a wild guess very early on. Certain missions, while maintaining their own identity, did echo similar iconic missions of the past, but still felt earned in how they handled them. The characters all behave in a believable manner though, with a flair for theatrical performances that would have suited a standalone TV series that I would have watched in a heartbeat.

The cinematics themselves are packed with a jaw-dropping amount of detail, right down to the pores of General Shepard’s face, and the in-game presentation was able to maintain the same eye-catching designs. The stroll through Amsterdam felt lived in without being too cluttered and the night-vision bathes the world in layers of green that only enhanced the tiniest bullet holes in the broken doors.

It is safe to say that the Call of Duty campaigns have always offered a lion’s share of their campaign to the ‘Michael Bay’ style of explosions and epic proportions bordering on the unbelievable. These campaigns have also offered some of the most impactful and memorable stealth or tactical-based missions. In a resounding achievement, the Modern Warfare 2 campaign has been able to raise the stakes to new heights in smaller engagements that then lead directly into the large-scale set pieces in an even flow of pacing. I was gripping my controller with tension as I was sweeping the building to eliminate hostiles and was forced to make cautious split-second decisions on if I should pull the trigger or not.

The intimidating soundtracks and meticulous sound design created immersive atmospheres in either daytime or night-time missions. Pursuing a lead through the backyards of a rural neighbourhood in the middle of the night felt deafening when I had to fire my weapon or kick down a door. This was in stark contrast to the distant loud voices carrying over the battlefield with near-miss bullets zinging past my ears and gunfire rattling off behind walls with a muffled output. The tension between characters while somber and brooding tones reverberated through your spine during dramatic reveals gave the entire campaign a multi-faceted experience.

Modern Warfare 2 has delivered an outstanding set of missions that changes dynamically with the difficulty settings. I played through first on Regular difficulty to get an appreciation for the story, allowing me to get familiar with the gunplay and map designs, though there were certainly moments on the lower difficulties that felt like a shooting gallery with not much thought needed. Returning to the missions on Veteran, however, changed my entire experience and gave me a greater appreciation for the level design. Those same set of buildings that I worked my way through on Regular now became a labyrinth of anxiety as one step out of line and I was done for, with aggressive and accurate hostiles waiting at every corner.

The mission ‘Alone,’ where I had to scramble my way through the level to scavenge tools, felt like a survival horror game on the Veteran difficulty and had me much more engaged than my first playthrough. The larger set pieces where I had to endure an onslaught of soldiers tested my memory and resourcefulness through repeated attempts as I learned to master the mission laid before me. The ultimate achievement that you could chase would be to complete the game in Realism, which is Veteran with limited HUD, which seems sadistic at first, but if you were mad enough to try it on Veteran, it isn’t that much of a leap.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 campaign delivers a tactical and explosive gameplay blend in a tightly tuned bundle. The player movements, weapon physics rework, and grim narrative all contribute to a top-tier experience. It’s not impossible to predict what happens next in the story and one can lean a little on previous campaign moments as inspiration, yet the heart-in-your-throat feelings hit home for a truly outstanding campaign.

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The Good

  • Badass set of characters carry the narrative forward
  • Weapon physics rework gave serious punch to the weapons
  • Cinematic’s were the most impressive piece of work seen in a call of duty
  • Difficulty settings are accessible for casual and hardcore fans
  • Mission set pieces were engaging in both small and large scale events

The Bad

  • Familiar story direction to the original trilogy
  • Missions can rely on reliving previous campaign moments
8
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10

Written by: Shane Fletcher

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