Two years ago, Infinity Ward pulled the Call of Duty series out of the oversaturated World War II market and rebooted in the present with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The result was an incredible campaign that offered intense action with a great story, with one of the best multiplayer experiences ever. With such a great experience, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has some big shoes to fill, and although it stumbles in a few areas, it largely succeeds in offering a more polished, satisfying experience.
The game is broken into three main sections: campaign mode, special ops, and multiplayer. The campaign mode continues the story that was started in the original Modern Warfare. As in the last game, most of MW2’s story is told through conversations during briefing screens. There are plenty of in-game story progressions as well, but it is a shame that Infinity Ward chose to continue with large amounts of static moments.
The story itself is great; however, it gets off to a rocky start. I found myself struggling to figure out how the first few missions tied into everything, but it picks up and offers an incredible experience, with plenty of returning characters, twists, thrilling set pieces, and over-the-top action. The game will never let players catch their breath before throwing something new and more challenging at them. Granted, you may need to turn your brain off to enjoy the story, since the main thread involves a full-scale invasion of America by a crazy Russian nationalist. If, however, players are able to suspend their disbelief, they will find a single-player campaign that is epic in every sense of the word, although I was a little upset by the blatant setup for another sequel.
Spec ops mode is a series of missions designed to be played cooperatively. The missions pit players in increasingly difficult challenges to be completed. While there is an option to play through solo, you won’t be getting the full experience. Communicating with a friend and planning out how you’re going to handle a mission adds a lot, and will give players a reason to come back long after everything is completed.
Anyone who played the original Modern Warfare remembers the mission where he took the position as the gunner on an airplane to pick off enemies with an array of guns and cannons. Well that mission has returned, with an added twist that one player will take the gunner position and offer support to the other player on the ground. Hands down, it is the best mission in the game, as teamwork is key to completing the mission.
The multiplayer is where things get questionable. Infinity Ward has decided to drop dedicated server support, opting to use a peer-to-peer system for the PC. Console players will not notice a difference because it’s the same setup that has been in place forever; however, PC users will notice drastic changes. Gone are the massive 64-player games, with a limit set to only 18 players per match. The result is a much more streamlined system that works exactly like the consoles. Lag was not nearly as much of a problem as I expected; as most matches ran very smoothly, and I was able to look past the changes and thoroughly enjoy the multiplayer experience. However, I know that some users will not be able to accept the limiting structure that has been placed on the PC.
I’ll admit, I will miss the occasional chaos caused from 64 players on a map clearly designed for 12, but mostly, it’s the same online experience you’ve come to know and love, with tons of new upgrades and perks. If you can look past the changes, you’ll find an experience with more longevity than its predecessor.
If you are a fan of the original Modern Warfare, or simply of FPSs, buying this game should be a no-brainer. It offers a top-notch single and multiplayer experience. Graphically, the game looks great on all platforms, and while not the best looking, it still is quite impressive. If you are a professional PC gamer, you may want to reconsider, but for everyone who wants to just hop online and play through a bunch of matches, there should be nothing stopping you from buying this game.