Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

It’s been hyped to the point that most games would dream of. It’s been on almost every gamer’s most wanted list and they have been waiting eagerly to get their hands on it. It has already courted controversy thanks to leaked levels and questionable advertisements. After waiting for months on baited breath, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is finally here, and is promising to blow away your notions of what a game should be. The only question is, does it fulfill the hype and deliver on its promises?

The short answer? Yes. Modern Warfare 2 is one of the biggest, best, and most intense experiences I’ve had playing a videogame. It is an emotional and exciting game that surprised me with its amazing single-player campaign and blew me away with its refined multiplayer. Modern Warfare 2 is one of the best games this year, and takes an important step in the direction of videogames being able to present a real message and communicate an emotionally engaging story.

Rio rooftops

Modern Warfare 2 stands on three pillars of content: Campaign, Multiplayer, and Spec Ops. Each mode presents a different core experience and feel, yet each one compliments the next.

**SPOILER WARNING: I will be writing about levels and events in Modern Warfare 2. There will be minor spoilers in the following paragraphs, so if you want to stay unspoiled, skip to the italicized “END SPOILERS” note.**

Starting with Campaign, I was genuinly surprised by Modern Warfare 2‘s story. Call of Duty 4 had a pretty bland single-player component that felt very much like the series’ World War 2 entries, but spruced up and brought into the modern era. It was a step in the right direction, but an old relic dressed up in a pretty suit. Spawn lines, invisible lines that once crossed by the player stop enemies from appearing, were rampant and the exciting moments were few and far between. Modern Warfare 2 fixes all of this and brings one explosive moment after the next. Taking place 5 years after Call of Duty 4, an international terrorist named Makarov has been causing mayhem across the globe. Enlisting the help of a promising Army Ranger, PFC. Joseph Allen, General Shepherd has Allen infiltrate Makarov’s group to take them out from the inside. The plan goes wrong and Allen is blamed for a brutal terrorist attack and left for dead. Now, as Russia invades the U.S., it’s up to Task Force 141 and Captain ‘Soap’ McTavish to find Makarov and bring him to justice.

I can’t speak of the single-player without speaking of the controversial level that has everyone buzzing. Yes, you do participate in a heinous terrorist attack on a Russian airport. The level itself may be a horrible thing to some, but I found it to be emotionally moving and terrifying. The reason for this is that Infinity Ward has done such a great job with their graphics engine and animation that the scene feels very real as it plays out in front of your eyes. You are forced to move at a slow and methodical pace, witnessing people fall over, scream, and crawl away in pools of blood. Some wince in pain as they die and other hide in corners hoping for it to end. You can shoot if you want (I didn’t), and you can also skip it and just get a quick recap of the situtation. However, I personally can’t see how someone could skip it and deprive themselves of the resulting emotional involvement in the rest of the story. I felt like I had to continue to the campaign with a sense of ultimate urgency. After this scene, it was important for me to take down Makarov, a feeling I haven’t had playing a game in a long time. The shock and awe moments don’t end their either. You’ll be chasing bad guys on snowmobiles, fighting Russian soldiers in the White House, and witnessing a particular wonder that I can’t reveal. You have to see it for yourself.


Single-player is full of these moments and it never loosens its grip on you. I was thrilled from beginning to end and I’m amazed that Infinity Ward improved so much upon their single-player effort in Call of Duty 4. Your AI partners actually take down enemies now, they shout and bark orders to you, and their voice acting is so genuine you can’t help but get attached. The modern weapons and toys are also upgraded. If you thought the AC-130 level was awesome in COD4, wait until you get the Predator Drone. It’s a giant leap forward in content and story, like an action movie turned up to 11, that I am ready to experience all over again. That is, if it wasn’t for the multiplayer.

Multiplayer has been vastly improved, balanced, and tweaked over COD4. The perks have been reduced, and replaced with Perk Challenges. By using a certain perk more often, you are contributing to these challenges. Get 25 kills using Sleight of Hand, and it will upgrade to Sleight of Hand 2, allowing you to reload even faster. Each perk has these challenges and can upgrade up to 5 times. It allows you to focus on certain perks you really find useful and build a character that fits your style of play. Killstreaks have been greatly expanded and go up to 25 kills now. After 3 kills, almost every additional kill has a reward associated with it. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I probably won’t get to 25 kills,” then Infinity Ward has you covered. Certain Killstreak awards are supply drops now. These drops can be more munitions, or they can be a Killstreak award. So even you aren’t the best player, you can still gain the option to call in that armored attack helicopter. Of course, these drops can be used by the opposing team as well, so you’ll want to get to them fast.

Speaking of balance, there are also Deathsteak awards too. If you die three times in a row without getting a kill, you’ll gain a special Deathstreak perk. Copycat lets you take the loadout of the last person that killed you and Painkiller gives you a large boost of health for the first ten seconds of your spawn. Two old favorites are now here as well. Martyrdom and Last Stand are now Deathstreak perks, which is fitting (both give dying players a final chance to take down their opponents) and helps to better balance each match. With Killstreaks and Deathstreaks, Modern Warfare 2 is always rewarding you in some way during your play time. Get a headshot? More xp. Shoot a guy from a distance? More xp. Kill the guy who killed you last? Guess what, more xp. That visual feedback and xp gain from this and many other situations in multiplayer make for an addicting experience that any player, no matter your skill level, can enjoy.


But the rewards and xp don’t stop there. You now have a Callsign card that can be customized with different titles and emblems that you earn by leveling up and getting certain xp awards. This card pops up on the opposing players’ screens everytime you kill them and even comes up for the person who got the first kill of the match. There are hundreds of titles and emblems to unlock, so making your card stand out is pretty easy. If that wasn’t enough content, you have accolades to earn, challenges to complete, and more custom weapon mods than I could fathom. This really is the definitive multiplayer shooter out now and will continue to be popular for a long time to come.

Spec Ops rounds out the package and is, quite frankly, the only hit-and-miss part of the game. Spec Ops has you and a buddy run through different co-op scenarios. These missions stand on their own and have no story or introduction. They’re like arcade levels that can be played together. Each completed level earns players a star rating that will then unlock more missions and achievements. While the star ratings make for a very rewarding arcade experience as you try to attain all three stars for each mission, the missions themselves are, again, hit and miss. Some of them are really cool, like racing your buddy on snowmobiles. One of the missions is downright awesome, where one person is on the ground trying to get to a certain building and the other player is piloting an AC-130 to provide support. Hearing your friend shout “rain some kickass down on these enemies for me” while you shoot from above is pretty thrilling stuff. Some of the missions, though, are just regurgitated from the single-player mode. The Rio Rooftops mission isn’t very spectacular by itself and a stealth snow level from the single-player campaign just isn’t that great with another friend. While some of the missions can be completed by a lone player, some of the missions require two people, so if you can’t grab a friend from your friends list — since there is no matchmaking in these modes — you won’t be able to experience all of them. Infinity Ward could have easily solved this with an A.I. partner for those who want it.

Spec Ops

This isn’t saying Spec Ops is the black sheep of the package, it just isn’t as exciting as the single-player and multiplayer portions. That being said, Infinity Ward could easily fill this mode out with more DLC missions that are innovative and fun, so expect Spec Ops to grow in the future and hopefully add some missions that aren’t just cut directly from the single-player.

With all this said, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is one of the greatest FPS games ever made. The emotional and intense single-player game is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of exciting moments, while the multiplayer is truly a definitive experience for online FPS players everywhere. This game lives up to its hype and then some, and won’t disappoint even the most jaded of gamers.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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