Much like the original Modern Warfare 2, which rightfully continues to be widely considered one of the best entries in Activision’s long-running flagship shooter series, 2022’s, Modern Warfare 2 makes an extremely intense and pointed first impression with well-designed campaign missions that expand into sprawling shootouts and contract into stealth and sniping segments at a similar rhythm to previous games. While the story of the campaign itself doesn’t quite live up to the original Modern Warfare 2, glimmers of true evolution do creep in here and there, and the reliably fun multiplayer rounds things out pretty well by delivering a handful of popular modes that feel as frantic and addictive as ever, despite not being the most bountiful selection of modes we’ve seen.
Breaking into dilapidated houses, clearing rooms, and holding your breath as you turn each corner are common themes in Modern Warfare games now, and they’re done here, at times, just as well as they’ve ever been. But it’s when they spiral into some of the series’ most hair-raising firefights in years, that these missions truly shine. The game’s better levels often start out with tightly composed operations where you’re clearing out a house. Floorboards creak as your boots crush broken glass with each step, combatants lash out at you as they try to take you by surprise, and after blasting the life out of them, you’ll hear they’re cohorts scuttling around in other rooms further away. It’s a rather nice collaboration between solid level design and top-notch audio engineering, that I think it’s fair to say is finally up there with the best in the genre.
"While the story of the campaign itself doesn’t quite live up to the original Modern Warfare 2, glimmers of true evolution do creep in here and there, and the reliably fun multiplayer rounds things out pretty well by delivering a handful of popular modes that feel as frantic and addictive as ever, despite not being the most bountiful selection of modes we’ve seen."
The larger battles that these moments usually blossom into are also quite the spectacle, and punctuate the missions nicely. That said, the broad strokes of Modern Warfare 2‘s campaign are pretty by the numbers and predictable for the series at this point. Sniper levels, some stealth sections, and a decent variety of locations that keep each mission feeling distinct from the last dress up the otherwise by-the-numbers approach. A handful of standout set pieces sprinkled in really make the campaign pop though, like an epic gunfight across multiple oil tankers and a particularly batty sequence where you’ll be leaping between multiple vehicles as you take down an enemy convoy.
A bit more attention is paid to choice here with breaching buildings being opened up to support multiple techniques. For instance, in one section, instead of just blasting your way through the front door and lighting the place up, you can drop a tear gas canister into the building through a vent on the roof, forcing enemies to vacate and expose their positions. This could make picking them off from the roof relatively easy. The choices are laid out nicely for you in these moments, and Modern Warfare 2 deserves some credit for giving you some opportunities to craft your own style and try out different things. While I wish they did it a bit more, the moments where it does hand you the keys to the car are a nice change of pace that didn’t go unnoticed by me.
In the latter half of the campaign some light crafting and survival mechanics are introduced that truly start to feel like something special, but, by the end of that section, I was torn between how much I enjoyed that aspect of it, and how baffled I was that the campaign waited so long to introduce me to such a small sampling of it. After that, and a few more interesting concepts that fizzled out too soon, I ultimately was left with the impression that Modern Warfare 2 had a lot of great ideas, and knew how to implement them, but for some reason was still afraid to totally dive into any one thing and make a truly special game, which is a shame, because if Infinity Ward proves anything with this mish mash of concepts, it’s that they are clearly a skilled enough developer to have gone in any number of directions and probably done a good job. And to me, that would have been preferable to the appetizer sampler approach to gameplay that they went with.
"I ultimately was left with the impression that Modern Warfare 2 had a lot of great ideas, and knew how to implement them, but for some reason was still afraid to totally dive into any one thing and make a truly special game, which is a shame, because if Infinity Ward proves anything with this mish mash of concepts, it’s that they are clearly a skilled enough developer to have gone in any number of directions and probably done a good job."
Modern Warfare 2’s story won’t be winning any awards with its mystery surrounding how Iran’s Qudz force has gotten ahold of some alarmingly powerful US military equipment. Shocker: the plot thickens as more military entities become implicated. Outside of the pretty cool and understated villain Hassan, very little happens that you won’t see coming, but it’s executed well enough for what it is. Soap, Ghost, Alejandro and company are all pretty well-defined characters (at least as far as characters in Call of Duty stories go) and they wind up being the best part of an already totally decent albeit unremarkable tale in this one. The variety is certainly there, and the story never gets too complicated to follow easily.
It’s ultimately good Call of Duty comfort food, but as this one shares the title of one of the most celebrated games of all time, I was expecting a little bit more on the narrative side of things, to at least perhaps come close to matching the original game of the same name. That’s not to say Modern Warfare 2 (2022) has nothing to say, or that it’s some sort of slouch compared to the past several entries though. In fact, I would probably say this is one of the better campaigns we’ve seen in recent years. It just doesn’t crack into the upper echelon of the better ones in the series. Which, again, had it been called anything else and not set that high bar for itself, it probably wouldn’t even have occurred to me to make that comparison. But as they say, if you come at the king, you best not miss.
Multiplayer is a reliably solid package with good variety as per usual for the series. A 3rd person mosh pit that includes Call of Duty flagship modes team deathmatch, domination and hardpoint, but played in a third person perspective, adds a bit of a different flavor to these tried-and-true ways to engage on the battlefield. Getting used to the different style of play with managing distance differently and switching shoulders often to keep an optimal angle is a nice challenge and I found myself liking the third person mode quite a bit after a few hours despite not being too keen on it at first. Meanwhile Prisoner Rescue stands as a functionally similar idea to capture the flag, but by making the courier of said prisoner essentially helpless and fully dependent on his or her team for safety, it really succeeds in ratcheting up the tension during those extractions.
"Multiplayer is a reliably solid package with good variety as per usual for the series."
Other additions to the franchise like ground war and invasion also make an appearance and will probably be the go-to modes for seasoned players looking for a bit more depth. I personally found the co-op modes to be the most welcome additions though, as low profile, denied area, and defender all cater to a completely different mindset than the purely competitive, which is something that tends to go neglected in the franchise outside of Zombies modes, which, had never really been for everybody and as of now, zombies are not a thing in Modern Warfare 2.
In these co-op modes you team up with others and accomplish objectives like defending areas from enemies and clearing out enemy positions, all while utilizing a similar backpack system to what’s in the campaign, where you keep different types of gear like turrets, cruise missiles, etc. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, and I hope Infinity Ward lets the spirit of OG Modern Warfare 2’s special operations live on through these by expanding on them further in the future. Thankfully the launch map selection is pretty decent, with only a couple of them feeling a bit too similar. They don’t nearly have as much repetition to them as some previous entries launch maps do. Still, spawn-killing is made a little bit too easy in some instances, as the layouts can make it pretty obvious where spawn points are likely to be.
Across all modes though, you’ll be earning attachments and other items for weapons that you use the most and you’re always feeling like there’s something right around the corner for you to earn. After a few hours of consistent play, you should have a good number of things to tinker around with and explore different combinations, using base perks and earned in match perks to mix things up even further. With all of this mixing and matching, after a few months, instances of coming across others with the exact same loadout as you will be fewer and further between. Keeping you motivated are also the fully planned-out upgrade tracks for weapons and their attachments, so setting your own goals will come naturally as you keep an eye on certain things you want.
"I feel like Call of Duty veterans who have been with the series a long time will find plenty to like in this newest entry. It can feel “back to basics” in some ways, which can be nice, but the game also pays a bit of a price for that by feeling a bit light on content compared to Cold War or even Vanguard with no zombies and fewer modes generally."
Ultimately, I feel like Call of Duty veterans who have been with the series a long time will find plenty to like in this newest entry. It can feel “back to basics” in some ways, which can be nice, but the game also pays a bit of a price for that by feeling a bit light on content compared to Cold War or even Vanguard with no zombies and fewer modes generally. That said, the variety in its modes, the versatile campaign, and fun co-op missions carry Modern Warfare 2 over the finish line just fine as a mostly satisfying entry in a series where it’s getting harder to please everyone in its increasingly large and diverse audience.
This game was reviewed on PC.
Above average campaign; Co-op missions are a blast; Top-notch shooting and action.
Few multiplayer modes; Ho-hum campaign story; Doesn't flesh out its new ideas.
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