CALL OF DUTY MODERN WARFARE 2: "Incarnation of Win"

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Premiere

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

From: Activision / Infinity Ward

Reviewed on Xbox360 (Also Available on PS3, PC)

While other games come and go unnoticed in the sea of shared concepts, one genre in particular always manages to stand firm in its belief that it will always be number one, and with good reason.  The first person shooter era, ostensibly beginning with the hit Goldeneye on Nintendo 64, has always been a forerunner of gameplay mechanics, innovation, and fun.  From Doom to Halo, all FPS’s have had the label that you, the main character, are the hero/heroine of this world and will never actually “die”, but live to see it through – even if it takes a couple of respawns.

During this time, some have come and gone, while others maintain their strength and vigor.  Franchises like Halo, Quake, Counterstrike, and Call of Duty always seem to know how to make a game better and more fun, even though the genre could be looked at as over saturated.  Emerging as the cream of the proverbial crop recently is the newest release from Infinity Ward/Activition, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  The sequel to the smash hit, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Picking up right where that previous game left off – that is to say Modern Warfare and not last year's Treyarch-developed Call of Duty: World at War – you find yourself in a global struggle against a tyrant who’s sole reason for being is the destruction of any establishment that doesn’t believe anarchy is the means to an end.  The familiar sights and sounds of the previous game are all there coupled with the added features and bonuses of being in the modern era.

But what does this mean?  What can a gamer that hasn’t played the previous game take away from this incarnation of win?

The game is divided into three sections: Campaign, SpecOps (Co-op mode), and competitive multiplayer.  While some were let down that there was no co-op feature in campaign, after seeing the events unfold, it’s pretty clear why.  Not every character survives the story, much like its predecessor.  The campaign is full of new plots, characters, weapons, and tactics, including an ice-climbing mission.  You are taken away from the monotony of run and gun and placed in situations where actual thinking and strategy comes into play.  Breaching into rooms with a bullet time feature, scaling down mountains and knifing an unwitting guard, and leaping over rooftops to evade an angry militia are just a few of the events that MW2 gives you to pull you into the gameplay and story.

The campaign is well done, to say the least.  There is everything a gamer wants and more.  Your ability to change difficulty on the fly gives gamers the option to take it easy for a bit or bite their lip and give it hell.  It can be completed in just under five hours for the experienced gamer but would clock closer to eight or nine hours for the casual gamer.  There are very few things to say badly about this section of the game itself, aside from the aforementioned brevity.  Checkpoints and save points are plentiful, there’s always a new gun or weapon for you to try your luck with, and there never seems to be a point in the game where it simply will not let you win.  Some of the biggest arguments with previous war games is that as you increase the difficulty the enemies become more like gods of weapons rather than soldiers.  I don’t care what you say, there’s no way all of Nazi Germany’s forces were all gold medal Olympic shot-putters. The story also pushes the envelope on what's been done in a game, with a couple of missions that will likely make some gamers uncomfortable, where undercover agents have to take part in some unsavory activities; in fact, the game gives you the option of turning those missions off, at no detriment to your Achievements or Trophies, if they're too much for you.

As the story drew to a close on my campaign, I was actually sad to see the game end so soon.  I felt that this was a game I could just keep on playing.  At no point did I ever just want to skip a part.  In fact I’m expecting a return to the campaign soon to complete it on the hardest difficulty.

From there, the co-op gameplay of “SpecOps” is for the hardcore duo.  With team oriented scenarios ranging from silent sniper missions to action pack clearing missions – including your favorite missions and levels from Modern Warfare – you’ll find enough awesome and win to keep your busy for hours.  The replay on these is extremely high.

That being said, however, multiplayer is where a game like this is supposed to shine.  With the same system as Modern Warfare, you are able to rank up, create classes, customize weapons, and add bonuses to your character as you progress up the ranks.  New features include “deathstreaks”, which give a player who has died a number of times an added bonus – and customizable “killstreak” options – giving the player the ability to change what he/she can “call in” when the appropriate number of kills is reached in succession, and are nice additions.  The downside?  This game still has an undeniable problem with partying up with friends and playing.  Members still get booted from the group, you can’t back out as a group, and you can loose your connection to a friend all together.  It’s amazing how little this game has come when you can’t even play a couple of games together without trouble. That's a massive disappointment, especially with its competitors having ironed out a lot of those problems.

That frustration aside, this is a buy.  You must own this game to appreciate shooters as a whole.  If Halo is the cake that is the FPS genre, with Goldeneye being the platter it was served on, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is most definitely the icing, candles, strawberries, and flavor.

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