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Anthony Capone
14 Nov, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

360 Review | Another good call for the console shooter?
Upon the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, players were instantly marvelled by the deeply engaging story, compelling gameplay and fantastically designed multiplayer. When Call of Duty: World at War was announced, many of us moaned at the prospect of going back to the battlefields of World War 2 in what was seemingly a step backwards for the series. Now with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, many of us have been expecting another spectacular endeavour from developers Infinity Ward.

From the menu screen of the console versions, Modern Warfare 2 is split into three different modes – the single-player campaign, multiplayer and the all-new mode known as Spec Ops. To begin with, the campaign kicks off in the years following the original Modern Warfare. The influence of old enemies is spreading from the grave, and it's once again up to players to save the world from destruction. The single-player campaign takes you to numerous jaw-dropping locations, including an icy Soviet airbase, a labyrinth of caves in Afghanistan and the front lawn of the White House. Level design is amazing, with epic set-pieces and a huge variety of environments to experience. Levels do sometimes feel a little confined, but you are usually to busy dodging bullets and grenades to notice.

Modern Warfare 2 is still a first-person shooter as its heart, but as with previous iterations, there are several new gameplay elements to keep things fresh and entertaining. Players can partake in a high-speed snow-mobile chase, rain death from the sky with Predator missiles, snipe at enemies with thermal vision and breach rooms in slow motion. There aren't really any single 'wow' moments in Modern Warfare 2, such as the sniping and AC-130 levels in Call of Duty 4. A certain level that has been mentioned in the press of late is extremely eye-opening, and while it is staged excellently, players are left with more of an overall impression from the campaign. To put it bluntly, Modern Warfare 2 falls into the same boat as World at War. While the single-player campaign has fantastic production values and is one hell of a ride while its lasts, it just isn't the spectacle many of us were expecting.

The Modern Warfare PR team go to new depths to get the word out.

The Modern Warfare PR team go to new depths to get the word out.
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Infinity Ward has produced a list of epic locations, but worried about integrating them into some sort of story later. Not only does the script lack any sort of cohesiveness, it's always difficult to comprehend what's happening. Despite the story being a tangled mess and having more holes than a donut shop, the invasion of America is staged fantastically and it's always a welcome addition to see the return of several familiar allies.

Also, be warned that a standard play-through of the campaign only takes around five or so hours on the lower difficulty. Ramping things up to hardened or veteran extends playtime significantly, and is highly recommended for series' regulars. The short single-player experience may be off-putting for anyone playing solely offline, but when you factor in the new Spec Ops mode, the overall Modern Warfare 2 package certainly proves its worth.

Spec Ops takes its cue from the highly memorable ‘Mile High Club’ mission in Call of Duty 4. Over the course of 23 levels, players are given a range of tasks to complete, such as defusing bombs in a marketplace, battling across a heavily defended bridge and defending a location from waves of enemies – to name a few. Some missions replicate scenarios from the single-player campaign, such as the snow-mobile chase sequences, whereas others can't be found anywhere else, such as a level where you have to protect a buddy from the sky in an AC-130 gunship. Spec Ops is unique in that all these are one-off missions done without any checkpoints. If you die, the entire level has to be replayed from the start. Thankfully, Spec Ops can be played in co-op – unlike the campaign – to increase your chances of success. The other benefit of playing with a friend is that you can be revived if downed by enemy fire (similarly to World at War's Nazi Zombies).

The new Spec Ops mode is deeply challenging, and beating any of the levels – which get much harder as you progress – gives you a true sense of achievement (and bragging rights). Indeed, Spec Ops could be called the Nazi Zombies of Modern Warfare 2. While it is frustrating to get all the way to the end of a level only to be shot in the back by a concealed sniper, Spec Ops is highly addictive and some of the best fun we've had playing games of late.

PC gamers take aim...

PC gamers take aim...
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Of course, where would a Call of Duty game be without the multiplayer? The good news is Infinity Ward is once again at their prime with Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer, which is just as well-built and entertaining as its predecessor. Games come think and fast, and as before, players build points and gain levels by winning matches and killing enemies. As you gain points, you can unlock new guns and perks. There are many new choices when it comes to weapons, and you are no longer limited to carrying a primary weapon with a sidearm. For example, players can now pack an assault rifle and shotgun, or a SMG and a fully-automatic pistol. A riot shield is also among the list of possible options, giving protection for both you and a buddy. New equipment also includes a tactical insertion flare, which allows you to mark the next respawn area. This can be extremely usual tool in matches where the location of the enemy or an objective is important.

The perk system has also been given a drastic redesign. Over time, perks can be upgraded to grant an added benefit. For example, upgrading the perk that allows faster reloading will let you to aim down the sights quicker. Modern Warfare 2 also adds 'death streak' perks, which take effect after you die a few times without getting any kills. Death streak perks include painkiller, which gives you increased health, and copycat, which gives you the same weapons and perks of the last player that killed you. These perks are especially useful for players who find themselves being dominated. As an added touch, players can also add some personality to their account by customising their title and emblem.

Finally, the much-touted customizable kill streak rewards round out the list of significant new additions. Unlike the first Modern Warfare, upon gaining a certain level, players can choose rewards for achieving a set number of kills. On the lower end of the scale, rewards include UAVs, but if you get a high number of kills, there are some very powerful aids such gunships, Predator missiles and even a tactical nuke. Players can choose a maximum of three killstreak rewards, and skilled players will have a massive amount of fun choosing between the various options.

Did we mention how awesome Spec Ops is?

Did we mention how awesome Spec Ops is?
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The new additions to Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer mean players can now approach the battlefield more strategically than ever before. The matches we have played so far feel much different, no longer focusing on the same running-and-gunning tactics. That said, the action is still as entertaining as before. However, the one downside of the new killstreak system may be that the not-so-good players will find themselves constantly dying. The end result may then be that the elite will continue dominating, while new players may become disenchanted. It is also disappointing that the option from World at War to play only against local players has been removed.

Modern Warfare 2 builds on the technology established by its predecessor. The same graphics engine is used this time around, with a number of now new tweaks and additions. The character models and animations are as fantastic as ever, and unlike a significant portion of other games, environments are created with high attention to detail. Importantly, the level of overall immersion in Modern Warfare 2 is maintained. Lighting has been bumped up a notch or two for the consoles, and new weather effects are pulled off brilliantly. Great care has also gone into the soundtrack, which seldom seems out of place in the midst of battle. Voicework is authentic and believable, though underscored by the poor narrative. Finally, sound design is superb as ever. As bullets fly past, helicopters hover in the air and mortars go off all around, you could be forgiven for thinking you were really in the middle of a raging firefight.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is undoubtedly one of the best games in the series. Maintaining the technical prowess they are known for, Infinity Ward has pulled out all the stops to create an action-packed first-person shooter. While suffering from a weak narrative, the single-player is an edge-of your-seat experience, and Spec Ops will have players up til dawn for many weeks to come. The multiplayer also is back with a vengeance, adding new features to the already solid foundations. Overall, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a fantastic game, but it just isn't the same jaw-dropping experience that hooked us into the original. Nonetheless, we'll still be answering this latest call for some time to come.
The Score
Though not quite living up to its predecessor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is undoubtedly one of the best games of the holiday season. With an epic single-player, challenging and entertaining Spec Ops mode and greatly improved multiplayer, Modern Warfare 2 is a call that should not go unanswered.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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47 Comments
4 years ago
Denny hates you right now icon_razz.gif congrats to both of you well worth the read icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
Err why? We have seperate reviews for both the console and PC versions.

No hate here man. All love.
4 years ago
Denny wrote
Err why? We have seperate reviews for both the console and PC versions.

No hate here man. All love.
it was a joke , i was referring to it seemed as if you had planed to type up a review based on the PC version but with a few hints to any version then at the last min you noticed ans review and had to rewrite a few lines , just speculation icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
Pretty sure he's been talking about how he gets to do the PC review for this game on IRC for the past few days being quick to point out there is a separate one for Consoles. So no, not last minute, nor does his review sound to me like it was originally intended for all platforms.
4 years ago
Great review. Spec Ops' mode is by far the best feature in the game.
4 years ago
No LAN/Splitscreen?

No buy.
4 years ago
8.5 really?
4 years ago
Lord Haart wrote
No LAN/Splitscreen?

No buy.
But there is?
4 years ago
spot on. not as good as cod4 but still good icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
Yeah I thought I did remember reading somewhere there IS a split screen AND lan option , but have no idea where it is..
4 years ago
el_supraman wrote
8.5 really?
You didn't like it? Or are you suggesting 8.5 is too low? PALGN review scores use a concept often neglected in games reviewing, called standard deviation. What this means is that their review scores use the full range of 1-10, and will move along that scale depending on how far a game deviates from "average" (5). If you're used to GenericGameSite.com's use of 7-10 scores only, this may seem foreign, but it best reflects the variation in games and the reality that not every game is worthy of scoring in the 70th percentile.

PALGN Review System wrote
8½ – 9
A potential 'game of the year', and a game so good it should be fun for anyone to whom the concept appeals. Graphics, control, sound, presentation and gameplay must all be outstanding for a game to score this high. The only thing holding it back must be that it lacks that 'creative spark' to bring it to the next level of greatness, or it could be a game that has that spark, but is brought down by a few minor technical or artistic flaws.
4 years ago
Great review - I would have thought a '9' would have been a given, although my perception has likely been skewed by most games scoring over 70% in other reviews. Using standard deviation, an 8½ seems more appropriate.

The game is very fast-paced and action packed, which is awesome. I found one of the most unappealing aspects of MW2, however, is that you're limited to one player per 360 while playing on Xbox LIVE. Over the last few years, my friends and I have loved playing Halo (2, 3 & ODST) online, not only because it's an amazing game, but the fact that you can play with guests, as well as with other Gold accounts, on the same machine.

Modern Warfare and WaW do not feature this, and I had hoped it would be possible with MW2, but unfortunately not. I'd say that if some friends are over, we'll still be playing Halo rather than CoD.
4 years ago
The absolute WORST and UNFORGIVABLE lack of a feature is the removal of limiting MP games to local. It's difficult to find a local game (takes me sometimes upwards of half a dozen tries) and as a group we have not found -one- single match that wasn't red.

Heck, one time there was one yank in amongst us and it nominated him host - one guy was on green and the rest of us on red and he was kept the host. The selection is absolutely abysmal.
4 years ago
To add to drinniol's comment, I was playing at my mate's place and he experienced the same thing. His connection was always 'red - 1 bar', and while the lag was by no means game breaking, it did leave it feeling somewhat disconnected. I just tilted my eyes at him while he was trying to convince me to buy it... sorry mate, I ain't sold.
4 years ago
i agree. its getting so annoying being thrown into games where i have a bad ping that sometimes i just give up. having a setting to find local games only is a must. i thought they would have learned this after COD4. most disappointing part of the whole game.

also i wish there was an option to play spec ops online with matchmaking instead of it having to be someone in ur friends list. my friends all have xbox's and i have a ps3, so i have no one to play this with
4 years ago
8.5 fail

It in no way is worse than MW1,
What did MW1 have that MW2 didnt?
4 years ago
@RanerX
Modern Warfare came out 2 years ago, MW2 doesn't improve enough to warrant as high a score. In fact in regards to the actual multiplayer matchmaking it's gone backwards. MW2 was released with a somewhat broken matchmaking system and a few flaws which Palgn have rightly deducted points for.
It's still a really good game and I don't regret buying it, I've been having fun with the multiplayer and I'll keep playing it for a while yet.
4 years ago
RanerX wrote
What did MW1 have that MW2 didnt?
A longer and more carefully designed campaign. I thought the review made that quite clear.
4 years ago
Depends how highly you regard innovation I guess. Some reviewers will take a lump off there scores like seen here for little changes to the tried and true formula.

I agree the story wasn't as thrilling but the 'james bond like' thrill rides totally made up for it in my opinion.

However you look at it mw2 is a high quality product. I got a feeling you would have made a lot of people happier if you gave it a 9 lol.
4 years ago
benspyda wrote
I got a feeling you would have made a lot of people happier if you gave it a 9 lol.
Yeah, but a reviewer shouldn't have to compromise his/her own opinion just to please the masses, otherwise we'd never see a fair and objective viewpoint, just everyone saying the same thing. I'm glad that palgn gives the score they truly feel is fair and don't pander to the masses, it means their reviews are honest, and at the end of the day, don't you want to read someone's actual thoughts and not have every review read like a company's doctored press release?
4 years ago
I was expecting the ALLMIGHTY MW2 top get no less than 9.


I haven't played either game so my expectation of 9 is because of how much this game was hyped and how much everyone loved the 1st one.
4 years ago
I probably would have given it a 9, but an 8 and a half is still a good score.
4 years ago
dumb review by dumb reviewer for dumb readers
4 years ago
click here wrote
dumb review by dumb reviewer for dumb readers
Shhh, your fanboy is showing.
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