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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
click here wrote
dumb review by dumb reviewer for dumb readers
I somehow feel dumber after reading that...
4 years ago
click here wrote
dumb review by dumb reviewer for dumb readers
What are you 12? Was it really necessary to make that post? Did it contribute in any meaningful way to the discussion?
No.
People like you are the problem with the internet, and likely the world as a whole...
4 years ago
fatpizza wrote
click here wrote
dumb review by dumb reviewer for dumb readers
I somehow feel dumber after reading that...
The prophecy, it's coming true!
4 years ago
I was refering to 8.5 being too low. This game i believe improved upon the first in everyway. I dont care about the story its not an rpg, I care about gameplay and the game is different enough without ruining the formula which made it great.

I would like to compare this game with other games that are getting the same or higher scores and see how many hours they are played compared to this. This game will be played by most fps fans until the next is released and that cant be said for many other games. I would have payed twice the money for the multiplayer alone and im not alone. In the long run a great multiplayer is much more important than an extra hour of singleplayer, which will be played maybe 2-3 times max by many if not just the once.

sorry for the rant. An 8.5 is fine, but if thats all this gets than many others deserve a much lower score. Having the option to only buy one game for the whole year I gurantee Mw2 will be chosen more than any other.

end rant
4 years ago
Yeah, I think the longevity of multiplayer for this game is often overlooked in the review process. While many top shelf, 9-10 rating games are great and all, you won't see people still playing them 6 months down the track from release date. However, COD is something that still holds onto a vibrant online community months after release. Less can be said about other online games, where a few months after its release, you struggle to find games online...

The simple fact that such a large amount of people continue to play it online is a huge drawing point for me at least. I wanna know that next year, I can still go online and find heaps of people playing.
4 years ago
And yet, length of play has nothing to do with quality of play. I haven't been looking for an online shooter to replace Team Fortress 2, and after spending a substantial amount of time on MW2 I'm not seeing a compelling reason to spend more than another couple of weeks at most on it.
4 years ago
^And with that, you also have co-op and MP buddies to play it with, so there is certainly incentive to keep trying to play the MP component.

The game is good but it's not necessarily about the amount of people playing at the same time that justifies quality gaming. By this logic the Transformer films are outstanding because so many people went to see it and bought it on DVD. It's simply mass appeal to a more mainstream audience.

It's obviously a subjective matter as to whether you believe the MP component is that good, but quite frankly the matchmaking services on both the console and PC counterparts are extremely off putting, to me anyway. UT2k4, though with a pretty tiny community at the time, was some of the best MP experiences I've ever had, and it doesn't even cover a fraction of the amount of people there are in MW2.
4 years ago
I may have missed part of the thread previously, but how is matchmaking on consoles offputting, given the (relative) success of Modern Warfare 1 - in fact, given that very few 360 games (to my knowledge) use dedicated servers, wouldn't the host migration feature would be a vast improvement in the multiplayer tech?

It's only really the PC version that's short changed, the way I see it.
4 years ago
Well it comes down more to me coming from PC play, which has always been stable and consistent ping with dedicated servers, so p2p/matchmaking on consoles has always felt off-putting to me. It's an improvement technically, but for me it's all the same. So yeah it's more a personal thing.
4 years ago
It's not necessarily the fact it uses a matchmaking system, the way it works is broken. There have been games where a vast majority of the players are Australian yet it still makes the single US player the host. Sometimes it's pathetic.
4 years ago
To add to the MP bullshit - I was just in a game full of Australian players, after having tried for an hour - and it must detect which player has the best connection to the IW servers when choosing the host. Evidently none of us were any good and the lobby was closed. I'm on ADSL2+ but clearly our whole country is sub-par to IW?
4 years ago
drinniol wrote
To add to the MP **** - I was just in a game full of Australian players, after having tried for an hour - and it must detect which player has the best connection to the IW servers when choosing the host. Evidently none of us were any good and the lobby was closed. I'm on ADSL2+ but clearly our whole country is sub-par to IW?
Unfortunately it doesn't look for speed of connection as the major factor, instead it looks for Quality of the Line the player is on.

Because our ADSL network is what, 40-50 years old, we always fail that criteria pretty well.
4 years ago
Um, unless I'm mistaken, I thought the only thing that can measure line quality from server-side is ping and bandwidth.

Regardless, I think this review should be amended to read that Live matchmaking is fundamentally broken for Australian players. There's a 70-page thread on the IW forums about it.
4 years ago
To clarify, I'm disappointed at the lack of 4-player splitscreen.

No buy.
4 years ago
Lord Haart wrote
To clarify, I'm disappointed at the lack of 4-player splitscreen.

No buy.
Um, yes it does.

And just so you know I'm not lying:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6idmEpcOqYE
4 years ago
How does this compare to other FPS' on the market?
I have a PS3, so Killzone 2 is probably the best we have outside of this. I find Resistance 2 a little too out there.
Killzone's presentation is better and it can have up to 32 players online which means there is much more activity on the map. I also like that the rewards focus on the player's weapons and equipment, rather than big support weapons like gunships (even though there is air support and gun turrets).

MW2 runs at 60fps and still looks good.
The rewards are quicker and more varied, the controls are better, the community is bigger (though I don't have problems getting a game on KZ2).
The single player campaign isn't as good, though I think the Spec Ops compensates a fair bit. I think the 18 player limit kinda kills the "warfare" aspect of the game but is still addictive. The split screen feature is a great feature and should be in all console FPS.

I would have given this a 9. I still think the game could have been a 9.5 if they bumped up the players and had a better single player campaign, but it still has so many features that other games don't.
4 years ago
Sambo110 wrote
Lord Haart wrote
To clarify, I'm disappointed at the lack of 4-player splitscreen.

No buy.
Um, yes it does.

And just so you know I'm not lying:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6idmEpcOqYE
I'm glad to stand corrected. icon_smile.gif

What modes/options are available? Google searches tend to give conflicting answers.
4 years ago
Lord Haart wrote
Sambo110 wrote
Lord Haart wrote
To clarify, I'm disappointed at the lack of 4-player splitscreen.

No buy.
Um, yes it does.

And just so you know I'm not lying:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6idmEpcOqYE
I'm glad to stand corrected. icon_smile.gif

What modes/options are available? Google searches tend to give conflicting answers.
All the PVP modes I assume.
4 years ago
Splitscreen now allows offline profiles on your box to level up and create a class etc, which is a very very nice change.
4 years ago
No mention of the lag factor? This issue plagues the game in the Southern Hemisphere, and yet the reviewer somehow misses it. Shame on you PALGN - this is a serious problem in Oz and you gloss right over it.

An online game is only as good as the netcode.
4 years ago
Fengato wrote
No mention of the lag factor? This issue plagues the game in the Southern Hemisphere, and yet the reviewer somehow misses it. Shame on you PALGN - this is a serious problem in Oz and you gloss right over it.

An online game is only as good as the netcode.
In which case this must be one of the worst online games ever. Sorry, but I am so annoyed at the lag in this game, considering how good a game it is. I really want to keep it and play it a lot, but I have no fun at all when 1/2 deaths are because of lag.
4 years ago
There are literally thousands of posts/complaints about the american-centric netcode on the IW forums. For PALGN reviews to be relevant, the writers really need to focus on the issues that pertain to the local gaming community. Even that ridiculous show (good game) noted the problems with the netcode.

IW had two years to fix the netcode from COD4 - they didn't. To have a local review gloss over a game breaking issue does the community a great injustice.

http://www.infinityward.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=165194

http://www.infinityward.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=169940

http://www.infinityward.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=163666
4 years ago
Watch IW ignore all those complaints. The game being so successful is bad, it means they just ignore crap like this and focus on making the next game.
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