Entertaining singleplayer, addictive multiplayer & co-op to boot!
Modern Warfare 2 takes place five years after the events of of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite your best efforts, the ultra-nationalist have wrangled control of Russia proclaiming Zakhaev, everyone's favourite one-armed bad guy, as a national hero and political martyr. As in previous Call of Duty games, you step inside the body of several distinct characters over the course of the campaign's five to seven hours of gameplay.
Though entertaining, the story itself twist and turns so radically you'll probably finish the game with more questions than answers. It feels messy and incoherent most of the time but much like an episode of 24 its so damn entertaining that anybody hung-up by the illogical plot-points is really playing the game for the wrong reasons. More importantly Modern Warfare 2 is ripe with the gob-smacking set-pieces moments we've come to expect from the Call of Duty series, some of which will leave you genuinely stunned.
Your efforts to save the world take place in locations across the globe; from South American slums to political prisons, the hills of Afghanistan and the roof of a fast food outlet. For the most part they all play great, utilising the location to twist the gameplay each time. For instance the Favela levels in Rio have you being shot from several vertical levels, whereas the fantastic oil-rig mission has you breaching through wooden doors to save hostages in slow motion gunfights. This frequent mixing-up of the gameplay keeps the experience engaging, which probably makes it all feel shorter than it really is. The memorable levels also encourage you to take on the campaign a second or third time and with four difficulty levels on offer you certainly won't be short of options to re-play.
When you eventually bring the single player to its memorable conclusion you're probably going to want to call into work sick for a few days, as Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer is among the most addictive available on consoles. Game modes include the usual array of Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Domination and a host of others. Your online character collects points for killing opponents, capturing flags, getting head-shots, shooting down helicopters and pretty much everything else. These points add-up after each match, adding to a total which raises your characters numerical level, unlocking special weapons, perks and achievements as you do so. Essentially, the more your play Modern Warfare 2, the more cool stuff you get to bring into the battlefield.
The kill streaks from Call of Duty 4 make a welcome return too. These are special power-ups that unlock if you successfully kill a number of opponents in a row without dying. In the past these were set in stone, so killing 3 opponents would unlock a special UAV radar, killing 5 would unlock an air-strike. However in Modern Warfare 2, you can unlock and select your own kill-streaks as your character levels-up. So if your not a fan of air-strikes you can unlock a droppable machine-gun turret available after four kills. Or if you fancy yourself a bit of a Modern Warfare legend how about a tactical nuclear missile, unlockable after 25 successive kills, which ends the game. These changes make Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer feel like a very different beast and customizing your character a lot more interesting.
In addition to the single and multiplayer, Modern Warfare 2 has "Special Ops" mode where two players can play cooperatively against the computer in a number of scenarios. These include facing off against waves of approaching enemies, supporting each other as you gun from one side of a battlefield to the other, or racing across arctic tundra on snowmobiles. These can be played across a range of difficulties in split screen on the same console or with friends and strangers via Xbox Live. It's a worthy addition too with over 23 missions on offer, some of which are rock hard on higher difficulties.
Modern Warfare 2 marries an entertaining single-player campaign with one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games around, and then throws in co-op play for shits and giggles. The single player has its flaws, but like any great game, the issues are only apparent because the rest of the package is so fantastic. Simply put, if your a fan of first person shooters you really have no excuse for not owning this game.