popskinz's Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360) review

Modern Warfare 2 belongs in the pantheon of military-shooters.


[Originally written 11/11/09]
 
No one can deny the commercial impact of Infinity Ward´s efforts in shaping authentic shooters. Most notably was Call of duty 4, with its jump to modern warfare, that has created a great cult following with similar games trying to achieve the same gold status since its release. No one has, but finally, after all the gathered hype and excitement at its tipping point, Modern Warfare 2 is finally here and brings with it features and additions that every seasoned first- person shooter player are bound to enjoy.

The dramatic campaign from Infinity Wards last offering has now been giving a second chapter to flesh out the struggling war between global terror and various military-units as Modern Warfare 2 is a direct sequel as the name implies. An all new cooperative mode of play called "Spec-ops" barrows plentiful thrills from the campaign and recreates them in form of stand-alone missions playable with a friend. And of course, the ever growing popularity of Call of duty 4´s multiplayer options have received a major overhaul with this times offering, with new customisation options, modes, layer of depth and fifteen additional ranks to climb. When you bring all these elements together, Modern Warfare 2 boasts a ton of high quality action across all three modes of play and apart from some unsatisfying storytelling and the forced pacing of the campaign, Modern Warfare 2 is still a tremendously engaging experience packed with a ton of content that are sure to keep you busy for ages to come.

Good o´l Soap, who knew he was scottish?
The story picks up about half a decade after the exciting conclusion to Call of duty 4 and sees the uprising of a new antagonist who tries to fill the void his co-worker has left after him. Enter Vladimir Makarov, who has got the mad on for pretty much everyone and would like nothing more than to see America burst into flames. He immediately becomes a crucial target to put a stop to and like in so many Call of duty games-- the story unfolds from multiple different perspectives. Expect to infiltrate snowy mountain bases, encounter militia in the warm slums of Brazil and assault a heavly defended gulag as part of Task Force 141, a multi-national commando unit who kills terrorists--yep. On the other hand, you can expect to defend americas most famous landmarks and battle in the suburbs of Virginia as an american ranger soldier and playing as these two different soldiers is a very different experience.

The pacing is just as great as ever since environments and objectives differs greatly over the course of the singleplayer game. Unfortunately, the story fails to hit home with overly dark twists and scenes that lends a very non-triumphant tone to the game. The plot is also told through generic missions briefings that bookends each mission and feeling attached to the story wasnt really the focus of the game. Luckily though, there are plenty of suprises and familiar characters that return, not to mention " Soap" Mactavish who was once the main playable character from Call of duty 4, but is now your superior officer.

Throughout the campaign, you will travel all over the world and experience thrilling set-piece moments. You will participate in stealth-based missions, defend sequences, large-scale firefights and various vehicle sections. The variety has been greatly improved from the last game with objectives that changes constantly and no two locales are the same which keeps the action fresh. Vehicle sections now range from on- rail segments to you actually getting the permission to drive them and watch the impressive physics unfold.  Also adding to the mix is a new Predator-drone missile that you are allowed to operate at certain points that makes each confrontation feel unique as you can set off a massive explosion in the many crowded battles.

Its just a shame that the campaign is over in a flash and the pacing feels a little forced since there are more missions than last time around, but the whole experience is chopped down into small 10-15 minutes bits of play as missions are much shorter now. It makes the campaign feel more like a thrill ride, except that there are only ups and no downs since there is no breathing room between missions and very few moments of quiet suspense. But its an exciting ride-- filled with plenty of thrilling moments that give you an adrenaline rush of excitment.

However the Spec-ops mode is what will make some of the shortcomings of the singleplayer feel less important. Here, there are
Rangers lead the way!
23 missions in total that upon completion will grant you a number of stars to unlock new sets of missions. While some are loosely based of the campaign, Spec ops is an incredibly substantial mode that is fun to tackle alone, but far more addictive when you invite a friend to help you out. Missions range from getting to point A to point B sometimes using stealth and sometimes guns blazing, while others force you to clear a particular zone from enemies or hold off waves of enemy assaults. But by far the most elaborate missions are the ones that are exclusive to co-op. In one mission, one player gets the luck to man an AC-130 and escort his partner to safety, while he rains death from above on any vehicles or enemies that are present. In total, Spec ops is a very addictive experience, and collecting stars has never been this rewarding since the good old days of something like say-- Super Mario 64.

Also addictive and rewarding is the multiplayer component that has evolved greatly over Call of duty 4; new guns to master and unlock, new attachments, sets of guns, new perks that can now be leveled up, deathstreaks, customisable killstreak rewards along with the ability to create a unique identity with callsigns and emblems. Its all incredibly fleshed out and there is a lot to take in here. New modes however are shallow-- there is a capture the flag mode along with a demolition mode that is similar to search and destroy but now with multiple bombs to arm and defend. New equipment such as blast shields, semtex grenades and tactical insertions makes matches a lot more exciting and the various new perks make each class you create feel diverse without being unbalanced. If you do happen do die serveral times in a row without a kill, you are granted a deathstreak perk that can give you a timed health boost or the infamous drop a grenade upon dying, martyrdom.

Killstreak rewards are also back, allowing you to call in airstrikes, supply drops, deploy sentry guns to even unleash a tactical nuke that ends the game. These can now be distributed accordingly as you can choose your three personal favorites for a little extra flavour.  Modern Warfare 2´s multiplayer constantly rewards you, as ranking up only to achieve an overwhelming array of new customisation options is wholly satisfying. Another nice touch is the addition of a third- person mode that works and feels surprisingly good. It doesnt change the game at all, but it its a nice novelty and adds a fun twist to the online shooting.

As a whole, Modern Warfare 2 doesnt offer any huge changes to the formula but new additions like spec ops, predator drones and deeper level of customisation in the multiplayer does pack a punch. While the campaign is less spectacular this time around with the story being way over the top and the pacing feeling a little too hectic. But better variety, the unhealthy addiction of the multiplayer and the genius spec ops mode, all come together to form a substantial package that offers something for everyone who is looking for great shooter loaded with content.
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