Published by Infinity Ward
Developed by Activision
ESRB Rating: M
Reviewed on XBox360
Available On: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Genre: FPS (First-Person Shooter)
Number of Players: 1
Strong Points: Excellent graphics and realism.
Weak Points: Story mode is linear with no decision points; Not very different from previous titles.
A follow up to the immensely popular Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 is the next chapter in the story, taking place 5 years later, where the aftermath of the events of the previous game have ripened to plunge the world into yet another crisis. Followers of Zakhaev seek revenge for the death of their leader, now venerated as a national hero, and trigger a war between the United States and Russia.
The player takes on the role of several different characters as the story progresses. Common to Call of Duty titles, the player sees the story from the point of view of different characters of different nationalities. There are even some familiar faces from the previous installment in the series, including the return of two playable characters. The story is intense, with many plot twists and turns throughout. The end clearly implies another
chapter in the tale. Unlike Call of Duty 4, which told a good story but felt like a vehicle for showcasing the game mechanics, Modern Warfare 2 has a much deeper and more developed story mode that has an effect on multiplayer rather than vice-versa.
The controls are typical of a FPS game, with the ability to crouch, go prone, sprint, and fire the weapon either from the hip or by looking through the sights/scope. Grenades are available, in the form of frag or flashbang in campaign mode, and the player can get smoke and stun grenades in Multiplayer mode.
The mission variety is very wide, with some missions even allowing the player to fire a Hum-Vee mounted minigun, to control armed Predator drones, to firing a sniper rifle from a helicopter. Some missions are straightforward combat missions, some stealth, and some missions even require the player to chase down fleeing enemies.
There is no health meter as such. When the player sustains damage the screen is splattered with blood, which grows more opaque as the damage increases. If the player can quickly get behind cover, they will recover slowly. This is one of the few areas in which the game is not an improvement over the previous installment, as the blood effect makes it extremely difficult to see what\'s happening and escape to safety.
Modern Warfare 2, like its predecessors, is primarily intended to be a multiplayer game, and as such it offers a number of unique features called Perks, usable in custom classes. One is called Last Stand, in which a player who has been critically wounded does not always respawn immediately, but can make a heroic last attempt to take an enemy with them by using their sidearm. This is meant to simulate a soldier who is mortally wounded using his last breath to try and kill a foe. Like many of the game mechanics carried over from the previous title, this perk now
has a twist, in that a character in last stand mode who is not finished off can recover and return to the fight.
Other Perks allow more health, more damage, quicker reloads, etc. Accumulating consecutive kills allows a player to gain special one-use benefits, like calling in an air strike, summoning a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, enabling all players to be visible on the map) or receiving support fire
from a helicopter. A new item not found in previous installments is the care package, containing useful items for the player\'s team, including a one use armed predator drone.
When in online multiplayer, one can unlock additional weapons which are unavailable at first. Once a player has reached the maximum experience, they can start again at zero with a rank increase. Rank increases don\'t affect gameplay at all, but are good for bragging rights. The player can also create custom classes by selecting specific weapons, perks and upgrades. In local split screen multiplayer all weapons and classes are available but custom classes are not initially, but once a player has reached level 5 in local multiplayer they may create custom classes and will no longer have access to the basic classes. There is a variety of maps and game types, with additional downloadable content available for purchase.
A new feature in this game is Special Ops mode, available in solo, split screen or online multiplayer. Special Ops missions inculde a wide variety of objectives like defending a position from waves of enemy troops, using stealth to reach an objective or even snowmobile racing. The missions award stars for completion with the number of stars awarded determined by the level of difficulty selected by the player. In multiplayer mode, whichever player has the lowest difficulty chosen will determine the difficulty of the mission. Completing Special Ops missions unlocks additional missions of higher difficulty.
The graphics are excellent, with plenty of details to truly give the player the feeling of being in an actual warzone. Smoke effects look incredibly real, which in campaign mode increases the intensity of the storyline. Possibly the strongest element of realism comes from the simple touches, like papers and debris blowing by in the wind in the devastated city zones. It is highly reminiscent of TV news footage of such places, and one could be
forgiven for thinking they were seeing video shot on location.
The sound is crisp and great attention has been given to authenticity. The music during the opening of the game is superb and the stereo sound becomes critical to survival in some stages. Support for other sound configurations is unknown.
No glitches or issues were noticed on the XBox 360 version, and there was never any lag. Enemies are rendered in high detail but the abundance of cover and terrain means there normally aren\'t very many of them on screen at one time. On one occasion a dead enemy corpse dangled through an awning but this was an isolated occurrence. Some slight freezing has been reported on the PS3 during multiplayer as well as slight lag. Connection stability is good on both XBox360 and PS3.
The controls are fairly straightforward, essentially the same as earlier Call of Duty titles. Every weapon has kick, so going full auto is almost never a good idea, but some weapons are more manageable than others, adding a sense of realism.
In multiplayer mode, repeated consecutive kills allows a player to call for air support, which can come in the form of a helicopter or Harrier jet to hound enemy players or an air strike in which bombers fly over and fire bomb whatever part of the map is designated as a target by the player. Manning predator drones via a control device enables the player to target and wipe out enemies over a wide area. New features include a wider variety of perks, weapons and even riot shields. Another new feature is the ability for players to customize their look to others by unlocking icons, images and titles which are displayed to opponents when slain by the player.
This is a war game, and necessarily contains a good deal of violence. On the upside, visible blood is kept to a minimum for the most part with some notable exceptions such as the massacre at the airport or the character pulling a knife from his own body to use on an enemy. Shooting an enemy normally shows very little more than a mist of red, although if they\'re in front of a wall or other piece of scenery, there will often be a splatter behind them. This is meant to be realistic as opposed to gory for its own sake, but can still be rather disturbing.
At the beginning of the campaign mode, there is a disclaimer informing the player that there is a particular mission in the story that may be very disturbing, and may be skipped without any penalty. Unfortunately, no details are given as to what, exactly, is disturbing about the mission so the disclaimer is more likely to arouse curiosity than to ward off the squeamish. The nature of the mission in question is that the player assumes the role of an undercover operative who has infiltrated the organization of an international terrorist. As a result, the player must participate in a massacre at the Moscow airport. The player, along with 4 other terrorists, use automatic weapons to mow down innocent civilians. The sounds of screaming and the sight of all the innocent victims is indeed disturbing, especially when survivors are seen trying to crawl away from the carnage while leaving a wide trail of blood in their wake. Mercifully, there are no children among the victims.
Unlike previous titles in the series, some of the battles take place in and around typical American neighborhoods. It can be disconcerting to do battle in people\'s backyards, garages, playgrounds and parking lots. The experience is very different from fighting in far away places. Familiar landmarks show massive combat damage as well. The language in this game includes the complete set of common expletives and is not appropriate for kids. Expect PG-13 rated language. (One F-bomb was noticed, and friendly troops do utter the occasional milder expletives during battle.) Generally speaking, they do make an effort to avoid gratuitous swearing, using more harmless jargon where possible.
There is no overt sexual content or nudity in this game, nor is there any overt supernatural or occult practices, but in multiplayer, some of the optional emblems the player can earn include images that may be objectionable, such as pin-up girls, cannibis leaves etc.
In terms of morality and ethics, the player is called upon to do what a soldier does, and it\'s not glamorous. Generally the player is called upon to act in an honorable and heroic manner, but the brutality of war is more vividly expressed in this title than in the previous game. When operating in secret, the player and accompanying NPCs often strike enemies, killing them graphically and silently. Physical torture is also hinted at in the game although the player is never called upon to participate in it. The Moscow airport scene is a dilemma because while the crowd is no threat to the player during the course of the mission, airport security and Moscow law enforcement attack and the player is forced to participate in the battle in order to advance. It is possible to complete the mission without killing any unarmed civilians, as the other terrorists are quite able to do that without help.
In general the game is meant to allow the player to be heroic, and in fact some missions rely upon it, and it should be mentioned that even the Moscow airport stage is within the context of ultimately saving more lives than are taken, but whether the ends justify the means is left to the player to decide. This is not a game for children, but for a FPS it is an excellent title. The only real downside is that the game isn\'t truly different from it\'s immediate predecessor, Call of Duty 4. There are new weapons, missions and settings, but it definitely feels like a sequel and has no dramatic innovations to set it apart. The game is a lot of fun in both campaign and multiplayer modes.
Game Play 85%
Total Score: 71%