Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was ‘somewhat’ of a success and whilst that was expected to a certain degree from past title successes, no one expected it to take off quite as much as it did. Years have passed and the developer of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has finished their next product, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Hailed as the biggest game launch in history, with sales to back it up, Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) was never expected to disappoint.
The game has been cleverly split into three components that become apparent right away as you must select which you are interested in playing. Special Ops (co-op missions for you and a friend), Campaign (the story mode) and Multiplayer (the much loved XBL counterpart). These three components are part of the package, and whilst numerous claims that MW2 is shallow and short have been made (as seen by select, interesting reviews), those are false claims that have not taken the games extensive replay value from multiplayer and Special Ops into account.
Jumping right into multiplayer anyone who has played MW1 will be right at home, as everything is familiar from the menu navigation, the levelling system and the class creation. Some new aspects have been added to further increase customisation but the basis has been set on the same solid grounds. Initially you jump into the game as a recruit with no access to customisation, but as you progress through the levels through performing well (even the worst gamer will slowly progress too) you will unlock new features one by one. Before long you will have your title, emblem, class setup including gun modifications and even possibly a clan tag (if you are elite enough).
Multiplayer is fast, frantic and as exciting as ever. The variation between players only adds to the game's depth and mystery in who you will encounter around each bend. As previously you are rewarded for kill streaks by large bonuses, which are always frustrating for the losing team, that can go from planes raining down bullets to even a full blown map nuke (although rare to be seen). Rewards such as these reward greatly for playing safe, so there is always tension found as players try to play it safe and remain alive for as long as possible. The many game modes and maps available will no doubt keep the game fresh, and with tweaks to the general gameplay and additions to an already impressive feature list I expect MW2 will take MW1 over for the number one spot of most played XBL game; leaving Halo 3 behind (sorry Halo fans).
Special Ops, the second option for multiplayer mayhem is a co-op focused mission counterpart that plays like the campaign mode but is tailored for you and a friend (although you can usually go alone if you are daring enough). These missions are made even sweeter by the luring stars that are awarded upon completion, with three going to the veteran players. With a total of 69 stars and 23 missions there is certainly enough to keep co-op gamers happy for a while, especially on the veteran mode, as later missions are overwhelmingly challenging to say the least (only a few more veteran missions for 1000/1000!).
Outside of these two large and long modes is the core of the game, the campaign. Whilst it is true that the campaign is short (I completed it on Veteran, then completed it a second time as I enjoyed it that much... in one sitting of 13hours) it is still a remarkable experience with a pace that you will not find in many other first person shooters. Whilst the game could have been dragged on with ‘fedex’ missions of backtracking and empty running from one place to another, I am glad that it was not. The action is fast, frantic and a fantastic challenge (if played on Veteran of course). That said, I would highly suggest to play the game on Veteran, as the games frantic pace feels like it has been designed to go along with a high difficulty, a second playthrough in the normal difficulty setting was dull in comparison (my most used weapon was the knife).
As with the first Modern Warfare you will take part in some over dramatic storytelling that places you in the middle of obscene and amazing set-pieces, which will have you taking out many armies whilst enjoying the ride. The story is rather over the top and not as ‘realistic’ as some would like, so be prepared for some situations that are a little out of the norm (no aliens, don’t worry). There is one scene that has become somewhat famed in the gaming news, which was no doubt expected and hoped for. The said scene can be skipped, and a warning is even placed when you start the game up, telling you that you may all together skip scenes that can be very upsetting... in other words someone did their job beautifully, and I hope they got a pay rise.
After playing the original Modern Warfare through after completing the second I found the small additions the most appreciated. For example in the first game you are stopped on most missions in order to wait for your AI teammates to catch up and open a door to proceed on. You are now able to open doors yourself! Similarly you no longer require your teammates to breach walls too, as you have also obtained this power and after doing so will be in slow motion for a few seconds to take out anything lurking behind the wall. These small improvements, along with noticeable game, gun and control tweaks work well at elevating the campaign over the original Modern Warfare, and with a climatic ending that simply won’t let you put the pad down, it is a rollercoaster ride well worth it.
Graphics have also been tweaked somewhat and show off improved lighting in particular. The interfaces, whilst similar, have been improved and feel even more at home on a console which is always welcome. In motion the game looks stunning, and whilst it is not the pinnacle of graphical prowess on the 360 currently, it certainly holds its own and there are few areas of complaint (perhaps most people having the same head, but that’s minor). The audio is equally impressive, the team mate chatter really helps to immerse into the game, especially when they are whispering you into halting in the midst of altering an enemy, or screaming at you to move moments from an explosion.
Fans of Modern Warfare will no doubt have already bought this game, as the sales are through the roof (which is good as I expect the next instalment to be even more explosive). Anyone who has yet to buy the game, or as blasphemy as it is play the original, please do so now as it would be quite a challenge for an FPS fan, let alone the average gamer not to find much enjoyment.