Answer the Call
This Call of Duty kick isn’t over yet. While Wii owners were recently treated to a decent port of Call of Duty 4, PS3 and 360 gamers were finally getting their hands on the long-awaited sequel. As my bro already said in his review, the first Modern Warfare was a huge hit. The game constantly kept its foot down on the gas as you were thrown into a variety of memorable and fun situations. Two years have passed, and here we are again. Infinity Ward has recently released Modern Warfare 2 to the HD consoles. Does it go above and beyond the ca... No. Let's skip the bad puns and get straight into the review. You've waited long enough.
Modern Warfare 2 is set five years after the events of Call of Duty 4. In that time, the Ultranationalist party has managed to win the Civil War in Russia and take control of the country, returning the nation back to a Cold War-esque attitude. It just so happens that one member of said party had been ousted by his own group and begins to plot a form of revenge that will pit Russia and the United States against each other, reigniting the flames of war. Why? Uh... I guess the dude just wants to be a stereotypical psychopath. Yeah, sure. Why not? Okay, so the plot isn’t anything to write home about, but I’m pretty sure that’s not why most people go to see an action movie or play a shooter in this case anyway.
Once again, you’ll be switching off between multiple characters in this game as it takes you through the game’s eighteen chapters. One mission will have you fighting as an Army Ranger, and the next, you’ll be a member of a multinational secret society task force. ...I’m not joking. The game tends to switch off between these two stories to keep things fresh. As a result, you’ll be seeing a variety of locales and be placed into many different situations throughout the game.
For instance, one mission will have you assaulting a Middle Eastern town that has been overrun by terrorists. You’ll fight them on foot out in the open, hop into a tank within some of the closed streets, then take the fight to them throughout a series of buildings when everything goes to you-know-what. Right after that, the game sends you into a mountain base in Russia where you’re asked to perform a hit-and-run stealth mission. Towards the end of it, you’ll hop onto a bike which surprisingly controls well as you try to flee from the forces that want to see you dead. That’s the variety that has made this series popular, and you can tell that Infinity Ward really tried to keep things from getting too stale, and they succeed in that regard.
You’re not alone save for a few rare instances in these missions, either. Thankfully, the AI continues to actually have that “intelligence” part to it as they’ll manage to take down a few enemies that you can’t be bothered with. On harder difficulties, this is a blessing as you’ll be too busy trying to take out that one enemy that has his sights set on you to realize that there’s another couple waiting right around him. Granted, you’ll still be doing most of the grunt work, but any help in a genre where you’re usually stuck with braindead buffoons (Hi, Gears. How you doing? I still have that restraining order, by the way.) is all right by me.
To make things easier, Infinity Ward has also put a finite number of enemies into particular situations. No longer must you keep advancing to prevent a new wave of nameless enemies from taking the places of the ones you just took out. Nope. Now you can just sit back and clear out your foes before moving on. While I do consider this a positive, it also presents an interesting note about the game’s difficulty. I found Veteran mode in this game to be ridiculously easier than either of the two Call of Duty games I’ve played prior to this. Literally, the game only took around ten hours to get through on its hardest setting. I had multiple missions in Call of Duty 2 and 4 that took two hours apiece to clear. There wasn’t any of that here. In fact, I can only recall three scenarios that gave me any sort of trouble in this game, all of which I’d put well below the difficulty of the aforementioned games.
This also creates the issue of the game not having as many memorable gameplay sequences to go through. The game’s insistence of relying on shock twists like the infamous airport scene or self-imposed “epic” moments that it tries to create get old by the time you’re around the halfway point. I get it. You want to be a blockbuster movie-game. Just remember that you’re still a game. I want to play more of these kinds of “epic” moments and not watch them. The game gives you a few to work with, but I can’t say that any of these are on the level as Charlie Don’t Surf (the tv station shootout), One Shot, One Kill, No Fighting in the War Room, or Mile High Club. That comes off as a bit of a letdown if you ask me.
It’s not like that’s the only mode this game has to offer, though. Let’s hit up the new addition of Spec Ops first. In this mode, you can go it alone offline or bring a friend with you either via splitscreen or online through an assortment of 23 missions. Some of these scenarios have been directly lifted from the campaign, others have you fending off a number of enemy waves, and a few will have you emptying clip after clip as you desperately try to take down some unrelenting foes. Most missions will have a set of weapons for you to choose from in the beginning, and then you can go through and pick up whatever weapons you can find on the ground, from your fallen enemies, or just lying around as you progress. It’s definitely fun, and it was my favorite part of the game. I actually wound up spending twice as much time on this than I did the campaign... mainly because it provides that challenge that I was looking for.
Multiplayer’s the third and final mode that this game brings, and it’s going to be the one that people probably put the most time into. There are tons of options, both in gameplay and your own arsenal. First, the weapons. The game has over 40 different guns going from it ranging from assault rifles, light machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, and rocket launchers. All of these can and will be used to put the hurt on your opponents. Those aren’t the only weapons. You also have access to a Riot Shield that you can use to fend off enemy bullets and grenades, a throwing knife, claymore mines, grenades... Yeah, there’s a lot here. If you keep sticking with a particular type of weapon and earning kills, you’ll gain access to certain attachments. Silencers, scopes, but there are also a few new features. You can use a heartbeat sensor to have a mini-HUD that can tell you when an enemy’s closing in on you, or you could go thermal and find the enemies on the maps yourself. There’s also the option of dual-wielding, and I guarantee you that there will be tons of complaints when it comes to the ridiculous range that the 1887 shotguns have with this feature.
You also have the choice of equipping a selection of three perks of which there are sixteen to choose from, and each can be leveled up once. Want to have unlimited sprint, be invisible to all sensors, and be able to have increased melee range? You can. You also get the choice of having three Killstreaks to attach to your character. As you level up, you’ll be able to unlock more (although you’ll still only be able to equip three at a time). You have the choice of being a team player and dropping in Care and Killstreak packages via air support or you could just use the Killstreaks to continue the devastation on your opponents. Some will let you take control of the weapons in question like the AC-130 Gunship or a Predator Homing Missile. You have to be careful as to where you use these as you will be a sitting duck if the enemy spots you. The biggest Killstreak reward is an instant game ending Nuclear missile. ...Wow, that’s a bit over the top, isn’t it? The thing is you have to get 25 kills in a row to have access to it, and if you can’t reach that mark, then that would be a waste of a Killstreak slot. Oh well.
As for the modes, there’s 17 to choose from across the game’s 16 maps. Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Domination to name a few are available for you to compete in online, although most will be locked until you level up a bit. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to level up as the game has so many different ways of gaining experience. Killing enemies, going for the objectives, heck there are even some just for running around a certain distance. You will find yourself leveling up quite easily even if you’re not the best at the game thanks to Deathstreaks. If you keep finding yourself on the wrong end of a duel, you’ll be able to earn timed bonuses such as increased health or being able to steal your opponent’s weapon set. Moreover, if you can get a kill on an enemy while you’re in this rut, you’ll gain some extra experience. It literally feels like Infinity Ward is giving points away in multiplayer like they’re candy. I’m sure this will tick off some players, but you’re still going to be rewarded more for performing well than you would otherwise, so calm down, guys.
At first, I didn’t know how I was going to score this. The game still feels more or less like it did two years ago which is both good and bad at the same time. The campaign focuses more on crazy shock moments than it does memorable missions or level design, but Spec Ops is there to try and fill that void. Multiplayer’s fun for the most part, even if it’s a little unbalanced at times. Still, Modern Warfare 2 is a solid sequel and one that I had a lot of fun with even in a market that’s oversaturated with shooters as it is. The thing is that it’s not at the same level that Call of Duty 2 and 4 were when they released back in the day. If you can get past this and realize that not every title has to move the genre forward and be a Game of the Year candidate, then you’re probably going to enjoy this game as much as I did.