Review – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered

We don’t need to remind you that Call of Duty is possibly the biggest gaming franchise of the past decade or so, even though a lot of gamers look at the series with disdain nowadays. The weak campaigns (or lack thereof), the yearly releases, the ridiculous plots almost always portraying foreigners as villains, and of course, the microtransactions have slowly deteriorated Call of Duty‘s relevance as a serious franchise, placing it more as yearly dumb fun release alongside the likes of FIFA and NBA 2K. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t reasons for Call of Duty to become the juggernaut it has turned into. The main “culprit” is the original Modern Warfare trilogy, with many people considering Modern Warfare 2 as its highlight.

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I’m looking forward to the Call of Duty basketball spinoff.

Activision did release a remastered version of the first Modern Warfare game a few years ago and it was panned for how it handled its release. It was initially tied to a premium version of yet another yearly Call of Duty and also had the inclusion of previously absent microtransactions. Thankfully, they did a better job with the surprise release of the remastered version of Modern Warfare 2, although there are lots of caveats in here. Some are for the best, while others are controversial at the very least.

This isn’t exactly the full version of Modern Warfare 2 released for the current generation of consoles. In fact, this includes only its (massively acclaimed) campaign mode. No extra missions, no multiplayer, no microtransactions. For 20 bucks, you get a revamped version of the original campaign mode released in 2009. In a way, that makes the game way too pricey for what it offers; once you beat the campaign, all you can do is replay it, possibly on a different difficulty setting. On the other hand, it is arguably the best campaign in Call of Duty history, without the introduction of any shady mechanics Activision loves to put in its remakes and remasters. All it received was visual and performance upgrades, things we can easily accept with open arms.

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The pinnacle of gaming controversy back in 2009. Oh how far we’ve come ever since.

You can say what you want about the way this remaster is being released, be it because of its reduced amount of content or its ridiculous timed exclusivity, but this is one well-polished product. For a game released in 2009, it does look amazing in 2020. It didn’t receive a lot of visual enhancements, namely improved lighting effects and better textures, but what is there is really impressive. The game also runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second at all times, without ever dipping for a millisecond. No glitches to be found, no crashes, no nothing.

The sound department is also as competent as it was back in 2009; with great voice acting, even including celebrities like Keith David, and great sound effects. The soundtrack might not exactly be something you’ll remember in the near future, but given the kind of game, I didn’t mind mainly paying attention at rifle sounds and Soap MacTavish telling me to throw a grenade at a bunch of Russian soldiers every three seconds.

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The favela level. The best level in the entire game.

Gameplay-wise, this is basically the same Call of Duty we’ve all grown used to. This is the control scheme and gameplay loop that has influenced hundreds of shooters ever since: two weapons, aiming down your sights for precision purposes, weighty movement, regenerating health, and so on. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea (I’d rather play a game with Doom Eternal‘s gameplay loop, for instance), but it’s fluid and responsive. It does absolutely nothing wrong, with the exception of highly scripted vaulting and mantling mechanics. You can’t simply jump onto ledges or vault over any chest-high wall you can find, and that slows the game down quite significantly.

One thing I need to commend Modern Warfare 2, especially when compared to other Call of Duty games, is that its levels while linear in nature, still feature some semi-open paths that might lead to secret items, as well as a few areas in which the game lets you decide how to tackle said level. For instance, in the second level set in a snowy base in the mountains, you can proceed through the entire level undetected, without ever killing any foes up until you reach the hangar, or you can go in full guns blazing, mowing down every single baddie in front of you. It might not look like a lot, but considering this is Call of Duty we’re speaking of, these small instances of player freedom are more than welcome.

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“Ramirez, do this! Ramirez, do that!

You’ll have a great time with this Modern Warfare 2 remaster if you know exactly what you’re signing up for. You are getting the best version available of arguably the best campaign in the history of Call of Duty, and that’s basically it. It might be a bit disappointing that this “package” only features the campaign mode and not even the additional Spec Ops scenarios, but considering how CoD‘s multiplayer has turned into a greedy microtransaction fest, maybe that’s for the best.

 

Graphics: 8.5

For a game released in 2009, it still looks fantastic. Lighting effects have been revamped, textures have been improved, and the framerate is as solid as ever.

Gameplay: 8.5

For as generic as this gameplay scheme might look like in 2020, it was revolutionary back in the day. The controls are still really responsive and the amount of weapons at your disposal allows for creative decision making. I still have a serious issue regarding the limited vaulting and mantling mechanics, however.

Sound: 8.0

This is when Call of Duty used to have likable and memorable characters. The voice acting in this game is still strong, and so are the sound effects. The soundtrack itself isn’t exactly that memorable, but considering the amount of bullets flying around, it’s not like you’ll ever pay attention to it.

Fun Factor: 7.5

This campaign is a good reminder as to why and how Call of Duty became the juggernaut franchise it is. It is disappointing that this remaster only features the campaign mode, but considering how CoD‘s multiplayer has turned into a greedy microtransaction fest, maybe that’s for the best.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered Campaign is available now on PS4.

Reviewed on PS4.

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