Review – Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
It’s that time of year again. It’s cold, the sun starts to go down sooner and sooner every night, pumpkin spice lattes start being sold in caf´s, and there’s a new Call Of Duty on storeshelves. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, not to be mistaken with the similarly named title that released in 2009, is the much anticipated follow up to the 2019 reboot of the beloved series. After the lukewarm response to Black Ops Cold War and Vanguard, it was time for the series to really nail its annual release, but did it?
I want to start with the graphics, because, for anyone who pre-ordered Modern Warfare 2, you only had access to the campaign for a week ahead of release. Graphically, Modern Warfare 2 looks great, by far the best looking instalment of the series. This, mixed with the mostly seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay, is excellently done, making Modern Warfare 2 feel even more like an interacted war movie than just another first-person shooter. Every area of the game feels dynamic and unique, with areas like Amsterdam even being claimed as being photo realistic. There was a lot of attention to detail in Modern Warfare 2 and a lot of long time fans are definitely appreciating the love and care that went into it.
As mentioned, for about a week people could play the campaign before the game was properly out. While the campaign is definitely new, it does take beats from other Call Of Duty titles, which is actually another nice little throwback from longtime fans. The Modern Warfare series is a re-imagining of the original series, so there are characters and plot points that overlap, but a lesser known fact is Modern Warfare 2 is actually also a soft reboot for Call Of Duty: Ghosts, reintroducing Ghost Team into the series.
The campaign does a lot right; while you can handle the majority of sections guns-blazing, most can be handled with stealth as well. Not in a “you can’t have fun, you must stay hidden way,” but in a way that lets you progress through each area at the same speed, or maybe even a little faster, with just a touch of patience. The campaign is not without its faults, some people are mad about the idea of de-escalating situations with civilians by pointing a gun at them. While I don’t want to open a whole political argument, so I’m not going to stand on either side of that line, I felt in the context of the mission, it did make sense.
Besides that though, in the sniper mission, “Recon By Fire”, I kept running into an issue where if I looked through the grass a specific way, all enemies would disappear (not despawn, but not be visible) and some of the grass would as well. Something I believe can be mitigated with a patch, but a perfect example of a CoD campaign being pretty only where the game wants you to look at.
The multiplayer is essentially split into two parts. The first being your traditional PvP experience with 6v6 or 16v16 for ground war. There is also the new Invasion game mode that features 20v20 gameplay, and introduces AI soldiers to the battlefield. The core game modes you would expect are still there, Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Search and Destroy. Along with a new game mode, Prisoner Rescue, where one team needs to recover prisoners, while the other team protects them, or simply eliminate the other team to win, basically a carbon copy of Counter-Strike.
You can revive teammates that die, but only once per round. Strangely, hardcore playlists haven’t made a return to Modern Warfare 2, while they were definitely the lesser played game modes, they were also the preferred game mode for a lot of people. The biggest frustration in multiplayer is some of the progression for weapons. Some people aren’t a fan of the idea of needing to use a specific marksman rifle (generally the same “brand” of gun) to unlock a specific sniper rifle. While I understand some people just want to unlock stuff by levelling, usually all you need to do is get a gun to a specific level and without double weapon XP, I still find myself getting 2 or 3 levels every match on guns, with most guns only having 16-20 levels.
The other side of multiplayer is the return of Spec Ops. For anyone who didn’t play the original Modern Warfare 2, Spec Ops are a series of co-op missions that need to be completed within some restraints, usually just time restraints, to earn stars. Unfortunately, these Spec Ops missions are a far cry from what was expected from the original game. There are a total of three missions available, two of which are run in, kill everyone, and collect/destroy something. The last one is more like a horde/survival mode where you just protect sites from being blown up by waves of enemies. The defender missions are significantly more fun than the other two, so hopefully we see more of those before too long, and some more interesting regular missions. The big bonus though, is this still counts as multiplayer, so the guns you use still earn experience, as do you. Theoretically, it’s possible to get to max level without ever actually playing PvP now.
The last part to discuss is the sound design in Modern Warfare 2. While it uses music well, that’s not what anyone wants to know. The gun sounds are great, and dynamic. Shooting inside a tunnel, in a house, and out in a field all sound very different. Shooting with a silencer no longer just sounds like a synthesised puff of air, but actually sounds different with the majority of guns. The voice acting is incredibly well done, especially on missions like Alone, where you get some incredible banter between some of the characters. The VAs genuinely made Modern Warfare 2 feel like its own living world and not just another generic war game.
Modern Warfare 2 is the strongest release from the series in quite a while, possibly since Modern Warfare, maybe even longer than that. There are some missing features though: the battle pass won’t launch until nearer the end of November, while hardcore playlists don’t exist. The multiplayer maps are decent enough, but nothing overly spectacular, but at least the multiplayer feels mostly balanced. The campaign was a great experience, with a small visual glitch here and there.
The biggest disappointment personally was the Spec Ops, but who knows, that is something that can be easily improved on and maybe with the official launch of Season One and Warzone 2.0, I’ll be here spouting about how much love and attention is being put into the seasons of Modern Warfare 2. Until then though, it’s still without a doubt that this is the most enjoyable CoD in recent years, so hopefully with quality of life updates, this will be one of the few CoDs that holds fans through its entire life cycle.
It should go without saying, but the latest installment in the Call Of Duty franchise really is the best looking. The cutscenes, game levels, and the sections that bridge the two look great. A couple visual glitches happened through the campaign though, and some of the multiplayer maps are quite bland looking.
It’s another Call Of Duty at the end of the day. The gun-play does feel nice, with a couple balance patches probably needed. The biggest issue comes from the idea that the game was spouted as “play however you want” leading up to release, but in the multiplayer, the best way to play is actually jump around corners and shoot in case anyone is there. You know, that classic war tactic.
Modern Warfare 2 sounds great. The characters genuinely sound like they’re carrying all their gear and the guns all sound different. Anyone playing the game long enough may be able to differentiate the different guns at some point based on the sound of the shot.
Depending on how much quality of life improvements come to Modern Warfare 2, this could be the highest played Call Of Duty game over the entire life cycle. The upcoming season needs to nail it and the introduction of raids will be important to how much return fans get out of Modern Warfare 2.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.
A copy of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was provided by the publisher.