Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

The disappointing and overly familiar sequel sees the return of Captain Price and company

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first-person shooter video game that was released in 2009 and developed by Infinity Ward. Activision was the game’s publisher. The game is the sixth in the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to the previous installment, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It was made available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on the day of its international launch, November 10, 2009. On the same day that the PC version was launched, a Nintendo DS version of the game called Modern Warfare: Mobilized was also made available. Aspyr developed a version for macOS, which was made available for purchase in May of 2014, and in 2018, the Xbox 360 version was upgraded to be backward compatible with the Xbox One.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Maybe just what you expected?
The sequel to the 2009 first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was created by Infinity Ward and released by Activision. It’s the sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the sixth game in the Call of Duty series overall.

The storyline of the game’s campaign follows Task Force 141, a multi-national special forces unit commanded by Captain Soap MacTavish as they hunt Vladimir Makarov, the leader of the Russian Ultranationalist party, and U.S. Army Rangers from the 1st Battalion/75th Ranger Regiment who are defending the Washington, D.C. area from a Russian invasion. Task Force 141 is led by Captain Soap MacTavish. The primary characters that may be controlled by the player in this game are Sergeant Gary “Roach” Sanderson of the 141 and Private James Ramirez of the Army Rangers. Later on in the campaign, players will also have the opportunity to take control of Captain MacTavish. The game includes a substantial multiplayer component, which distinguishes itself from its predecessor by incorporating a number of fresh features and game types that were not available in previous iteration.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

2008 marked the beginning of development for the game, which at the time was still referred to as Call of Duty 6. It runs on the IW 4.0 engine, which is an upgraded version of the IW 3.0 engine that was used in Call of Duty 4. During the development of the campaign mode, Infinity Ward drew inspiration from actual wars and battles. They started out by putting the multiplayer mode through its paces by playing an in-house beta version of the game. In February of 2009, the formal announcement for Modern Warfare 2 was made. Beginning in March, teaser trailers for the game were distributed online, eventually leading to the release of a longer reveal trailer for the game itself. Almost immediately after that, the multiplayer mode was made public. After its initial release, two downloadable content packs were made available for it, each of which contained five new multiplayer levels, some of which were remastered versions of maps from Call of Duty 4.

Even though it was criticized for being too short and lacking in novelty, Modern Warfare 2 was met with overwhelming acclaim. The game was lauded for its single-player storyline, its online multiplayer mode, and the sheer volume of content it offered. The video game had around 4.7 million copies sold in North America and the United Kingdom within the first twenty-four hours after it was made available to the public. As of the year 2013, 22.7 million copies of the game had been sold. In addition to the video game, a comic book series titled Modern Warfare 2: Ghost was also published. This series was based on one of the characters that appeared in the video game. In spite of the popularity of the game, it was mired in a number of debates, the most notable of which concerned a playable level in which the player was tasked with carrying out a terrorist assault on an airport. The original Modern Warfare plot was concluded with the publication of a sequel in 2011, titled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which was available for purchase. The remastered version of the game’s campaign, titled Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered, was made available for purchase on the PlayStation 4 in March 2020. It was made available for purchase on the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows in April 2020.

Campaign

8GGT Score
GREAT
The Good
  • The ideal amount of sentimentality combined with the telling of an original story
  • More opportunities for player agency and open-world-like encounters
  • A commercial smash that looks amazing
The Bad
  • Respawning can be problematic due to the strange positions of the save points

The events of the 2019 version of Modern Warfare serve as the backdrop for the plot of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which starts up three years after those events. The legendary Task Force 141 led by Captain Price is currently operating at full capacity, and there has, of course, been the emergence of yet another worldwide terrorist threat. Despite the fact that the intensity of the campaign has been ramped up, it still manages to feel fulfilling because to Modern Warfare 2’s brand-new gameplay elements, more options for how players can complete missions, and several references to the first game in the series.
In this reimagined iteration of Task Force 141, Price is joined by the likes of Simon “Ghost” Riley, Kyle “Gaz” Garrick, and John “Soap” MacTavish, all of whom are familiar to viewers. On the other hand, Modern Warfare 2 adds a new support character to the roster in the form of Colonel Alejandro Vargas of the Mexican Special Forces. Although this is a different tale from that of Modern Warfare 2, which was released in 2009, General Shepherd, who was featured in the original campaign, is brought back. In Modern Warfare 2019, both Kate Laswell and the PMC collective known as Shadow Company find their way back into the game.
You, as members of Task Force 141, are put to the test when an American airstrike kills the commander of Al-Qatala, General Ghorbrani. Ghorbrani’s replacement, Hassan Zyani, pledges revenge and joins up with an international drug gang to transfer stolen ballistic missiles from the United States. Hassan intends to fire the missiles at targets in the United States of America, and it is the responsibility of Task Force 141 to prevent this from occurring. The campaign will take you all over the world, pitting you against enemies in locations such as Amsterdam, Mexico, Chicago, and even some areas of Al Mazrah, the made-up location that serves as the backdrop for Warzone 2.0’s map. This results in a welcome shift of atmosphere from one mission to the next, with nighttime stealth operations, desert skirmishes, a prison break, and even an oil rig set piece that is reminiscent of “The Only Easy Day” from the first Modern Warfare 2 game… Was Yesterday mission, but it is not a rehash of the previous one.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

Because there are now chat options that allow you to speak to your fellow soldiers and ask questions, the characters you play as and fight alongside in Modern Warfare 2 have a bit more personality than in previous Call of Duty games. During the mission known as Recon By Fire, I had the option of having Gaz engage in some idle chitchat, and I decided to have him talk to Kate Laswell. This allowed me to humanize the characters a little bit more. Although this is completely voluntary, and you have the option to say nothing at all, it would be wonderful to have an additional layer of discourse. The banter that took place in between the gunfights was very entertaining, and it helped to give supporting characters who would have otherwise been underutilized more depth. For instance, Kate makes reference to her spouse, which is a fact about her life that did not appear to be divulged in the previous game. During the more calm parts of an otherwise intensely serious endeavor to survive, there were also some humorous exchanges between Soap and Ghost in the role of best friends.

Farah, a character who was introduced in Modern Warfare 2019, reappears as an ally in Violence and Timing; however, it is a bit disappointing that she does not play a larger role in the campaign. This is especially the case considering that she was most recently seen working alongside Price in the post-launch story for Modern Warfare in Warzone. She participated in the battle alongside Price as he gradually helped reunite Task Group 141, which gave the impression that she would be a new member of Price’s force; however, this does not turn out to be the case, which is a great disappointment. Alejandro, on the other hand, seems like he could be a valuable asset to Captain Price’s ever-expanding network of pals. As soon as he is recruited as Task Force 141’s guide through Mexico, you quickly learn that he is a man who is willing to risk everything to protect his fictional city of Las Almas from the corruption of the cartel. As a result, he is the ideal person to assist you in rescuing the stolen missiles and preventing them from falling into the hands of the cartel. When interrogating a former ally turned enemy, the writers do a wonderful job of expressing Alejandro’s emotions. He’s an easy character to start caring about when things hit the fan, and I’d be happy to see him return to the franchise if future stories made it possible.

Without giving anything away, the mission to find the missiles and stop the terrorists in Modern Warfare 2 is loaded with twists and betrayals, just as the mission to find the missiles and stop the terrorists in the first Modern Warfare 2. Infinity Ward does a good job of blending the nostalgic elements of the first series with the introduction of brand-new and interesting storylines in this installment.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

There are a total of 17 campaign missions in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 video game. These missions range from large-scale, cinematic-quality combat set pieces to scaled-back stealth sessions. You can very much expect anything from a Call of Duty campaign, and this one doesn’t disappoint. However, the missions carry a lot of fun and nostalgia as the campaign incorporates multiple classic Modern Warfare scenarios with new twists. Although there is not much added in terms of big innovation here to really surprise you, the missions pack a lot of fun and nostalgia. You’ll also get access to select missions that have a more open-world feel to them than others we’ve played, providing you more chances to experiment with a variety of strategies when it comes to combat. Some stealth missions provide you various pathways to choose from in order to pick how you wish to assault or slip past your foes, while others simply give you multiple roads to choose from so that you can search the area for the ideal sniper location to set up a collateral kill. This flexibility isn’t as extensive as it is when playing an open-world role-playing game (RPG), but the additional exploration and chances are a pleasant departure to the typical led-by-the-hand campaign structure that Call of Duty employs.

For instance, the sequence in which the player controls their AC-130 gunship in the mission Close Air is remarkably similar to the sequence in which the player controls their gunship in the Death From Above mission from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In the game Close Air, you take on the roles of members of Shadow Company who are flying the AC-130 in order to provide air support for the characters Ghost, Soap, and Alejandro. This was a fan favorite objective in Modern Warfare, and Close Air delivers an experience that is just as satisfying as you destroy entire buildings using the power of the AC-130.

Another one, named Recon By Fire, is highly reminiscent of the famous All Ghillied Up stealth mission from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The enhancements made to the artificial intelligence are what set the version included in Modern Warfare 2 distinct. You are no longer able to memorize enemy movement patterns and hide in accordance with those patterns, as enemy soldiers now search the area for you in a more dynamic manner, and they will find you much more easily than they did in previous games. In the multiplayer beta for Modern Warfare 2, I was critical of the game’s smart AI; yet, the hostile NPCs in the narrative turned out to be a much more formidable foe. Be prepared to undertake the lion’s share of the work when eliminating foes because, regrettably, I cannot say that your AI companions are quite as capable as you are.

In the Call of Duty games, vehicle pursuit sequences are almost always included, and Modern Warfare 2 is one of my personal favorites. Another example of Modern Warfare 2 breaking away from the traditional, linear nature of these Call of Duty scenarios in order to provide more variation and player option is found in the mission “Violence and Timing.” A exciting car pursuit, a brief spell of dangling upside down from an aircraft while in gunfights, and vehicle hijack hijinks are some of the crazy and over-the-top moments that occur throughout the mission.

You’ll have a lot of fun with Violence and Timing thanks to the new maneuvering mechanics in Modern Warfare 2, which allow you to quickly switch seats in a vehicle and even stand on the roof of cars to hop over and hijack an adversary’s ride. This is just one of the ways that these new features add to the overall enjoyment of the game. You have a choice to make regarding the manner in which you complete the objective if you carry out any of these acts. You have the option of staying in one vehicle throughout the conflict, presuming that it is not destroyed in the course of the fighting; alternatively, you can switch from one stolen vehicle to another as you make your way through the enemy convoy. It’s a level of dynamism that, when added to a scene that’s already a high-octane blockbuster set-piece, injects even more thrills into the mix.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

In spite of the fact that the game retains most of the same weapons and other items as its predecessors, Modern Warfare 2 has an expanded crafting system. In order to complete certain objectives, you will need to undertake some minor scavenging to build various equipment and weapons. These include mines, smoke bombs, shivs, and a pry tool, which is required to break locked containers and doors. After the first few times, I found that gathering the necessary materials to create pry tools became a bit of a chore, and there were times when I wished I could just Incredible Hulk my way through more doors. However, it was more of a minor nuisance than something that completely wrecked the experience, and in its current state, it feels more like an experiment for something that will be coming in future material for Call of Duty. The game features a brand-new piece of apparatus known as the snake cam, which can be pushed under a door jam to observe the adversary from the opposite side of the door.

As someone who plays through all of the Call of Duty campaigns, beginning on the Regular difficulty and then progressing to the Veteran difficulty, I was taken aback to see that the Regular difficulty gave a greater challenge than normal. Even with this default setting, it is possible to perish after taking only a few hits. However, some of my difficulties may also be attributable to the advanced artificial intelligence in Modern Warfare 2, as I discovered that the hostile NPCs in certain stealth missions were able to spot me easily no matter how stealthily I tried to play. In spite of the fact that I had the impression that the AI was more perceptive in their searches during stealth missions, there were occasions when I did not understand how the adversary located me. Their keen eyesight might be just a little bit too accurate, to the point that it occasionally felt like they had an unfair advantage. It was a very humbling experience because I ended up passing away a lot more often than I had anticipated.

This increase in difficulty brought to light one of the most significant problems with the campaign, which is the way it manages its checkpoints. In some of the missions, these checkpoints were rather far apart, and if I killed, I would have to start a significant portion of the task over from the beginning. On the other hand, some missions would save my spot at uncomfortable junctures in the action. When I died, I would respawn immediately next to the adversary that had just killed me, which made it extremely difficult for me to get back up and running, particularly in the stealth missions. There were moments when I respawned only to pass away almost immediately, and there were other occasions when it felt like the only reason I was allowed to proceed was because of pure luck.

Everything looked crisp and performed nicely on the PlayStation 5, which included updated visuals. Your individual experience may be different because it is dependent on the platform you are using, however I did not encounter any crashes, serious bugs, or performance problems. The sole strange event that took place was during a building-clearing phase of the Recon By Fire assignment. It took a while to discover the remaining adversaries in order to reach a checkpoint because all of the soldiers were trapped within some boxes that acted as room decor.

Although the success of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 left large shoes for the sequel to try and fill, Modern Warfare 2 is, all things considered, an excellent follow-up game. The new maneuverability mechanics that were shown to me in an early preview of Modern Warfare 2 did not impress me, and I did not anticipate that the modifications would have such a significant effect on the game. However, I was pleasantly pleased by how much I appreciated the freedom to approach scenes in my own way, including all of the carjacking. This was one of the aspects of the game that I found most enjoyable. Additionally, the fact that each mission took place in a different area insured that there was never a dull time. My time spent with Modern Warfare 2 and Task Force 141 was a lot of fun, and I get the distinct impression that Infinity Ward designed this mission set to serve as a greatest hits compilation for the series. The fact that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the newly added open-world set pieces as well as the new maneuverability gives me hope that the franchise will continue to emphasize its emphasis on elements of freedom in the future, and that is a future for Call of Duty that I can get behind.

Single-Player

6GGT Score
Okay
The story of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a disappointing follow-up to its polished predecessor, but the game’s shooting is among the best in its category.

When we talk about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in another five years, there won’t be any ambiguity about which of the two games that share that name people are referring to because the name will be completely different. This year’s Call of Duty campaign is an awful misfire that fails to live up to the standards set not only by its legendary 2009 namesake, but also by its 2019 predecessor. This is due to a poor story, bungled mechanical advancements, and mostly disappointing mission design. Although it has some welcome but all-too-brief attempts to tread new ground, the campaign of Modern Warfare 2 relies too much on echoing the victories of previous Call of Duty games rather than establishing its own triumphs. This is despite the fact that it is graphically impressive, the gunplay remains state of the art, and there are some welcome but all-too-brief attempts to tread new ground.

The majority of the six-hour campaign takes place in Mexico, taking you away from the conflict in the Middle East that you were previously engaged in during Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This is because the Las Almas drug cartel was added to the roster of adversaries. They play the same worn-out, clichéd roles that you’ve seen in other games and movies, such as Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Bad Boys. As a result, this change has been brought about. They are deeply involved in a conspiracy that involves the exchange of weapons between Iran and the United States, as well as the participation of special forces from a number of different countries.

The quality of this story is a significant drop when compared to the one that came before it.

Whereas the first Modern Warfare game focused on the human stories that result from military occupation and (to a lesser extent) explored the idea of sacrificing a portion of one’s own morality in order to protect the civilian world, the second game, Modern Warfare 2, is more concerned with a more expansive and less in-depth level of action. The end effect is paper-thin characters who are overly enthusiastic and a denouement that is obvious from a little over a quarter of the way through the story. In this section, you can expect to feel more like Michael Bay than Kathryn Bigelow’s style.

That does not imply, however, that there are not some more immediate delights that are on a more fundamental level to be obtained when plowing through that plot. Call of Duty is, as it always has been, at the forefront of graphical technology, and as a result, the game looks absolutely stunning from virtually any vantage point. In spite of the fact that Mexico is full of breathtaking views, a quick trip to Amsterdam is the best way to appreciate the graphical prowess of Modern Warfare 2 because of the exquisite lighting effects and meticulous attention to detail found there.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

In a similar vein, the shooting, much as one would anticipate from a Call of Duty game, is also taken from from the top shelf. The handling of weapons is crisp and powerful, and the visual, physical, and especially aural feedback is on a level that the majority of first-person shooter games can only dream of achieving. Particularly deserving of praise are the sniper and assault weapons, which, in my experience, now have the most satisfying feel they’ve ever had. Although the mission design rarely favors one type of gun over another to the point where different gun categories can feel interchangeable, there is a seemingly endless collection of weapons that can be picked up. Each of these weapons has a unique feel to it, both in terms of its feedback and its overall appearance.

Playthrough of the First 21 Minutes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on PC in 4K at 60 Frames Per Second (Max Settings)

The previous game, Modern Warfare, had smaller, more “realistically” sized battles, and its sequel, Modern Warfare 2, expands upon this gameplay mechanic. This results in the Call of Duty campaign having a particular rhythm; rather than taking part in large-scale, chaotic encounters, the player will spend a significant amount of time methodically clearing rooms. This helps to firmly establish an identity for the relaunched Modern Warfare series, but at the sacrifice of the intensity that drove some of the most memorable gunfights in the games’ original iterations. If there hadn’t been the addition of armored foes, I’d be more positive about this modification. In order to kill an armored foe, you have to first break their helmets or vests before you can deliver the finishing blow. They initially feel like amusing curveballs, but they rapidly become frustrating bullet sponges. This not only reduces the effectiveness of Call of Duty’s long-standing double-tap-to-kill technique, but it also destroys any kind of realism that the game’s smaller encounters are aiming to construct.

The designs of the missions are, as is to be expected, impressively diversified and frequently constructed upon an original idea. Those that rely on more typical templates have an unimpressive feel to them and are frequently rather stagnant. These have several “hold the line” objectives and other generic goals, but happily they are outnumbered by levels that have a better purpose. But whereas the majority of the other campaigns that have been developed by Infinity Ward have had a mission that stands out as the “poster child” for that particular campaign (for example, “All Ghillied Up,” “No Russian,” and “Clean House”), Modern Warfare 2 struggles to create anything quite as memorable.

Its greatest attempt is called “Alone,” and it is a stealth level in which you must flee a town that is set up like a maze and is full with guards. You begin the game entirely defenseless, but as the game progresses, you collect materials, create various do-it-yourself gadgets such as smoke bombs, trip mines, and lock breaking gizmos, and utilize these things to make your way to the exit. This has all the makings of a standout Call of Duty mission, but it is severely hampered by the fact that your character is hurt and can move at a snail’s pace at best. This is a very aggravating aspect of the level. It makes dodging between security patrols a hassle, and the duration of forty minutes seems like an eternity because of it. Elsewhere, there is an unwieldy car chase that is a poor alternative to the showstopper in Uncharted 4, and there is a brief but fun infiltration of a cartel boss’s mansion that has a (very) light Hitman touch about it as your disguised soldier rubs shoulders with enemies. Both of these sequences take place in the same world as Uncharted 4’s show-stopping sequence.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

However, the majority of Modern Warfare 2 is focused on reliving the successes of previous games. There are two back-to-back levels that recreate the Death From Above mission from the first Modern Warfare. In this mission, you control a circling gunship that rains down various types of high-caliber weaponry on your enemies. Another mission has you storming a cargo ship in a manner similar to that of Crew Expendable, while still another mission is, of course, the copied homework of All Ghillied Up, right down to the part where you hide in the grass as opponents walk by. Then there are the countless references to 2019’s Clean House, which have you gently trudging up stairs behind two teammates whenever the opportunity presents itself. This is just one example of the multiple references. This results in something that has the vibe of a “Best Of” album that was recorded by a different band that was less assured of themselves.

It is clear from Recon By Fire that Infinity Ward is able to effectively incorporate multiple paths of progression throughout each battle.

That is not to imply that these covers are devoid of any value or amusement. Due to the fact that targets are frequently located in close proximity to civilians, the gunship missions need a far higher level of precision than its inspiration. Additionally, there is a more intentional feeling in how you employ each of the plane’s three types of ammo. In the Dark Waters level that takes place on a cargo ship, there is extensive usage of moveable cover since containers slide around on the damp deck. When you complete the sniping mission known as “Recon By Fire,” you will receive a bag that is stocked with a variety of tools. These items provide you a greater degree of tactical choice when it comes to clearing buildings. Are you going to blow the doors off with explosives and fight your foes inside, or are you going to drop a tear gas grenade down a ventilation shaft and drive them out into the open?

That backpack method was one that I wished could have been utilized throughout the entirety of the campaign. In spite of the fact that I believe that Call of Duty’s strengths lie squarely in the design of linear scenarios, Recon By Fire illustrates that Infinity Ward is more than capable of weaving some element of player choice into confrontations. However, unfortunately, it is just one of a number of mechanics that give the impression of being included only as a fleeting novelty rather than as the basis of something more substantive. It is connected by an armor plate system that is utilized for just one mission, probably more as a reference to Warzone than for any particular tactical advantage. If both features had been incorporated into the overall structure of the campaign, then the moment-to-moment gameplay might have been given an additional layer of microdecisions, which would have made it more engaging. Fighting through those hordes of bullet sponges could have been more enjoyable if it had been the case.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Single-Player & Campaign Review

As a final point of discussion, the campaign mode in Modern Warfare 2 has a few more glitches than I was anticipating from a Call of Duty game. The performance is always really smooth, however when I’ve been playing on my PlayStation 5, I’ve noticed that larger maps occasionally have pop-ins in their textures, and that certain features, like water, have awful low-resolution textures. I also came into a save corruption bug at the final checkpoint of the final mission. Because this bug caused the game to crash violently every time it was loaded, I was compelled to restart the quest from the very beginning. These are not deal breakers by any stretch of the imagination, but they are annoyances none the less.

Verdict

Because the shooting in Call of Duty is once again in a prestige class of its own, the campaign in Modern Warfare 2 always manages to operate on a minimal quality bar that packs a pleasing punch. This is one of the reasons why the series is so popular. But behind every thunderous pull of the trigger comes a disappointing tale and level designs that are overly preoccupied with duplicating the achievements of prior campaigns rather than embracing its own strong ideas for more than a single mission at a time. In the areas when it does innovate, it almost invariably fails, yet despite this, there is still some fun to be had in its few moments of creativity. In general, however, this is a rather weak follow-up to Modern Warfare 2019’s refined approach to a Call of Duty campaign, and it’s an experience that I’m already having trouble recalling in its entirety.


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