The Call of Duty series has always been a game of some rather significant critical praise since it’s inception. Even during the days when it was another World War II FPS in an ocean of World War II First person shooters it garnered praise because of it’s impressive visuals and attention to detail on creating a realistic WWII campaign. In recent years the game series has split into one of two camps. The Infinity Ward titles and the Treyarch titles. While the Treyarch games weren’t seen in many negative lights critically, they have always seem lackluster in comparison to Infinity Ward’s titles to me. While the last title, World at War, went back to World War II, Modern Warfare 2 brings us back into a more contemporary setting for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
While perhaps not the most appreciated part of the game at this point, a powerful narrative in the single player campaign has always been a major part of the Call of Duty series. The single player suffers from much of the same problems the last game in the main series had, which is battles that can end up in dying, and starting again repeatedly because of one small mistake or a well placed bullet by the computer. There is some variety in the single player, but much of it seems wanting for a little more than the boring trench-like warfare you see through a majority of the game.
The game creates a story that continues from the last game but seems a little too scattered between the several playable characters in the different forces in the game. Some of the characters in the game are vital to the story while one that you play for a small majority of the game has little reason to be present other than in the heat of a urban battle in the states. That being said, the game has some really powerful imagery beyond just the infamous “No Russian” level, even more so than in the last game where one of the main characters slowly died of radiation poisoning. What’s slightly disappointing is that the game seems to bank more on having a character likable because of his appearance and name rather than by his actions.
While the single player seems disappointing compared to the last few games the game is not lost. In avoiding having full multiplayer co-op through the main campaign, possibly ruining the game’s impressive cinematic scenes, Infinity Ward added a new mode called spec-ops. What this mode brings is a number of co-op levels based on levels from, Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 1. Objectives in these special levels range from fighting from the start of a level to the end, to a race on snowmobiles to the end of a level, to a stealth mission that requires precision, timing, and great cooperation with your friend. The spec-ops levels, while not having any significant story, are far more enjoyable than the single player levels and are extremely varied from one to another.
Since Call of Duty 2 the game’s major focus has been on it’s competitive multiplayer, with the original Modern Warfare influencing a lot of today’s first person shooters. While there are no real new innovations in the game’s multiplayer, there are definitely some brilliant changes to the perks, weapon layouts and challenges that create an experience that is beyond a doubt better than the last game’s.
Small changes, such as changing the perks system to include only one more perk than the original Modern Warfare, yet including almost twice as many due to the perk based challenges that allow for upgraded versions of each perk are a change that completely change the game and how you set up your classes.
There seem to be twice as many weapon upgrades a challenges along with little collectibles such as callsigns and emblems that further allow people to further craft their own unique visual persona in the game. The new killstreak system along with the addition of deathstreaks is a small, but nice change that only further allows people to differentiate themselves from one person to the next. The customization you have while creating classes is immense now and a change that can only be seen as a step forward.
What is perhaps the biggest disappointment about the multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 is the limits Infinity Ward has added to the game. On the PC version they have removed mods and dedicated servers, what is considered to be the only existing backbone that has kept the PC gaming community aloft. On the Xbox 360 Infinity Ward has decided to not allow party chat in most game types. The reason for this is that it might allow people to exchange vital strategic information that could turn the tides of a game. In core strategic battles like Capture the Flag, Domination and headquarters it’s understandable, however having to force people to play with the violent and prejudiced Xbox Live players in gametypes like team deathmatch it makes little sense.
Modern Warfare 2 is slightly disappointing in it’s single player campaign, while cinematic, has a slightly convoluted story with a cast that partially has no point being there to begin with. The online features are far more enjoyable than the single player, with the spec-ops mode easily outshining the single player, and the multiplayer being easily a high point to the game. The strange choices Infinity Ward made in regards to the PC features and Xbox 360 are disappointing, but by no means game ruining. Modern Warfare 2 is a great game that won’t disappoint.