It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the Call of Duty developers to deliver anything that isn’t immediately scrutinised as “the same game” as the last few entries. So I wasn’t overly hyped about yet another yearly release of this title. No matter how many times I tell myself I won’t buy Call of Duty this year, I always find myself buying it just before release anyway. Even with all the games faults, Call of Duty manages to be one of the definitive shooters of current gaming, so it’s very hard to pass up. Moving away from a yearly release is a smart decision by publishers Activision, which will allow the game to mature before a new release is thrust upon gamers. All that being said, my doubts about the game were thrust to the side as soon as I booted up Campaign Early Access for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2.
Being back in the shoes of Taskforce 141 was a great selling point for this game, with arguably the most popular characters in Call of Duty history; Lt. Simon “Ghost” Riley & Sgt. John “Soap” McTavish, making their triumphant return. Not to mention the other members of Taskforce 141 in Gaz and Price would also be criminal. The rag tag crew of hardened special forces soldiers make their return, and damn do they do it well. Call of Duty campaigns aren’t exactly known for their storytelling, but MW2 actually delivers on this quite well. I was engaged and actually excited to see what came next. This game has to be the best Call of Duty campaign I have ever played. It was almost flawless in delivery, gameplay, variety, and most astonishingly, graphics.
From mowing down cartel bangers in a gunship, to crawling through enemy territory in a gillie suit, this campaign had everything. The player is taken on a trip around the world from Amsterdam to Mexico, and is provided with many different options and avenues to complete each mission and task. The player will find themselves directing their team using CCTV, crafting shivs and other items to stay alive, and utilising vents to sneak up on enemies. The are too many different forms of gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s campaign to even list in this review.
One of the biggest (and best in my opinion) changes in Modern Warfare 2 is the removal of hit markers. In my opinion, and one shared by many, Call of Duty hindered first person shooters when it first introduced hit markers into the genre, quickly making it the norm to receive feedback for every time a player hits a target. This really broke the immersion, and it also removed a lot of the skill required to play the game. A player could throw a grenade or flash bang into a room and immediately know if there was another player (or AI combatant) in that room because they would receive a hit marker on their screen. This acts as a sort of legal cheat, which just lowers the competitive nature of fps games. This time around, at least in campaign, no hit markers are present, only a spray of crimson blood when a target is hit. Not only does this help immersion, it also brings back a sense of fear and unknown when breaching a building or rounding a corner that was few and far between in previous titles.
Speaking of realism, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the most realistic looking shooter I have ever played. The graphics are superb and unmatched in the genre, and the landscapes are absolutely incredible. This is to the point that my wife walked past during the Amsterdam mission and asked what TV show I was watching, as she thought it was real life. Given the insignificant graphical updates between previous Call of Duty titles, I was gobsmacked when I started this game. Running in performance mode at 1080p 120fps (players can sacrifice high frame rate for 4k if they wish) on my Xbox Series X, MW2 looks incredible. Activison touts Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 as “the new era of Call of Duty” which may sound like a marketing term (and yes, it is), but they aren’t wrong. This is the biggest upgrade between Call of Duty titles in… ever.
All that being said, I did have a few issues with the game throughout my playthrough including an irritating sprint bug where my character kept jerking in and out of sprint (see video below), and a visual bug where water kept phasing in and out of the side of a wall. These were few and far between though and didn’t really detract from my experience with the campaign at all.
I first played through the campaign on regular difficulty as I always do, so I can focus on the story, before attempting a harder playthrough later. The player will find that regular difficulty is much more of a challenge than in previous titles. Lending to the realism that Infinity Ward was going for in this title, the majority of enemies will drop with one shot, but the same goes for the player. If the player is shot just a few times, even on regular, they are promptly shown the iconic quote screen and sent back to their last checkpoint. It is a little tough to get used to at first, but the realism definitely makes the gameplay more rewarding.
This game is adults only at its core and if the player has children under 15, it is advisable to play this game away from prying eyes. The game is very gruesome at times and could give nightmares to the younger kiddies.
One final statement from me on this game. This is the first Call of Duty title that I haven’t regretted preordering since Call of Duty: Black Ops. A big statement that I definitely stand by.