Infinity Ward are back with a sequel that largely feels like it stomps the same ground as the first game. Only this time there’s more freedom to roam. More heady realism to fall in love with. More ways to dispense of your enemies. Building on the blueprint from Modern Warfare – happy to enlist the same skull-masked characters we’ve grown to inhabit – this is another outing that cries out for a big 4K display and the best cinematic sound system you can afford.
There are few games that do immersion like the Call of Duty franchise. So, while MW2 might not be revolutionary, there is enough here that seems fresh to appease anyone who insists the games are getting stale. You could argue this sequel is still playing in its comfort zone. Fans of the first game with definitely be at home here and the campaign structure is very familiar. Yet there is also more room to explore in levels. Namely ‘Alone’, which will leave you rummaging in drawers and fashioning weapons and pry tools from domestic paraphernalia.
The quicker time-to-kill makes this a more fast-paced FPS as well. The stakes feel high and decisions always seem to have direct consequences. The amount of time you spend in each action is crucial. Run a second longer and you might’ve dodged the spray of an LMG. Or, linger in that sniper’s nest and an enemy could’ve parachuted into your scope, like a hanging duck. Time those reloads, folks!
More destructible elements and incredible visual fidelity (wait for those photorealistic cutscenes) had us gawping at moments. Walls will be left riddled with bullet holes. Bodies laid strewn in bloodied contortions. Vehicles blown mangled in coils of oily smoke. The high level of realism and impressive sound design is bound to make you twitchy too – see if you don’t wind up shooting at shadows and accosting those friendlies you bump into. There’s more of a need to ration rounds and choose headshots to pick off armoured infantry on a hair-trigger impulse as well.
Now, let’s don our grainy night vision goggles and take a closer look at how MW2 is showing off what the Xbox Series X and PS5 can do:
Long Live The Modern Warfare Campaign
It seems at the outset that this game has taken more than a few notes from the success of MW1. There are moments that feel like the North London raid in the previous game, which everyone talked about. A 17-mission tour of duty takes you into various hellholes, with plenty of surprises and betrayals along the way. You’ll enjoy the usual global combat scenarios from the canal-woven streets of Amsterdam to the conflict-weary Mexican border. Dart between rooms in claustrophobic gunfights. Stumble upon a few crawl spaces that actual serve up a jump scare or two. It really is exhilarating at times!
After reading a few harsh reviews of the campaign, then subsequent comments from gamers who loved it, we really have to side with the latter here. Soap and Ghost head the camaraderie, with expletives and characterful exchanges that root you in the moment. Task Force 141 have never felt so fun to be around. While your allies in Los Vaqueros act as a welcome addition to the fray. And there are so many memorable moments to be had. Like hanging upside down from a helicopter, flailing headlong into oncoming traffic. Then picking off enemies with upturned pistol shots, trying to align your sights as you swerve headlights and bumpers. Or, dodging shipping containers on the rain-beaten deck of a freighter, lashed by Atlantic waves. Then there’s the return of our foliage-swathed ghillie suits for fans of ‘All Ghillied Up’!
The theatrics are intense and as narrative-focused as ever, but the gruff, deeply-accented dialogue might necessitate the use of subtitles – thespians are dead, long live the mumblers.
Grounded Multiplayer Mode
This mode definitely feels more grounded with specific emphasis on the granular detail of the Gunsmith. It is daunting faced with the trees of upgrades and customisation that you have to wade through. There’s also a shortage of multiplayer maps (this will change with the release of the Battle Pass), which means you will quickly wind up darting into familiar bullet-pocked hallways, finding your favourite nooks – of course, that isn’t always such a bad thing. Still, 10 standard maps for core 6v6 can feel a little slight, even with a few fresh treasures in there like the Breenbergh Hotel.
Weapons and tactical devices are available in depth and attention to realism touches everything. You feel the weight of weapons in your hands and the XP-granted kill marker is more satisfying than ever. We did love how the progression system moves quickly and flows with added incentives for each game. Not to mention a feeling of reward for experimenting with different ways to down your foes. Mind you, one thing we could live without is sprinting long distances on vehicle-starved plains, only to be spotted by an invisible sniper, or a descending cruise missile.
Overall, the game truly lives up to expectations. Many reviews have pointed out the annoying glitches, lagging and disruptions of multiplayer games, which are actually quite common. And sure, it’s no small annoyance to have a killstreak ended by jolting crosshairs, or players that suddenly appear and disappear. Spec Ops is back in full force as well and diving into a HALO jump never felt so good! Nor did balancing your newfound ally on the hood of a car, trying to target helicopters with cumbersome RPGs.
Admittedly, MW2 doesn’t throw out the rulebook. Ghost and the gang are still playing in the same sandpit here, but who doesn’t love a familiar play area? If we all agree that Black Ops Cold War didn’t live up to the hype, we can at least say the shooter is back with hearty confidence after 20 years in the grit of battle. The future is still bright for Infinity Ward’s brawny darling.
Modern Warfare II Battle Pass will be available with the Season One release on November 16, alongside the massive free-to-play Warzone 2.0…