Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was such a great game for me. In fact, all of the Infinity Ward games have been some of the best gaming I've had on the PC for a long time. Well, Infinity Ward's looking to top what they did in Modern Warfare with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 so is it a worthy to successor to one of the best first person shooters out there?
The story of Modern Warfare 2 takes place five years after the end of Modern Warfare. Vladimir Makarov is now the antagonist in the game and he's a former lieutenant of the villain in Modern Warfare. The beginning of the game even has scenes from the previous Modern Warfare to jog your memory on a few things. You won't be playing Soap MacTavish in this one though, well not initially. Soap's now in Captain Price's role for a few mission and leads you through a few encounters. As presented, the story for Modern Warfare 2 and how everything comes together is pretty farfetched though and why the Russians decide to attack the United States later on. I did like the little twist it took about 3/4 of the way through and the fact that a good portion of the game takes place on U.S. soil. You see many FPS war games take place on foreign lands but those that have attacks on major U.S. cities aren't as prominent. How it happens is a bit of a stretch but it does feel different when you are running through houses and yards in the U.S. as well as using fast food restaurants as bases of operation.
The campaign is short and I mean really short. If I was playing on the PC, I would definitely have it finished in a quick half a night's sitting. The staples of Infinity Ward's good presentation skills of intense action and drama are all here. You get fast paced chased sequences, a visually impressive rail shooting sequence, and various moments of tension using some Hollywood techniques such as slow-motion action and being saved just before you fall to your demise. The campaign cycles through scenes from various characters so you aren't controlling one single protagonist again. It's an effective way to tell the story and offers up a nice change of pace between scenes. Some of the firefights are really intense and you won't be on the offensive all the time as some areas have you running which is your best and only option. As one who has played every single Infinity Ward game multiple times, they stick to their tried and true formula, but I feel maybe it's starting to get a little old. Don't get me wrong, they are still fun to experience but it didn't feel like it had the lasting impression that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had on me the first time I played through the game.
I guess no review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would be complete without the mentioning of the "No Russian" mission. Infinity Ward does give you the ability to skip this controversial mission should you choose to do so, which I think is a good decision. Now, my first pass through I didn't find the mission offensive or really anything to get up in arms with. In reality, you could go through the entire mission without firing a single shot at a civilian and maybe the cops that come after you. To me, it wasn't anything as bad as what you see in movies or perhaps in Grand Theft Auto IV or Saints Row 2 but you do see it in the eyes of one of the "terrorists" (Those that have played the game know why I put this in quotes). I can see how it can be shocking and I compare it to the ride of Call of Duty 4 where you are executed at the end in providing a visceral and potentially disturbing portrayal of what does happen out there in times of war. The mission is crucial to the story and the upcoming events that lead to the attack on U.S. soil though. Would it have been better if the events were portrayed differently, perhaps a cut scene or just quick still photos of what happened? Maybe, but I can see what Infinity Ward was trying to do here and I, for one, have no problems with how they did it and what they wanted you to experience. In the end to me, it's just a game and I know full well this isn't right and I can separate that from those that think it's a terrorist simulator of sorts.
One of the new features presented in the single player campaign is the technique of breaching an area. You set a charge at the designated wall or door and set it off. Doing so turns everything into bullet time as you have the ability now to aim at incoming or retreating enemies easily as you rush through the explosion for a short period of time. It's not used too much but at the times when it becomes available, it's a fun little feature that adds some coolness factor to the mission.
Like the previous Infinity Ward game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 suffers from a little of what plagued Call of Duty 4 and the issues I had with that game. It's sometimes hard to judge where the grenades are when the indicator comes up especially when you want to know how close you are to it to be able to pick it up and throw it back. I did find some new issues as well for the series. On the mission in the Russian Gulag, I had Avatar as a squad mate just crouch and continuously shoot at a metal wall. Now, I know there were enemies in that general direction but I stood there for a good 30 seconds watching him unload rounds into the wall.
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