Modern Warfare 2 begins five years after the events of the original game with the world in an unsettled state, on the brink of global warfare. The main reason behind this is a man called Vladimir Makarov, the leader of a Russian ultra-nationalist organisation, with ambitions of global chaos.
Makarov was a former associate of Imran Zakhaev, who you killed in the original Modern Warfare, and he has used his death to gain the support against the western world. With his influence growing stronger by the day the west establishes a group known as Task Force 141 to try and stop Makarov and his followers. The formation of this group sees the return of some characters you might be familiar with aswell as the introduction of some new recruits. The identities of these characters? Well that is something I think you should find out on your own!
Without revealing too much the most surprising about the story of Modern Warfare 2 is the hidden depth it has. Depth is not something stories of shooters are known for but Modern Warfare 2 certainly shows that if attention is given to that aspect of development then much can be achieved. The pacing of the story is also spot on; as you move from location to location everything just feels natural rather than being forced down your throat. The overall pace is helped alot by the cinematic feel of the game, it is rather brilliant. I know this phrase is much used but for the majority of the campaign it does feel like you are part of an epic war movie. More about the general atmosphere and cinematic nature later on in the review though. I guess it would be rather ignorant of me to analyse the story and not talk about the “controversial” part of the game. It is something that will be much discussed and much talked about not just amongst gamers but the media too. After playing through that particular part, I have to say that viewed within the context of the whole game its inclusion actually makes some sense. Go in with a open mind and, trust me, you will understand where I am coming from.
GRAPHICS: Modern Warfare 2 continues to use the proprietary IW 4.0 engine which was used in the previous game with minor improvements, well that is what we are led to believe anyway. Throughout my playthrough of the campaign I didn’t really encounter anything that made me think “oh that is a huge improvement over the original game”, nothing at all really. Now that is not to say that the game doesn’t look good, very good infact. Quite a few of you have seen the snow level that was shown off at E3 a few months ago, that is one of the stand out locations and looks great. The snow looks fantastic blowing around the screen, distorting your vision very realistically. Character and gun models are pretty much the same as the previous game too barring a few little graphical touches here and there. Infinity Ward have basically decided to put their faith in their own engine once again, a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, which at the end of the day is a good decision.
SOUND: Just like the graphical department nothing much has greatly changed here. The weapons sound fantastic, each one having its own distinctive sound. Each character is voiced fantastically which adds a layer of believability to each personality. The general environmental sounds such as explosions and the footsteps of your character as he walks through grass are spot on too. You throw all of this audio into a 5.1 surround sound system and your ears are certainly in for a treat.
GAMEPLAY: A great FPS lives and dies by the effectiveness of its gunplay, Modern Warfare 2 most certainly succeeds in this area. In succeeding it makes the majority of other shooters look rather ordinary, it is just a pure joy to fire a weapon in this game. Throughout the course of the game the creative minds at Infinity Ward manage to get you in control of a huge variety of weapons. This never ever feels forced either, you need these weapons to get through the campaign. From a silenced pistol to a laser guide rocket launcher, the variation is fantastic.
Earlier on in the review I mentioned the great atmosphere and cinematic nature of the story, that statement applies to the gameplay too. The campaign includes set piece after set piece, it almost feels like Infinity Ward are showing off! When I say set piece though I don’t mean fast paced sections again and again, not by any means. Some of the best sections actually involve a bit of stealth and very minimal gunplay, much like the memorable “ghillies in the mist” mission from the original game. The combination of fast/frenetic action with slow and measured gameplay is nigh on perfection.
I could go into much more detail about how great the missions included in the campaign are but I wouldn’t want to deny anyone experiencing them for the first time. Let me put it this way, the original Modern Warfare had one memorable mission (ghillies in the mist) but Modern Warfare 2 has several missions of that quality or even better. The “oh my god” and “wow” moments just keep on coming throughout the length of the campaign. I have to give a special mention the the cut-scenes too, they compliment and drive the gameplay forward superbly. The are immensely cinematic which even more impressive when you take into account they are all done using the in-game engine.
LONGEVITY: The campaign took me around 8 or 9 hours to complete on the regular difficulty. I would add about an hour or two to that figure if you decide to play on hardened or veteran. Multiple playthroughs are encouraged through achievements so you probably will complete the campaign more than once. Although this is just a review of the campaign, you cannot ignore the two player spec-ops mode and sublime offline/online multiplayer included in the package too; after all some will buy this game just for the multiplayer.
VERDICT: Modern Warfare 2 takes what its predecessor did so brilliantly and improves on it in every single aspect. To use a movie analogy, if Modern Warfare was The Godfather then Modern Warfare 2 is, without a shadow of a doubt, The Godfather II. The closest to perfection a FPS can get.
SCORE: 9 / 10