I bought the new Call of Duty on Friday and was pretty sure I’d finish it by the end of the weekend. A lot of people complained about the shortness of the single player campaign but that seems ridiculous to me. A game like MW2 is so white-knuckle that it it relies on a certain brevity of time invested to maintain what I think is the core of its campaign mode. That is, the excitement. Each scenario covered by the campaign more than delivers, I mean we all remember the one or two truly epic moments in the first Modern Warfare. Infinity Ward has saw fit to bless we mere mortals with at least one such memorable sequence per level. And many of them, especially the 141 missions, have several. Making the game longer invites a degradation in the excitement, a chance to get used to the ride before it’s over. If you aren’t holding your breath while racing snowmobiles across a canyon in Russia or clearing caves in Afghanistan or shit, fighting over a burger joint with Predator missiles, the game just isn’t doing the trick. It’s about the urgency and frantic pace.

I also think that, given the direction taken by the plot, this game is far less concerned with mixing realism with the cinematic. The whole thing is like a Michael Bay movie, and I mean that in the best way possible. There’s one great sequence where it directly nods at The Rock, but then this series has always been known for its tributes to influential movies.

The multiplayer mode is complex but rewarding. It seems like they granted many wishes of mine, especially the ability to eventually put more than one attachment on a weapon. There’s so much cool shit to unlock that you feel almost at a loss wading into it. Couple that with the fact that less than a week in and you already have people at the top tiers and you’re basically wading into it from the get go. There’s something to appreciate about that, as off-putting as it can be. Most of the missions in the campaign similarly drop you into the mix and say “good luck”, it seems somehow fitting that the multiplayer is asking you to play catch up from word one. It says, do you have what it takes to be good at this?

I do miss the old guns, though. Seems like most of the stuff on offer is very cool but there’s little of the “tried and true” present in the previous game. Now we have to get used to the kind of crazy weapons and tech promised in books like Weapons of the 21st Century. Or whatever. Things like heartbeat monitors seem clunky but work very well, as do the laptop-based UAV weapons and airstrikes. Apparently there’s even an option to unlock and use tactical nuclear weapons.

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, nobody is fucking around.