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PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
ESRB RATING: M
DEVELOPER:
Infinity Ward
PUBLISHER: Activision

It’s tough to be a gamer sometimes, like every November, when we get a crapload of triple-A titles dropped on our heads. With everyone crying about how games have grown up, it’s sad to see everyone still trying to cash in on the Christmas buck. Modern Warfare 2 is no exception, and it manages to lives up to the hype.

The worst part about it besides a somewhat disappointing campaign (more on that later) is that there’s simply not enough time in the day to play it.
    
THE PITCH
 
The story picks up five years from where the first left off, an overwrought, needlessly convoluted plot that could be explained as simple as this- Russia attacks America after a suspected American terrorist attack in Moscow. Everyone backstabs everyone and nothing is as it seems! Many of the characters from the first game return, and you even play through a sequence ripped straight out of The Rock, where you fight through a prison’s bathroom and release a familiar figure from captivity (not your penis).


CHUDTIP- Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.

 
Like in the other games you frequently play different characters and the shifts can be a bit jarring for anyone not up on their Modern Warfare history, but then again, you play through a mission called “Wolverines!” and fight off invading Russian forces in Virginia, so it’s best to just grab on and enjoy the ride.
 
THE PLAY
 
Once again Infinity Ward shows us how to make a first person shooter. It’s just got such a solid, realistic feel to it, utterly satisfying hit detection and a plethora of weapons to play with. Gone are the respawning enemies that people griped about in previous games- stay in cover and take everyone out one by one as you slowly advance and you can generally get through the game with no trouble. (Don’t be a hero!) There are other big moments too where you mount guns in helicopters, ride snowmobiles down mountains, and even look around space as an astronaut for a few seconds.


CHUDTIP- Keep an eye on what’s coming up or you’ll be hitting those trees harder than Sonny Bono (oh no).
 

Practically every level is a set piece and by the end you might be annoyed with how predictable it gets. There are a lot of the same types of missions and challenges from the first game (sniper missions, a nuke, etc.), as well as the same first person narrative tricks. Nothing feels as epic as it could.

Now, the game does what it does very well. It’s exhilarating, it’s exciting, there’s a ton of great combat with lots of things blowing up and generally cool things happening. But it’s linear to a fault. Just like with the previous titles you’re led along a singular path, usually following another character who tells you exactly what to do and when to do it.
 
It really takes away from the experience. Story-driven warfare has always been COD‘s strength, but the problem with trying to tell a story in this fashion is that it makes you a passive player in the game. You have no options of what to do, you’re just being led by the hand throughout, pushing switches and going to points when people tell you to do so, like a good little monkey. Even though you’re put in the shoes of many different soldiers you never feel like an active participant or that you have any input in what happens in the game. It leads to a fun-if-disappointing main campaign.
 
As for the infamous No Russian level that puts you in the shoes of a terrorist- yes, it is as fucked up as you’ve heard. Was it necessary? Probably not- hell, the game even gives you the option of skipping the level entirely, and you won’t miss out on any achievements or trophies for doing so. But it’s great to see something push the boundaries once in a while. As gamers we’ve probably killed millions of digital opponents and it’s almost sobering when a game makes you feel as if you’re actually a murderer, to make you reconsider your actions. The animation here is utterly terrifying, and watching people run and scream and crawl on the ground bleeding might be too much for some people eo take. I’m just simply amazed that the mainstream press hasn’t jumped on it yet. How can a obviously satirical game like Super Columbine Massacre RPG get ripped apart by the media while something as serious and as unpleasant as this barely warrant a mention? It’s bizarre.

Besides the main campaign there is another hefty mode dubbed Special Ops, that will make you forget that there’s any single player option at all. Imagine a mode that’s comprised of the best bits of the game, broken up into bite-size missions and allowing you to play through them with a friend. As always you’ll find that having a buddy makes the game instantly more enjoyable, allowing you to employ all sorts of awesome tactics in some of the truly difficult missions. There are some truly fantastic missions here, such as one mission that puts one gamer into an AC130 hovering over a battlefield and helping to keep your partner safe while he gets to a checkpoint. The mechanics of COD have always put most other first person shooters to shame and here you’ll find something more engaging than possibly the multiplayer.


CHUDTIP-
The Juggernauts in Spec Ops take a billion bullets to take down. Aim
for their head and snipe from a distance if you can. When they get
close, grenades and light machine guns are your best friends.


Ahh, the multiplayer. It’s like they took every problem gamers had with the first Modern Warfare and fixed it. Afraid to run over corpses because of everyone dropping grenades with the Martyrdom perk? Don’t be! It’s a “death streak” now, usable only after someone dies a ton of times. Speaking of streaks, there are now customizable killstreaks that give you everything from a harrier jet to a nuclear bomb. That last one’s a 25 kill streak perk, and will end the game, obviously. There are 16 (!) maps in the game and an absolute ton of game modes.
 
Sure, it’s a bit of a bitch that there are no dedicated servers and that there’s a max of 18 players (even on the PC), but the maps are smaller to compensate and I doubt you’ll miss having a few more people running around. It’s intense enough as is.

As always there is so much to unlock and experience here (weapons and perks and upgrades and challenges) that you will spend hours and hours playing it, forgetting completely about the single player game. An utterly addictive experience.
     
THE PRESENTATION
 
It’s one great looking game once again. The engine here is mildly improved, offering a larger game world, more improved physics and smarter enemies. The animation is as realistic as ever and the bullet penetration is the best in the business.

As always, surround sound is a must. You’ll have a huge edge over your competition in multiplayer with it, as you’ll be able to hear exactly where the battles are going on with the amazing sound design. And there’s nothing more terrifying than hearing a bullet chip the wall behind you and THEN the crack of a gun from far off.


CHUDTIP- If
you want a killstreak in multiplayer and are playing an objective-based
game, simply wait near any points (weapon drops, hold points, etc.) and
wait for morons to come running blindly in.

 
THE REPLAY
 
It’s a Call of Duty game. I have friends who have put literally dozens of days (not hours- DAYS) into the previous installments, and everyone agrees that this one is even better. So yeah, there’s a bit of replay value. Plus there are a ton of Spec Ops missions, and achievements/trophies for going through the game again on Veteran, something that took me forever in the first Modern Warfare (that sniper mission, my god) but is much easier this time around.
 
THE VERDICT
 
Don’t get it for the campaign, get it for the spec-ops and multiplayer. But get it. Infinity Ward has completely perfected the art of multiplayer with this game, and you’ll be playing it for months and months. An utterly addictive experience.
 

9.4 out of 10