Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review
Modern Warfare 2 nails the three pillars of play--campaign, cooperative, and multiplayer--to earn its place in the pantheon of modern shooters.
Of course, you could completely ignore both the campaign and cooperative modes and be perfectly happy with Modern Warfare 2. The insanely addictive, intensely exciting multiplayer formula pioneered by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is in full effect here. The action is even faster and deadlier than the campaign, and killing enemies, accomplishing objectives, and completing challenges earn you experience points. These points increase your level and unlock new guns, new equipment, and new skill-boosting perks. You can design different classes to highlight different skills and then switch between them to adjust for the ebb and flow of battle. The core action remains largely the same, and folks who didn't enjoy it the first time around aren't likely to have a change of heart. But what was great about it two years ago is still great today, and there are a number of tweaks and additions that make Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer substantially different and more excellent than its predecessor.
First off, weapon loadouts have been restructured. Guns you may have previously equipped as primary are now only available as secondary, so you can equip both an assault rifle and a shotgun if you so desire. This restructuring creates an intriguing array of gun combinations, and one of the new options isn't even a gun. The bullet-resistant riot shield can be equipped in your primary slot and used to assault heavily contested positions. Having multiple-shielded teammates can change the battlefield significantly, and new equipment items deepen the strategic possibilities. The blast shield can protect you against grenade-happy opponents, while the tactical insertion flare (allows you to designate your next spawn point) can be a powerful asset in objective-based modes like Demolition and Domination.
The perk system has also been overhauled. Perks can now be upgraded through use and will eventually grant a secondary ability. These bonus abilities are often just as potent as the primary perk, though they aren't a linear extension of the primary ability. Upgrading the perk that grants increased melee distance, for example, will cause you to take no fall damage (allowing you to perfect your drop-and-stab maneuver). The new death streak perks may seem familiar to those acquainted with the infamous martyrdom perk from COD4, but they also provide some welcome (and cleverly implemented) aid for new players. These perks kick in after you die a few times in a row without getting a kill. Painkiller grants you increased health for a short time upon respawning, making it easier to resist getting spawn killed. Copycat allows you to mimic the class of the last person that killed you, potentially granting you the guns, equipment, and perks of a much higher ranked opponent. Nothing mitigates the frustration of getting killed by a weapon you can't access like getting your hands on that weapon and doing some killing of your own.
Customizable kill streak rewards are the other significant addition. In COD4, kill streaks of certain lengths would earn you rewards like airstrikes and attack helicopters. In Modern Warfare 2, there are a host of new rewards that you can unlock and then equip as you see fit. The rewards themselves range from tactical aids like unmanned aerial vehicles that reveal enemies on the radar (or counter UAVs that block the enemy's radar) to powerful assaults like gunships, airstrikes, and the exceedingly fun laptop-guided predator missile. Each kill streak requires a certain amount of kills to activate, and you can only equip three at a time, so there's a risk/reward mechanic at play. The chopper gunner reward is superpowerful, but if you aren't confident you can score the required 11 kill streak, you'll essentially be wasting a reward slot. Even if you can't string together 11 kills, you can still get a chance to use some of the more powerful rewards courtesy of care packages. This reward drops a crate on to the battlefield that either contains an ammo resupply or a kill streak reward, like a precision air strike. Not only do these rewards add an engaging strategic dimension, they do so in a way that allows all players to enjoy them.
The result of all these multiplayer tweaks is a richer, more customizable experience and a busier battlefield. Fortunately, the action generally remains on the good side of hectic, and the stream of rewards is as satisfying as ever. Two new elements, title and emblem, are little graphics and titles that you earn through your match performance, and these range run the gamut from serious to totally goofy. While not exactly in keeping with the serious tone of the campaign, they add an amusing way to further customize your online presence. With a robust variety of playlists in which to ply your deadly trade, Modern Warfare 2's competitive multiplayer is the best in the series and one of the best available on consoles. The inelegant campaign plot may make you feel like you're just along for the ride, but it is such an intense, roaringly great ride that you will be glad just to have played it. The cooperative missions provide a uniquely fun angle on the action that rounds out the package superbly, making Modern Warfare 2 thoroughly entertaining, thoroughly rewarding, and thoroughly worth the wait.
- Player Reviews: 563
- Game Universe:
- Call of Duty: Finest Hour (XBOX, PS2, GC),
- Call of Duty (NGE, PC, PS3, MOBILE, X360, MAC),
- Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (XBOX, GC, PS2),
- Call of Duty 2 (MAC, PC, X360, MOBILE, WINM),
- Call of Duty 3 (X360, PS3, PSP, WII, XBOX, PS2, MOBILE),
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (X360, PS3, PC, DS, MAC, MOBILE, WII),
- Call of Duty: World at War (PC, PS3, X360, WII, DS, WINM),
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PC, PS3, X360),
- Call of Duty: Black Ops (PC, PS3, X360, WII, DS, MAC),
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Stimulus Package (X360, PC, PS3)