Special Ops? An amazingly good addition.
Online Competitive multiplayer? Abysmal.
I am, of course, joking. Infinity Ward really has given the two fingered salute to Treyarch, all the time while patting them on the back and whispering "THIS is how you make a Call of Duty game." The graphics are incredibly good, I couldn't believe the difference when I flicked CoD4 back in for a comparison. Its mainly the subtle things, as CoD4 was a good looker too. The audio is ten fold better. Better voiceovers. Better guns. Better explosions. The story accelerates to full speed and then stays there 'till the end, and all the better for it in my opinion. Every mission of the campaign is a complete blast, and it is a testament to Infinty Ward that the only thing I can pick out against the game after (ahem..) 18 and a half hours of total gameplay (averages more than 4 hours a day since I got it. Woops!) is the fact that unless you go over a jump, the snomobiles kinda waterplane along the ice, no movement at all. But they still handled well, and while I'm writing that I cant even remember if it made much of a difference.
The thing is, I thought Call of Duty 3 was a good game. I thought Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was an excellent game. I thought Call of Duty: World at War was better than 3, but not on the same level as 4. But Modern Warfare 2 simply blows them all out of the water. With an amazing storyline (which if you havn't finished and care deeply about every slight thing, (there will be no major spoilers here) I would suggest not reading the bit under "Campaign"), MW2 just keeps on giving, and the fact Gamespot gave it a 9 is, again in my opinion, ludicrous. I dont think I have ever played a game that has this much variety of things to do. Co-op modes? Tick. 23 different and challenging Special Ops missions. Online multiplayer? You better believe it. It's better than CoD4, and THAT is saying something quite tremendous.
Once again, as is the theme with CoD games, you play as a trio of different people throughout the campaign. Private Allen, a US Army Ranger, is told to try out "The Pit". This is like the training section of MW1 when you are told to go around the mock up of a boat and destroy targets. I must say, I think I prefer the pit. Although simpler in layout, there are a lot more targets, and with civillians in the mix to, its a lot more challenging. With a trophy/achievement available for completing it in under 30 seconds (my current best is 32.4), its also a challenging little blighter. Once you have done this with Allen, General Shepard assigns you to a very important task. I won't say what it is, or what happens, but if you google "Modern Warfare 2 Controversy" you'll find out soon enough!
Then we have Roach. He is the first person you control within the lucrative Task Force 141, an elite group of soldiers from around the world, led by our old friend Soap, or as he is now known, Captain MacTavish.
Next up is the Army Ranger you play as after Allen buggers off to 141, Rameirez. You and Sergeant Foley along with Corporal Dunn is certainly a great trio, and the Rangers get up to some of the most entertaining "chatter" on the game.
Last but not least is a cameo appearance as having Mr. MacTavish back as a playable character.
The story itself takes place in a variety of stunningly beautiful locales, my personal favourite of which being the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. With seemingly every hut open and useable as cover or a path up through the hillside town, on veteran mode this is an extremely challenging, but intensly rewarding pair of levels. Siberia too plays host to some amazing stuff, and Afganistan. Actually, I may as well sit here and name every location, as they are all absolutely stunning and fantastic to play.
My personal view on the now infamous airport mission is kinda torn. On one side it gives the game the edgy feel that any 18 rated, FPS should, but on the ohter it is inviting you to mow down civilians... I'm absolutely certain that the majority of comments will be about people not caring and killing as many as they could, and that is all well and good. People and opinions differ. I do not think it was deserved of all the hoo-har that it got in the press. At the end of the day, you have been able to mercilessly kill civilians in lots of games, GTA being the main culpret, the only difference here is that you are invited to do it to people who are fleeing, while you play as part of a terrorist organisation and there are a LOT of people. By the end of the massacre your character seems to be walking a few inches higher as your "team" trudges across the swathes of dead or dying bodies. I suppose that is quite a difference...
There is a fantastic twist nearing the end of the story, and I don't think many will have been expecting it. The last 2 missions are simply incredible, as you and he-who-shall-not-be-named-for-IMMENSE-spoiler-reasons storm an entire base by yourselves on what you had both thought would be a suicide mission. After promptly wiping out the base, then next missions is just as incredible, as you are in an inflatable dingy chasing, err, "someone" down a river, while avoiding gunfire from helicopters and being overturned by rapids. I am running out of superlatives and fast here.
I don't really want to discuss the campaign much more here for fear of ruining it for someone, no doubt a few weeks down the line more of this will come to light to everyone. The last point I will make is the fact that the difficulty is very well balanced. Regular is harder than it was before, Hardened is still a stern challenge, but, my most "Phew!" moment was realising that Veteran is no longer simply every enemy infantry lobbing 3 frags at you at a time, forcing you out of cover so they kill you. They certainly still use their grenades, and effectively too, but not to the frankly ridiculous extent of MW1, and WaW was just a joke.
Special Ops was clearly a brainstorming flash of genius in the Infinity Ward offices in the early development. I can imagine much back slapping, hi-fiveing and "Hooah"ing going on that day! Although, on the face of it, a simple idea, it is simply executed so perfectly, as we have come to expect with IW, that it perfectly complements the Campaign and the Multiplayer.
The 23 different missions, all available in two player co-op, both on and offline, are taken from the settings of the MW1 and MW2 campaigns. Chernobyl from "All Ghillied Up" in MW1 is there, with a brilliant take on it and the best bit, short of blowing Zakaev's head off.Some of them are really cleverly thought out too, with a few seeing one player on the ground and the other in the skies, either as the gunner on a Black Hawk using an M-134 Minigun or, even more pleasingly, the return of the AC-130, bombing the living shoite out of the ground supporting your partner down below. All of the missions that I have played are pleasing and fun to do, and offer a lot of challenge when you decide to plump for the Veteran option.
I am very, very happy with the inclusion of this, and I would take Spec Ops over no Spec Ops with a fully co-op campaign any day of the week. It works better than trying to put two people into a campaign that was so fantastically designed for one person.
Last, but definitely not least...
After the good fun campaign, it was the online component of MW1 that people played. And played. And played. Incredibly, I highly doubt that on loading up your CoD4 disc you would be unable to get into a game, and I can 100% see the exact same thing happening with MW2.
Combining all the things that were incredible about the online of MW1 (that'll be everything then) and adding literally hundreds more challenges through at least 10 for every weapon, MW2's online will have people playing well into 2011, and yes I meant to put "11" not 10. I seriously think that Treyarchs efforts are simply games to fill the void between the next uber-game that IW continues to pump out at a simply mind boggling 2 year turnaround.
Despite the online having a few issues with servers and whatnot on PS3 in its very early days after release, now its up and running, it really is up and running. With 16 maps (correct me if that figure is wrong. Its either 14, 16 or 18!) and all of them beauts, it looks set to keep my attention for an awful long time. At present, I have made the decision in my mind to not actually prestige, but to focus on doing EVERY weapon challenge and stay at rank 70. But I can't see that happening once I get bored of getting XP for no reason but scoreboards!
What more can I say. The online is incredible too. Which bit isn't? Well, I'm not the biggest fan of the twirly activison logo, they've had that a while, I think it's due a change. Umm... that'll be it.
I'm looking forawrd to hearing your opinions! Oh and sorry this took a while coming, I've been a bit busy (playing MW2 obviously :D).
Overall verdict? I'd say a not-too-shabby 11/10.