Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's single-player campaign mode is live right now. Undoubtedly, the hype regarding the game has skyrocketed ever since Infinity Ward announced it.
As promised, Modern Warfare 2 is the most ambitious project in the franchise's history with a campaign mode, multiplayer, Spec Ops, Warzone 2.0, DMZ, and much more. However, with the campaign's release, the question arises, how did the new story hold up? Did it live up to the name of its predecessors?
Modern Warfare 2 was the most anticipated Call of Duty title in recent years. After almost two dry years of Call of Duty, the community eagerly awaited something massive from Activision. With everything the developers promised from the beginning of the game's announcement, I couldn't wait to hop into the world of Call of Duty again.
While there is a lot to say about the campaign, the first impression I need to add is that I have never played a Call of Duty campaign that is as lifelike as Modern Warfare 2.
Before diving deep into the campaign's ups and downs, I should mention that Modern Warfare 2 is, as we all know, a sequel to Modern Warfare (2019) and is set in the same world. However, if you are expecting it to follow the same story, you'd be disappointed. While there are certain callbacks to previous campaigns and some classic Call of Duty moments, you need to see Modern Warfare 2 as its own game.
Modern Warfare 2 campaign was more of a Hollywood movie than a game
The campaign story picks up three years after the events of Modern Warfare (2019). As shown in the previous iteration's post-credit scene, Task Force 141 is now a full-fledged team operating against global threats. Some iconic CoD characters have returned with most of the Modern Warfare (2019) cast.
While Warzone's lore presented the return of Simon "Ghost" Riley, it was never fully satisfying for the community. Modern Warfare 2 brings back the roles of Ghost, John "Soap" MacTavish, and the good old villain General Shepherd in the most memorable way, and you get to have a lot of screen time with both the iconic operators of Task Force 141. It also needs to be mentioned that CIA handler Kate Laswell and the PMC group Shadow Company will also return to the campaign with all their worth.
The Modern Warfare 2 campaign provides a brand new experience with freshly revamped game mechanics, more interaction among characters, and true-to-life animation that makes the game more immersive than anything we've seen in the franchise.
The whole Modern Warfare 2 campaign felt like I was playing a Netflix war movie. However, some of the lows in the game dragged the experience back a lot. With its ups and downs, the campaign is a bit different but enjoyable.
The story starts with a United States airstrike killing a foreign general named Ghorbrani. His successor Hassan Zyani vowed to seek revenge against the United States and tie bonds with international drug cartels in Mexico to transport stolen U.S. ballistic missiles. With Mexican Special Forces and Colonel Alejandro Vargas as their allies, the responsibility falls upon Task Force 141 to stop this emerging global threat.
Compared to Modern Warfare 2019, the latest iteration's story feels flat in certain places. The previous title focused more on the reality of warfare and how things are not just straight black and white; sometimes, they can also be gray.
Modern Warfare 2's story doesn't offer anything like that. It is more of a straightforward storyline with certain objectives to complete. While the story felt a bit all over the place, the cinematics and the tension within the gameplay surely made up for it.
The campaign lets you experience the perfect balance between stealth and warfare
Modern Warfare 2's campaign allows you to visit many different places around the globe. Be it the beautiful city of Amsterdam, the valleys of Mexico, or the war-torn environment of Al Mazrah (a fictional region for Warzone 2.0 map), you’ll never get tired of the gorgeous scenic beauty on offer.
From a rainy evening to a bright sunny day, the dynamic weather gives you a refreshing experience while playing the game's campaign mode. With the right amount of stealth operations and a chaotic battle experience, it is everything you can look forward to seeing in a Call of Duty campaign.
The Modern Warfare 2 campaign consists of 17 missions. All these missions will give you a variety of experiences, from stealth and large-scale battle sequences to surviving without a gun and making your jaw drop for it. The missions are fully engaging and action-packed, and as I mentioned earlier, it's more like a Hollywood movie than a Call of Duty campaign itself.
During the Wetwork mission in Amsterdam, Captain Price and Gaz followed a lead that might link the stolen missile to those transporting it. The mission had the perfect amount of stealth and reminded me of playing Splinter Cell back in the day. While Call of Duty has always been about playing as a one-man army, this campaign has surely put more variety into the experience.
Violence and Timing was one of the missions that I found pretty unique but dragged out a bit. The mission starts when a key team member gets captured, and Price and Gaz go to Al Mazrah to retrieve them. This mission also brings back an old ally from the previous iteration. With Farah's army's help, you play as Gaz and drive and fight simultaneously.
The mission is mostly a vehicle mission, where you can hijack a car and fight alongside it. While this is something unique and more dynamic, the long chase sequence felt a bit unnecessary and quite dragged out. Sadly, Farah's appearance throughout the entire campaign is only for this mission, and you won't be able to see her for the rest of the story in Modern Warfare 2.
Callouts to the iconic missions - A love letter to the veteran fans
Call of Duty sent out love letters to their veteran fans throughout the campaign. Many reminiscences from the old days gave me a dose of nostalgia. During the El Sin Nombre mission, Soap was asked by a character named Diego, "What the f**k kind of name is Soap?"
If players can recall it correctly, it was stated by Captain Price in Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare when he was first introduced to him.
The largest mission in the entire campaign is Recon By Fire, which is a callback to the iconic sniping mission All Ghillied Up. However, this time, the enemy AIs were really challenging to overcome. While Infinity Ward said a lot about the advanced AIs in Modern Warfare 2, it was expected that we might see results.
During the multiplayer beta, the story wasn't the same, and the AIs got heavily criticized by the community. However, the campaign is a different story, and AIs give you a hard time while playing.
With newly added armored enemies, it is now more challenging to fight against them. As Warzone has a similar armor mechanism, it is recognizable. Players unfamiliar with Warzone and its mechanics might have a tough time handling this mission more than anything.
Close Air and Hardpoint recall the memories of Death From Above from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In this mission, you play as Shadow Company and control AC- 130 to provide air support.
One thing I liked about the mission was the amount of destruction that Infinity Ward added to the mission. By activating the launcher, you can demolish the whole building in a fraction of a second, and it will surely bring back some good old memories from the past.
New crafting mechanism adds more variety to the campaign
Another mission that I found interesting was 'Alone.' It starts right after Shepherd and Shadow Company's betrayal of Modern Warfare 2. You play as Soap and get shot by Philip Graves.
So, the primary objective is to survive through all the obstacles and meet Ghost at a rendezvous point. The mission reminded me of Modern Warfare's (2019) hometown, where players needed to survive as a child and have nothing but a screwdriver to fight.
Infinity Ward also adds crafting to this mission, which is pretty unique, and by crafting various materials, you can unlock doors and create distractions. The main goal is to go through random houses during a rainy night and try to be as low as possible so that enemies can't spot you. It never felt like a traditional Call of Duty mission; rather, it had more of a post-apocalyptic survival taste.
What was a bit of a letdown for me was that after introducing crafting, the mechanic was never required in the whole campaign until the last mission. Even that part is pretty forced, and you won’t have any other choice except to follow the objectives. If the choices were more fluid, this newly introduced feature would have been a game changer in Call of Duty. However, that never became a reality.
Gameplay overview - Improved physics, water, swimming, and more
Coming to the gameplay, Infinity Ward has done an impeccable job of providing you with the best-in-class experience. While gunplay is almost similar to previous iterations, there are some new mechanics to it that I find very interesting.
You can now change how you want to use your weapon using the ADS button. The default movements are mostly the same, and I noticed no significant changes except the newly added ledge-hanging mechanic, which is pretty helpful in certain places.
Infinity Ward has stated multiple times about its work on water physics and swimming. I was excited to see what the developer had to offer for the campaign.
I was also surprised by the amount of detail that was added and the perfectly utilized physics, which made the sequences close to reality. During Wetwork, the reduced bullet velocity underwater was probably one of the coolest things I experienced in the Call of Duty campaign.
Coming to the things that blew my mind, Dark Water and its immersive gameplay undoubtedly comes first in the rankings. The primary objective of this mission was to stop a missile from launching. The missile is on an oil rig, and the control is on a ship.
While pushing enemies on the ship, you will be obstructed by moving containers as they go from one side to the other, depending on the ship's movement on the water. With sea water splashing over the ship and an ongoing storm, the mission provides the most dynamic sequence while fighting enemies. Undoubtedly, Dark Water was the most fun to complete and probably the best one in terms of gameplay.
The most lifelike Call of Duty in history
Modern Warfare 2 is probably the best Call of Duty in the franchise's history in terms of visual and audio fidelity. The exquisite details and beautifully crafted animations will make you doubt if you are in a game or watching a movie.
The Tradecraft mission, which portrayed the city of Amsterdam on a splendid morning, is probably the most photorealistic sequence of Call of Duty campaigns ever. From the Middle Eastern desert to the nightlife of Chicago, the devs have given everything they can to create a world close to reality.
As for the cinematics, I've stated multiple times that all sequences can be compared to a high-budget Hollywood movie, if not something else. Everything looked magnificent with all the characters, lighting, shadows, and textures, and I couldn't take my eyes off it for a second during a single cinematic sequence.
Performance on PC
Modern Warfare 2 runs smoothly on PC. The game is pretty well optimized and doesn't stutter; you won't feel any lag throughout the campaign. I also did not encounter any visual glitches or bugs that could have ruined the experience. During the Dark Water mission, my frame rate dropped for some time, but it was nothing compared to my smooth overall experience.
Flat storyline - Substantial compared to its predecessors
Coming to the things that dragged me down, I must admit Modern Warfare 2 is not a perfect game. While the name is similar to the classic Call of Duty title released in 2009, whether it meets the expectations of its predecessors, my answer would be that it does not live up to the name of the iconic Modern Warfare 2 or the last segment.
While the previous iteration had some dark and gritty moments where players had to make tough choices that questioned their morality, the recent campaign features nothing like that. The story is flat and especially lacks a proper antagonist. Not for a second did Hasan and Valeria (El Sin Nombre) feel like massive threats. Even in the last part of the campaign, the whole sequence felt so scripted that it bummed me out.
As Modern Warfare 2 sees the return of General Shepherd, expectations were high from the start. Eventually, Shepherd betrayed Task Force 141, but his betrayal and the deal with the Shadow Company and Philip Graves were predictable from the beginning. Hence, the result was a substantial story with many unnecessary objectives.
While the campaign started with some engaging missions, it lost pace after Recon By Fire. Anything after that suffered from pacing issues, either rushed or slow, which affected player immersion. The only exception was Dark Water, which I previously stated was the most fun I had playing.
The final verdict for Modern Warfare 2 is that it is indeed one of the most innovative and engaging Call of Duty campaigns in recent years. In terms of visual quality and attention to detail, it is undoubtedly the best in the market. However, a single-player campaign revolves around the story, and the game falls short in that aspect. The whole narrative is all over the place; after a certain amount of time, it gets predictable every minute.
The good thing is that the Call of Duty franchise has adapted to the trick of maintaining the hype. The most exciting part of the entire campaign was the post-credit scene. While I'm not trying to give any major spoilers, the post-credit scene for the campaign brings back a significant foe from the Modern Warfare saga, which is essential to setting up a reprised world and forthcoming titles in the near future.
I look forward to what’s coming next in this story and where it goes after that.
Modern Warfare 2
Reviewed On: Windows PC (Review Copy provided by Activision)
Platform(s): Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Developer(s): Infinity Ward
Release Date: October 28, 2022