Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

It is the nineteenth installment in the main Call of Duty series. I thought for a long time about the wonderful discovery with which I will begin this review, and came up with nothing. You see, it’s a number. I could hardly be more excited about even the nineteenth lovemaking incident with Monica Bellucci (I could lie about that). If I had to point out one thing worthy of fanfare, it would be Infinity Ward at the helm. The original CoD studio, despite all the layoffs and scandals over the years, is still number one. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is better than BLOPS Cold War and Vanguard. Simply put, they were created by developers with less understanding of what makes CoD compelling and exciting.

Geopolitical shark tornado

MV2 01

The single-player campaign is good in terms of mission variety, but the story is a strange mixture of fact and fiction that meanders between the two. It is completely unrelated to Modern Warfare 2 (2009), with the exception of Soap, Gaz, Price, and other operators from Task Force 141. The campaign begins with the assassination of Iranian General Ghorbrani, inspired by the assassination of real IRGC General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by an American drone in an international Baghdad airport in 2020. A terrorist plot continues involving his deputy, Zyani, who is working with Mexican drug cartels in preparation for a missile attack on US soil. There is also Al-Qatala, a terrorist organization in the spirit of Al-Qaeda, working in collusion with the IRGC. Even a very superficial observer of geopolitical trends knows that these two are sworn enemies who would never dream of helping each other. Throw in a few Russians, one rogue PMC, and a corrupt American general, and you’re good to go. The plot is just a lazy mix of general War of Terror tropes, heaped together and seasoned with snippets from several recent global crises.

The missions, however, are mostly fun, as the developers made sure to include some fan favorites modified for modern audiences. We have a rehash of the famous sniper mission where you hide in the grass while the bad guys almost step on your head. Of course, there is the AC-130 close air support sequence – undermining cartel forces while the operator casually comments on good hits and effective fire is sinful pleasure. One real novelty is the crafting stealth mission, which I’m not going to spoil for you.

Classic multiplayer is back

MV2 02

Traditionally, the best part of any Call of Duty is the multiplayer. Modern Warfare 2 does not disappoint in this, offering a plethora of classic modes such as Every Man for Himself, Team Deathmatch, Domination, Fulcrum, Headquarters, Control, Search and Destroy ‘ and ‘Kill Confirmed’. Modern Warfare 2 also features two new multiplayer modes: Prisoner Rescue and Knockout. Both are team-based, 6v6 modes with no respawn. The first is a modified CTF where you get a prisoner instead of a flag, and the second deals with a bag of money – the team holding it when time runs out wins the round. You can pick it up and drop it at will, but the carry bag is always visible on the minimap.

The real pleasure in MP is the third-person modes that exist in a separate playlist. Playing in this way allows for more peripheral vision and allows you to effectively see around corners. You can change the shoulders at will, in the style of Resident Evil, which is very important from a tactical point of view. Overall, Call of Duty is fun to play this way, but I would like to see more modes besides TDM, Hardpoint, and Domination.

The 32v32 scale mode is back, and this time it comes in two flavors: Ground War and Ground War Invasion, which adds AI bots. The original mode is essentially dominating a huge map with the addition of vehicles. In Invasion, instead of territory, you fight for points, mow down both players and bots. Last but not least, there is a two-player co-op mode consisting of three separate missions. Like the old Spec-Ops modes, they require communication, caution, and skill. New thing is the tiered gear progression which increases the replay value.

“I get ten bucks more, you get fake guns galore”

MV2 03

Modern Warfare 2 is the most expensive CoD to date, with the standard edition priced at $69.99/€. For such money, “adjusted for inflation” according to Activision, we received an unlicensed weapon. Kastov instead of Kalashnikov, Lachmann instead of Heckler and Koch, etc. We used to have fake weapons in Advanced and Infinite Warfare, but it was quite reasonable given the futuristic scenarios. This is the first time that any historical or modern Call of Duty has weapons “inspired” by real things. The reason for the counterfeit is simple – Activision is not obligated to pay royalties to the manufacturer if the Mossberg 590 becomes a Bryson 800. They charged you an extra ten bucks, but removed the most important element of gun culture flavor. A meme with a trade offer is drawn by itself.

This time around, weapon unlocks are different. Previously, you only had to level up your character to unlock new firearms, and level up each specific weapon to gain access to its attachments. Now almost all unlocks are interconnected. First, it depends on the manufacturer. The original Castoff cannon, for example, is unlocked after you hit lvl. 23, but the remaining models will become available after you upgrade the initial and subsequent models sufficiently. Unlocking add-ons follows the same path, but only to some extent. For example, laser pointers for some submachine guns should level up some random weapons from different categories. All this exists to force players to use a wider arsenal and step outside of their comfort zone. At least in theory. In practice, this creates an entirely new layer of grind.

Finally back on Steam

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 AC130 Review

What else is wrong here? There is no hardcore playlist at launch, which is sure to disappoint people who ONLY play this. Upon launch, the PC version suffered from some instability that was related to the driver and was quickly resolved. But the shader optimization that requires 2×30 minutes (SP+MP) of staring at the screen while the PC prepares the numbers persists after every driver update. Sometimes when switching modes, the game just freezes. I have a fairly modern PC with an RTX 3080, but Modern Warfare 2’s menus feel oddly sluggish. Like a clumsy, lazy beast, he crawls, makes micro-pauses and constantly downloads something in the background.

Modern Warfare 2 is the first CoD since Call of Duty: WWII (2017) to appear on Steam outside of the Battle.net launcher. This had an immediate and highly visible commercial effect. The game sold like hotcakes, breaking the $1 billion barrier in ten days, becoming the best-selling Call of Duty ever. I’m guessing that after a couple of mediocre CoDs from Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games, people jumped at the opportunity to play a real Call of Duty made by Infinity Ward. I can agree with this.

Maximums

  • Lots of classic multiplayer modes, including two brand new ones.
  • The third-person multiplayer modes are a real treat.
  • Ground War is back and better than ever.
  • The PC version is back on Steam (finally!).

Minuses

  • The plot of the single player game awkwardly balances between real events and ludicrous fiction.
  • Fake guns because Activision doesn’t bother paying royalties.
  • The new weapon unlock system is the epitome of grinding.
  • Technical issues in the PC version.