Modern Warfare 2 is the fourth title in the Call of Duty series from developer Infinity Ward and is a direct sequel to their previous title, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. As with the original, the story takes place in multiple locations all over the world and the player assumes the role of multiple soldiers from different factions. The game also features three separate modes to play through. There's a single player campaign which sequels the original, two player co-op that varies from level to level, and a full multiplayer mode to keep players involved for ages.
The main campaign puts the player in the roles of multiple soldiers spanning from the American Army Rangers, to CIA and the British SAS. Without ruining any crucial plot points, the story takes place all over the world as groups of soldiers try to chase down a Russian terrorist as he tries to spark a global war. The main story does feel a bit short, but it's so packed full of action that it doesn't disappoint. Each mission contains so much variety and it means that no level feels out of place or boring. Not only is there a lot of satisfying first person shooter sequences, there are also stealth segments and vehicle chases. So in essence the campaign's length feels just right. Not to mention that the story can be played through higher difficulties to make the game a little more challenging.
Beyond the story there is also a vast co-op mode which can be played either split-screen or online with a friend. This mode, also known as spec-ops, is a series of levels specially made for two players. This variation of the game is like a whole game on its own. There is a whole series of levels varying from time trial versions of the single player campaign to separate levels that give each player their own task in a mission. For example, there is a sniper sneaking mission at one point, the next level could be clearing a village without harming civilians, or there's even a really cool mission where one player fires explosive rounds from an attack plane while the other player tries to work through a farm without getting killed. The great thing is, players can probably invest more time in this mode than the actual single player campaign.
On top of the two previously mentioned modes is possibly the biggest part of Modern Warfare 2, it's online multiplayer mode. Quite a lot has been added since the last Modern Warfare, including better game balance and more perks. This time around the perks have been rearranged and offer things like using two attachments for a weapon in lieu of a perk that boosts damage or allows faster reloads. There's also a large variety of maps, with a lot being based on missions from the single player campaign, including a throwback map from Call of Duty 2 that's been re-skinned. The maps are also nicely sized for the up to 18 players that are allowed. The level cap has also been extended to give more spaced out perks and guns. The weapons are still balanced enough though that it's not really uneven when earlier guns are used against newly unlocked ones.The gameplay in Modern Warfare 2 is actually very simplistic and sometimes it just goes to show that keeping things simple works. Each level is a linear path toward a series of objectives usually with more than one way for players to tackle the approach, which can make things more tactical. Essentially the game focuses on aiming down the sights, and picking off targets as quickly and as effectively as possible. It's very fast paced and in terms of a video game experience, it's very intense. Suppressing larger numbers of enemies with grenades and flash bangs for more forceful approaches adds an explosive element to the mix, however, most of the time the gameplay involves ducking in and out of cover, so that players can gain an advantage.
It's not just this that makes Modern Warfare 2 so engrossing, put simply its the rush of the hail of bullets and explosions and cinematic effects that make the game such a joy to experience. The AI responds in such a brutal way that simple exposure for a few of seconds on higher difficulties results in instant death. The game requires players to actually think before they leap and it encourages a sense of actual feeling part of a squad as a opposed to being an ultimate killing machine. The squad members don't really do a vast amount to help, but it feels like they do. Overall, the formula hasn't changed much, but there is one new addition in the form of breaching doors. Specifically this happens in the later missions but it's used a fair bit and essentially involves a slow down of time in order to clear a room of enemies before they can react. It's quite a nice gameplay element and it gives quite a sense of achievement when the game returns to normal speed and everything is deadly quiet.
The gameplay and various modes are wrapped nicely around some great graphics. The visuals are all very vivid with dense smoke and large explosions. Landscapes are all vast and feature a lot of variety due to the constantly changing environments throughout the game. The characters are also well animated and textures look really good as well. The whole game also keeps everything well paced with great controls. Guns have a nice weight to them and feel like they are actually firing bullets rather than bits of plastic. Surprisingly vehicle segments control great as well and don't feel like they're just tacked on as an afterthought.
In terms of sound, the game also shines from the voice acting to the sound of people walking around. All the voices are very well done and they convey emotions well in every character from short one liners to long monologues. In terms of the ambient sound it's also great. The ambiance can be used as a game mechanic to listen in on people coming near or trying to sneak around. Not to mention weapon sounds, explosions, and vehicles all sound accurate and crisp.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is easily one of the best games of the year. It features stunning visuals, fantastic sound, solid gameplay, and engrossing content that will keep players enthused for ages. For fans of shooters, or even games with high action, it's impossible to pass up this amazing title.