Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review
By Josh Vance

MW2 is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2009, but does it live up to all the hype?  The short answer from me is, not exactly.  My first night with the game was riddled with several online issues, such as not being able to join with your friends and the trophies system being completely dysfunctional.  Luckily, these minor gripes were quickly fixed via a few online patches, but I still felt as though they could have been resolved prior to the game’s release.

The mechanics of this game are absolutely superb.  Aiming down the sight of your weapon is very smooth and the weapon almost feels alive in your hands.  The weapon attachments are altered a bit from the game’s predecessor, and also a few new ones are added to the mix.  My favorite of the new group is the heartbeat sensor and the refashioned ACOG scope also feels way better than the one in the original Modern Warfare.  A few complaints would be that the grenades feel a little wonky this time around and it wouldn’t hurt Infinity Ward to try and implement some sort of cover system for this series.  With shooters like Killzone 2 really setting the bar for a FPS cover system, MW2 feels a little left behind without something similar.  Another big problem—at least from me—is that amidst the gunfire and explosions it is difficult to discern friend from foe at times and you might find yourself starting from a previous checkpoint because you accidently wiped out one of your comrades.  The graphics are really impressive, but I certainly don’t feel that they deserve the praise most reviewers are giving them.  This game is well down the line in the battle for best graphics of this gen thus far, which some have so ridiculously claimed.  It doesn’t even manage to reach the benchmark set by Gears of War 2, a game that was released in November of last year.  Games like MW2 or Halo 3 don’t really have to take the extra effort in pushing their graphics to the maximum output because their fan base is so large that everyone will buy it regardless.  As long as it looks decent and fairly up to today’s standards the developer will release it, and save a little money by choosing this shortcut.  In short, this game does outdo the original but it could have looked much better. 

The campaign was filled with plenty of thrilling action sequences and some interesting new pieces were added to the gameplay, such as the snowmobiles and the end chase (which I will omit details to avoid spoilers).  This game also sports some of the most controversial scenes ever envisioned for a video game and even comes with an option to bypass them for anyone highly offended by such content.  The MW2 campaign has a nice variety of scenery for its level designs and always manages to keep each new mission fresh and fun.  Unfortunately for most players of any skill, the game is notably short.  I’ve heard stories of people completing their first run through in 5 hours or less.  It took me personally, just under 8 hours.  Even though the action is intense and the locales nicely rendered, MW2 never manages to reach that level of pristine left by its forerunner.  With a campaign that takes a day or two to accomplish, most players will quickly fall into the fields of the online run and gun if they didn’t immediately do so like some unworthy gamers.

The multiplayer feels pretty much the same this time around.  There are several new gun attachments, perks and killstreak awards, but the concept is the same and is unexplainably addicting.    Aside from the new mountable turrets, Predator missiles and supply drops the heart of MW remains.  The best addition to the online side is the host migration system that allows the game to pick a new host instead of booting the entire game back out to the lobby.  Interestingly enough, there is a new third person mode added to the list of game types as well.  This actually feels pretty good, but after I while I feel as if I’m wasting precious time and energy I could be using to polish my skills over in the first person side of things.  This time the player can unlock titles and emblems to display next to their online ID which is an okay extra, but does little for the experience overall.  A better alternative would be to add some sort of character customization, or even character skins so the player could pick and choose who they want to play or look like, so as to really feel connected to their onscreen embodiment, rather than just lumped into a generic mold by the developer.

The action of MW2 online is very fast paced and soon just feels like a true statement of kill or be killed.  Most battles are decided simply by which player sees the other first.  This takes a strong focus and a precise eye and after several hours of this you begin to feel like a robot programmed to run and shoot—devoid of most tactics available in other multiplayers.  In my opinion, the character dies far too easily, taking away any feeling of evasion in battle and the fun of exacting your revenge upon your foe.  With the death bomb coming so swiftly, it doesn’t really seem to matter which weapon you choose; they all kill your enemies in about the same amount of time, which just leaves your gun’s attachments and your perks as the main difference in the equation.

Lastly I will touch on the co-op mode.  This is basically a series of missions taken from the campaign, only now you can throw in one of your friends to fight alongside you.  This is a decent addition to the game and will add some serious time to the game if it interests you.  Most of the missions are simply killing a preset amount of hostiles while avoided killing any civilians, as this docks your rating.  Modern Warfare 2 definitely has a strong set of features that will keep most gamers loading up their consoles to the purr of this modernized shooter.  However, it falls short of the feel that made its predecessor one of the best shooters of all time.  I, like most, have been taken in by the bloated hype of this game and in the end I did enjoy the experience quite happily.  In spite of this, I truly hope that MW2 does not receive the title of game of the year due to the extremity of the hype and blinded fanboys that refuse to see the game’s obvious flaws.  If it does it will be a programmed delusion by the media in my eyes, for there are far more deserving games out there for such a title.

Graphics: 8.75
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 8.75
Story: 8.5

Multiplayer: 8
Presentation: 9
Replay Value: 9
OVERALL: 8.5/10

Chucky's Second Opinion

Only a couple set pieces throughout the painfully short campaign were interesting.  The graphics are not up to today's standards, especially for a big budget release like Call of Duty.  The multiplayer is somehow addicting, mainly because of the leveling up system.  However it is not exactly fun, or tactical in any way.  But Infinity Ward will never learn from their mistakes if people keep buying it like crazy.  But what is there is solid and nothing wholly negative and I love the 60 FPS.  8/10

TheReviewDudes Overall Score - 8.25