Two years ago this month a game arrived in an overly saturated market that changed the gaming landscape forever -- and my perception of first person shooter games. That game was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from Infinity Ward. It was the third game of the series and a quantum leap up from Call of Duty 2. Modern Warfare combined a great story, great graphics, and an addictive RPG-like structure with multi-player gaming. More importantly, it changed the way I felt about the feel of firing a weapon in a video game.
It's hard to describe what makes it superior to the vast majority of shooting mechanics; it simply feels right in a way few games since have managed.
It's no wonder I was so excited when Modern Warfare 2 was announced last February. Last Monday night at midnight I picked up my copy and didn't stop playing until the sun came out. What an experience! The single player runs about eight hours on the hardest difficulty and, unlike MW it doesn't include infinitely re-spawning enemies. It's a challenging experience without ever feeling frustrating -- except for one level which unfortunately does include the enemy re-spawning. More importantly, there's so many cinematic experiences that just blow me away as a gamer and moviegoer. I won't spoil anything, but it lives up to Modern Warfare's legacy with flying colors.
After beating the single player you're dumped into the main screen of Spec Ops mode. Spec Ops is a new feature for Call of Duty games and is essentially a collection of two-player co-op scenarios. From defending a position to sneaking through enemy lines to snow mobile races, this mode has got it all. The goal is to get three stars in each mission while the objectives to do so vary with the game types, from rewarded you one star for defending against three enemy waves and a jeep to three stars for defending against five enemy waves, three trucks, and two jeeps. The after-credits mission of Modern Warfare, Mile High Club -- a timed assault of an airliner in flight to rescue a hostage -- inspired the mode.
Both of these modes pale in comparison to the crème de la crème of the package: multi-player. I don't have the words to describe the experience, so I'll take the easy way out and directly compare it to Modern Warfare. It's everything you loved the last time, only more. Much more.
At level four you unlock Create-A-Class, the ability to customize your load out. You are given your choice of primary weapon, an assault rifle, sub-machine gun, light machine gun, sniper rifle, or riot shield. A secondary weapon including handguns, machine pistols (essentially small SMGs), shotguns, and launchers which include rocket launchers and a grenade launcher. It doesn't end there: You also need to select your special grenade (flashbang, stun grenade, or smoke grenade), equipment (fragmentation grenade, semtex/sticky grenade, throwing knife), tactical insertion (respawn point), blast shield (reduced explosive damage), C4, and Claymores.
That seems like a lot of options -- but then there's the perks system. To put it simply, perks change the way you play the game. There's everything from unlimited sprint, increased bullet damage, increased explosive damage, invisibility to radar, increased knife range, and faster movement speed. All the perks have an upgraded form that add an additional effect to the perk that isn't as simple as more damage or even more knife range. For instance, the upgraded (or "pro") version of Commando (increased knife range) is that you no longer take damage from falls. The only downside, at least for me, is getting used to the new tactics available to you that disappear should you decide to use a different perk. There's nothing like hopping off a building, landing behind a guy and lighting him up expecting to change class and do it again, but instead dying!
The killstreak system from Modern Warfare has also been expanded. Three kills for UAV, five kills for airstrike, and seven kills for helicopter gunship has been replaced with a 15-option customizable system. You're still limited to three but they can be any combination. My personal setup is three kills for UAV, five kills for predator missile (a missile you guide down from the sky with thermal vision to blow the ever-loving craaaaaap out of the enemy), and six kills for a precision airstrike (like the five-kill airstrike from MW1 but you can choose the direction it flies -- well worth the extra kill). Another favorite setup is predator missile at five, harrier (an airstrike and then it sticks around to fire its machine gun at enemies) at seven, and the chopper gunner (you control the main gun of an AH-64D Apache, which is amazing) at eleven kills. Some other options are an automatic sentry gun, AC-130 gunner, and a care package (drops a random kill streak or ammo).
The game play of multiplayer is of the same stellar quality of Modern Warfare but at a slightly longer range in larger maps. It takes some getting used to, but if you have MW experience you'll fall back into your old groove soon enough. Among the many improvements are a decreased grenade and grenade launcher kill radius, better sights (especially the ACOG), more attachments, more gun camos, and better spawn locations.
Modern Warfare 2 is THE definitive first person shooter experience. Everything feels solid. There's so much to do and so much to unlock I can't ever imagine growing bored of it -- especially the multiplayer.
Default Prophet, Gamertag: Defalt Prophet