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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

Short single player with good variety and quick missions, multiplayer is quite good but sadly limited on PC.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter featuring high amounts of level variety and some intricately crafted single player sequences. It features a strong multiplayer component and a variety of co-operative modes. The game takes place 5 years after Call of Duty 4 and allows you to play a few different characters through the story. The action will take you around the globe for some very quick fire missions only to jump you back somewhere else for more action. It is perhaps both a game strength and a weakness that there is very little time spent in the one area. Old faces will return, voiced well, with much of the story being told in between missions through voice conversations between these key characters. Modern Warfare 2 is all about jumping you from one action hotspot to another without giving you much room to breathe or take stock of what you were just doing. It is perhaps its own pace that lets the game down and the fact that the general gameplay doesn’t quite reach heights of the carefully crafted game segments which you may not have much control over. On the PC the multiplayer while fun and polished comes off lacking some of the features that are generally taken for granted in most multiplayer games.

Icy Beards are rendered with high accuracy..
The huge amount of variety to single player missions comes from a few design choices which rarely keep you tied around one location or doing the one thing for long. The missions are quickly over and that location is never really revisited again. Once a mission is complete you’ll be taking over another game character across the other side of the world. You generally play as the two main characters Roach and Ramirez, from Task 141 and the American Rangers respectively. There are a few sequences where you play other characters, sometimes very briefly.
The story and characters keep the cohesion even if the missions at times can feel very random. Some sections also felt created purely for shock factor rather than improve gameplay or push the story forward. One sequence in an airport, as a CIA undercover agent, you can participate in the killing of Russian civilians. Not only was this sequence too long but it wasn’t really necessary and only seemed to exist to present the player with a controversial shock sequence. There were also a few later sequences that proved to follow this trend, unfortunately they were major story twists but left me a little bewildered. Without this mission variety the game would struggle to hold an audience for a long period of time. And indeed even with the variety the game only comes in at about 5 hours long on regular difficulty. When the game isn’t jumping you around the globe it is probably showing you some spectacular sequence.

Some of the missions are very linear, literally on rails.
During missions the game sets itself up for carefully designed sequences, such as riding a snowmobile, driving a vehicle on a runway or even running over rooftops. It’s clear a lot of time was spent on these parts unfortunately some of the other gameplay suffers from this favouritism. I’m not ashamed to admit I died a lot on regular, that’s not to say the game was overly hard. The game saves often; if you die you won’t be repeating much of the game. In the open you are extremely vulnerable to bullet fire which can significantly jolt your vision and partially blinds you with red blood on your screen. I started the game on hardened, a recommended difficulty, but realised quickly that during combat I was spending more time behind a wall or objects than I was shooting foes. I definitely prefer more run and gun gameplay, the regenerative health was almost abused as a time wasting device. It’s good to see that the infinite respawns are a thing of the past. Enemies spawn on rooftops or in alley ways and generally run through or along your field of vision. This creates a much more natural introduction of enemies, even though they are spawning just around the corner it completely blends in unlike some sequences in COD 4. The overly scripted nature of the game shows cracks however. Enemies running up stairs will incur comments from your squad mates. This chatter will continue even if you have killed the enemies, breaking some of the illusion that has been so carefully created.

Is it the red or the blue wire?.
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#8 Dec 3, 2009 13:55:07 (Dec 3, 2009 13:55)

 Just comparing MW2 to the fastest DM game ever, UT.  UT being very competitively minded back when that mattered made people spawning invulnerable for a few secs, really changed the MP DM landscape.  Its just a step back i guess to have spawn killing be a problem again, it was something that previously people spamed forums about.  Maybe I'm hard on MW2 since it is considered in many circles as the end all be all of shooters and MP games, I like the game but it has some very apparent flaws throughout its design.  Maybe they though spawn kills & spawn in kills where a magnifiscent invention, but this really goes against the whole concept of the kill streak.  I also prefer objective based combat but I always like the UT DM, the DM in MW2 is fun for me, despite in my opinion to appear flawed on a very basic level.  I feel like without killstreaks they haven't improved the in game exprience for MP since COD 1.  
I've been spending alot of time in the game I'm just reaching a 3 star general.  The objective modes are not well realized, to often they drop a full player count into a tiny map creating a cluster F#@& not allot of fun.  I could even swallow their shtick about the matchmaking service if it did a better job of fitting player counts with suitable maps, but it doesn't, I've been dropped in 4 players on the largest map, not alot of fun if you didn't have a amazing sniper kit built.  Teams don't auto balance when players leave, and you can't select teams, etc....  I know some of this is retread from your review, sorry, I'm just ranting because I'm in what feels like a abusive relationship with this game and I can't leave till I'm reach the max level and fully realize the relationship for what it is.
#7 Dec 2, 2009 18:12:59 (Dec 2, 2009 18:12)

Thanks guys. The multiplayer is really designed around high speed action. I suspect they may have even listed their goals as being able to engage in a fight very quickly after spawning to keep people interested. When you set it up that way even new players can get kills if an enemy spawns in front of them with their back turned..
For me after a few early rounds of Deathmatch modes I left it behind because it didn't seem strategic or intelligent enough. You spawn in, see the first guy, shoot him or die. Plus I prefer objective based mp anyway.
They did however introuduce a variety of modes that have different speeds, but that's not going to help people who like slower deathmatch modes, they pretty much miss out. I think you are one of the few annoyed by it because the expecation for MW2 is for this very quick engagement after spawning, either dying or killing.
#6 Dec 2, 2009 08:29:52 (Dec 2, 2009 08:29)

 @ nutcrackr
You are right, this is infinity ward 4th COD game and the second one where they actually cared about the multiplayer, and yet this problem has persisted, it has been made worse every iteration of the game since they decreased map size (and now player count)  every game until now.
If MP games in general don't suffer this problem, even deathmatch ones(UT), then how come I feel like the only one who is annoyed by it.  Kill streaks don't seem valid when they are achieved in such a way, same goes for dieing before getting one because of a spawn in kill.
Excellent review by the way.
On another note, I feel like kill streaks could really work into other games like battlefield perhaps, maybe not kill streaks, maybe you accumilate points for team stuff, capturing control points or healing or something then get to call the AC 130
@ sirdesmond
I also think this is one of the fairest reviews I've read ever regarding a  high profile launch.   I just feel like the spawn killing and general lack of MP gameplay polish and is overlooked because the leveling system in this game is more comprehensive than WOW.  This is a shooter, leveling is great, I love it.  I just would have liked for reviewers to talk about the actual multiplayer gameplay experience more.  There is more to MP that dedicated servers or not ya know.
#5 Nov 28, 2009 17:02:22 (Nov 28, 2009 17:02)

I really liked this review.  It feels fair and gives MW2 credit where it is due without bowing down at the feet of Infinity Ward like so many of the reviews I've seen have.
#4 Nov 24, 2009 18:22:40 (Nov 24, 2009 18:22)

I think even cod 4 had a lot of situations where you spawn behind or in front of enemies for cheap kills. Especially in deathmatch modes were you have a lot more kills and the maps can be deceptively small. It really doesn't take long to run across them when the game speed it so fast.
MW2 deathmatch modes highlight this probably even more. I don't think the maps are too bad, there are a few crap ones but you get that in any game.
#3 Nov 24, 2009 11:54:35 (Nov 24, 2009 11:54)

there is nothing like being one kill from a big kill streak to have a enemy spawn in the room with you and be killed before calling in the big one.  That isn't be being a bad player or anything, just getting robbed.
#2 Nov 24, 2009 11:53:05 (Nov 24, 2009 11:53)

 I also didn't care for the level design in non deathmatch modes, they feel very disorienting and A symetrical often but not in a good way for me Only HQ is any good but that is still a spawn kill fest.  While they seem designed for TDM or HQ.  I prefer the other modes of play except that the maps just don't feel good for them so ultimately i play TDM and spawn die.
#1 Nov 24, 2009 11:49:38 (Nov 24, 2009 11:49)

 I  had very mixed feelings about the game too.  One moment your in a very scripted visual feast on a snowmobile(high action not very real)  the next your in a air port shooting civilians not something that blends with the brukheimer production values of the rest of the game even if the level is interesting to you or not, it doesn't fit with the style of the rest of the game,
I felt like the online is two steps forward three back, partying up is great for groups of friends but if you want to have a user defined experience like all the great hardcore overgrown servers in the first you'll be left wanting.  Map rotation is horribly implimented since some maps are designed for no more than 4 players and yet get stuffed with the full 12 causing the major problem with basic deathmatch in MW2, spawn killing.
Every other online experience has resolved spawn killing(atleast on pc) Counter strike, Day of Defeat, TF2, L4D, Battlefield, Unreal Tournament, Fear, Enemy Territory, etc.  some how infinity ward thought they were above this causing for the regularly occuring experiences of enemies spawning right behind you, and you spawning right in front of enemies.  these kills don't ever feel good, it isn't player skill just being screwed by the Spawn AI.  It isn't unusual to be spawn killed 3-5 times in a row on fully populated maps.  This is without a AC 130 blowing up the map.  Deathstreaks are a great Idea but ultimately don't fix any of these problems they are like alcohol on a wound, it's still a open wound just cleaned up a little.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 box art Platform:
Our Review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is ranked #359 out of 1646 total reviewed games. It is ranked #24 out of 69 games reviewed in 2009.
358. FIFA 10
PlayStation 3
359. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
360. FIFA 10
Xbox 360
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