Call of Duty, one of the most popular franchises in the gaming world and one that has seen its fair share of controversy welcomes another entry – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
Many players who haven’t been following Call of Duty in recent years, myself included, might be confused as to how this game fits in. Is it a remaster, a retelling, or some kind of expanded edition? It is in fact completely separate from the original 2009 release, and this rendition follows a reimagined story that borrows very little aside from the original game’s characters. You know that original game yeah? The one that includes fan favorites like Captain Price, Soap, and, of course, Ghost.
Many of the more recent Call of Duty games have been met with a lackluster response. In fact, the original Modern Warfare titles marked the high point in Call of Duty’s impact on the culture. This latest entry, this retelling of Modern Warfare II, hopes to recapture some of that feeling. The question is, does it?
The campaign clocks in at around six to eight hours to beat, which puts this Call of Duty campaign on the longer end compared to other entries in the series. Part of that is due to its difficulty, with anyone who chooses to play it on Veteran or Realism difficulty in for a real challenge. It also features no less than seventeen missions, some of which only take a couple minutes, whilst others will take over a half an hour to get through.
A good sign is that there is a refocusing on single player here, but longer does not mean better. As a note, there will be some gameplay spoilers throughout the rest of this review as I will mainly focus on the campaign. I will however avoid all story spoilers.
The combat in Modern Warfare II feels good, like you’d expect from a Call of Duty game, but there are many mechanics that were new to me. I missed out on the first entry in this series reboot, but there is now a new focus on stealth and even light crafting mechanics.
Many games that try to include stealth do it in a clunky way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the game. But Modern Warfare II actually manages to pull it off in a way that, dare I say, feels good. Now, that’s not to say that it is done perfectly and a water based stealth mission and some of the longer stealth sequences are a bit overbearing, but all in all, I actually enjoyed playing through these segments of the game.
The crafting system works hand in hand, where you are stripped of your weapons and you have to scavenge supplies to make items that allow you to navigate these stealth sections easier. The challenge of overcoming an insurmountable force is part of what makes gaming so appealing, at least to me.
The combat beyond that feels very much like a traditional Call of Duty game. It is most definitely a return to form, which is a great sign. That said, it does get a bit Wile E. Coyote in a couple missions, disconnecting from the rest of the game. The worst offender is a mission in which you are embroiled in a vehicle chase sequence that involves dangling from a helicopter, upside down, hopping from car to car, and a brief – but still too long – sequence where you chase a truck that is infinitely producing road mines behind it.
The shining star of the game though is its cast of characters. I loved seeing Price, Soap, and Ghost back in action, fitting in well with the new additions. Perhaps the writing for these guys isn’t perfect but Modern Warfare II manages to capture a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie between the characters excellently. I was genuinely invested in them and their survival by the end of the campaign.
Playing on Xbox Series X, I’ve experienced some minor technical issues. There have been some mild pathfinding issues with some of the AI, and my checkpointing seemed to stop working properly during one mission. But I still managed to get through it playing on Veteran.
All in all, the campaign has been fun yet there are still areas that need work. As someone who hasn’t played Call of Duty for a few years, Modern Warfare II has me interested again, looking forward to the next entry in the series.
And then we’ve got the multiplayer and again, fun is the overriding element. Spawning feels okay and never put me in a sequence of spawn killing, which is always a plus. And the kill streak mechanics actually feel dependent on kills instead of points, which is something I hope they stick with.
But overall Modern Warfare II is most definitely a Call of Duty game; a good one to boot. Only time will tell how well the multiplayer holds up with balancing and optimization, but I am cautiously optimistic that things are going in the right direction with this iteration.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is on the Xbox Store