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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review

Verdict

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 comes in as the 19th instalment of the series. It’s easily the best-looking Call of Duty game to date, and the graphics shined on my PS5. The campaign mode is a little lacklustre, but there are plenty of multiplayer modes to explore, even if Infinity Ward hasn’t ironed out all the performance issues just yet.

Pros

  • Graphics are impeccable
  • Stealth levels are more open ended
  • Weapon handling feels fantastic
  • More multiplayer modes and features

Cons

  • Multiplayer is teaming with performance issues
  • Campaign levels feel too linear
  • Campaign story feels underbaked
  • Overheated my PS5

Availability

  • UKRRP: £69.99
  • USARRP: $69.99
  • EuropeRRP: €59.49
  • CanadaRRP: CA$79.99
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$89.99

Key Features

  • Platforms:PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
  • Release date:28th October 2022
  • Genre:Third-person shooter, action-adventure

Introduction

Activision takes us back to 2009 with a soft reboot of the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 story.

While the name Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 may be a little confusing to those who were playing the original game back in the 2000s, don’t be fooled, this is game is not a remake. The 2022 release is a sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare and it features a nostalgic campaign alongside a plethora of multiplayer modes for players to dig their teeth into.

The massively enhanced graphics and modern retelling does make the game worth playing in its own right, however, Call of Duty’s fear of stepping out of its comfort zone shines through here more than ever.

Campaign mode

  • Incredible graphics on the PS5
  • Surface level storytelling
  • 17 levels in the campaign mode
  • Did cause my PS5 console to overheat

Just like its predecessor, Modern Warfare 2 follows Task Force 141 as they attempt to take down the Iranian Quds Force, with 17 missions in total to get through. Throughout the missions, I played as John “Soap” MacTavish and Kyle “Gaz” Garrick, and I have to say that it was fun to step back into the shoes of characters I last saw over a decade prior.

Unfortunately, after the nostalgia wore off I did find that this story felt a lot more surface-level than the original Modern Warfare and its 2019 reboot. It can be difficult to care about the same stereotypical terrorist story that we’ve seen so many times before, and characters rarely got any more exploration than being fanatically enthusiastic about the war.

I don’t think that Call of Duty needs a particularly emotional story for it to work, but it did feel like Infinity Ward was banking on my love of the first game to get me through the story beats in this one.

I can praise the level design however, which is massively aided by the incredible graphics. The best example of this would be the second mission set in Amsterdam, which is fairly short and uninteresting on its own but the Dutch capital is immediately recognisable thanks to how fantastically realistic it looks, and for a moment it felt like I was walking around a simulator instead of fighting fictional terrorists.

Amsterdam canal graphics in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I would argue that the graphics outshined the story and gameplay in a few areas, as in some levels I felt more invested in checking out how much detail the developers managed to cram into every shot than how the story was progressing.

Generally, I thought that every level in Modern Warfare 2 was surprisingly short, with one or two missions taking less than 10 minutes to complete. While I don’t think anyone is asking for a Breath of the Wild length campaign in a Call of Duty game, every level seemed incredibly linear, and it felt like I was pushed to follow the set route made for me rather than develop new strategies for taking down enemies.

Call of Duty: Vanguard gave me more opportunities to take on a mission the way I saw fit, with one of the protagonists, Lady Nightingale, having parkour-esque abilities which made exploring the worlds much easier. While many of the levels in Modern Warfare 2 need to be scripted to follow along with the story, I felt as if I had less agency overall throughout the campaign.

There is one mission that packs a lot more tension than any other, titled Alone. Here, you are abandoned with no weapons and must craft DIY tools to get past a plethora of guards. The emphasis on stealth demands your attention, and I really enjoyed creating smoke bombs to confuse enemies and sneak on by, undetected. Being injured in this mission does force you to walk at a ridiculously slow pace, but the amount of choice and creativity you’re afforded allows it to shine nonetheless.

Recon by Fire mission stealth Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
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Other missions stand out too due to their variety; the first mission set in Amsterdam took me to the canals, swimming around under the cover of darkness and taking enemies out in near-silence. Recon by Fire was my favourite due to the multitude of ways I could approach enemies, with the option of forcing them out into the open or sneakily sniping them from the roof.

While I can’t say that the level selection was bad, it felt more like a ‘greatest hits’ playlist of the original Modern Warfare II than its own dedicated game. Recon by Fire proved to me that Infinity Ward can be more creative in how it allows players to approach a task, and I think more micro-decisions throughout the remaining levels would have benefited the campaign overall.

I did like the weapon handling in this game; each gun had its own weight and feel, and there were plenty of chances to pick up and try new weapons in every level. Few missions actually favoured a specific gun type – with Recon by Fire being the biggest outlier as it places a greater emphasis on sniping – which did make every gun feel a little interchangeable, but never to the point where I stopped picking up new weapons from fallen enemies.

Sniper mission in a house in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I do have to touch on one of the biggest and most unexpected issues I encountered during my playthrough. For reasons I don’t understand, the campaign overheated my PS5 three times, forcing me to quit the game and wait a couple of hours before I was comfortable playing it again. I have never experienced this with any other game or application on my console and there is nothing about my setup that I think could have caused it.

From my research, this doesn’t seem like a common issue and my console still works fine, but it definitely did put me off returning to the game, so it’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, I think the campaign of Modern Warfare 2 is interesting but I would like to see Infinity Ward step further out of its comfort zone. While I can’t fault the graphics, I would like to see a different, less stereotypical story play out with a little more focus on freedom than the same linear design we’ve been accustomed to for so long.

Teammate talking on a mission
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Multiplayer mode

  • No Zombies mode
  • The gun unlocking system is overwhelming
  • Some performance issues
  • Extra modes added

Overall, Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer is exactly what I expected it to be. Infinity Ward seems to have put a lot more focus on 6v6 matches this time around, although that hasn’t come as a detriment to the maps. Currently, there are 15 maps that span most of the game modes, with my personal favourite being Sariff Bay, as it’s great for sniping.

I haven’t yet experienced a map that I hated, as most of them strike a good balance between size and complexity. The options here feel a lot more varied than in previous games I’ve played; Crown Raceway is a Grand-Prix-inspired map where you can hide behind cars, and Taraq comes in as a 6v6 or a massive 32v32 map, with tons of places to attack from.

Unlike my previous experiences with Call of Duty, there are fewer places to camp out and hide, which encouraged me to run around the map a lot more than I would usually. Movement here feels a lot more fluid; while the jumping mechanics are not as powerful or fast as in previous games, it felt very smooth to run, jump and glide around. I was a massive fan of maps that allow you to swim, as not only is it a fun way to escape another player, it allows for creative and exciting takedowns.

Multiplayer deathmatch game in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It’s worth noting that there is no Zombie mode available in Modern Warfare 2, and Infinity Ward has claimed that this mode will not be returning at all this time around. As someone that has a lukewarm opinion of this mode, this did not bother me, but it’s something to keep in mind if taking down the undead is high up on your Call of Duty wishlist.

All the classic game modes that hardcore fans love have returned including Domination, Search and Destroy, Headquarters and Team Deathmatch. Out of the 12 modes, four are new: Knock Out, Prisoner Rescue, Raids and Ground War Invasion.

Looking at what we already know, all the returning game modes function as they should. My go-to has always been Team Deathmatch, but Search and Destroy has a special place in my heart since you don’t respawn if you accidentally get killed, adding a decent challenge to the mix.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 seems to have taken a leaf out of Battlefield 2042‘s book, with a few modes that take place on massive maps. The new Ground War Invasion mode is a 20v20, pitting both human and AI players against each other. Despite my questionable FPS skills, even I have to say that the AI here is almost comically bad. The real players help to make up the tension, but it feels almost unfair when you can gun down five AI players without breaking a sweat.

Team Deathmatch win in COD MW2
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Ground War works in a very similar way, at 32v32, but with no AI players in sight. Due to the lack of AI, I much prefer Ground War to Ground War Invasion, but I think they’re both worth playing if you’re a fan of massive maps with gigantic brawls.

I was also a fan of Knock Out, a 6v6 mode in which both teams fight for a massive bag of cash located in the middle of the map. There are no respawns but you have the option of reviving your team members, and you have to win five rounds in total to win. I like modes that enable team revivals, as I think it adds to the comradery of Call of Duty that is usually overlooked if you’re playing in random teams.

Prisoner Rescue is another 6v6 and is essentially the same as VIP Escort from Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, with the aim of rescuing or killing two prisoners instead of a random team member. Raids is 3v3 and can only be unlocked after completing a certain challenge in multiplayer, giving more incentive for players to come back for more and try out new strategies.

The gun customisation in Modern Warfare 2 is much more extensive than ever before, and I have to say, it’s pretty overwhelming. If you’re a Call of Duty superfan then this likely won’t take too long to get used to, but it’s a lot to take in for an infrequent player. I really like the fact that you can essentially make your own weapon, with options to trade features like hip-fire accuracy for a laser sight, and the option of adding up to five attachments available on each weapon.

Gun selection image and mods in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

However, the menu selection for this can be complicated, and it took me several matches to get to grips with all the options. Thankfully, I unlocked new guns and upgrades almost every time I played, and the weapons that are restricted to challenges encouraged me to try out weapons that I usually wouldn’t take a second glance at.

Unfortunately, I have to mention how incredibly glitchy this game can be. My experience is restricted to the PS5 and the PS4, and in both instances, there were some noticeable issues. Graphical issues, like floating bodies and shuddering walls don’t bother me too much, but on occasion my game would suddenly freeze or the frame rate would drop drastically, resulting in my death or just being booted out of the map completely.

On average, every third game I played would have some type of performance issue and it really did put me off playing. I don’t think it had any correlation to my internet connection, as I found that other multiplayer games on my PS5 performed without issue. From what I’ve heard the same issues are prevalent on the PC version of the game too, so hopefully Infinity Ward can roll out some patches to smooth out the experience.

Overall, I did enjoy Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer modes, even as someone who doesn’t regularly play FPS games. Thanks to skill-based matchmaking – which is a tad controversial for more seasoned players – I never felt like I was completely out of my depth during my first few plays, and when the game was functioning as intended, I managed to have a lot of fun.

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Should you buy it?

You want a solid Call of Duty game with incredible graphics:

Modern Warfare 2 is a reliable title that offers up more multiplayer modes than before as well as a somewhat varied campaign mode. Playing on a next-gen console or PC will also show off how graphically impressive this game truly is.

You want a game with no performance issues:

Despite the graphical prowess, multiplayer mode is teaming with performance problems that cause untimely deaths and can even force you out of the lobby. This is also the only game I’ve ever encountered that has overheated my PS5.

Final Thoughts

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does have its moments, although I would argue that a lot of those are riding on the coattails of everyone’s nostalgia. The campaign is varied but a little too linear for my tastes, with the graphics taking centre stage thanks to the capabilities of next-generation consoles.

Multiplayer does have the chance to be great, with added game modes and the chance to battle it out on massive 32v32 maps, but Infinity Ward really needs to work on fixing the performance issues so it can reach its full potential.

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How we test

We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.

Played through the campaign

Tested every multiplayer mode

Tested on PS5

FAQs

Is Call of Duty Modern Warfare cross-platform?

Yes, there is crossplay in Modern Warfare 2. It is available on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

How long is the campaign in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2?

The length of the campaign will depend on what difficulty you are playing, as well as if you want to complete every aspect of the game. I played the game on Regular and completed the campaign in around six hours.

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