Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is Call Of Duty at its bombastic best, with developer Infinity Ward returning to the helm with tight gunplay, intense maps, and killstreaks – a whole lot of killstreaks.
Modern Warfare 2 is the sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare, and while there have been several new entries in the series since then (Black Ops Cold War, Vanguard), fans of the 2019 title will feel right at home as it feels similar in terms of time to kill and general flavour.
However, the more standard multiplayer will still feel comfortable to anyone that has played any Call Of Duty entry before. It’s well done: gunfights are pulse-pounding and it’s the perfect popcorn game, something you can pick up and play for a little bit without needing to care about a constantly shifting meta or competitive stakes. If you want to dive in a little deeper, it’s an option – with modes like Prisoner Rescue, Search and Destroy and Knock Out available if you want a little more competitive weight.
In these more competitive game modes, Modern Warfare 2’s decision to emphasise sound rings clearer. The minimap no longer blips up little red dots when someone fires an unsilenced weapon, and footsteps sound louder than they have before. I’m a big fan – you’ll often hear the person coming to kill you before you see them, which makes room-to-room combat even tenser when you’re surrounded by the enemy team’s stomping.
If you want something a little larger scale, this year’s attempt at bigger battles for the beta comes in the form of Invasion, which drops in a ton of players and AI opponents in a pitched battle. The scoring system apes Titanfall 2, with kills on AI being worth a point, while trashing vehicles and players gives you a higher bounty – every little helps, and Invasion matches never lose the feel of being caught in the middle of a pitched battle. The map is bigger than a standard Call Of Duty map, but doesn’t stray too far from familiarity – there are still three lanes to fight through, and plenty of verticality. That means it’s easy to hunker down on a rooftop or charge through the streets, depending on what you fancy. It’s a very different experience to the smaller modes, and embraces on-the-go skirmishes rather than the sheer chaos of standard multiplayer.
Though the game plan varies from mode to mode, Modern Warfare 2’s atmosphere stays the same – and is the shooter’s biggest win. A contemporary military aesthetic melded with streetwear culture, it’s hard not to feel like you and your team are the stars of a stylish action movie – brought to life with earth-shaking explosions and soundtracked by staccato gunfire.
When you’re not shooting at people, you’ll likely be tinkering with the guns you plan on eventually shooting people with. Gunsmith 2.0 expands on 2019’s iteration of Gunsmith – and while it’s impossible to tell how deep this customisation will go since it’s still in beta, initial signs are good: it’s easy to see how the attachments you’re putting onto a weapon will change its performance, and there’s a variety of different attachments to play with.
Modern Warfare let you convert guns into other configurations: the Holger-36 in Modern Warfare is an MG36 that you can switch up to being a G36, for example, while an MP5 could be reconfigured to an MP5K or MP5 SD. At the moment, Gunsmith 2.0 will let you switch out the receiver on a gun, effectively changing it to a whole other gun while keeping a lot of the attachments, but it’s not yet certain how much you can play with the guns. Right now, it looks positive, and there are plenty of different options for players to tweak and perfect their loadouts.
Of course, as Call Of Duty’s biggest bastard once quoted: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Modern Warfare 2 still has some of the rough edges associated with Call Of Duty: the snowball effect of killstreaks can be tricky to deal with when you’re facing an experienced team, and if you’re not a fan of Call Of Duty, it’s unlikely that Modern Warfare 2 is going to do enough to change that for you. That being said, Modern Warfare 2 feels like the polished ideal of everything you might expect, and the beta has provided a compelling reason to buy in when the game launches on October 28.