Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
The Good: Amazing audio/visual experience, cinematic single player experience, out of this world multiplayer that is deep and challenging
The Bad: Single player is short and not as good as the first, not enough good maps in multiplayer, covert ops are something to be desired and feel tacked on
First person shooters have always been one of my most favorite genres because of the amazing stories that most tell accompanied with the beautiful cinematic experiences that most provide these days. Modern Warfare 2 is among those, but the multiplayer is what will keep you coming back for more. Modern Warfare 2 starts after the first game so I highly suggest picking up the Game of the Year Edition if you really want to get into Modern Warfare. You play as new recruits and follow the characters you played as in the original (Captain Price and Soap MacTavish). You are still trying to stop the Russian psychopath Makarov who has now brought the war to the east coast of our own country.
The game is more cinematic than the original, but not as intuitive in terms of level design and length. There are things in Modern Warfare 2 that have never been done in an FPS before like ice climbing, but you also have a snowmobile scene as well as using AC-130 attack planes, but the game just doesn’t compare to the original in terms of single player. One of the most memorable moments is during the beginning when you actually play as a terrorist in one level and massacre people in an airport. I am very surprised this passed the ESRB censorship without housewives complaining because they can’t control their kids’ actions. Anyways, there are a lot of things in the single player experience for fans of the original and that is flashbacks of the last game and even another sniper level with Captain Price, but nothing tops the level in Pripyat form the original, nothing. The biggest thing you will notice are the mass amount of weapons you can use. There were so many weapons I couldn’t use them all in one play through. Once thing that just strikes me as amazing is seeing our own country, as if this happened tomorrow, being a war torn battlefield. It’s very awe inspiring and makes you stop and admire the scenery. While the single player experience only has about 4-6 hours of game play it’s enough to get your started and familiar with the game enough to jump right into multiplayer and it comes out bats swinging and all.
Modern Warfare is renowned for its award winning multiplayer and it is probably the best FPS multiplayer I have ever played on any system ever. The game is about reaching rank 70 using real life military ranking system, and earning experience points from kills. You start out using the default load outs, but after reaching rank 4 you can make up to five custom classes. You can pick a primary and secondary weapon, equipment, special equipment, 3 perks, and a deathstreak. For each weapon you can choose an attachment ranging from scopes, grips, silencers, and heartbeat monitors. Perks add advantages to your skills such as steady aim, faster reloading, being invisible to UAVs, air support etc, master melee speed, and you get the idea. There is even a new perk called Bling which allows you to have two attachments to your primary weapon.
Once you have your classes created you can start earning experience points with them. The multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 is so deep that you earn points from completing challenges by using and doing everything you possibly can hundreds of times. Challenges range from getting so many kills for every weapon, attachment, perk, deathstreak, killstreak etc. Just about everything you do earn you points to move on up, and this can get your hundreds of hours of online fun.
If that isn’t enticing enough 12 players may not seem like much, but on these maps they are. My only real complaint is there aren’t many maps and most of them aren’t that good. A select few are well designed and very fun to play on, but some are just boring, but a map pack is due soon to fix this.
Some of the new features you have heard me talk about are new deathstreaks which are a fourth perk that is enabled if you die 3 times, and these range from dropping a live grenade upon death to 10 seconds of extra health upon resqawning. Killstreaks are now customizable and unlockable by earning ranks. There are over a dozen now ranging from controllable AC-130 airstrikes, helicopter strikes, Hind attacks, and carpet bombing. Getting 25 kills in a row can even land you a tactical nuke that lets your team automatically win. My favorite is the care package drops (upon earning 4 kills in a row) that deliver random killstreaks or even the placable turret.
You also now have a customizable call sign which is a placard which displays an emblem, a mockery banner, your rank, and gamertag. There are dozens of emblems and titles to unlock and mixing and matching is fun while the titles can match your personality such as ones that say “Bow Down”, “Omnipotent”, “Joint Ops”, or “Voyeur”. There is just an endless heap of options in this game and it truly makes it the best FPS multiplayer game ever made because there isn’t one thing I would want to change about the game. I really want to give this game a 9.5, but the slightly disappointing single payer and covert ops bring it down a tad.
Covert Ops seems more like an experiment than anything else because no one plays it online. Think of these as special missions that have you killing a certain amount of enemies, or racing down a hill in a snowmobile to get a certain time. 90% of these are impossible to do without someone else so you will most definitely need a buddy to beat these.
On one last note the game looks amazing. With super high res textures and looking like close to real life on an HDTV in all its 1080p 50” glory you will be drooling all the time. Everything is highly detailed and the sound is just amazing for that “in the war”experience. Modern Warfare 2 is just an amazing game and really shows how sequels should be: Improvements upon the original in which the developer listens to its fellow community and makes changes accordingly.