In 2019, Infinity Ward and Activision released the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot and brought the beloved sub-franchise back in a big way. The 2019 Call of Duty game came out swinging with a brand-new engine, the return of fan-favorite characters, and a commitment to classic boots-on-the-ground gameplay. There’s been a great deal of hype for the 2022 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 thanks to the positive buzz generated by the 2019 game, but unfortunately, Modern Warfare 2 fails to live up to its predecessor, with the most disappointing part of the package being the single-player campaign.

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The campaign is full of problematic story beats, with Modern Warfare 2‘s supposed heroes committing all kinds of crimes and general atrocities. In one mission, Mexican special forces cross the border, break into Americans’ homes, and kill them when they try to defend themselves. In real life, this would be an Earth-shaking political scandal, but in Modern Warfare 2, foreign forces murdering American citizens on American soil is brushed off and never mentioned again.

Modern Warfare 2 suffers from serious jumps in logic throughout the entire campaign. In one mission, players completely obliterate countless Mexican army and cartel members in an attempt to capture someone. After catching this person, Modern Warfare 2‘s protagonists are told their captive must be let go because holding him would be illegal. Yet, in a previous mission the orders were to capture him or kill him. Apparently, the military leadership in Call of Duty has no problem committing war crimes or assassinating people, but they draw the line at kidnappings.

The story in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a complete bust, crossing the line into Fast and Furious-levels of absurdity with zero care for establishing a believable world with believable characters. Everyone is one note, spouting emotionless military babble at each other, with Gaz’s constant use of the word “rog” especially grating. If all that wasn’t enough to make the Modern Warfare 2 campaign story easily one of the worst in the series, it completely fails to follow up on the cliffhanger left by the 2019 Modern Warfare game, though there’s a reason for that.

Those that remember the 2019 Modern Warfare campaign will recall that it ends with Captain Price putting together Task Force 141 to take on Victor Zakhaev, one of the main antagonists of Call of Duty 4. One would think that Modern Warfare 2 would continue that storyline, but it doesn’t, and Zakhaev is hardly even mentioned. The reason for this is because that story was actually wrapped up as part of limited-time Call of Duty: Warzone events. This baffling narrative decision will leave players trying to follow the overarching narrative from one game to the next utterly confused, and it’s a choice that makes an already lackluster story even worse.

Unfortunately, it looks like this trend will continue with Modern Warfare 2. The new game’s campaign ends on a chilling cliffhanger that it seems will likely be concluded in the upcoming Warzone 2.0 battle royale or maybe the rumored Modern Warfare 2 campaign DLC. As it stands, the entire story is one giant set-up to more interesting things, and its inability to finish the story started by the 2019 game makes the whole thing completely unsatisfying.

Gameplay-wise, the Modern Warfare 2 campaign fares better, but it’s nothing to write home about. Anyone that has played a Call of Duty campaign in the last 15 years knows exactly what to expect from this. Levels play out like a shooting gallery, with enemies popping up to get shot and putting up little fight. Missions are even more hand-holdy than ever before, with the obligatory sniper mission having Captain Price fixing players’ mistakes by killing the enemies they miss.

The Modern Warfare 2 campaign gives players the illusion of choice, allowing them to make decisions like if they should enter a warehouse by breaching the door with C4, throwing tear gas through the vents, or coming through the skylights. No matter what players do, the outcome is going to be the same, and they always end up on the ground shooting enemies. Still, this is preferable to the moments where the game tells players every single thing they should do at any given time, like “stay still in the grass, pull out your heartbeat sensor,” etc.

The Modern Warfare 2 campaign is excessively hand-holdy for almost the entire experience, minus out-of-place sections where the game suffers a difficulty spike and has players facing off against armored enemies with limited weaponry at their disposal. Armored enemies in the Modern Warfare 2 campaign at least make the missions more challenging, but going from run-and-gun gameplay to strict stealth in a Call of Duty game is jarring.

Armored enemies are one way the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 campaign incorporates Warzone elements, but there are other ways the battle royale finds its way into the single-player experience. There are a couple of missions where players are encouraged to loot and equip armor plates, like in the BR, and there’s also a horribly misguided and frustratingly wonky vehicle mission that seems to be an attempt to showcase Warzone‘s driving mechanics.

Even though Warzone 2.0 doesn’t launch until November 16, the battle royale’s influence can be found all over the game. The big team Ground War and Invasion maps from the multiplayer are re-purposed chunks of Warzone 2.0‘s Al Mazrah map, and the same goes for the Spec Ops co-op missions. Speaking of Spec Ops, the fan-favorite mode is back, but this time there are only three missions and none of them really capture what made the original Spec Ops special.

In the 2009 Modern Warfare 2, the Spec Ops missions were bite-sized co-op experiences that offered genuine challenges and utilized the two-player set-up effectively by sometimes putting players in different roles or giving them distinct objectives from their co-op partner. In the 2022 Modern Warfare 2, the Spec Ops missions are long, drawn-out affairs where players complete objectives across areas of the Al Mazrah map.

The good news is that the Modern Warfare 2 2022 Spec Ops missions are fun in their own right, giving players the freedom to tackle objectives how they want and allowing the game’s excellent gunplay to shine. However, this is not the grand return of the 2009 Spec Ops that fans have been wanting for years, and saddling these missions with that name will likely leave some fans of the original Modern Warfare 2 feeling misled.

Spec Ops is fun but not really Spec Ops, and the campaign is the definition of style over substance. However, they’re both worth checking out if for nothing else than to unlock content for Warzone and multiplayer and ogle the graphics. Even as a cross-gen release, Modern Warfare 2 has some of the best graphics industry-wide, with a buttery smooth frame rate and a high level of detail in each level.

This polish carries over to the multiplayer, with Modern Warfare 2 providing the best-looking Call of Duty multiplayer to date. While the campaign fails to hit the mark, the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer experience is excellent from a core gameplay standpoint, providing the classic Call of Duty multiplayer experience that fans have come to expect with an extensive arsenal of weapons and a decent variety of game modes.

Along with the standard Call of Duty game modes, Modern Warfare 2 introduces Prisoner Rescue and Knock Out, both of which are no-respawn match types that require players to be more strategic than most CoD game modes. As far as maps go, Modern Warfare 2 has launched with 10 multiplayer maps, none of which stand out as egregiously bad. The maps are fun with nice variety, and while some may prove controversial in the community, like the Border Crossing map that takes place on a narrow highway crowded with cars, they at least offer something new.

What Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer delivers at launch is well-designed maps and classic game modes that should keep Call of Duty fans busy for weeks. Even so, there are some omissions from the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer experience that keep it from being the saving grace for the game. At the time of this writing, Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer has no way for players to check their stats and there is no Hardcore mode. Also, the Gunsmith is missing important functionality like saving custom blueprints, and split-screen is either broken or purposefully limited compared to previous games.

Call of Duty has kept split-screen at a time when most other games have abandoned it, but the split-screen in Modern Warfare 2 leaves a lot to be desired. At the time of this writing, players are unable to play any online matches in split-screen and Spec Ops is also unplayable in split-screen. Instead, the only option for split-screen gamers is to play custom matches against bots, which is better than nothing, but a far cry from what’s been offered in the past.

Activision and Infinity Ward have big plans for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and the game should see plenty of support in the weeks and months ahead. The big Season 1 update is scheduled to arrive in November, while Season 1 Reloaded will come in December with even more content. These updates will likely address fan feedback about the game and bring back missing features as well. Eventually, Modern Warfare 2 should get to a point where it becomes an easy recommendation for shooter fans, but it’s undercooked and underwhelming in its current state.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is out now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant reviewed the Xbox Series X version of the game.

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