The customization and creativity does not stop with the upgrades and challenges, however. Modern Warfare 2 also allows players to tailor things like their kill streak rewards, which were standardized in the original title. Players can now select their three favorite kill streak rewards in which to receive during times of fortune. This feature lets players who are prone to going on kill streaks closer to the 5-15 range to focus most of their rewards to match their needs, while lesser-skilled gamers (such as myself) can try and reap the rewards of 3-5 kill streaks.
Beyond just the customization of kill streak rewards, Modern Warfare 2 also increased the sheer amount of rewards. So, instead of having to pick between the standard UAV, airstrike, helicopter combo, players can choose to have a care package sent to them, jam enemy electronics or call in the fable nuclear missile strike, a reward for those who go on a 25-kill streak. Some challenges are linked to these rewards, so players are continually encouraged to try each of these out as well.
Furthermore, Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t just stop at kill streaks as this title incorporates "death streak" rewards as well. Every multiplayer gamer knows that going on a run a 3 or more deaths without a kill is never fun. With this concept in mind, Infinity Ward now gives players caught in this unfortunate situation a better chance of snapping out of it. Some people who I’ve talked to aren’t huge fans of the death streak bonuses, but I think (and I’m sure most will agree) that anything that replaces the Juggernaut feature from the original Modern Warfare is going to be a positive, no matter what it is.
Let us now take a look at some of the more imperfect aspects of the multiplayer mode. First, because it is so much different, complex and intense than the initial release, Modern Warfare 2 is definitely going to be an acquired taste for some, especially for Modern Warfare purists. Many players will ask themselves if this game is almost too extreme. With larger maps, more powerful guns and a seemingly limitless amount of points to be gained, screens around the world are going to be so cluttered with alerts and other data that many gamers are just not going to be able to handle it all. Even getting a simple sniper kill will feel a bit awkward, as it could unlock a series of random bonuses (like +50 points for getting a long distance kill and +50 for avenging a teammate’s death), evoking winning a slot machine during almost every instant in the game. Parents beware: seizures will ensue.
Adding to the almost unnecessary amount of intensity in the game, players who get shot or take damage will not have their screen turn increasingly darker shades of red, but instead have blood spatter on their screen. As someone who love realism, this really should be a positive for me, however it’s a feature that is a bit flawed. I understand that getting shot will result in a loss of blood. What I don’t understand is why jumping down from a second story window will result in the same amount of blood being splattered on your screen. I’ve jumped from enough roofs to know that not every landing will end with massive amounts of bleeding and eyesight deterioration. Perhaps a different approach to damage monitoring could have been implemented for such cases.
To nitpick further, I also disliked some of the more basic aspects of Modern Warfare 2’s multiplayer modes. Other than going on death streaks, getting poor spawn points is a major FPS pet peeve. Unfortunately, Modern Warfare 2 is chock full of them. A word to the wise, be ready to shoot at any moment as you’ll never know when you’ll spawn directly in an enemy’s sight. Also, though it isn’t much of a problem any more, Modern Warfare 2 had some matchmaking issues earlier this week. That will be something for multiplayer gamers to monitor as the year progresses.
Overall, multiplayer is a lot of fun, but it will be interesting to see how it is received by new fans and old Modern Warfare veterans. I assume that the general consensus is that Modern Warfare 2 has one of the most entertaining and intricate multiplayer modes available today, but such dramatic changes always leaves a game subject to some risk.
Finally, I want to briefly touch on Special Ops, a mode unique to Modern Warfare 2. Special Ops is a multiplayer mode created to compensate for the exclusion of co-op campaign. However, instead of including games like deathmatch or requiring the completion of campaign missions, Special Ops challenges players to do different tasks of almost every variety. For instance, one "p" will have players run through a training course in a certain amount of time. Other times, players will have to sneak past an entire army of enemies, while armed with a sniper rife, the snow and your partner’s itching trigger finger.
Based on the efficiency and difficult level in which each op is completed, two-player teams are rewarded a certain amount of stars. The more stars players collect, the more ops they can unlock and play. Though the replay value isn’t the greatest, the challenging nature of some of the tasks will keep many players occupied for quite a while.
However, challenging nature or not, Special Ops does get a bit redundant after a while. Not many gamers are going to be able to sit down and knock out more than 5 ops in one sitting. Furthermore, many of the tasks in Special Ops include the trendy survive-while-waves-of-enemies-attack feature, which can be seen as yet another spin-off of Gear of War 2’s Horde mode.
Special Ops isn’t perfect, but I think it is still a solid addition to Modern Warfare 2. It’s a fun mode that doesn’t take a whole lot of time commitment to complete, though I’m still very curious as to how a co-op campaign would have turned out.
Overall, Modern Warfare 2 lives up it’s calling in almost every respect. From multiplayer, to campaign, to the inevitable additional features that enhance the package, Infinity Ward does the FPS world a favor with this release. It’s clearly the must-have FPS title of the holiday season and newest finalist for Game of the Year.
Blast Factor: However, the best part of Modern Warfare 2 is that it is set the bar so high for FPS titles going forward. This game alone will change the expectations for games like Bad Company 2 and, better yet, Modern Warfare 3. This is the start of exciting times for FPS fans everywhere. If you have $60 and a Xbox or PS3, buy this game. You’ll be very glad you did.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is available on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the PC. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.