Caution: disengage brain before proceeding.
Or at least, that’s what I tell everyone to do when playing any of the Call of Duty games. These are not meant to be shining stars of innovation, nuance and the realisation of a masterful creative vision. No these are the popcorn movies of games, designed to appeal to the widest audience possible with big visuals, fast paced game play and a good old fashioned dose of American nationalism. Many would decry that these traits are what makes them bad games but, honestly, they’re an absolute romp while you’re playing them so long as you leave those higher order functioning parts of your brain at the door.
Following on from the events of the reboot of Modern Warfare Captain Price has created his specialised Task Force 141 and has been engaging in missions against Russian backed Iranian forces across the globe. You’re dropped in on an assignment against an Iranian generaal, Ghorbrani, who’s conducting an arms deal in Al Mazrah. Taking him out with a precision missile strike is easy enough, but this leads to his second in command, Major Hassan Zyani, taking over his leadership and swearing revenge against the United States. You’re now on a global manhunt for yet another arms dealer, one who seems to have access to munitions that shouldn’t have fallen into enemy hands.
The COD graphics have always felt optimised for the high paced game play but it seems Modern Warfare II has gotten a significant visual upgrade. I’ll admit part of this might be due to the last COD I played being on my rather ancient hardware at the time, but the difference really is quite astonishing. To be sure it’s not Battlefield or Crysis levels of visuals, something that’s readily apparent when you get up and close to the environment, but they’ve certainly put in enough scenes to demonstrate just how good the game can look when it wants to flex its legs.
Nothing much has changed in the core game loop for the single player campaign, still being your bog standard corridor shooter for the most part. To be sure there’s some sections that are a little bit less “corridor-y” than others, giving you a choice or two about how you engage, but for the most part you’ll still be funneled down a very narrow path that doesn’t invite exploration or attempts at novel solutions to the problem. Multiplayer has certainly matured the offerings it now presents to you, basically giving you the ability to play the 3 mainstay FPS tropes (old school deathmatches, Battlefield style large maps and battle royales) all in the one place. COD is perhaps the only franchise that can really get away with this too, given it’s large and increasingly more diverse player base. Progression in multiplayer too has seen a revamp as well, standardising on the usual season pass formula albeit with a slight COD twist. Suffice to say that, as the old adage goes, if you like COD it’s more COD and, if you don’t like COD well…it’s more COD.
The gun play in COD feels as good as it ever did, although I must admit that the single player felt a little constrained option wise. I mean you could do the usual ditch your gun for one of the enemy’s whenever you wanted but it almost always felt like a suboptimal choice, save for situations where you were deliberately starved of ammo for your starting weapons. The multiplayer gun play feels as smooth as it ever did, although if I’m honest I’ve never really felt like it translated well to the Ground War or Warzone game modes. Part of that is how the weapons change between those modes and the usual TDM style ones, the guns never really feeling the same after I’d gotten used to them. That’s personal preference though and I’m sure Warzone primaries going to TDM likely feel the same way.
There’s also some weird stealth sections thrown in for good measure which, if I’m honest, are probably the weakest moments of the single player campaign. Whilst I can see what Infinity Ward is trying to accomplish here the fact is that most of the stealth sections aren’t fun because what they’re really there to do is give you a taste of the non-TDM game modes. So you’re put into a rather contrived situation (narratively speaking) in order to be shown how to craft stuff from junk you find around the place, I.E. what you’d be doing in Warzone. I mean realistically that’s what the campaign has always been in COD games, so I shouldn’t really complain, but before it was more just touring maps than soft-intro’ing you into a game mode you might never touch.
I have to say that I wasn’t really enjoying the multi at the start, the same complaints I had about this game’s predecessor still being very much present. However about a week later they released Warzone and, more importantly, the Shipyard map. That map is to MW as is Nuketown to Black Ops, perhaps my favourite map for my stupid rusher antics. Even better the map is 6 v 6, meaning it’s absolute chaos at the best of times, giving me ample opportunity to spam relentlessly, die, and then do it all again 30 seconds later. I haven’t gone back recently (due to the backlog of other titles I really wanted to play) however with work doing a small COD tournament just for fun I’ll probably be dropping in a few more good hours into it and, for once, I think I’m looking forward to it.
There’s some peculiar rough edges on COD, even this long after launch. Not least of which is just actually playing the game which, if you want to do single, requires it relaunching itself for no discernable reason. The UI revamp takes a bit of getting used to, with various game modes slathered all over the place and the quick play feature needing some tweaking to actually get the games you want. The single player campaign also does not tolerate you deviating from the script at all, often simply just not recognising that you’ve gotten to an objective if you haven’t done them in the precise order it expects you to. Some of these complaints might seem petty but for a game that’s grossed some $1+ billion already I feel like I shouldn’t have anything to complain about.
The story, like all CODs, is a fun action romp that is completely forgettable. I mean I could tell you a couple of the main character’s names but most of them have already been in multiple CODs already so that’s not really saying anything. It’s gone back to the good old fashioned USA vs Russia conflict, something that you may or may not feel great about given, you know, the situation, Like all good action movies though it’s a blast while you’re in it and, really, that’s what you’re paying for here.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II redux does what we all expect it to: bring us more COD in a slightly different flavour than last year so we can do the same thing again this year. There’s comfort in that honestly, and the fact that so many people fling money at Activision Blizzard for it goes to show just how popular they are. The great news about that is that it means it’s always a good time to play it but it’s also never bad if you miss one. Guaranteed you’ll be able to play some form of it whenever you feel like it. There’s not much more to say really other than:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022) is available on PC, PlayStaiton 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S right now for $109.95, Game was played on the PC with a total of 11 hours play time and 8% of the achievements unlocked.