Call of Duty Modern Warfare II has to be one of the most divisive games among the fan base since the release of its predecessor back in 2019. Following the release of Modern Warfare (2019), the expectations put on the developers at Infinity Ward were dialed up. It was going to be difficult to recapitalize the success of the previous installment in the series. Nonetheless, this year’s entry into the rebooted Modern Warfare franchise differs immensely from the original that was released 13 years ago.
The first Modern Warfare 2 is regarded as one of the most iconic and successful Call of Duty games ever to release. Despite that pressure, Treyarch and Infinity Ward still manage to capture a little bit of that magic again with this year’s iteration of the game. Modern Warfare II stays true to the original, but not in ways that fans expect. In many aspects, the game fails to meet a lot of the high expectations set for it. It already has some posing the argument that Activision is just baiting fans with the namesake of the iconic franchise, which begs the question; is Modern Warfare II a worthy successor to the original?
With the disappointing release of Call of Duty: Vanguard in the fall of 2021, fans craved a return to a modern setting. The rebooted Modern Warfare II story picks up right where it left off with the first one, three years after the events of the first game. Captain Price returns with Task Force 141, alongside the revival of fan-favorite characters Soap MacTavish and Simon “Ghost” Riley. Additionally, fans also see the return of Gaz, and CIA agent, Kate Laswell. This year’s reboot also has its own take on the infamous private military contractor, Shadow Company, as well as their leader, General Shepherd.
The story begins with the United States in conflict once again with Al Qatala. After “Ghost” and the rest of Task Force 141 take out a high-ranking Al-Qatala general. That General’s successor, someone who goes by the name “Hassan Zyani, “vows revenge against those responsible for his death. As the story progresses, players learn that Hassan and his forces intercepted a transport containing three American ballistic missiles. Throughout the rest of the game, Captain Price, Gaz, Soap, and “Ghost” are tasked with tracking down these missiles to prevent Hassan from using the missiles in an attack on U.S. soil.
Modern Warfare II also does a good job of fleshing out characters that made appearances in the original series. Characters such as Soap and Ghost are given more personality compared to the original Modern Warfare 2. These two provide some of the most memorable moments in the game with their back-and-forth banter. There is more of a fraternal bond between these two than before, showing more vulnerable side fans haven’t seen. This campaign gives both these characters the depth they always needed, but they are also one of the main things that save the campaign from falling flat on its face.
The original Modern Warfare 2 story is full of intrigue and deception. The situation and what is at stake in that game make the narrative a lot more engaging. While this year’s iteration of the game tries to create an original story, the story is super predictable, and it feels spineless. Instead of honing in on one particular objective, the game spends the first few hours trying to wedge more exposition into the plot than it can handle, and it makes the story seem very thin and uninspired. Another thing the campaign fails at is the antagonists. General Shepherd is boring compared to the character’s previous installment, and his intentions are confusing throughout the story. Hassan also just feels like another unoriginal and uninteresting villain that we have already seen in the franchise before.
Gameplay, Graphics & Multiplayer
Much like the original Modern Warfare 2, this game is an all-out globe-trotting affair that brings players to gorgeous setpieces like Chicago, Amsterdam, Mexico, and the Middle East. The 17 missions scattered throughout the campaign are a mixed bag that provides a lot of variety for fans of the series. Older fans of the series will appreciate the return of night stealth op missions. The game also manages to tip its cap to the original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2007) with its own spin on the classic mission “All Ghillied Up,” giving players options and a more ‘open-world’ feel to how they want to approach the game. The game does an excellent job of trying to offer new gameplay mechanics to players. Like in “Alone,” where players are introduced to a crafting system where they can make miscellaneous tools and weapons out of objects. Or in the mission “Violence and Timing,” where players are given a wide array of vehicles, weapons, and options to approach the mission.
The gameplay is far from perfect, however. In comparison to Modern Warfare (2019), the multiplayer is a little watered down. While it is still an enjoyable experience, the removal of gameplay mechanics like “slide canceling” and “bunny hopping” was expected, but it makes the combat feel a lot slower, and it does grant players a more balanced experience. There is also a huge disappointment with the lack of multiplayer content, especially maps, weapon attachments, and game modes. Nevertheless, this year’s Call of duty marks the end of annual releases for the games since the series first launched back in 2003, so the game will have a two-year life cycle, giving developers more time to work on adding more content to the game.
Modern Warfare II excels with its presentation just as much as the gameplay. This year’s Call of Duty is by far the best in terms of graphics and visuals, but the gameplay in this game may be some of the best yet. The gunplay is some of the strongest that fans have experienced in the series thus far. Some of the weapons feel like they have weight to them, and there is an excellent variety across the arsenal that Infinity Ward offers players. Overall, the multiplayer is very fun, but it still needs a lot of work to live up to the other installments in the series. However, fans can expect a Call of Duty game with top-notch dialogue, cutscenes, graphics, and gameplay mechanics. Modes like DMZ and Warzone 2.0 provide a fresh but familiar experience, and while the multiplayer is still a work in progress, it still manages to provide countless hours of entertainment to any Call of Duty fan.