I’ll admit – I’m not the biggest fan of the Call of Duty series.
The last game in the series I bought was 2013’s Ghosts, and despite it being decently well received, it was with that entry that I realized I wasn’t doing anything but fighting against my own dwindling interest in the series.
When it comes to Call of Duty, I am one of those strange people who typically prefers a given entry’s campaign over its multiplayer offerings, and I owe a lot of that to the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
So when Infinity Ward announced their plans to reboot the franchise’s Modern Warfare line, I felt myself compelled to try it out. Not so much because I felt the urge to return to the series’ signature gun play, but moreso because I had heard that the studio was going to retell the story of Task Force 141 for a modern audience and I was concerned about just how they would approach this task.
Thankfully, my concerns turned out to be unfounded. Instead, Modern Warfare (2019) kept me so engaged that I played through the entire campaign in a single sitting.
By the time I put my controller down, I was eager to get my hands on the sequel.
And now that I have, I can say that Infinity Ward has done it again.
Featuring as much wild and over-the-top action as ever while still presenting its story as a firmly grounded political/military thriller, Modern Warfare II does not disappoint.
As is typical of the series, Modern Warfare II’s gameplay into three distinct sections: campaign, special ops, and, of course, multiplayer.
Taking place several years after the events of the previous game, the campaign of Modern Warfare II (not to be confused with 2009’s original Modern Warfare 2) opens to a world where Al Qatala (AQ)’s leader, the wolf, is dead.
However, the relief felt in his absence is cut short when the AQ finds itself with a new leader in the form of Iranian general Ghorbrani.
Fearing the threat posed by the group’s new leadership, the United States – in a moment eerily reminiscent to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s own real-world operation against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani – responds to Ghorbrani’s rise to power by taking him out with a missile strike.
Unsurprisingly, this does little to deter the AQ’s mission, as two months later, Ghorbani’s second-in-command, Quds Force Major Hassan Zyani, takes charge as the group’s new head.
Seeking to use a stolen US missile against its native land, Hassan proceeds to team up with the Las Almas drug cartel to sneak the weapon into the country through its southern border.
As such, Task Force 141, as led by Captain Price, and the CIA team up with Mexican Special Forces, themselves under the command of Colonel Alejandro Vargas, to put a stop to Hassan’s schemes.
From there, the campaign splits into two separate but concurrent storylines. In one, players follow Captain Price and Gaz as they work to take down the cartels and AQ across Europe and the Middle East.
In the other, players are tasked with suiting up alongside Soap and Ghost as they go boots on the ground in Mexico to both take down down Las Almas’ leader and suss out the location of one of Hassan’s stolen missiles.
Ultimately, after an explosive final mission replete with a dramatic final moment, the game ends with a reveal of the next game’s antagonist – one that’s all too familiar to anyone who remembers the words, “Remember, no Russian.”
Suffice to say, I found Modern Warfare II’s campaign to be a lot of fun. Just like with its predecessor, I was hooked the second I picked up my controller.
Starting the game in the early morning and taking only a handful of breaks in the process, by the time I saw the credits roll, nine hours had flown by (though a seasoned gamer could cut that down to five).
As for the aforementioned Special Ops, these are a set of quick, one-off missions meant to be played with a friend.
Requiring players to approach each objective with nothing more than their choice of three multiplayer-esque loadout kits – Assault, Medic, and Engineer – these missions are difficult and require both cooperation and communication to complete.
While this mode is fun and offers a unique challenge that admittedly makes me yearn for a full-blown co-op Call of Duty campaign, the number of missions available to tackle at launch – only three – is notably lacking.
Coupled with an inability to modify a given mission’s settings, Special Ops ultimately left me starving for the replay value it was aiming for.
And then there’s the multiplayer.
Notably, there are a number of different ways to experience Modern Warfare II’s multiplayer, ranging from the series’ traditional 6v6 game modes to the new Ground War, which pits teams of 32 against each other and throws in some vehicles for extra mayhem.
But perhaps my favorite of these multiplayer offerings is the third-person playlist.
A revived feature from Modern Warfare 2 (2009), the playlist allows players a refreshingly different way to experience the chaos of Call of Duty.
As far as presentation goes, playing Modern Warfare II was a near-flawless experience.
I can only speak to the Xbox Series X version, but during my time with The One-Four-One, I was getting 60fps at 4k resolution without any noticeable dips in framerate or quality.
For most of my playthough, I voluntarily chose to trade resolution for performance and play at 120fps at 1440p instead, and over roughly 40 hours of playtime, I never noticed frame drops that lasted for more than a few moments.
Whether I was playing the campaign, or taking the fight to other players in Ground War, I always had a smooth experience.
Notably, as far as bugs are concerned, I only ran into one during my entire time with the game.
During my playthrough of the campaign’s final mission, the game’s auto-checkpoint registered a save state where my screen was obscured from both a flashbang and the series’ signature red damage filter.
For some reason, the game didn’t like this, and as such, any time I attempted to reload to this particular checkpoint, I was met with a 75% chance of the game crashing.
Thankfully though, after I rebooted the game, I was able to get past the glitch and finish the mission. Whatever the cause, it seems it was more of a ‘hiccup’ than a fundamental problem with the game’s code.
Since it’s release on October 27th, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II has managed to pull in over $1 billion in sales – the biggest release ever for the franchise – and after having played it, I can understand why.
With a solid campaign and fast-paced multiplayer content – which is set to be expanded with an upcoming Battle Pass – the game stands as a worthy continuation of Infinity Ward’s rebooted Call of Duty experience.
At the end of the day, Modern Warfare II was more worth the price of admission and proves there’s a reason why, even after 15 years, this IP is still going strong.
A review copy of this game was provided by Activison Blizzard/Infinity Ward.
- A fantastic campaign that engages the player and leaves them wanting more
- The new Ghost and Soap are far better characters than their original counterparts
- The multiplayer is still as crisp and polished as ever
- The third-person mode can only be used in a handful of gametypes
- It takes a while to unlock weapon attachments
- The inability to disable crossplay on Xbox and PC is frustrating