Modern Warfare 2 campaign review - A resounding return to form

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Modern Warfare 2 players standing
Credit: Activision

When the title of 2022’s Call of Duty was revealed as Modern Warfare 2, questions on whether Infinity Ward’s latest entry into the franchise could live up to the legendary 2009 namesake quickly emerged.

2009’s Modern Warfare 2 is one of my favourite games. Its innovative multiplayer combined with a storyline packed with now iconic twists and turns has cemented itself as one of the all-time great first-person shooters and with 2022’s title sharing exactly the same name, expectations from myself and the rest of the community were high.

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Despite the Modern Warfare series being 15 years old, Infinity Ward continues to deliver memorable single-player experiences thanks to small mechanical innovations and flawless gunplay. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at 2022’s Modern Warfare 2 campaign and whether it’s worth parting ways with your hard-earned cash.

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A return to form

The premise of the story reunites players with Task Force 141 as they join forces with Shadow Company and Mexican Special Forces to track a missile stolen by Al Qatala and the Las Almas drug cartel. With several factions coming together, you’re introduced to Philip Graves of Shadow Company and Alejandro Vargas of the Mexican Special Forces who are welcome additions alongside the returning Captain Price and Ghost.

Modern Warfare 2 whisks you away to the Middle East and Mexico for most of the 16 single-player levels and despite some of them feeling slightly repetitive thanks to the usual dose of running and gunning, the stealthier offerings such as “Alone” and “Recon by Fire” take me back to the days of crawling through the grass in “All Ghillied Up.” The sheer variety of missions in the campaign caters for all styles of play which is a stark contrast to Vanguard’s mundane single-player story.

Modern Warfare 2 Task Force 141 standing together
Credit: Activision
Price and the gang are back with a bang

Incredible detail

Despite the small sense of repeatability in some missions, the Modern Warfare 2 campaign is on the cutting edge of graphical technology. The brief visit to Amsterdam is a true showcase of Infinity Ward’s IW9 engine packing inch-perfect detail with gorgeous lighting that is scarily accurate to the real thing.

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As you’d expect, given this is the latest Modern Warfare title, gunplay is the best it’s ever been. Weapons feel weighty, especially when I manage to score a stealthy sniper elimination from several hundred metres away. On top of incredible handling, the audio is leagues above any other shooter currently on the market.

The return of water is another example of Infinity Ward’s impeccable attention to detail. When swimming through the Amsterdam harbour at the beginning of “Kill or Capture” I felt immersed in the dark waters while attempting to conceal my location from soldiers patrolling the pontoons. Previous Call of Duty titles have avoided water but the gamble from the developer has paid off in spades with a further layer of realism added to an already realistic experience.

Modern Warfare 2 player abseiling down skyscraper
Credit: Activision

A lack of standout missions

Call of Duty 4 has “All Ghillied Up”, 2009’s Modern Warfare 2 has “No Russian”, and 2019’s Modern Warfare features “Clean House.” All three missions are completely different but are the stars of the show for their respective games. “Dark Water” comes close as a callback to “Crew Expendable” but there are no levels that truly steal the show in the same way as Modern Warfare 2’s predecessors.

If I had to select one standout mission, it’d be “Alone.” The stealth level sees you having to evade capture by moving through a town crawling with enemy foot soldiers. Unarmed and injured, you search for items in order to craft a range of items ranging from a lock pick to an improvised smoke bomb to distract and disorient any nearby foes. It’s a major change from the usual fast-paced action but it demonstrates innovative new mechanics and provides the player with plenty of strategic options.

Decisions, decisions

Alongside “Alone” another one of my favourite missions was “Recon by Fire.” Containing elements of stealthy sniper gameplay, the real highlight of the mission is the sheer amount of choice you have when attempting to clear a building of enemy threats. Do you decide to breach the door with explosives or take a stealthier approach by dropping a tear gas grenade through a rooftop vent? The choice is entirely yours.

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The addition of the backpack is a nice touch too. Rather than being stuck with a combination of frag and flash grenades, the backpack gives you a wide range of utility to deal with any opposition. Struggling to locate the last stragglers? Switch to the heartbeat sensor. Want some extra explosive damage? Equip the Molotov for a fiery result.

Having the ability to choose how to tackle certain situations in Recon by Fire compensates for the typical run-and-gun action from missions later in the story. With Raids acting as a direct continuation of the campaign, I hope Infinity Ward keeps the wealth of choices to give players even more ways to tackle a scenario.

Modern Warfare 2 player looking at enemy on ground
Credit: Activision

The final verdict

Modern Warfare 2’’s flawless gunplay is in a class of its own once again. The new mechanics provide an injection of freshness in a bid to avoid the feeling of repeatability but there are still some cases where the story feels like any other Modern Warfare story.

2019’s Modern Warfare campaign sets the standard for Call of Duty single-player and while Modern Warfare 2 is a true return to form, it doesn’t raise the bar. Instead, I’d say it’s certainly on par and an experience that’s certainly worth playing.

Modern Warfare 2 campaign
Modern Warfare 2 delivers thanks to incredible detail and gunplay but the repeatability of some missions takes the edge off an otherwise polished single-player experience.
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