Editor’s Note: The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II game is probably one of the most anticipated shooter titles to be released in years. And while many people will play both the single player campaign and the multiplayer battles, there are those who strongly like just one or the other. Because of this, we are splitting our review up into two parts: multiplayer and the single player campaign. We already dove into Michael Blaker’s take on the amazing multiplayer battles the game provides, and now it’s time to hear Neal Sayatovic’s take on the deep single player campaign that the new shooter offers.
Getting to review Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was the highlight of my month. Despite the rave reviews, I was prepared – if necessary – to write about how the game uses the same old formula and nostalgia to rope people in. I certainly felt that way about Vanguard after playing its cinematic missions.
However, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II does not repeat those same mistakes. Its single player campaign is a joy to play, and it features various mission types where players will be doing everything from swimming, flying, and sniping to battling in close combat. There is even an extended sequence with a long car chase that includes fighting from the back of vehicles in a military convoy. Almost needless to say, if you are only interested in the single player side of things, then Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is a great title to pick up – even if you never touch the multiplayer aspect of it. The multiplayer aspects of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II are good too, but today I’m just reviewing for the single player enthusiasts out there.
First off, it was nice to follow the plot of the game with Soap, Ghost, and Captain Price as the main characters. I feel like they are the strongest characters the series has ever offered. I also like how this was a completely new story that is heavily tied into relevant and real-life current events. Well, it’s as relevant as what a military fantasy can be.
Why military fantasy, you ask? Well, they brought back the set piece combat mission with the AC-130 gunship, and you spend a mission firing a 40 mm cannon from that airplane (along with 25 mm chain guns and a 105 mm howitzer) all over Mexico. They shrug it off saying it’s all cartel in the area, but I doubt Mexico would be happy about an American military contractor raining holy hellfire down on their country. Also, at one point, you actually do engage regular Mexican military units, but again, it is explained that they are under the control of the cartel, so it’s okay to blast them.
One thing I loved was the varied mission types that lived up to expectations and then some. One really interesting mission included having to silently move through a dockyard, sometimes under the water and sometimes silently sneaking across wet boards to try and sneak up to a cartel-controlled boat parked at the very back. This mission takes place in an allied NATO country, so discretion is paramount.
Another memorable mission involves attending a cartel party like a James Bond type of character and having to use improvised or captured weapons to stealthily reach the upper floors of a sprawling mansion.
Activision did a lot of great things in this game. They even had friendly characters speaking a foreign language. It sounds small, but generally Call of Duty games have players shooting at the people speaking anything non-English. Additionally, the chemistry between Soap and Ghost was well done, and I loved the dry humor which made it extra fun for some missions. Whenever there is a little bit of downtime, Soap and Ghost are able to talk, with the player selecting Soap’s responses, which is a nice touch.
There is one small part of a mission that I am not thrilled about which I feel should be mentioned. It was the first mission using Mexican special forces. You are moving house to house looking for a terrorist who jumped the border fence into Texas. At one point, as the player you enter a civilian’s home and are ordered to deescalate the situation (by pushing L2). Apparently, this is done by pointing your gun at the civilian and looking down the sight. Activision, this is not okay. Considering everything going on in the world and your core demographic, this should not have been a thing. This was not presented as cheeky humor and, even if it was, I don’t feel it was in good taste. I feel like someone in quality control should have watched that scene and said, “no.” I may be a little sensitive about this having just graduated from a federal law enforcement academy, but you can’t deescalate a situation using a gun. This was not okay, and it really stuck with me.
Beyond that one issue, the game itself played well. The controls were responsive, and the guns packed a cathartic punch. The voice acting was great. Most of my issues stemmed from me having JRPG reflexes and not FPS reflexes. I did have a crash problem on my PlayStation 4. The game crashed numerous times on one mission, and once it corrupted my save, so I had to restart a mission over when I was nearly finished it. That was likely from too many next-gen graphics and features trying desperately to run well on the older PS4 hardware.
Overall, I feel that Activision took one of the most beloved shooter series around and somehow elevated it to a whole new level. Rather than try to just remaster the original game, they kept the spirit of that alive while also making a brand new experience. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II should be on everyone’s list. It’s a fun, if not too realistic, military story.