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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Review (PS4, PS5, P.C, Xbox One, Xbox Series X)

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Call of Duty Modern Warfare II review

It’s that time of year again when Call of Duty returns. The most recent entry, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, is a particular installment fans were holding their breath for, and now that it’s finally out, you know how we do it here: a full-on, unbiased Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II review to answer your “does it suck?”, “is it right for you?”, and “great enough to buy, maybe?” questions. So, hold on tight. This one’s going to be a wild ride.

Before we get started, remember 2007’s Modern Warfare reboot via 2019’s Modern Warfare? Well, 2022’s Modern Warfare II is the direct sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare. However, Modern Warfare II is more of a case of “old name, new game”, featuring an entirely different campaign from its predecessor, or the much earlier 2009 Modern Warfare 2 release. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the actual fun parts.

Out with the Old…

 

Screenshot by Gaming.net

While playing the new Modern Warfare II, I couldn’t quite get past the fact that Call of Duty is attempting to reignite its glory from the old days. Perhaps owing to Call of Duty: Vanguard’s critical acclaim but low sales and the previous success of franchises like God of War and Legend of Zelda, spinning back up a flailing franchise. Not that the military-themed FPS shooter came close to needing a leg up.

But Modern Warfare II’s overfamiliarity with a tried and tested recipe is something most fans can’t quite get behind. The new game is like a mash-up of Warzone and Modern Warfare, with minor twists and updates here and there. In the end, Modern Warfare II plays it safe, which is, sadly, the complete opposite of what we were hoping to find.

A Military War Story with a Predictable Turn of Events

 

modern warfare 2 review

Screenshot by gaming.net

Without giving any spoilers, the events in Modern Warfare II take place a while after its predecessor, with players taking on the roles of the Special Ops Unit, Task Force 141, led by iconic team leader Captain John Price, and his recruits, John “Soap” MacTavish, Kyle “Gaz” Garrick, and Simon “Ghost” Riley. Yes, Ghost returns!

This time, Captain Price and his team leave the Al Mazrah, Middle East battlefront, embarking on a world-scale mission into Las Almas, Mexico to stop a terrorist involved with stolen missiles, along with interactions with other nations’ special ops forces. 

I won’t spend much time engrossed over how the Las Almas drug cartel in Mexico plays right into the strung-dry stereotypical villains you’ve seen all over the place, and instead, take you back to the storytelling complexities from its predecessor, Modern Warfare, intricately woven around the morality and political notions of war. 

To cut it short, no, you won’t find the same depth, passion, or surprising twists and turns in the sequel. Instead, you’ll probably already predict how the story unfolds from the first few minutes into the game, which is never a great sign for a franchise with immense potential that we’ve witnessed so many times before.

I’ve got to say, though, that this potential does come through in excellent acting. The fan-favorite Task Force 141 is back, along with the supplemental casting of the finest bunch to create distinct personalities and an impressively written role for the books. Plus, you’ve got conversational pop-ups to fill in those few story gaps you might have missed.

Gorgeous Visuals All the Way

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II - World Gameplay Reveal Trailer

If there’s something Modern Warfare II does perfectly, it’s the visual design of the game. Everything is exactly where it should be, and not a single element looks or feels imperfect. Which I’ve got to say is not surprising as we’ve come to expect impeccable graphics technology from Call of Duty

While exploring the variety of maps, from the streets of Amsterdam to the vistas in Mexico, the one thing that’s pretty clear is that Modern Warfare II’s visual detail, lighting, angles, and even the echoing footsteps of enemies approaching you are done outstandingly well.

With the new engine in collaboration with Treyarch, Sledgehammer, and Infinity Ward, you’ll enjoy next-level realism from the shimmering of water backdrops to the popped vehicle tires to the dynamic blood spatters, catching the lighting garishly well. At some point, it feels necessary to start to wander around, taking in the gorgeous backdrops with each step. 

But the game goes far beyond visual appeal. One of the reasons fans love Call of Duty is the precise look and feel of the gunplay. You can feel the heaviness and almost anticipate the impact weapons will have. And from the intense variety of weapons, each one gives you a distinct recoil and feedback experience unique from the last like steam from firing underwater.

Though that’s not to say weapons don’t feel interchangeable. Regardless, the Modern Warfare II military war experience, from a visual point of view, remains a pretty high bar to achieve across the FPS genre.

Refreshing Map Design

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II review

The maps go global too, with the main ones being in Al Mazrah, the Middle East, and Las Almas, Mexico. There are also others spread out all around the world, from the shores of Spain to the vistas of Mexico, to the US skylines, and so on, all showcasing similar detail and verticality. 

As with the previous Call of Duty games, you’ve got variety in the environments too, from mountainous regions to tall grass open fields to close-quarter interiors littered with mazes of bombed-out buildings and containers. Some maps, though, can seem a little confusing. Simply gunning and running won’t work as exercising extreme caution tallies up. Be careful not to go free-for-all into places like the hub in Mercado Las Almas. As tempting as it might be, mortality runs high. 

In the multiplayer campaign, the maps are innovatively much larger to accommodate a whopping 64 players at a time. Perhaps with these iterations, and with familiar modes like Knock Out and Prisoner Rescue patched up with minor tweaks, Modern Warfare II comes off feeling fresh no matter how many times you’ve played in the same area before.

All Work and No Play…

Screenshot by gaming.net

On to the essentials: gameplay. 

The first few missions of the campaign feel pretty rigid, too. There’s no straying away from the mission. To have a little fun with the gorgeously designed environments and the cool weapons array is but a dream. So, all you do is do as you’re told, staying put in specific mission scenarios until they come to their natural end.

It would help if said missions were erratic, and none of the playing-safe Modern Warfare II does for most of the campaign. Combatwise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone feel very familiar . And in the moments when new gameplay comes in, like fighting underwater or hopping from one vehicle to the next, it just feels like a brief-but-fun moment that is stretched too thin.

Testing the Waters for What’s to Come

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Review

Screenshot by gaming.net

In addition to seizing enemy camps underwater and hijacking cars in an Uncharted-style car chase, Modern Warfare II adds a new stealth mission, “Alone,” where you start off completely unarmed and have to stealthily source and craft DIY weapons, sneak around trip mines, sabotage enemy camps, and kill enemies however you can till you get through to the exit.

But even with these new ideas, they can only land if executed correctly. And how do you know it’s done right? Well, you ask yourself whether it’s memorable, replayable, or blood-pumping, back-to-back, for its entirety, all of which Modern Warfare II struggles to accomplish.

Instead, Modern Warfare II does a rush job, copying the homework from the best moments of previous games, right down to the nitty-gritty like hiding in the grass from “All Ghillied Up” or the circling helicopter from “Death From Above.” 

Since shooting up enemies underwater or stealth gameplay is entirely new, the game winds up feeling like an experimental gig at what’s to come. Like having a taste of new gameplay, outrightly done in a rush to test the waters. And that perhaps it’s in preparation for Warzone 2.0 or the DMZ game mode that hopefully comes fully fleshed out. 

For now, though, Modern Warfare II’s gameplay just falls a little short of what we’re used to.

Let’s Talk Combat

Screenshot by gaming.net

Call of Duty always delivers, regardless of the game. Still, we hoped to see a step up from its predecessor, which would have been such a joy considering how great the combat was. But the almost flawless combat from Modern Warfare merely translated into Modern Warfare II. Yay for newcomers. Nay, for the diehard fans.

As before, weapons are heavy, with a tweak that feels even punchier. None of the exciting slide canceling is there, which could either be a yay or nay for you, depending. Without slide canceling, it does feel more realistic. Just normal, very well-trained humans, out here, capable of shooting your sidearm while mantling walls, and, of course, raining fire down from the sky from the “Death From Above” rendition.

However, walking and jogging for that many hours does tend to get boring. Plus, the difficulty can get unrealistic at times. You could constantly shoot an enemy at close range without them feeling a pinch. Or, you might break an enemy’s helmet, only for them to disappear and then reappear. Stealth also feels rigid. One false move and you’re coming down in a bullet hailstorm, even if it seems like the right move to make.

Progression feels more rewarding. You’ve got in-depth gun customization where you can add attachments and tune your weapons as you progress, with each upgrade leveling up the recoil that works with other receivers. Also worth noting is that Modern Warfare II adds a new third-person mode with a wider-range of visuals. But the gunplay isn’t there yet, still holding on to the PS2 era. 

Verdict : Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Review

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II review

Screenshot by gaming.net

Modern Warfare II, like all the installments in the Call of Duty franchise, is a quality FPS shooter game to play. As a standalone, any newcomer will have fun with it, provided you’re patient enough to get through to the better half of the campaign.

If you’re a diehard Call of Duty fan, it’s easy to spot similarities between Modern Warfare II and its predecessor, as well as gameplay from Warzone. In addition to a compilation of what seems like the “best of” moments from the franchise, the game introduces some pretty cool new concepts, from new game modes to in-depth gun customization to mission variety.

However, the game tries to mash up too many elements into one, resulting in an experience that feels incomplete. Save for the graphics, which are nothing short of spectacular, other gameplay elements like the plot, the combat, and the overall gameplay fall a little short of what we expect.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Review (PS4, PS5, P.C, Xbox One, Xbox Series X)

An “Almost There” Sequel to Modern Warfare

With a total of 17 missions, the first half of Modern Warfare II feels rigid, lackluster, and underwhelming. However, the second half picks up the pace, venturing into uncharted territory with new concepts like stealth sequences, underwater sieges, and car chases. Modern Warfare II is out now and available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.