Modern Warfare 2 Campaign: A Lesson In Repetition (Review)

A fun but familiar warfare experience
It's Modern Warfare 2 Again
It's Modern Warfare 2 Again(Andrew Hamilton)
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:05 PM CDT
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Price in Ghillie Suit
Price in Ghillie Suit(Activision-Blizzard)

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2′s campaign picks up 3 years after 2019′s Modern Warfare, bringing a fully assembled Task Force 141 to the forefront as an international terroristic threat rears it’s face. Opening on a successful drone strike that takes out Al Qatal’s leader, the team soon discovers the terrorists are working with a global cartel to distribute American made missiles. Naturally the war on drugs is now also the war on terror. So now Captain Price, Kate Laswell, Ghost, Soap, Gaz and newcomer Alejandro Vargas must seek out these ballistics before they drop a gender reveal party on multiple US targets. The story here has vastly moved away from the familiar ground of 2009′s Modern Warfare 2, for the better as the many twists and turns now land as intended even if they are nowhere near the same Calibur as the originals. One more character returns, a de-mustached General Shepard, looking a little more like a certain Battlestar Galactica military member than the Shepard you might remember. Unfortunately, despite it’s cutting-edge graphics, gorgeous score, snappy and satisfying combat, Modern Warfare 2 feels like it’s trying an Infinity Ward “best of” game resulting in what is a top tier shooter with a mid-tier delivery. I’m Andrew Hamilton for Hardwired, and I’ll tell you why this game is a poor compilation of better games, but with the best gameplay in the series.


-First off I’ll state the obvious, Modern Warfare 2 reaches a new high in the graphical fidelity department. Dust and dirt blow in across a near photo-realistic mountain as you make your way out to a recon point, then pan back to reveal Ghost scouting out a new target for a drone strike. These opening moments quickly set a high bar for what the game’s visuals and gorgeous art direction have to offer. From sweeping Mexican vistas, to an actual cloned area of Amsterdam, all the way to the streets of Chicago, this game is global on a fantastic level. With internationality comes some great changes in variety. I did run into plenty of pop-in while piloting the AC-130 as Shadow company and some odd texture glitching during the wanna be “All Ghillied Up” mission (more on these retreads in a moment) but overall the performance and gloss expected out of a top shelf Call of Duty game was on full display.

Varied as the levels were however, Modern Warfare 2 clearly felt the looming shadow of the 2009 original looming over it, because much of the games missions feel like the best of what worked in the 2019 game mixed with fan favorites from Modern Warfare’s past. This, to some degree, works well enough in offering fun but I did feel like it hindered the creativity of the encounters. I personally hated the CCTV mission section in 2019′s reboot campaign and the equally annoying version in this game just reminded me how much of a miss that one was. On the other hand I loved the mission that had you tactically clearing a house of terrorists, so naturally this game said “oh, yeah I got lots of that”. That’s fine but relying on those early hits meant content felt a little too familiar. On the flip side of this are things like the “All Ghillied Up” style mission that replicates the original down to the waiting for soldier to pass. I love the original mission, and sniping is probably my favorite activity in an FPS but my god did this not have the same thrill and feel of that first time scoping in. Meanwhile the missions that were new, overstayed their welcome with lengthy sections dedicated to a stealth crawl through enemy infested Mexican streets, using a new crafting mechanic that felt kind of thrown in. There’s also an issue in some of the one-off mechanics like this. For instance, armored plates arrive in the final mission of the game briefly but are not pick-ups or equippable any other place in the story. The chase scene could have been fun but incorporating the manual drive mechanics of Warzone really hindered the pacing. I enjoyed most of what this one had to offer, but yeah it felt like a Modern Warfare unsure of who it is. Striving to hit the highs of the 2009 game but failing to provide a cohesive story that felt even connected to the first game. I mean we get introduced to General Shephard in the flesh in this game and if you know what happens in the original not even his missing Stache will make the twist any less obvious. Also don’t ruin the time to kill for single-player games by putting bullet-spongy armored characters in the game.

-Before I get to my verdict I want to talk about the missions involving the cartel. Infinity Ward went the Americanized Narco’s/ CSI: Miami approach making these the most overly stereotypical Mexican drug members ever. More over, the depiction of the Mexican Military as expendable without consequences because “these guys work for the cartel” is both insulting to the Mexican army, I assume, but also like what are you talking about?! You can’t just go blowing up and shotting ally military units under the guise of, “it’s okay, Alejandro says those guys are icky and evil.”! The back half of this story should have been about all the ally nations coming together to get pissed at American lead TF 141 dropping a not insignificant number of uniformed military members. MW3 should be oops, we accidentally caused an international incident and now Mexico is being goaded into war with the US and being offered aid by Russia. Which would be a far more interesting twist than the one we actually got. Having Russia turn allies against us to fight a US-Mexico proxy war is a terrifying thought, JESUS.

Spoiler alert here so skip ahead to the timecode on screen if you don’t want details spoiled.

TF 141
TF 141(Activision-Blizzard)

The Shadow Company plays a fun role in the story, but you don’t get to really get attached to player character so all the stuff involving them feels flat. Their leader, Phil Graves (Get it? Because he fills graves), has one of the most punch-able faces I’ve ever seen... I don’t have more to that, just wanted to say how punch-able he is. Shadow Company is honestly the part of this that feels the shiftiest. Using private mercenaries is really odd in a game like this, as the whole point of TF 141 is to go in dark and in a way no one would no they were even there. Outsourcing this to this blond model posing as a soldier just makes it feel like Call of duty didn’t want to answer the hard questions of what over-patriotism looks like, a central theme of the original. This fails to give us a memorable turn, because the Shadow Company owes no allegiance to anyone but a paycheck. Shephard’s turn comes out, and he is just gone for the rest of the game. No seen of real betrayal, no sense of a patriot doing what he feels is ‘necessary” to keep his county safe. We’re left with a brutal merc, out on US ORDERS, unchecked but somehow the US isn’t accountable for their actions? IT robs the twist of any sting and just makes all the obvious signs feel like getting hit with bricks along the road to a broken ending.

-Look the overall experience here is less Zero-Dark Thirty and more Michael Bay’s Narcos. A fun and bombastic story, with one-note characters asking no real questions and finding it’s footing way too late to be the best the series has to offer. It’s unearned twists are predictable but honestly, the gameplay is too top tier to ignore. SO I’ll say for giving me 7 hours of good times, this campaign gets a 7. If you want to see more Modern Warfare 2 coverage stay tuned to Hardwired. Multiplayer is getting a separate review so keep an eye out for that sometime next week.

rating(Andrew Hamilton)