Hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of gamers have put a lot of blind faith into Infinite Ward, being happy to place down money on pre-orders going solely on some hype-packed previews. Just imagine how funny it would have been if Infinite Ward had spend the last two years making twiddling their thumbs before churning out something akin to the trashy Army Men games. Activision would probably end up with countless people outside their offices carrying burning Guitar Hero guitars and lobbing DJ Hero decks covered in poo through their window. Hilarous.
The truth though is this: Modern Warfare 2 is genuinely worthy of the hype. It’s brilliant, and the brilliant thing about it is that it’s constantly brilliant – from start to end there isn’t a single dull moment. Levels are a lot bigger than before but no less detailed – the attention to detail is scarily realistic, not just on the environments but also on the character models and weapons. Enemies no longer respawn and are more intelligent – they even jump across roofs to get a clearer shot – and the animation is also close to faultless. Even the sound is worthy of praise, with your allies shouting out enemy locations and passing comment on any skilled shots with a sniper rifle.
Perhaps the most pleasing thing though is that there’s no sign of it being a rush job – it’s polished enough to be classed as one of the best looking games on Xbox 360. And also one of the most controversial – there’s a twist near the start of the game that’s a bit grim, although you do get a warning message when first starting the game and the choice to skip past if you’re easily offended.
The single player mode takes around 9 hours to finish on one of the easier difficulty levels, and around 12 on one of the harder ones. There are some tough bits, such as having to fight against troops with riot shields and fight through a shanty town where enemies appear from all directions, but checkpoints are never more than a few minutes apart.
Once single player has been licked there’s Special Ops mode to play through – a series of checkpoint-free challenges that you can attempt either alone or with a friend. The harder the difficulty attempted the more stars you’re awarded. These challenges start off easy and get progressively tougher with objectives like having to the end of a snow covered forest packed full of soldiers using only a sniper rifle and your wits.
Of course, it’s the online mode that’ll keep the dust at bay. The presentation isn’t massively different from before but now there’s new perks and bonuses. At the start only a few weapons and character classes are available but fortunately it doesn’t take long to rise up the ranks to be able to kit your character out with better items and upgrades. The balancing is cleverly done – even poor players are given a fighting chance by being given pain killers as temporary health boosts or the ability to clone the opposition’s character class. The only real downer to playing online is that there aren’t any achievements to unlock for gaining promotions and such. It’s no less addictive though. Heck, people are still playing Call of Duty 4 online some two years after release.