Welcome to In Retrospect, a weekly segment in which I will be jumping into older titles, some that I’ve played before and some that I’ll be experiencing for the first time. But no matter what, it’ll all be a good time, so come have a read!
This week, I’m revisiting the gritty Campaign of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. This was another of the games which made me buy an Xbox 360. It was worth it, without a doubt. Over a decade later it is still considered one of the best games in the Call of Duty franchise and rightfully so.
For this week’s In Retrospective the stars aligned perfectly. Firstly, earlier this week it was announced that Shadow Company will be dropping into Call of Duty: Warzone with three new operators with the launch of Season 5 on Wednesday. Shadow Company is the elite unit of Private Military Contractors headed by the sly General Shepherd, first introduced in Modern Warfare 2. As I considered whether to play the game this week or not, more news dropped that sealed the deal. Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is free for PS Plus subscribers right now.
With this, I knew it was time to jump back into the game. I get to experience the classic Modern Warfare 2 story that I fell in love with a decade ago, but with stunning new graphics and extra polish on top. As Shepherd himself would say: Same shit, different day.
No one can deny that Modern Warfare 2 was thrilling from start to end. After teaching some rookies the basics and running the Pit, you move to an assault against the local Afghan militia. Developer Infinity Ward places you right in the middle of the firefight from the start, and the action is non-stop from there. This first mission does an excellent job of showcasing the modern setting. Civilians run through nearby alleyways, fearful of your military vehicles as you roam the streets. Militia stare down at you from the rooftops. They’re hostile, there’s no doubt about it. But following the rules of engagement is a must. This isn’t just another war shooter. It’s an action-packed ride from start to finish, with a killer story and cast which leaves your jaw dropped.
Varied Level Design
The second mission instantly mixes things up. You assume the role of another soldier infiltrating a Russian airbase. After a short intro in which you climb a wall of ice using ice picks, you approach the airfield. Silencer and heartbeat sensor at the ready, you slowly move through the base whilst picking off enemies one by one. It’s a great change of pace, forcing you to keep track of each enemy in case you’re seen. The mission isn’t without it’s explosive set pieces though! You detonate some C4 to save your ally, Soap Mactavish and the two of you shoot your way through groups of enemies until you find a thrilling means of escape: a snowmobile. Everyone will remember the epic feeling of speeding down the snow-covered hills, zipping through the trees as the enemies try to shoot you off from all directions. It’s crazy, it’s different and it’s great fun. This is where Modern Warfare 2 excels. You’re rarely just walking from one place to another and not a second goes by which leaves you bored.
No Russian happened much earlier than I remembered. For those who don’t know, in No Russian you are a soldier undercover in a Russian ultranationalist group led by a man named Makarov. You walk into an airport and have to start shooting everyone. Civilians, police, military. Everyone. It’s brutal enough that the game warns you at the start and lets you disable the mission due to graphic content. I played it when I was younger and again today and it’s a lot more horrific than I remember. I think as a kid I didn’t understand what was happening, but now it’s sickeningly dark to watch the horror as it unfolds. The mission ends with Makarov revealing he knows you are American and killing you. With your body the only one at the scene of the crime, this implicates America in the attack and begins a world war.
Up until this point I had been playing on Veteran difficulty and managing fairly well. A few deaths here and there but generally I was able to take it slow and headshot my enemies before they had a chance. The next mission changed that. I was now in a Brazilian Favela looking for Makarov’s weapons dealer to get evidence on Makarov orchestrating the airport attack.
This level is designed fantastically to have you not only checking your corners as you move through the Favela, but also the rooftops, windows and doorways as you never know where an enemy might be. But it proved to be a little too much on veteran, so I turned the difficulty down. It’s awesome that the game makes you feel outnumbered and overwhelmed though. It makes the game exciting and genuinely challenging to play, whilst serving the story by highlighting that soldiers aren’t always non-stop killing machines.
Changing Locales Keep Things Fresh
The game continually serves up new, interesting locations and the next mission is no different. Russia invades the US and you have to defend a fast-food burger restaurant. It’s insane watching paratroopers drop down into what would otherwise be a peaceful neighbourhood. APCs roll down the streets menacingly, whilst huge waves of enemies advance on your position. It’s more epic fun-filled chaos, and by constantly changing the location the game forces you to keep your eyes peeled for where enemies could be coming from next.
Of course, everything I said above is a testament to the original and are all aspects that weren’t changed by the remaster. However, the amazing graphical upheaval in this remaster needs to be mentioned. The developers have clearly put a lot of work into this and it is a beauty. The textures and the lighting both look phenomenal. In certain levels there are weather effects (such as little sand clouds in the opening mission) and these look excellent. The character models look vastly improved as well. It’s clear this remaster was a labour of love.
In retrospect, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is an action-packed ride, with an amazing cast of characters and an engaging story. This is something we don’t see often enough in first-person shooters and is why I think this game holds up so well even today. That’s where I left my time with Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered for now, but the fun doesn’t stop there. The game continues to offer surprising new locations with excellent level design. And the story only gets better from here – by the end I promise you’ll never forget it. So whether you’ve played it before or not, go play Modern Warfare 2 – you won’t regret it!
What did you think of this week’s In Retrospect segment? Let me know in the comments below, or over on my social media accounts, and suggest some games you think I should do in the future whilst you’re at it! You can look forward to another In Retrospect segment next Sunday!