Does 'Modern Warfare 2' Blow Away the Competition, or Just Blow?

Photo: Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare 2Courtesy
Activision's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2"

Possibly the most sought after video game of the holiday season (or ever), "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" will knock your socks off, gently put them back on you and then blow them off again. No apologies offered.

The follow-up to Infinity Ward's 2007 mega hit "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" delivers more variety, multiplayer and co-op game play than you probably deserve, and builds on the already sturdy foundation set down by its predecessor.

The new Special Ops game mode, plus tons of additions to the franchise's already robust multiplayer offerings, deliver in spades what fans of the franchise have been waiting two years for.

The Story

Set five years after the first "Modern Warfare," and following the pattern set forth by previous games in the "Call of Duty" series, players control a variety of characters in sequences that all serve the main storyline.

Players will fight through missions around the world, traveling to exotic locations like Rio de Janeiro, Afghanistan, Siberia, and, er, Washington D.C., (OK, maybe not that exotic).

Although the game delivers the same intense chills, thrills and spills as "Modern Warfare," lovers of the franchise's immersive single-player campaigns may find that this sequel falls a little "short."

The game should only take about eight hours or so for players to get through, making "short" the operative word.

'No Russians' (Spoiler Alert!)

Let's get it out of the way. Yes, there is a sequence in the game in which players "participate" in a terror attack on an airport.

Though it may be disturbing for some, within the context of the game it makes sense and is not the "here's your chance to be a blood-thirsty enemy of freedom with no repercussions" kind of experience some have accused it of being.

However, the real question when playing the level is what it adds to the story and experience? One could argue that it drives the villain's story and gives players a hands-on idea of just how terrible a person he is. But are there other -- maybe more palatable -- ways this could have been achieved?

Special Ops and Multiplayer Game Modes

New to the "Call of Duty" franchise is the addition of the Special Ops game mode, certain to prevent gamers from getting the sleep they so desperately need.

Revisit some of the locations from the single-player campaign and fight, sneak and bomb your way through a variety of missions on your own, or cooperatively.

Completing missions at one of three difficulty levels will net you stars. The higher the difficulty level, the more stars you earn. Earn enough stars, and you'll unlock a new set of missions to conquer.

"Modern warfare" blazed a trail with a multiplayer experience like no other. The ability to unlock weapons and accessories, plus special abilities and additional game modes, kept players plugged in and engaged for two years.

And now it just gets better.

Multiplayer gaming in "Modern Warfare 2" adds exponentially more customization, prizes to unlock and even allows players to choose the "perks" they get for kill streaks, (something they had no control over in the first game).

New weapons are hit or miss, no pun intended.

The Predator missile strike, which allows players to fire on-ground targets from a Predator drone circling above the battlefield, can be devastating to large groups of enemies.

The new riot shield template for example, which puts a bullet-resistant riot shield in one hand and handgun or machine pistol in the other, is somewhat less effective.

Believe the Hype?

Despite some minor shortcomings in the single-player camping, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" is worthy of the hype and buckets of cash that will inevitably be poured over it.

A fantastic and in some ways superior follow-up to "Modern Warfare," there's no denying the value of a game that can offer up so many hours of action, fun and excitement, and yet still deliver on the quality and experience so firmly established by its predecessor.