In something of an inspired move, this year's Call of Duty is enjoying a staggered release, with the campaign being made available for all Modern Warfare 2 pre-orders a week ahead of the full launch on October 28th. And as the campaigns roll on, it can be as big and bold as Call of Duty - a series not exactly known for being understated - becomes. Is it still good? We've been through it all and here are our thoughts...
Martin:So before we get to the campaign itself, I'm a fan of the split launch. I love a good Call of Duty campaign, but in recent years I've found myself skipping in favor of multiplayer modes. In fact, I can't remember the last time I finished a Call of Duty campaign - maybe Infinite Warfare? Sometimes they can feel like an afterthought, and it's easy to take them for a few hours, tuck them away, and forget about them. At least that's how the campaign earns its moment in the sun, and fittingly, it feels like the biggest and boldest Call of Duty campaign in a long time. Whether it's a good campaign or not is another question...
We:I think it's good! But I don't think it's amazing. It's a weird mix of different types of gameplay, some of which are clearly inspired by other games but not quite as good as this one. Take the car chase, for example. You jump from car to car, lean and shoot and blow things up like in Call of Duty, but it's not as good as Uncharted's famous car chases.
Likewise, the level has some kind of Hitman style thing where you get dressed up and given some options for how to proceed. And then the kind of survival crafting level that felt a lot like The Last of Us in first person and minus the clickers. God, it was like that for a while.
There are even levels that are cover band versions of famous Call of Duty levels, like the one where you shoot from a fighter's crosshair camera across a battlefield and the one where you're literally all disheveled up and down during the long way Grass when soldiers walk around you and at many points where you climb stairs and aim behind some soldiers doing the same thing which is like Clean House from 2019 Modern Warfare but not as good. (God cleaning the house is so good!)
This campaign sure has good points, but none of thatmuchwell I think. It's so constrained by that rigid Call of Duty campaign formula - you've got one thing to do and you do it mostly in a straight line, following instructions from Ghost, Price or whoever. Maybe I'm expecting too much! After all, this is Call of Duty. But there are flashes of divergence that offer a glimpse of what could have been: the backpack survival stuff - perhaps this could have been further fleshed out? The level where you guide Ghost through security cameras, telling him when to move from cover to cover, when to trigger distractions, and when to kill with knives. More of this off the beaten path please!
However, the gunplay is as good as Modern Warfare's, which I craved for the simple pleasure of blowing enemies to pieces in this campaign. It didn't seem to happen that often.
Gosh, I moved on! I have thoughts on Modern Warfare 2. What do you think?
Martin:Well, I have to agree that guns are cool. Returning to your original points, there is aa lot ofNaughty Dog in the Modern Warfare 2 campaign - it looks like a lot of talent has been exchanged between Infinity Ward and the Uncharted studio. And that's not a bad thing, as it makes the campaign more varied and interesting than the more linear courses of fire of yesteryear.
I think a term that was being thrown around around the time of Uncharted 4's release was "largely linear", and Modern Warfare 2 has a lot of that; Those kind of semi-open spaces with objectives to tackle however you see fit. It's very good aswell! There are some really fun open levels where you can go from shooting to breaking into and clearing outbuildings, and they work well. However, it can also be frustrating - there are those same moments you have in Naughty Dog's games where you're trying to figure out how to trigger progress, so it goes from an open promotion offer to something like a pixel hunt. Which isn't very fun.
Then there's that level that differs from The Last of Us when you start off unarmed and then craft weapons out of what you find in people's laundry baskets. It's a little weird and I wasn't quite convinced at first, but it's only a matter of minutes before you have a gun in your hands. Then a bigger gun. Then some mods for your bigger weapon. Once the level was completed, I found that it offered a pretty fun, fast-paced progression from being alone and vulnerable to being equipped and invulnerable like Arnie.
There's also a standout mission in Dark Water - which understandably guided marketing with Modern Warfare 2 and formed part of our first look at the game's campaign. I think it's more in line with traditional Call of Duty - and its beloved Clear House - as you fight alongside special forces and clear out room after room, but it's delivered with flair. With real flair - the section with containers that slide across the surface of the boat and provide cover in constant motion was inspired and helps make everything look outrageously good. It's almost as overpowering as the tank section in Metal Gear Solid 2 years ago.
So yes, there are some great parts. But there's other stuff, too... It's such a vast trove of ideas from other games that it can feel a bit much when some of those ideas are somewhat incompletely realized in Backpack. I'm not sure a Call of Duty campaign needs to be this big or this wide - in the end, I wish it had been reduced to just four hours instead of the sprawl it is.
We:You mentioned how good Dark Water looks and feels - Modern Warfare 2 looks amazing. We've probably seen them all.this viral clip from Tradecraft, the Mission in Amsterdam. Yes, it's super detailed and looks realistic from an environmental point of view, but this level in particular felt like a tech demo to me because the objective is so limited. It's almost like a mini walking simulator.
Can we talk about the faces? Holy shit, the faces in this game look amazing. Infinity Ward took video game faces to another level, I think. There were times when I thought the characters looked like real life with their eye movements, smiles and head movements. The voice acting is also excellent. Well, mostly. At the end of the campaign, the dialogue between the British (Ghost, Price, Gaz and Soap) irritated the hell out of me. But I couldn't get enough of PMC jerk Graves (who, by the way, is a dead fighter for Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch), Mexican Special Forces tough guy Alejandro, and best of all, Valeria.
Yes Martin, we need to talk about Valeria. I think I'm in love...
Martin:It looks spectacular and the motion and face capture is impressive. However, it's very strange to me that you take this technology this far and then waste it on some of the worst text I've ever encountered in a video game. The voice acting is great, but the lines they deliver? I'm kind of surprised that a script was passed around and people read it and said, 'okay, yeah, fine'. At one point, Soap, who is Scottish, berates Ghost when he asks for a cup of tea saying "Bloody Brits". No one has read that line twice and thought, wait a minute, here's a little mistake?
Maybe they're better off just sticking to the barking, which sounds like a hundred variations of how to say "fucking hell."
There's also the audio issue, and I wish this leaned more towards the late-Brosnan-era Bond era than the old Modern Warfare sequels, rather than trying something more realistic that ended up having a nasty taste in your mouth. 🇧🇷 It's always going to be gross to make a game that's meant to entertain people with realistic military hardware, but Modern Warfare 2 certainly doesn't do itself any favors with some of the choices it makes, like the unfortunate Scene where you walk around "de-stepping" civilians pointing their gun directly at their faces. sinister.
We:Yep, the entire level on the border with Mexico feels underrated. Were you trying to make a remark about something? I'm not sure. I'm not sure there's any point to the campaign other than the edge of a sharp knife.
I also felt sad piloting a ballistic missile on its way to destroy an Iranian general during a Russian arms deal, given what is going on in the world right now. To be clear, I'm not disgusted, just uncomfortable. I don't think the game needed any of that. It would have been fine without him. Multiplayer is like paintball for me. But the campaign for 2019's Modern Warfare and this sequel are grounded in military realism. That's why levels like Clean House work so well. So when set pieces feel too close to home, they hit harder.
What Modern Warfare 2 needed - and I guess I didn't realize you didn't mention her - is Valeria. Martin, what do you think of Valeria? Martin! Tell me!!
Martin:I hate to disappoint you, but I don't think she applied for me. None of the characters really made it as they are all a bit one-dimensional. At this point next week, once I'm in multiplayer, I doubt I'll remember any of the characters from the campaign.
Before we wrap up - and this is going to lead us firmly into spoiler territory, so look away now if you don't want to know what happens at the end - have you seen the post-credits sequence?
We:I did!READER SPOILER ALERT!
They're going to make us hijack the plane in No Russian 2.0, aren't they? shock, horror! Hear all about it! Keep the front page, etc!
I will not kill civilians, Martin. I just won't do it.
It's a little Game of Thrones, isn't it? At what point will soft reboot games catch up with the end of the original trilogy? What does Infinity Ward do then? I know! Call of Duty: Ghosts Soft Restart. Call the dog Colin this time, you cowards.
Martin:It's a little weird. For example, in Marvel movies, there's a post-credits scene that says, "Here's your favorite character coming back!" In Modern Warfare 2, it's more like, "Here's the level where you kill tons of civilians!" Dark again.
But I'm ready for them to attack Colin again. Or even Modern Warfare 3. Next time please make it a little shorter and more energetic.