All Modern Warfare 2 must be is a superb shooter, and it delivers. This is the Call of Duty expertise, deconstructed, reconsidered, and obsessively optimized over 15 uninterrupted years of iteration. I know once I’m playing a Black Ops game because it has offbeat arcade modes and the latest iteration of Nuketown. I know I am taking part in a Modern Warfare game because the shooting is so finely tuned that I wish to take my Gunsmith build out to dinner. Infinity Ward has officially mastered the moment gratification of aiming down sights and deleting targets.

That goes a long way, although some of Modern Warfare 2’s biggest swings, resembling revamped progression and a genre-bending campaign, are less elegant. It additionally suffers from an obtuse UI, fits of crashes, weird bugs, and the unexplained absence of basic options like stat tracking. However altogether, it’s a very good 12 months for Call of Duty.


I said in 2019’s CoD overview that Modern Warfare “sets the bar high for first-individual gun feel.” Consider Modern Warfare 2 the new bar. Ballistics are once again physically simulated (not hitscan), however you would not know it from playing on regular 6v6 maps. On enviornment maps with short sightlines, guns behave like lasers that immediately tag targets. Jump right into a 64-player Ground War match and the identical guns accommodate to firefights spanning complete city blocks, requiring players to lead shots and account for bullet drop. It’s kind of wild how flexible and seamless the system is—even in the latest Battlefield, a series that is dealt in simulated ballistics for 20 years, weapons are a little too gradual up close.

Modern Warfare 2’s silky physics compare favorably in the event you’ve been taking part in Vanguard for the previous yr, and even better should you’ve stuck with Cold War for the last two. I never quite bought over Cold War’s noticeably sluggish hit detection; it’d take round 5-7 frames for point-blank shots to register in my tests. Under similarly unscientific testing conditions (me counting frames in replays recorded at 60 fps), MW2’s latency is a far less discoverable 2-three frames. It isn’t clear to me precisely how many factors are at play here. It could be that Treyarch’s guns seem slower because they’re slower by design, however regardless, Infinity Ward’s interpretation is better.

As a counterbalance to Modern Warfare 2’s wicked-quick ballistics and time-to-kill, Infinity Ward has pumped the brakes on operators themselves. In terms of movement, this is by far the slowest CoD in latest memory. Established traversal methods like slide canceling and bunnyhopping, a lot to the dismay of CoD’s loudest fans(opens in new tab), have been deliberately abolished. The minimap, breaking with 15 years of tradition, now not highlights enemies as red dots every time a shot is fired. Traditionalists will let you know these tweaks are bad for the series—that they “lower the skill hole” or encourage dishonorable camping—however this paints an incomplete picture.

By gluing our boots more firmly to the ground, Call of Duty has finally created the house to be a more methodical, dare I say tactical, FPS. For the first time in years, it is actually a greater concept to tread lightly, hold angles, and listen for footsteps than full-sprint down each straightaway and bunnyhop around corners. And allow me to formally debunk the camping paranoia—sure, sooner or later a guy named I_Just-Shot-Ya will set up on top of a building and look via a scope for the whole lot of your match, however up to now this is not any more common than we’re already used to. In fact, the arrival of my new favorite throwable, the Drill Cost, makes it easier than ever(opens in new tab) to dislodge a comfortable camper.

My only gripe is that Modern Warfare 2 does not go far enough. The omnipresence of the UAV means that I still spend way too much time glancing on the map for red dots. The threat of sudden destruction at the hands of overpowered stealth bombers, chopper gunners, and miniature tank drones remains constant. I’d Ctrl+A+Delete all killstreaks from the game if it had been as much as me, though I reckon a move that monumental would create an angry mob outside Activision.

The Basilisk, in both size and stature, delivers on the promise of hand cannon, and it’s cool that I might’ve told you that had I only heard it fired from half a mile away. We think of Call of Duty as arcadey and unsophisticated, but MW2 disrupts that reputation. Infinity Ward demonstrates its care for fidelity and intricacy. Individual bullets in Modern Warfare 2 snap downrange and ship rippled, gradually-waning shockwaves through the air. It is not just about whether or not or not the weapons look cool and make loud sounds (though both apply here)—MW2 cares just as a lot in regards to the routine actions that get FPSes from A to B. Reload animations bask in tacticool mastery with stylish yet efficient magazine swaps that’d get the John Wick stamp of approval.

That Basilisk revolver has three totally different reloads relying on what number of rounds are left in the chamber, including a definite animation for reloading two spent casings without replacing all six. Sound effects are what tie it all together: Within the clip above, I counted eight distinctive scrapes, clicks, and metallic clangs for just one reload animation. I wonder how many of these 88 compressed gigabytes on my SSD are raw audio.

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