Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II | PC Review
Call of Duty has always been a gaming staple throughout my entire life - I have been invested in every instalment of the franchise. Every single year I eagerly await every trailer and teaser leading up to the release. I then buy the game with great anticipation and can’t wait to load in and begin the camouflague grind and getting to know the maps inside out. During these years I’ve experienced my fair share of joy, happiness, but also sheer frustration. Every year's release comes with new critiques, bugs, highs, and lows. Since Modern Warfare in 2019 and the release of Warzone, the Call of Duty community has certainly had its fair share of gripes and issues, whilst still remaining faithful to the game we all know and love. Throughout the years we have been taken through the full spectrum of emotions and every single year there are all the usual complaints from passionate fans who know and believe in the franchise, but are disappointed despite the best efforts from the developers. However, I feel like this cycle has been broken with the latest instalment, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. Developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, it is available on Windows PC, PlayStation, and Xbox, and for my review I was playing the Windows PC version on Steam.
The campaign follows the infamous British special forces unit, “Task Force 141”, that any fans of the franchise will be well familiar with, bringing back fan favourites Soap McTavish and Ghost. Alongside Task Force 141, we are joined by Los Vaqueros who are a Mexican special forces unit as they combine their efforts in an attempt to track down an Iranian terrorist known as Hassan Zyani. Your missions throughout the Modern Warfare II campaign will take place in a range of fictitious, and also real locations throughout the world including Amsterdam, Chicago, the border between Mexico and America, as well as a fictional city in Mexico known as Las Almas. There’s also Urzikstan and its capital city is Al Mazrah, where fans and followers of the franchise might know as the location for the new Warzone 2.0 map. The campaign is essentially a continuation of Modern Warfare (2019) with the new campaign taking place in the late portion of 2022. For the last four or five years I’ve actually really disliked the campaigns in each Call of Duty release and haven’t been particularly impressed by them, I didn’t think any of them lived up to the early Black Ops or original Modern Warfare days. However, I loved this year’s campaign in every sense of the word. First and foremost, visually, it was very impressive. One of the earlier missions takes place in Amsterdam and it genuinely felt like I was looking at Google Images of an Amsterdam street. In fact, it felt so detailed that I failed the mission a number of times because I spent so long soaking in the details. I have many friends who are massive fans of Call of Duty and like me, they aren’t really big fans of the campaigns, but I’ve advised them to all check out the campaign, because the work and detail to be found really is quite impressive and shouldn’t be slept on. The campaign as usual, isn’t particularly long, however, I feel like these days there is much more emphasis and interest in the multiplayer aspects rather than the campaign itself.
The last few Call of Duty releases haven’t really impressed me at all if I’m totally honest. Since Modern Warfare (2019) (which I dubbed the “last good Call of Duty game”) I really haven’t enjoyed any of the other releases, Cold War or Vanguard, at all. This has made Warzone a real challenge for me because levelling the latest meta became a real nightmare for me. Vanguard introduced the gun's maximum level to 70, which was just too far for my liking. Modern Warfare II, however, scales it right back and totally flips the gun levelling system on its head. Everyone cried for change, everyone wanted something fresh - and Infinity Ward delivered. Instead of unlocking attachments for one specific gun, you now unlock attachments for a specific class. For example, if you unlock an optic for one assault rifle, you unlock it for all assault rifles. The same applies for the camo unlocks as well. Each camo is locked to a specific gun and specific challenge for that gun, but once you unlock it for one gun you can apply this camo to any gun - this excludes the gold and platinum camos. Fans have been asking for change for years, fans have been begging for something new and fresh rather than just the same camo grind and same gun levelling system as previous games - Infinity Ward have given us this and people are complaining that it's overly complicated. I couldn’t disagree more if I tried. I wouldn’t call myself the sharpest tool in the shed, but I understand the concept perfectly fine and actually really enjoy it. It forces you to use different weapons which then in turn allows you to find things that you might not have tried previously. Levelling a gun to max level and getting the gold camo takes me around 3-4 hours. Despite the fact that fans have been begging for new systems and such, there’s been a lot of complaints about this new system, however I couldn’t disagree more if I tried. For Warzone players it really changes the game when it comes to new guns being released as, if you’ve already unlocked certain attachments, all you need to do to level up the gun now is to level the gun enough to USE the attachments that you have already unlocked.
As far as the gunplay goes, I’ve been really enjoying Modern Warfare II. The guns all feel excellent, nothing feels terribly overpowered and on the other end of the spectrum, everything feels viable and unique to each other. There are no two assault rifles or submachine guns (SMG) that feel the same as each other and none that feel totally useless which is lovely. Initially, I was finding that there was a lot more recoil in everything, but it was very strange. I would beam someone and from my perspective, nothing was hitting the enemy, but then I’d suddenly have actually got a headshot kill. This was baffling me initially until I realised there was actually a large amount of visual recoil. I discovered a fix for this in the settings which may be handy for other players. Go onto settings, then in the “graphics” tab, go over to “view” and change the “first-person camera movement” from the default to “least” and you’ll find that you see far less recoil than you did previously.
Next, let's talk about maps. I actually really like the maps and even my least favourite maps are absolutely fine. Comparing this to the last generation's releases, this is a huge improvement because I really didn’t like the maps. However, in Modern Warfare II all the maps seem to have a flow that just works for me. On release there were maps that really catered for every style of play and made the camo grind fairly accessible. The only struggle I had early days was getting the SMG rank to gold as I found sometimes it was hard to get into close quarters fights often enough, so SMG’s were a struggle initially. However, with the launch of Season 1 on the 16th of November we had the return of fan favourites Shipment and Shoothouse, so the camo grind just became infinitely easier. My biggest complaints about the maps may be the choice in placement for the capture points on Domination. On one or two maps the points don’t feel like they make too much sense to me in terms of where they are in comparison to the other points. This is a very minor gripe, and only really applies to one or two maps, but still worth noting from a map design standpoint.
The Call of Duty community were, and still are, in uproar initially due to changes in movement that were made. Since Modern Warfare (2019) there has been a movement mechanic known as “slide cancelling” essentially, this is where you use your tactical sprint, slide, and then sprint again which then cancels the slide action but also resets your tactical sprint quicker than the default setting does. This means that in Warzone you could move around the map much quicker and skilled players could slide around players and make gunfights more in their favour. With the release of Modern Warfare II, this mechanic is gone. You can still slide and sprint, but it no longer gives the advantage of resetting your tactical sprint. Some say this change makes it easier for basic, low skill players; however in my opinion all it does is turns the game back into what it’s supposed to be about - being able to shoot a gun, have a decent aim, and use tactical positioning instead of relying on a mechanic where you can break people's cameras and not track your enemies movement as easily. Yes, it's just a video game, but SOME degree of realism is nice. Instead, Modern Warfare II has seen the return of dolphin diving which basically allows you to dive into cover away from enemy fire and help you reposition. It was never a mechanic I used initially in multiplayer, however, it’s proven to save my life on more than one occasion in Warzone 2.0. It’s been really pleasant playing Warzone and multiplayer alike at the moment because all the “pro’s” and super sweats now have to rely on actual gun skill rather than movement, so it has altered the skill cap a lot and it has really opened up the opportunities for new players to find strategies that work for them. Some people say that it's simply making the game easier for casuals and scrubs - my reply for that? Git gud. Stop complaining. Adjust and overcome.
Call of Duty games are renowned for severe bugs on release. I know many people had the game crashing repeatedly and couldn’t play for the first few days, and this issue was across many platforms. In my first 10 hours of gameplay I had three game crashes, they always happened whilst in the menus, so they never really affected my gameplay at all so in that respect, I wasn’t bothered. After about forty hours of gameplay I experienced my first night of the game being broken where it crashed four times in totally DURING games, so from my perspective, the game runs like a dream. I have a fairly good set up, however certainly not the MOST powerful PC out there so the fact that I had next to no problems is excellent. The fact is, I’ve experienced far worse Call of Duty releases than this when it comes to bugs and crashes. However, having only personally experienced very minor bugs as detailed above, I can’t really let that cloud my review, because they were so insignificant to me and didn’t affect my gameplay experience.
Overall, I’ve been having a wonderful time with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. Truth be told, I came into this review expecting to have a lot of negative things to say because after so many years of buying Call of Duty games I’ve repeatedly been let down and frustrated by simple bugs and such causing the game to just not work in a sufficient manner. On this occasion, I am happy to say I was wrong. The future for Modern Warfare II looks really bright with the release of Warzone 2.0 and DMZ. With this being the first bi-annual release in Call of Duty history I really hope to see masses of content released as the seasons move forward. I’ve now put 72 hours into the game and my complaints are so few. I know I likely sound like a typical Call of Duty lover, but I’m truly surprised at how much fun I’ve been having in the game. The work that has gone into Modern Warfare II is absolutely noticeable in every sense of the word, no it’s not without flaws, but the upgrade in quality between the map design, the graphics, and the campaign is clearly there.
Lj’s Rating: 5 out of 5.
Many thanks to Step 3 for supplying the review code.