Initial release date: October 27, 2022
Mode: Multiplayer video game
Genre: First-person shooter
Platforms: Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Demonware, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Toys for Bob, MORE
"Review Copy Provided by Activision Blizzard"
I’ve been covering the Call of Duty series for half a decade as a reviewer and for over 2 decades now as a gamer and when I say that the series has been a rollercoaster, I mean that literally. The CoD series started to become affected by issues that every long running yearly franchise was and that would be franchise fatigue. For so long, we had become accustomed to the yearly Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, and etc of which each entry would do very little to set itself apart from one another and fans were starting to grow tired of what was being offered as no matter what CoD did; be it diving full on into futuristic style entries like Advanced Warfighter and Black Ops 3, trying to dive into the world of the online massive map shooters with Black Ops 4, or going back to its WWII roots with Call of Duty WWII and Vanguard; the series was just stuck in a rut. Call of Duty’s return to the world and characters they made with the Modern Warfare series breathed new yet familiar life into the series with its 2019 reboot, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, and here we are in 2022 with that games sequel, Call of Duty Modern Warfare II. With the hype that this new title has generated, can it live up to it? Let’s find out!
Picking up three years after the events of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, MWII puts us in the shoes of various members of Task Force 141 as they contend with the threat of Hassan Zyani who is seeking vengeance against the United States after an air strike kills Al-Qatala leader General Ghorbrani and goes on to form an alliance with an international drug cartel that has stolen U.S. ballistic missiles. Hassan is planning to launch the missiles against various targets of the U.S., and it falls to the team of Task Force 141 to stop him in a glob trotting affair. While it may seem that 2022’s MWII is a retelling of 2009’s MW2, they are not the same story nor set in the same universe as this is a reboot and only the same characters carry over.
Modern Warfare II brings back Farah Karim from Modern Warfare 2019 who comes back as an ally for one of the missions you’ll be on, however, she doesn’t play much of a role in the overall story which is a bit odd considering her previously teaming up with Price which feels like a missed opportunity. One of my favorite new characters is none other than Alejandro as he is honestly that friend we all have that can seem grimy but has a heart of gold and is always there when you need them. Rodolfo really shines as the balancing out of Alejandro’s nature, and they are both so well portrayed that you end up growing attached to them.
All in all, story wise, Modern Warfare II does a fantastic job of balancing out nostalgia and weaving its own new plot with a fun and engaging narrative.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II features 17 campaign missions that give you that cinematic action you’ve come to know from the franchise along with you having some stealth sections to round it out. What I noticed was that there are some missions that will harken back to the original Modern Warfare games such as how Recon By Fire is reminiscent of All Ghillied Up and Close Air is similar to Death From Above. In Close Air, you get to take control of one of the members of the Shadow Company that’s in an AC-130 gunship providing air support for Soap, Ghost, and Alejandro and it just gives you that exhilarating feeling that you got from the fan favorite Death from Above in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Most of the missions will give you some freedom of how you want to play the, which isn’t entirely new per se as we’ve experienced that in previous games, yet in Modern Warfare II you’re given some expanded options that give you some additional options for how you want to approach missions such as going in with direct guns blazing tactics or by stealthy means and not taking out anyone. There are even sections where you must snipe some targets and have the option to explore the area and find a position to set up at to line up your shot. There are also occasional segments that can feel like you’re in an open world environment, but I wouldn’t say that the freedom of how you execute missions is on the level of an open-world shooter or RPG, but it’s still cool for what it is.
The game plays like a traditional Call of Duty experience so you already know how in many respects how it controls, and yet there are some newer aspects to the game such as new mechanics for maneuvering around such as being able to stand on the roof of a vehicle to jump over and hijack an enemy’s vehicle as well as being able to quickly switch seats around whatever car you’re in and more. Playing the game on the PS5 had the game utilizing the Dual Sense’s Haptic Triggers and Feedback giving the game some added sense of realism when it comes to having the added tension from ADS or aiming down sights and popping off a few rounds. There’s also a new crafting mechanic introduced in the later portion of the game that is pretty neat if a bit unnecessary for this series.
I will say that the game felt substantially harder than any of the previous Call of Duty games of recent memory, especially on the normal difficulty as I found myself getting killed constantly since the AI is much more ruthless than in previous games. The increased ruthlessness from the A.I. made me have to change up my tactics and never feel like I’m comfortable or safe in skirmishes given how much faster and realistically they react to everything.
I’m going to combine the graphics and audio sections here as you can’t really separate them from one another. On PS5, the game looks and sounds incredible with in-game graphics that look so good that they draw you into the various locales all over the world that you end up traveling to. The prerendered cutscenes look even better and at times look so realistic that you’ll have to stop question if you can reach out and touch these characters as it can feel like these were filmed with real life people and not pre-rendered cutscenes. The returning cast of Captain James Price, “Soap” McTavish, and Ghost all look incredible, and the performances of the motion capture team and voice actors brings them to life in a way that we’ve never gotten to experience before. The entire cast nails the roles in this game and let’s not forget the sound team either as everything in this game from the gunshots, explosions, vehicles, babbling brooks of water, flora and fauna, and more all sound outstanding. The OST itself is bombastic and reminds me of the days of great movies like Black Hawk Down and The Sum of All Fears in how it all feels like a Hollywood movie. It’s really that good.
As far as down sides go; I would say the game doesn’t have many within the campaign other than occasional graphical hiccups here and there. There were times when enemies would teleport through doors and or when killed would phase through walls and other issues, I saw were texture pop in and occasionally instances where in missions like “Close Air” where when I would zoom in to provide air support that textures like trees and such would change textures when I would zoom in and zoom back. Other issues were when the game was fully installed, and I was stuck on a loop of the game telling me to install the campaign when I had already done so, and it would prompt me to purchase another edition of the game. The solution to that was just to uninstall the single player campaign and launch the game and allow it to install it for you with the game running. It was annoying to have to deal with.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 was a great return to form for the franchise and was excellent in its story and presentation and was just a fun game that I still go back to and now Modern Warfare II takes the crown from that entry and is now one of my favorite games of the year. From excellent graphics, outstanding audio, fun gameplay and new mechanics, and a bombastic story; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is a must play if for nothing more than the campaign alone as it’s just that good!