Why I Was Wrong About Modern Warfare II

Back in December of last year, the lovely Gaming Respawn team created the piece ‘Gaming Respawn’s Game of the Year 2022’. Most of the nominations are deserved and, for me personally, agreeable. After receiving God of War: Ragnarök for Christmas, Santa Monica’s excellent sequel to the 2018 title is now my favourite game of 2022. However, there is one nomination that, in hindsight, I now conflict with: it’s no other than my own.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (MW2) was the lucky game I nominated for the feature. At the time of writing, my judgement was very much clouded. Now – with some time away from Call of Duty‘s (COD) latest release – I realise not just that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (MW) from 2019 was the much superior title, but also that MW2 is a pretty flawed game.

 

A Campaign That Did the Job

Let’s start on a high note for MW2: the Campaign. Now, as far as COD campaigns go, MW2‘s is solid but not spectacular. This is not a discredit to the work Infinity Ward have put into it. Rather, I state that there are several fantastic (and superior) COD campaigns out there that are challenging to top.

Your cast of Infinity Ward characters is as expected. Captain John Price and Kyle “Gaz” Garrick return as core characters from the first game of the Modern Warfare reboot. As mentioned at the end of MW, fan favourites “Soap” MacTavish and Simon “Ghost” Riley make their return to the franchise with their first appearances in the reboot. This in turn creates a pretty loveable cast of iconic COD characters!

Mission variety was definitely present as MW2 aimed to innovate, and it certainly succeeded. “Alone” is a mission that I personally adore from MW2. Although it’s not universally beloved, “Alone” offers the fresh component of crafting (which is used once more) to up the survival elements of stealth gameplay. It’s also fantastically tense due to close calls and limited lighting. “Countdown”, “Recon by Fire” and “Kill or Capture” also succeed for me and create some great highs.

While the General Shepard betrayal and some plot twists are not so smooth, MW2‘s campaign overall is a pretty enjoyable time. Most missions are enjoyable, especially if you prefer the more intricate special forces-type missions.

 

So Close Yet So Far for Multiplayer

Sounds pretty good so far, right? Yes, but that’s because I’ve yet to mention multiplayer, which only had so much entertainment value.

Following the launch of MW2, the consistent issues during the beta remained as spawn points remained unpolished on many maps. As for maps themselves, it’s a mediocre selection, especially compared to MW. If a COD game is going to release with just ten maps on launch, those ten maps must impress. Unfortunately, there are far too many duds.

Of the ten launch maps, I can only say I really enjoy four: Crown Raceway, Breenbergh Hotel,  Zarqwa Hydroelectric and Mercado Las Almas. A combination of unfavourable map layouts, awful spawn points and general map flow weighs the experience down. Taraq and Santa Seña Border Crossing are universally detested maps, for example, perhaps two of the worst ever! Both are too large for 6v6 game modes, and spawn points make matters exponentially worse. The same can be applied for removed-before-launch map Valderas Museum, which has now returned to the game.

Rather than fixing the numerous issues with MW2‘s ten launch maps, Infinity Ward and Activision opted to introduce Shoot House and Shipment. Ironically, these fan-favourite maps spelt the beginning of the end for my time with MW2. Their close-quarter chaos juxtaposed the lethargic pacing of most launch maps. Myself and most of my friends tuned out around the time Shipment and Shoot House became part of the general map rotation as opposed to exclusive playlists featuring only these maps.

It’s a massive shame that my enjoyment for MW2 dwindled so rapidly. In the space of just a couple of weeks, I went from playing MW2‘s multiplayer daily to uninstalling the title with no looking back. MW2 gets so much right: Gunplay feels fantastic, and almost every weapon is viable to an extent. This makes the drawbacks evermore frustrating as a lack of basic fixes combined with generally uninspired maps have turned me away.

 

The Second Time Is Not the Charm for Warzone

Let’s finally move onto Warzone, and this is more simple for me to explain. During lockdown, Call of Duty: Warzone was at the height of its popularity. Countless games saw a drastic increase in player counts during the pandemic; just look at the numbers for Among Us, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Grand Theft Auto V.  Now that COVID-19 is beyond many of us, the time to play Warzone (and games generally) has dwindled.

Comparing to the original Warzone released alongside MW, Warzone 2.0 has failed to grab my attention. DMZ adds absolutely nothing for me as I’d rather not play against hordes of A.I. and win mostly cosmetic features. Infinity Ward have failed to replicate Verdansk’s charm from Warzone. Verdansk felt more intense and gripping, it’s as simple as that. I see no reason to over-analyse it, the novelty of Warzone has faded in its second rendition. I don’t see myself returning to MW2 anytime soon.

In 2023, I will commit to two promises. Firstly, I will use better judgement to pick my game of the year. Secondly, I plan to play the best titles of 2023 in 2023! This includes Hogwarts Legacy (which I’m currently playing), Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Dead Island 2.

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