Infinity Ward delivers the prettiest and best single-player we've seen from the franchise in a decade, but it doesn't exactly offer anything new.
While it seems like millions out there jump straight into Call of Duty's multiplayer every year, yours truly has always started with playing through the single-player story first. This has lead to some memorable experiences through the years, but most of these came more than a decade ago. Fortunately, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's campaign isn't far away from living up to the original's amazing adventure.
Not because of the plot, however, as Modern Warfare II goes for a more "popcorny Michael Bay" approach instead of its predecessor's somewhat more The Hurt Locker/Zero Dark Thirty style. There's nothing wrong with that, but the result is a fast-paced thrill-ride that you'll forget the reason for as soon as the credits have rolled across the screen. The same can't be said about what you've been doing to get there.
Remember me mentioning that several missions were obviously inspired by the original Modern Warfare trilogy in my preview back in June? Those examples are far from the only ones here. I'm not going to spoil which ones, but let's just say oldies like me out there will get a lot of flashbacks to missions that are on most top ten lists. Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about copies or just remastered versions here, as Infinity Ward has done a fantastic job of taking visual elements, gameplay mechanics and/or set-pieces from classics and mixing them in with a ton of their own ideas and technology. That latter aspect is especially worth taking note of.
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Sure, the Activision studios brag about their "groundbreaking" presentation every single year, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II lives up to the hype on both PC and PlayStation 5. Infinity Ward and crew have been boasting about their astounding water technology so much that I won't even bother mentioning that beyond this point. It's time to give some well-deserved love to the animations, lighting and environmental details. This trio makes the cinematic sequences look darn near photo-realistic, as well as make you stop to just gaze at your surroundings in missions. At least if you have time. Because one of the missions that highlights all of these is the caravan mission I mentioned in my preview. Seeing the light bounce off the different vehicles and sand fly into the air while your character smoothly climbs on to the roof before jumping over to a pick-up truck in the vast desert is a sight to behold. All of that in a perfect 60 fps or higher? Heaven.
Spice this already great dish up with a handful of sequences where dialogue choices let you bring some of your own personality into already fascinating characters and situations, some really cool new ideas you haven't seen in CoD before, incredibly smart enemies (that also makes it more immersive and challenging) and the series' always first-class feel and sound, and it's safe to say Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is my favourite Call of Duty campaign since the original trilogy... even if it's partly because the game kind of recycles quite a lot from it and lacks the same punch in its plot.
8 / 10
Cool universe and characters,
Really fun and diverse missions,
Very impressive graphics and sound
That many missions are basically recycled versions of old ones lessens the experience,