Developer: Infinity Ward
Release Date: 10/28/2022
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Here we are again. At least Activision let three go between releases this time and it’s been paying off. I had high expectations for Modern Warfare II’s campaign as 2019’s was pretty damn good. A lot of elements carry over such as the fantastic acting, fun on-screen characters, and bombastic mission design, but there are a couple of new things thrown in borrowed from Black Ops: Cold War and tweaked slightly. You play as various well-known Modern Warfare characters such as Soap McTavish, and Ghost, with Captain Price returning as well as some characters from 2009’s Modern Warfare 2. If you hadn’t guessed, this is a prequel to that game and a direct sequel to Call of Duty 4. Starting to see a pattern here? 2019’s Modern Warfare was a prequel to Call of Duty 4. My guess is Modern Warfare III will be a prequel to Modern Warfare 3. Why are we doing this? Why is there a Call of Duty multiverse?
Sadly, the campaign isn’t as good as 2019’s and still doesn’t learn any lessons. It’s a fast-paced rapid-fire campaign that doesn’t focus on its strongest points. The story is interesting enough thanks to the fantastic acting and the on-screen characters are interesting and fun to watch, and I wanted more of them. Instead, we’re rushed through a bare-bones campaign full of the same stuff we’ve seen before. On-rails vehicle missions, stealth missions that don’t require you to really use stealth, some weird puzzle with a missile laptop that isn’t really a puzzle because Infinity Ward thinks every player is dumb. Yeah, the game treats you like you’re stupid and does everything for you. I really wish this would stop. Stop being scared of challenging us. Sure, the gunplay is bar none some of the best out there. The weapons feel great, and the animations and various minute things like ADS time, scope switching, and all that jazz feel tweaked and more responsive than ever. It’s a blast to shoot things and use various weapons.
The only new thing here is screwed up and the worst part of the game. The final act has you crafting items and sneaking through a city to escape the enemy. Yeah, crafting in Call of Duty. I never thought I’d see the day. It’s poorly implemented because the level design is terrible. I constantly got turned around and went in circles causing me to restart numerous times. You get no way to deal with enemies until you find a sharp object which is towards the end of the fist objective. You can craft smoke bombs, pry tools (which are essential to finding a gun and better weapons), and various small traps, but finding these items is a chore. I had to go into every single house and search everywhere just to get enough parts to make a single item.
Getting caught required numerous restarts and seriously halted the game. It’s later introduced in an even worse situation in which you are in a single office with no weapons and have to scrounge for a sharp object and make items while also being on a timer to disarm a bomb with that same laptop puzzle thing. It’s stupid and not fun. The thing is there are only two enemies in the room. Why would I need to craft all of these objects? Find two glass shards under the tables and duct tape and take them out. In fact, you can just stay under here and disarm the bomb without being seem. What were they thinking?
The campaign is about 5-6 hours long and it ended on a cliffhanger leading to 2009’s Modern Warfare 2. So after this go play the remastered campaign of that I guess. I was left wanting more of what there was less of and wanting less of what I got. The beat of the game is well done. I felt entertained enough by the story and characters to keep going but those horrible stealth sections really slowed the game up and it makes me not want to play the campaign again. 2019’s campaign is worth replaying. It’s fun and varied.
The visuals are fantastic. While only a small step up from 2019’s engine it looks amazing and is a well-optimized engine that can run on lower-end hardware. While there’s no ray tracing right now, I can’t wait to try it out. It’s one of the best-looking games out there and is a treat to look at.
This is where I was most excited. I actually really like Call of Duty‘s multiplayer suite. After 2019 the game just perfected it. It’s addictive, and fun and the customization options are pretty large. However, this year’s game is a grind. I didn’t think 2019 was really bad, but I feel without a Battle Pass you will be grinding a lot here. The biggest complaint is the new UI. It sucks. There are no more notifications (the green dots) on what you have unlocked. I have to quit a match search so I have time to go in and figure out what I unlocked. The armory itself is a bit confusing. I wish they would have just ported the 2019 UI over. It was perfectly fine.
Even the menu where you pick the match type is confusing. It feels like a mobile UI shoved onto a console. With that out of the way, the game plays pretty much the same. Movement is a bit more refined, guns feel even better than before, and there are more of them and a larger variety. You still get your five main classes and can customize your own, which by the way is a confusing mess thanks to that terrible new UI. New perks like strong arm which lets you see the trajectory of a thrown item. There are now perk packages that let you select two base perks and a bonus perk. I found this really felt better than picking separate perks as it forced you to mix things up.
The maps themselves are the star of the show and there are some good ones here. I feel like these are way better than Cold War’s maps, but not quite as good as 2019’s. Still, there were only one or two maps I didn’t care for but they weren’t terrible. The same modes and playlists return, but my favorite is always team deathmatch. I do play a few other modes occasionally but TDM never gets old. I didn’t really get into Warzone 2.0 or any of the 32v32 maps as I prefer smaller battles in this game.
With that said, Modern Warfare II doesn’t take the series in new strides but provides more of what made 2019 work and that’s fine. The campaign isn’t as good, but the new characters bring a lot of life to the series and they are fun to watch on screen. Sadly, the stealth missions bring the entire campaign down some and hurt the replay value. After the short campaign is over it’s on to the multiplayer that we’ve grown to love and if you liked 2019’s you will like what’s here. A new perk and field upgrade system tweaked controls and animations, and all new maps that are pretty good. I just wish the UI wasn’t so awful.