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66 Reviews

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Modern classic

We would've loved to have been able to tell you how fantastic Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is before the game was released. But Activision had those embargo shackles tied tightly round our wrists until this morning. Sorry.

But if you're not still cold from queuing outside HMV in the wee hours, you should be planning your trip to the high street this afternoon, because Modern Warfare 2 well and truly meets the incredibly high expectations.

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It should be deemed actually illegal to play this phenomenal-looking shooter on a crappy portable TV with mono sound. This is a compulsory widescreen, 5.1 surround sound affair. It's a true videogame action blockbuster - it's the no-expense-spared Michael Bay production of the videogame world.

A relatively cheap-as-chips title screen leads into the most explosive first-person action game we've ever played. From the very moment your military boots hit the battlefield soil your eyes and ears are battered with the most intense shootouts and sometimes overwhelmingly chaotic scenes of war.

In just the first few missions you blast your way through an intense gun fight in a school, before heading over to the ice caps of Kazakhstan to creep through a snowstorm using a heartbeat sensor, picking off enemies without being seen.

And then, rather controversially (as the Daily Mail would've told you) you're off to a Russian airport as an undercover terrorist, shooting innocent people to maintain your cover.

The pacing of the game is immaculate. Infinity Ward switches from quiet stealth missions, to small tactical shootouts in densely detailed houses, to mind-bogglingly epic outdoor battles that will continue to amaze you even six hours in.

What's truly brilliant is how the developer's moulded unique gameplay into these levels without being overly intrusive. In one section you'll climb a snowy mountain with ice hooks controlled by timely presses of the two controller triggers. In another you'll order a heavy-duty tank to kill specific enemies with a laser sight, as you make your way through an American residential street.

Similarly Infinity Ward's delivered a vehicle section that (shock, horror) actually isn't rubbish; you'll take control of a snowmobile and blast down the side of a mountain being chased by dozens of enemies. There are plenty of other brilliant vehicle sections like these, but it'd be simply wrong to spoil them for you.

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That said, if you've played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare the immense similarity between the two almost makes you feel like you're playing new levels in the same game. And yet, MW2 does well to pack more variety into every mission.

Master Chief fans might bang on about how very pre-set and linear the action in CoD games is compared to Halo's excellent sandbox AI routines, and MW2 is no different.

In Halo, a drop ship flies in and spits a bunch of enemies into the open environment, the AI takes over and it feels like a battle of wits between you and a formidable computer opponent. No two battles feel the same.

In Modern Warfare 2 - just like its predecessor - soldiers emerge from the same place and often do the same predetermined things.

Once you've died a dozen times you'll start to learn all of the soldier routines, which exposes how scripted everything really is. Fortunately Infinity Ward is brilliant at presenting an incredible, action-packed and polished experience, so while it is scripted, it's no less immersive.

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