Modern Warfare 2 Remastered Review | The Price of War

Earlier this year, I played through Modern Warfare Remastered and experienced the famous COD4 campaign for the first time. It was the start of the slow widdling down of my video game backlog and, though in the months since then I haven't had the chance to make much progress in that regard, my priorities having since shifted to covering new and upcoming games that we're lucky enough to get our hands-on, I finally found some free time to play the sequel. With this I will have officially played all the Modern Warfare story modes, having already played Modern Warfare 3 when it released in 2011, though I will admit that my memory of that campaign is hazy except for a scene where the Eiffel Tower comes crashing down which I still vividly remember from the trailers. Anyway, now that you're all caught up, let's get on to the review.

Modern Warfare 2 takes place five years after the first and continues the story of Task Force 141 along with some new perspectives to make it a truly globe-trotting adventure fit for a Call of Duty campaign. Despite the Task Force's efforts in the last game, the fall of Imran Zakhaev has the inverse effect for the Russian Ultranationalists. Vladamir Makarov takes Zakhezev's mission into his own hands and starts to ignite fires between Russian and United States relations. One skippable airport sequence and a prison break later, 141 is tasked with stopping the international conflict while American forces in the US are fighting an invasion. If this sounds like a lot, it is, but the story isn't too convoluted despite how often it jumps perspectives. Though, I would argue that the coolest perspective in the game only lasts about 2 minutes and that's of the astronaut looking down at from the ISS, what was originally a full space sequence was cut from the original game for pacing. But even with that scene removed, the story still jumps around to lots of different locations, and as someone who has played a good few hours of Call of Duty: Warzone, it was cool to see areas like the Gulag in the context of the Modern Warfare storyline.

Being the Trophy hunter I am, I played through the game on Veteran difficulty and while I am pleased to say that there isn't anything as infamously brutal as "One Shot, One Kill" from the previous game's campaign, there are still plenty of frustrating moments in Modern Warfare 2. Mainly in the mission "Loose Ends" where you have to get out of a safe house to the evac site while being surrounded by dozens of bad guys. Perhaps the thing that made me the most irrationally mad playing though the game on Veteran is seeing the NPC teammates just jog through the bullet fire like it's a Sunday morning in Central Park while I struggle to get out the front door before a Russian man comes and knocks my teeth out. I don't mind tough games but, by God, make A.I. not dumb.

This review will be shorter than the one for Modern Warfare Remastered because a lot of what I said about that game applies directly to this one. For example, Modern Warfare 2 Remastered's gameplay is just as tight and responsive as its predecessor. This also means that ridiculous flinch also exists, so on Veteran difficulty it's easy to get dropped super fast if you get hit once since none of your shots after that will hit their target. But when you get into the swing of things and find your rhythm the game is pretty fun. There is also the gameplay variety that has since become a staple of the series, adding on rail shooting and driving sequences into the FPS mix. Although that change of gameplay doesn't quite hold up against the standout sequences of modern Call of Duty campaigns. I'm looking at Clean House from last year's Modern Warfare and Desperate Measures from this year's Black Ops: Cold War when I say this.

One place where the remaster absolutely does hold up is visuals. Modern Warfare 2 Remastered is a stunning game with the weapon and character models being super high detailed. While the game overall looks great there are certain segments and sequences that are especially impressive. Unlike the previous remaster, which was done by Raven Software in tandem with Beenox, the MW2 remaster was done by Beenox alone and despite the smaller team, they did a fantastic job with the game. That being said, unlike the first game, MW2 has a bigger scope and consequentially more set pieces. This means that while the key models, be it weapons or characters, the player interacts with are great, there are occasional times where wandering of the beaten path can show some slightly less polished visuals. But let's be honest, even those aren't bad by any means.

Back when I played Modern Warfare Remastered I ranted about its great sound design was and the same praise carries over to MW2. But the real star of the sound department is the score. This isn't at all surprising when you look at the credits list. For those who didn't know, the Modern Warfare 2 soundtrack is composed by Lorne Balfe, who later went onto produce the music for The Crown and, my personal favorite, Mission Impossible: Fallout. He will also be arranging the music for this year's The Game Awards. The cherry on top of Balfe's work is the theme for the game which is composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer. The score is a big part of what makes Modern Warfare 2 so iconic and it holds up incredibly well after over 10 years.

Lastly, before I wrap it up, I have to touch on Trophies. I managed to Platinum MWR in 3 days, which isn't too much of a brag considering the game has no Multiplayer Trophies and is a pretty easy 100%. However, it's not the same case for Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered. Yes, the game obviously has no Multiplayer Trophies but there are a few others that require more effort than I'm willing to give it at this time. Mainly I'm talking about the Trophy "The Student Surpasses the Master" which I am now realizing is almost the same name as the "Becomes the Master" Trophy in Titanfall 2 that is unlocked for completing the time trial in record time. Back on topic, that Trophy requires running The Pit with under 19 seconds time. The other Trophy is called "Immortal" which requires finishing every mission in the game without dying. Maybe once the game isn't so fresh in my head I can go back to get the Platinum but for now, I sit at an 82% completion rate. Though I may go back to get some quick Trophies out of the way after the review.

As an avid fan of Call of Duty campaigns, for years I've said that the story of a Call of Duty game has the plot, stakes, slow motion, explosions, and slow-motion explosions to fill a summer blockbuster. And having finally played Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered my beliefs are reaffirmed. While the gameplay is just as tight as always, the game's willingness to throw the players into a web of international espionage full of crazy over the top moments and backed by Lorne Balfe's memorable score make it clear why Modern Warfare 2 has remained on so many player's favorite's lists. And I say all this without needing to sink hundreds of hours into the Multiplayer, a mode that most players remember fondly after all these years. However, that brings me to a crossroads. I'm torn between waiting for an inevitable Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Remastered which will ideally release in April or May of 2021, or turning on my PS3 and playing through my original copy of Modern Warfare 3. But that's a decision for a different day. With that said, as I'm sure you all know already, Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. But before I sign off completely I just want to add that this is officially our 100th article on the site and by coincidence, it lined up perfectly with Thanksgiving Day so it feels only right to thank each and every one of our readers who, in a short amount of time, have shown us an incredible amount of support, Thank you!

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