All Modern Warfare 2 needs to be is a good shooter, and it delivers. This is the Call of Duty experience, deconstructed, reconsidered, and obsessively optimized over 15 uninterrupted years of iteration. I know once I’m playing a Black Ops game because it has offbeat arcade modes and the latest iteration of Nuketown. I know I’m enjoying a Modern Warfare game because the shooting is so finely tuned that I need to take my Gunsmith build out to dinner. Infinity Ward has formally mastered the instant gratification of aiming down sights and deleting targets.
That goes a long way, although some of Modern Warfare 2’s biggest swings, corresponding to revamped progression and a style-bending campaign, are less elegant. It additionally suffers from an obtuse UI, fits of crashes, weird bugs, and the unexplained absence of basic options like stat tracking. However altogether, it’s a superb 12 months for Call of Duty.
I said in 2019’s CoD assessment that Modern Warfare “sets the bar high for first-particular person gun feel.” Consider Modern Warfare 2 the new bar. Ballistics are as soon as once more physically simulated (not hitscan), but you would not know it from playing on regular 6v6 maps. On area maps with short sightlines, guns behave like lasers that instantly tag targets. Jump into a 64-player Ground War match and the identical weapons accommodate to firefights spanning total city blocks, requiring players to lead shots and account for bullet drop. It is kind of wild how versatile and seamless the system is—even in the latest Battlefield, a series that is dealt in simulated ballistics for 20 years, weapons are a little too gradual up close.
Modern Warfare 2’s silky physics examine favorably when you’ve been playing Vanguard for the previous 12 months, or even better for those who’ve stuck with Cold War for the last two. I never quite got over Cold War’s noticeably sluggish hit detection; it’d take around 5-7 frames for level-blank shots to register in my tests. Under equally unscientific testing conditions (me counting frames in replays recorded at 60 fps), MW2’s latency is a far less discoverable 2-three frames. It’s not clear to me exactly how many factors are at play here. It could possibly be that Treyarch’s weapons appear slower because they’re slower by design, but regardless, Infinity Ward’s interpretation is better.
As a counterbalance to Modern Warfare 2’s wicked-quick ballistics and time-to-kill, Infinity Ward has pumped the brakes on operators themselves. In terms of movement, this is by far the slowest CoD in current memory. Established traversal methods like slide canceling and bunnyhopping, a lot to the dismay of CoD’s loudest fans(opens in new tab), have been deliberately abolished. The minimap, breaking with 15 years of tradition, not highlights enemies as red dots whenever a shot is fired. Traditionalists will tell you these tweaks are bad for the series—that they “lower the skill gap” or encourage dishonorable camping—however this paints an incomplete picture.
By gluing our boots more firmly to the ground, Call of Duty has finally created the area to be a more methodical, dare I say tactical, FPS. For the primary time in years, it is actually a greater idea to tread lightly, hold angles, and listen for footsteps than full-dash down each straightaway and bunnyhop around corners. And allow me to formally debunk the camping paranoia—sure, in some unspecified time in the future a man named I_Just-Shot-Ya will set up on top of a building and look through a scope for the whole thing of your match, however so far this isn’t any more frequent than we’re already used to. In reality, the arrival of my new favorite throwable, the Drill Cost, makes it simpler than ever(opens in new tab) to dislodge a comfortable camper.
My only gripe is that Modern Warfare 2 does not go far enough. The omnipresence of the UAV means that I still spend way an excessive amount of time glancing at the map for red dots. The specter of sudden destruction by the hands of overpowered stealth bombers, chopper gunners, and miniature tank drones stays constant. I would Ctrl+A+Delete all killstreaks from the game if it had been as much as me, though I reckon a move that monumental would create an angry mob outside Activision.
The Basilisk, in each dimension and stature, delivers on the promise of hand cannon, and it’s cool that I may’ve told you that had I only heard it fired from half a mile away. We think of Call of Duty as arcadey and unsophisticated, but MW2 disrupts that reputation. Infinity Ward demonstrates its care for fidelity and intricacy. Particular person bullets in Modern Warfare 2 snap downrange and ship rippled, gradually-waning shockwaves via the air. It’s not just about whether or not or not the guns look cool and make loud sounds (although both apply here)—MW2 cares just as a lot concerning the routine actions that get FPSes from A to B. Reload animations bask in tacticool mastery with trendy but environment friendly magazine swaps that’d get the John Wick stamp of approval.
That Basilisk revolver has three totally different reloads relying on how many rounds are left in the chamber, including a definite animation for reloading two spent casings without changing all six. Sound effects are what tie it all collectively: In the clip above, I counted eight unique scrapes, clicks, and metallic clangs for just one reload animation. I wonder how many of those 88 compressed gigabytes on my SSD are raw audio.
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