‘Modern Warfare 2’ hits the target

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Over the years, the "Call of Duty" franchise has always been known for raising the bar for the first-person shooter genre. Developer Infinity Ward has taken the franchise from historic World War II settings to a more modern setting with an all-new set of cast and locales. "Modern Warfare 2" is one of the most heavily anticipated games for the ‘next generation’ video games systems. The question is, can it really live up to all this hype?

"Modern Warfare 2" is basically three games in one: the single player campaign, an online multiplayer mode and the all new special operatives mode. The single player campaign follows the succesful formula of past installments and is as intense as ever. The player instantly gets a feel for just how improved the graphics and physics engines really are from previous "Call of Duty" games. Whether it’s firefighting in the bustling streets of Rio De Janeiro or piloting a snow mobile in the Kazakhstan mountains, this game is truly beautiful.

"Modern Warfare 2" is one of the best looking games in the genre and it features an amazing musical score. Composer Hans Zimmer did a fantastic job immersing the player with dramatic music that really sets the tone for war. The beautiful graphics, physics, and music truly make it feel like an action-packed movie.

The biggest issue with the single player campaign is its brevity. One play through can be completed in just five to six hours on regular difficulty. Another issue is that the story is unbelievable and does a poor job of explaining the scenarios. The game focuses on a Russian invasion of the U.S., which is far-fetched but makes for an interesting story. The game contains a level that has already created some controversy, which was anticipated by the developers who put in a warning that asks the player if he or she wants to play the level. The story is told through loading screens and will often leave the player scratching their head wondering what just happened. Overall, the single player delivers a great action-packed experience that never has a dull moment.

The new mode, Special Operatives, is an arcade style challenge mode that can be enjoyed by one or two players. The mode is broken into five tiers, each consisting of missions where the player can earn up to three stars as a rating. This mode features 23 missions and lasts longer than the single player campaign. The mission locales can repeat themselves and a few borrow straight from the campaign, but each is set up in an entirely new way. The only downside to special ops is the exclusion of an online leaderboard.

The game’s multiplayer mode made great strides over its predecessor in overall realism. Each map features dozens of effects, including cars that explode, electrical equipment and smoke. All of this adds up to an experience that looks and feels almost like the single player campaign. The class system returns from "Modern Warfare" with both new weapons and new perks. One of the new items brought to the table is the customizable killstreaks. Once a player reaches a certain string of kills, that player can then choose what perk he or she wants. Some of the new perks include the ability to steal bombers, AC-130 strikes and even a devastating nuke that hands instant victory to the team that uses it. Every strategy has its counter, which allows players from any skill level to contribute to their team.

The large amount of content featured in the multiplayer will have the player coming back for more. The multiplayer is a great showing of online gaming, featuring an immense amount of content and strategy in an incredibly balanced setup.

"Modern Warfare 2" lives up to its hype. The game features an intense single player campaign, an addicting addition in the special operatives mode and a balanced and strategic multiplayer mode. Despite the game’s few flaws, "Modern Warfare 2" is an impressive addition for both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.