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MW2 campaign review: Quite obviously the middle entry in a cinematic trilogy cover image

MW2 campaign review: Quite obviously the middle entry in a cinematic trilogy

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The latest entry in the Modern Warfare series featured another bombastic and cinematic campaign but how good is it?

The approach to the Modern Warfare 2 campaign feels as though it is just a means to an end. It feels as though it is filling in a story mode-sized gap in the release of a new Call of Duty game where innovation for the sake of innovation usurps actual tight writing in terms of importance to the developers.
Instead of the gritty and edgy story of the namesake Modern Warfare 2 that released in 2009, the 2022 campaign attempts to thrust players into a story that has twists with no impact and a loose narrative that flip-flops between storylines and forgets characters just when they seemingly become important.
That happens so much that the main antagonist of the story mode seemingly disappears for nearly half of the runtime.
Major Hassan Ayani from the MW2 campaign.
Major Hassan Ayani from the MW2 campaign.
The MW2 campaign takes around 6-8 hours to complete. That depends on how what playstyle is and what difficulty you attempt the game on.
Regardless of the difficulty, some sections remain frustrating. The new armored enemy type cause particular annoyance.

MW2 campaign review

The story of the MW2 campaign is deep rooted in what Infinity Ward clearly see as reality. It is a clear and blatant attempt to try and reflect real events.
Tensions in the Middle East and with Russia are tiptoed around in the campaign. The opportunity to tell a thickly thought-out and thought-provoking story was there for the taking.
Photo via Activision.
Photo via Activision.
Instead, Infinity Ward have presented a thinly-veiled story that lacks complexity. The story follows the already established Task Force 141 in their latest mission against terrorism.
The group is asked to chase down Iranian Major Hassan Ayani. His commander is killed in the opening stages of the story and he launches a retaliation against the US.
Most of the story focuses around finding the three missiles that Hassan had acquired from the US. These missions act as the biggest set pieces of the campaign but they all end up feeling the same.
At the end of the second act of the MW2 campaign there is a twist in the story that feels completely forced. It was completely predictable and still didn't feel like it deserved to be included.
"Gaz" donning night vision goggles in the MW2 campaign.
"Gaz" donning night vision goggles in the MW2 campaign.
The story also seems to finish in the most blunt and abrupt way possible. The final mission ends on a dime with no extended pay-off. It's a simply quick time event that just ends up falling flat because of how out of place it feels.

A bit of hope

At least at the end of the final mission, you get drip-fed the best piece of exposition in the entire story. A small 30-second cutscene was all it took to have more impact than the previous eight hour slog.
That one last cutscene in the game confirmed that MW2's campaign is simply just a filler in the middle of a trilogy.
No Russian.
No Russian.
There feels like there is a big Modern Warfare 3 (2011)-style payoff just around the corner. The fact remains that this year's iteration of MW2 feels a far cry from the tightly wound and intense offering of its predecessor.

Characters

Fan-favourite Call of Duty characters return in the Modern Warfare 2 campaign. Captain John Price stars as one of the main protagonists alongside Simon "Ghost" Riley and John "Soap" MacTavish. All of those are veterans of the series.
Characters also return from Modern Warfare (2019) with Farah Ahmed Karim and Kyle "Gaz" Garrick both featuring heavily in the campaign.
Historic backstabber General Sheppard also returns to the series in this entry as he takes up his post in the US military once again.
These fan-favourite characters quickly become a crutch of the franchise as they focus on the nostalgia and love that is already established for these characters rather than developing anyone new.
That is reflected in the fact that new bad guy Hassan Ayani receives next to no character development other than "terrorism bad".

Gameplay

The gameplay itself is, as it often is, the best part of the story mode. Gunplay is incredibly tight as it has always been in Call of Duty games. A review of the MW2 campaign is not complete without touching on how slick and well polished the gunplay is.
Infinity Ward smashed it out of the park with the general feeling of the weapons in the campaign. The guns feel weighty and like they have real impact. The only time it becomes an issue is when you encounter bullet-sponge armored enemies that soak up your ammo supply.
The gameplay is also where Infinity Ward try and innovate. There are sections that the player finds themselves upside down.
There are also bits where stealth-like elements are forced upon the player. Crafting is also included in very limited capacity in certain missions.
They are interesting additions but it just feels like forced innovation where more focus could have been used in other areas of the game. Overall though, no complaints can be had with the gameplay of the MW2 campaign.

Final thoughts on the MW2 campaign

Ultimately, the MW2 campaign is nothing more than a standard foray into another story mode in the franchise. It's more of the same but feels bland in comparison to the previous entries in the Modern Warfare franchise.
Even looking back at Modern Warfare (2019), it feels like a step back for story telling in the series. Although it's never been the main selling point of Call of Duty, it's still a vital cog in the history of the game.
It's an entry into a long line of quality campaigns. This one just falls short of the best of the best. It's average and nothing more.
The full game of Modern Warfare 2 releases on October 28. Hopefully the rest of the game is tighter and better structured than an ultimately disappointing campaign mode that promised so much more than it eventually gave.
With the teaser from the last line of dialogue from the story mode, the only worry is that it won't be done justice without another full-scale campaign mode.
The story of the MW2 campaign is set to continue in a new game mode called "Raids" that is supposed to come out during the year.
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Ant Stonelake
Ant Stonelake
Contributor | Twitter @itsjustantnow
Doubling as a football (soccer) journalist following EFL League Two club Tranmere Rovers, Ant has a long-standing passion for gaming. That, combined with the drive to create content in the esports space led to the creation of The Rotation, a Call of Duty news platform.