Modern Warfare 2 blows away expectations

Developer Infinity Ward is back with its sequel to one of 2007’s most renowned titles.

In “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” players will shoot, stab, sprint and ‘nade their way through an intense, albeit short, single-player campaign and duke it out in online multiplayer in up to 18-player battles.

First off, single-player is good, real good. Nearly every moment is polished to a sheen of excellence. Granted, its length doesn’t quite measure up to its quality, clocking in at about six hours. MW2 proves quality is far more important than quantity.

The storyline plays out as a traditional bad guy tricks country “A” into going to war with country “B” and so on. The storytelling is sporadic and a bit on the unbelievably epic side of things, but it works and gives excuses for each big action set-piece.

Enough about single-player, we all know Call of Duty is known for its online side of things. In short, its huge. Infinity Ward has added an onslaught of new perks and guns while still keeping a great balance in matches.

At the end of nearly every match you will be rewarded with a new unlockable. Everything from weapons, attachments, equipment, call signs and insignias will be rewarded for earning experience.

One new feature in MW2 is custom kill-streak rewards. Don’t want an airstrike after five kills? Change it to a predator missile– which is a player-controlled rocket coming down on the battlefield.  The tactical possibilities are nearly endless. You can even call in a supply drop, and a chopper flies in a crate loaded randomly with things like ammo, predator missiles and even precision airstrikes and chopper attacks.

Another feature exclusive to MW2 is Spec-Ops mode. This cooperative gameplay mode has several maps modeled after the campaign, along with some stand-alone maps, and is a blast to play with a friend. You are given a certain objective, like take out five waves of enemies for instance, and your performance is graded.

Now on to the visuals; this game is simply gorgeous. Debris will fly through the air, hot ash will blow off of burning houses, and shell casings will litter the ground. Character models look nice with little details such as dirt and scars on their faces and individual pieces of equipment on their belts and backpacks.

High-resolution textures are used on everything in the game, giving great detail to the world and the weapons you use to destroy it. The frame rate stays at an amazing 60 frames-per-second no matter how much action is unfolding on-screen. It is hard to believe this is the same graphics engine the first Modern Warfare ran on.

The audio quality is truly great as well. This game was meant for surround sound. Every speaker in my living room was alive with noises from the battlefield. I can tell where an enemy is coming from just by the thump of his footsteps. My subwoofer was booming and shaking at every explosion. Overall, simply stunning.

MW2 combines an engaging, but short, single-player campaign, a limitless and fresh multiplayer experience, and brings along the all-new Spec-Ops mode. Not to mention some of the finest graphics and audio quality in games today, MW2 is a winner on all fronts. If you don’t already own it, get it– everyone else has.  9.25/10