Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Review

Game Name: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II
Platform(s): Xbox Series X/S (Reviewed), Xbox One, PS4/5, PC
Publisher(s): Activision
Developer(s): Infinity Ward
Release Date: 28th October 2022

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, if you didn’t know, is the latest game in the series. You would be forgiven for thinking we’ve been here before, but no, this is all new — just using a name we’ve seen in the past. Allow me to explain the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This year’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II sees the return of Captain Price and Modern Warfare. Both single-player campaign and multiplayer modes make a return, delivering familiarity with both the good and bad. Is it a worthy follow-up to the great Modern Warfare (2019)? The answer is… mostly!

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The campaign is something new, something borrowed

In the campaign this year, you’ll take control of Captain Price and his squad, including the return of Ghost, everyone’s favourite mask-wearing badass. All of which is comprised of seventeen fast-paced, high-intensity action, missions. You’ll encounter both the familiar and the new, with missions inspired by all of your Call of Duty favourites from the past. With a surprise or two thrown in for good measure. The mission “ALONE,” stood out to me, and maybe you should be on the lookout for that mission as well.

Something else that really stood out in this campaign was the characters, both old and new. Ghost and Soap’s dynamic, in particular, was a ton of fun. Alejandro was a perfect addition to this group of beloved characters, his introduction mission was a fun one!

I loved nearly every second of this campaign. Unfortunately, two things affected this great experience. The first was a handful of graphical issues, such as textures not loading in at all. Admittedly these issues were during the early access for the campaign, so you may not see them after the day one patch. My only other issue with the campaign is a mechanic, which had me jumping between cars in one particular mission. It required such a level of accuracy in control that just a bit too far away, you’d miss a jump, and die, causing you to replay that section. These two things combined were enough to take away from what otherwise is a stellar campaign. With all the gameplay you know, and love, proving that Call of Duty is still the king of the first-person shooter genre.

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Everyone’s favourite mode has evolved

For many, multiplayer is the reason you buy any Call of Duty game, and you’ll be pleased to know that in gameplay terms, this year’s offering is as good as you’d expected it to be. Boots on the ground, high-paced action with modern weapons, and all the usual modes are also here. Team Death Match is still the most popular, but Kill Confirmed, Headquarters, Domination, and more remain available. If you want something larger scale than the traditional 6v6 modes, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II has you covered with Ground War, the 32v32 mode that takes place on larger maps, or Invasion, which is a variant of Ground War involving AI as well as human players.

Speaking of maps for standard game modes, there are ten to choose from, many of which are good — with one I completely loathed. I felt that these maps were balanced with different play styles in mind. Santa Seña Border Crossing is my least favourite, perhaps because it is a sniper’s paradise due to its long lines of sight. Farm 18 is my favourite, with a central building that is tight and great for fast-moving SMG users. Embassy is another great one, possibly the most balanced among all play styles. No matter the way you play, there is a map for you!

If you want to be truly great, you’ll need to adapt your style and loadout to each map. It’s more important than ever to use various guns this year. That’s down to a massive change in the progression system for weapons, one that will take some time to understand. Gone are the days of unlocking individual attachments for each weapon in each class. Unlockable attachments can be used across weapons, and they don’t need to be earned again. This is great, as earning/unlocking these attachments isn’t simple.

For example, to get the laser I’d like to use on my M4, in previous games, I’d just have to get that gun to a specific level. However, this year I have to get the Signal 50 sniper rifle to level 3 before I can do that, I need to rank up to level 44 just to unlock the Signal 50 for use. This sounds a bit complicated because it is at first, but attachments are essential parts of a specific weapons progression path. Meaning you can’t unlock certain attachments for use on any gun without using another weapon first to unlock it. Although this is slightly long-winded, it is great because it promotes experimentation across weapons. I’ve already used several weapons I wouldn’t have touched in previous games.

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Gameplay is familiar, and that’s a good thing

A quick word on gameplay; there isn’t too much to say, as it’s mostly the same. If you’ve played any recent Call of Duty game, especially Modern Warfare (2019), then you know what to expect on a gameplay front. Fast-paced, run-and-gun action across both single-player and multiplayer. The campaign presents a few new gameplay options in specific missions but nothing drastically different from things we’ve seen before. If I were to have one gameplay negative, it would be that default assault rifles with no attachments in multiplayer feel underpowered—especially when compared to the default weapons in other classes.

Presentation

I can’t talk about Modern Warfare II without mentioning the absolutely top-level presentation. From the amazing cinematic scenes of the campaign to the sound of bullets flying passed me in multiplayer. Call of Duty has never looked or sounded better.

The audio, in particular, stands out, especially when using my 3D audio-capable headset. I can hear exactly where footsteps and gunshots are coming from, and it enhances the gameplay more than you’d think it would. Not to mention the sounds of explosions! If you can play this game with a headset on, definitely do, even if you only play the campaign; these sound effects are amazing. The gameplay implications for better audio in multiplayer especially speak for themselves. Hearing more is seeing more in the case of Call of Duty.

The Visuals perhaps rival the sounds, especially with some fantastic particle effects and lighting. Character models are also great for the main cast, but NPCs are not so much. Where the game really shines in visuals is in the high-budget cinematic scenes. It really is like watching a movie, helps breathe so much life into the characters and keep the player fully engaged. I never wanted to skip a cinematic, and I definitely have in past entries of Call of Duty, add this to top voice acting, and I’ve never cared more about the characters in a Call of Duty game.

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Technical Performance

Technically, Modern Warfare II has been a mixed bag. Performance-wise, it has been near rock solid with minimal frame drops on Xbox Series X. I played the Campaign in 60fps at 4k and have spent my time in multiplayer on the 120fps mode at 1440p. Both have been solid in the normal run of gameplay, with some dropped frames during heavier sections. If you have a VRR-capable display, I’d recommend turning this on to mitigate the frame drops in heavier sections.

Unfortunately, the strong performance is where the good technical performance ends for now. At this current time, I’ve had a lot of bugs and glitches! Some of the graphical variety that I mentioned earlier with the single player. Most have been in multiplayer, but not in the way I expected, and one that I thought killed my Xbox Series X.

Over this opening weekend, I’ve had issues with the game freezing and crashing, both while navigating multiplayer menus and when loading into games. This has happened significantly more when partied up with friends but was also an issue when going solo. The scariest bug happened twice while setting up my custom classes, my Xbox signal completely cut out, requiring me to restart the console to get an image back. Of course, at first, I thought this was just my console, but I was able to replicate the issue exactly on another Series X. I must say one positive is once I’m actually in a game, I’ve had no disconnection issues at all.

Summary

Ultimately Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is a great game that feels familiar, with everything you want from a great Call Of Duty game. A great story, memorable moments with great characters, and fast-paced gameplay with great multiplayer maps, customisation, and progression options.

Even if some of this is perhaps too familiar for some people, as a long-time fan of the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is one of the best. Just like the 2009’s Modern Warfare 2 did back in the day, it makes meaningful changes to progression and refines the genre-defining gameplay. The handful of technical issues is the only thing holding it back from being the best it can be. Here’s hoping they can be fixed quickly to allow the stellar FPS game underneath to shine its brightest. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a Call Of Duty in years, and I highly recommend it you may just want to wait for that first patch.

Review Disclosure Statement: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II was purchased by Outerhaven for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare II Review – We’ve Been Here Before

Summary

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II is everything you’d want from a top-class FPS game. A great story full of action, memorable moments, and great characters. Fun, fast-paced gameplay with great multiplayer maps, customisation, and progression options. Even if you aren’t a fan of PVP modes, the single-player campaign is worth the price of admission.

Pros

  • Great Story
  • Memorable Moments and Characters
  • Varied Multiplayer Maps
  • Improved Weapon Progression, Incentivising Experimentation
  • Best in Genre Gunplay
  • Top Level Presentation

Cons

  • Crashes and Menu Bugs
  • Limited Map Options for Bigger Game Modes
  • Modern Warfare II Review – We’ve Been Here Before
Overall

4

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