Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (Review)

Howdy hidey ho!  At this point, this franchise is so massive that I barely even need an intro to describe it: it’s Call of Duty.  What I WILL tell you is that I actually embraced CoD’s exosuit era and I’ve been around since CoD4.  Yea, the original Modern Warfare, and I should preface by saying I genuinely enjoyed the franchise’s technological leap forward with the Modern Warfare 2019 reboot.  But does Modern Warfare II enjoy this same advancement of the series, or are we back to copypasta vibes?


GAMEPLAY

…this is THE most accurate digital depiction of firing guns…

The first thing you’ll do as a mature adult is mute public voice chat.  Then you’ll get to aiming and shooting.  Except here’s the thing: the feel of the guns has been further refined to look, sound, and feel “correct”.  I say “correct” with some nuanced sarcasm because this is a videogame, and I personally know what firing a rifle chambered in 5.56 feels like (and also 7.62).  The nuance is because this is THE most accurate digital depiction of firing guns I’ve yet to see, even if the recoil is still comically low.  This does a LOT for the immersion feel, and I have to applaud them for further refining this beyond MW2019.  From there, though, the most exciting gameplay you’re going to have is the campaign.  I’m not going to spoil it, but I was surprised at how well they kept changing it up to keep it from getting boring.  Simply put: don’t skip it.  Of course, once you’re done with that, you’re going to head into multiplayer, and things start to head downhill, here.  The first and primary issue is that the gun progression system is absolute ass.  No, I’m not speaking hyperbole: in an effort to force you to use the different guns the game offers, many attachments and unlocks are locked behind OTHER guns.  Yea, you’re going to have to suffer using guns you don’t want to use in order to get to the guns and attachments you DO want.  As if that doesn’t make things already painful, you should also know that this might be THE most aggressive SBMM (Skill-Based MatchMaking) I’ve encountered: if you do even remotely well, it OVER corrects.  Yea, all I did was stay above 1.0 K/D a match or two, and me and my 10-15 hours of multiplayer got tossed into a match of 100+ hour max-rank sweats.  To make matters worse, the probably-five-matches-of-pain uphill swing is then over corrected yet again on the downhill swing and you end up just stomping people for a few.  Combine this with maps that I’ve always found inferior to the more distinct “lane” setup of Treyarch’s multiplayer maps, and you’ve got a seriously infuriating recipe.  Meditate: you’re going to need it if you play solo queue multiplayer like I do, and then pray they adjust the SBMM metrics.


CONTENT

For one, there is no novelty mode…

The campaign itself ends a little abruptly at about 5 hours lending itself to an obvious continuation.  Where you get most of your time is in the multiplayer, but there does seem to be a bit of a balancing act, here.  For one, there is no novelty mode: Warzone 2.0 is apparently what they’re relying on to fill in the gap, but that’s free-to-play.  What somewhat makes up for it is the continued use of co-op missions, but there are only three and they don’t take long to clear whatsoever.  The rest is the usual assortment of modes, with Ground War providing instead a more “Battlefield”-like experience as opposed to its older iterations of simply more people on a map.  Basically, you’ve got enough, but nothing close to, say, the likes of Black Ops III.


PRESENTATION

…the biggest issue is easily that this is a cross-gen game…

This section is actually rather easy to summarize: not quite as refined as MW2019.  The biggest issue is easily that this is a cross-gen game which means the underpinnings are resource limited by older hardware.  This is VERY apparent in the pop-in of assets in the campaign, and the overall less aggressive lighting in multiplayer which provides a somewhat more stale, cartoon-like appearance to keep the framerate up.  They also still use pre-rendered cinematics, but ironically at a graphical level that’s quite close to possible on current gen hardware.  The good news, of course, is that this means the game runs a near-solid framerate on current gen hardware as I almost never detected a single framerate hitch.  What really needs some work, though, is the campaign story: I think we’re starting to take a step back relying on campy and generic military tropes of betrayal.  We need a real villain.


CONCLUSION

…if you said MWII doesn’t quite hit the highs of MW2019, then you’re onto something.

If you’re one of those people who just passes off Call of Duty because you figure it’s the same thing every year, you’re clearly not playing the games and don’t know what you’re talking about.  But if you said Modern Warfare II doesn’t quite hit the highs of Modern Warfare 2019, then you’re onto something. While the gunplay is refined to THE most “realistic” feel it’s ever been, and the campaign keeps things interesting, the awful multiplayer gun progression, aggressive SBMM, and slight step behind its predecessor in every way simply hold this game back from advancing the series properly.

I give Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

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