In 2016, to coincide with the release of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Activision surprised some people by bundling it with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, a total ground-up reworking of the beloved classic. I gave it a playthrough when it came out and, while the original Modern Warfare is still a good game, it certainly hasn't quite aged as well as you'd hoped. Several of its revolutions are now standard among the genre, which lessens the game's impact. Now its sequel gets the same remaster treatment with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered. Does it manage to hold up better, or should you stick to the latest Call of Duty games?
Let's get this out of the way now. There's a reason this is titled "Campaign Remastered." Unlike the remaster of the original, both the multiplayer and spec-ops have been cut. Is that a bad thing? Well, with the original remake's online modes in full swing, there's somewhere else to go if you need your multiplayer fix. However, I won't lie, I am a little disappointed I didn't get to hop into a lobby and find an excuse to go akimbo Model 1887 again. Still, considering the game is currently retailing for only $20, it's hard to be that mad.
Remember, No Russian
Taking place in 2016, Modern Warfare 2 sees the rise of a Russian ultranationalist faction led by a mysterious and deadly man known as Makarov. When an attempt to assassinate Makarov goes wrong, America finds themselves blamed for a massacre at a Russian airport, and the two countries promptly go to war. It's up to a small band of soldiers to try and catch Makarov and stop the war before it gets worse. Much like the first Modern Warfare, the story plays out from two major perspectives. One takes the form of Task Force 141, which goes on highly dangerous missions to try and find Makarov, and the other is from an American soldier protecting his home from the Russians.
Interestingly, the story falls into the same problem that the original Modern Warfare did. The American side of the story is all filler. While it may have some of the campaign's most memorable moments, such as defending Burger Town or the assault on the White House, ultimately it has little to no bearing on the actual plot. On the other hand, the story that is here is genuinely one of Call of Duty's better stories. It has the twists and turns needed to keep the player engaged, and the enjoyable characters and on-point voice acting to help sell the whole thing.
If you played Modern Warfare 2 back in 2009, there's nothing new to the story or missions here. The graphics have received an overhaul, much like the last Modern Warfare remaster, and the game looks more like what you remember rather than what it actually looked like. The only new feature comes in the form of a rather hilarious addition called the inspect button. This button lets your character play with their gun. Each gun has a unique animation and can include things from cleaning off a knife to cycling a bolt action to just looking it over. It's a non-essential but rather fun addition.
Whether they're Modern Warfare vets or new recruits, players will find themselves going through several incredible campaign levels and gunning down all sorts of baddies along the way. You'll find plenty of weapons to do so, and there are always unique situations around every corner. In a way, this sequel is a massive improvement over the first Modern Warfare, and age hasn't taken too much shine off of it. I never felt like I was doing the same thing for missions on end. One level I'm climbing up the side of a frozen cliff, sneaking through a snowstorm, then partaking in a high-speed snowmobile chase. Other situations have me defending locations using sentry turrets, ordering a tank to fire at specific targets, and riding around in a helicopter gunning down enemies.
In fact, some scenes have even gotten better with age. When I originally played Modern Warfare 2, nearly 10+ years ago, I found the infamous No Russian level to be good, if kind of cheesy, but not particularly hard-hitting. Apparently giving it time was all I needed. Something about this level seems to have become downright horrifying to me now, leading to something that feels appropriately dark, scary, and what the developers intended. Maybe it's the better graphics, maybe I just needed to get more mature, but No Russian hit me in a way it never did in my first playthrough.
A Wild Ride
However, not every segment has aged quite as well. Occasionally Modern Warfare 2 falls back into the traps of older FPSes, traps that have been worked out by now. A trio of levels, taking place in a Brazilian favela, are a particularly egregious example. I found myself swarmed by an absurd numbers of enemies, and they infinitely spawn in until I move forward enough. Far fewer levels had this gimmick than Modern Warfare, but it was still a shame to see it show up at all.
While one or two bad levels may spoil the experience, those are really the exception here. Not only is Modern Warfare 2's campaign one of the best in Call of Duty history, it's one of the best FPS campaigns of all time. It served as a massive inspiration for so many other games, and it still manages to outshine them in many resepcts. If you've never played it before, you're in for a treat. If you have, it's almost just as good as you remember. For some, it may even be better.
As mentioned before, there's no multiplayer or spec-ops mode. So what's left to do after you finish the campaign? Well, the collectible intel is still around, and you can grab that. Getting enough lets you modify the game in some often hilarious ways, such as making enemies explode when they die or turning all their heads into pineapples. You also unlock a small museum after you finish that displays all the weapons, character models, and quite a bit of concept art. There are also some buttons you can hit to start giant firefights in said museum if you're up for the challenge. These are, however, little things and you'll likely be done with Modern Warfare 2 before hitting the 10-hour mark.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered Review | Final Thoughts
Still, this is one of the best single-player FPS campaigns on the market, even 11 years later. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is a beautiful update of a fantastic game. If you've never played it before and want to check out a classic, or if you're just looking to relive some memories, this is one of the best ways of doing so. While the lack of multiplayer is still a bummer, the cheaper asking price means it's not hard to get behind this excellent nostalgia trip.
TechRaptor reviewed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered on PlayStation 4 using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game will be available on PC and Xbox One on April 30th.
- Great Overhaul of Original Game's Graphics
- Interesting Story and Characters
- Great Variety in Fights and Missions
- Some Levels Have Aged Amazingly
- No Multiplayer or Co-op
- American Missions are Filler
- A Few Levels Have Aged Very Poorly