Another year, another Call of Duty, with long-time developer Infinity Ward at the helm once again in 2022 delivering a direct sequel to Modern Warfare 2019. So far, we've only had access to the game's campaign ahead of the big online server switch-on later this week, so these thoughts are based purely on single-player. What we can say is that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a visual feast on Xbox Series X, and a huge step up from 2021's Call of Duty: Vanguard in almost every aspect.
Most of Modern Warfare's well-known character roster returns here, with Captain Price, Ghost, Soap and Gaz leading the rest of the crew through some outlandish missions across the globe. The setup is your typical 'Modern Warfare' affair; you're after missiles and baddies that are of a major threat to the US military and its allies. MW2's campaign is nothing out of the ordinary, but we're okay with that, given the execution here is top notch all around.
Let's start with probably the most important aspect of CoD: the gunplay. MW2 takes the foundations of 2019's reboot and builds on that, in turn creating one of the best-feeling shooters we've ever had the pleasure of playing on Xbox. Every weapon feels just right, with the appropriate level of booming, blasting and sparks flying during every single gunfight. The wider range of gadgets and weaponry that the modern setting brings is always a bonus, and Infinity Ward makes good use of the variety that modern warfare offers up.
The missions are pretty varied too, with raucous romps through cartel-infested South American towns sitting right alongside precise infiltration missions led by some of the highest-ranking special forces teams known to man. Again, it's your typical Modern Warfare rollercoaster ride, but IW does throw in a few unique mission scenarios in Modern Warfare 2.
One we took particular liking to consisted of a Watch Dogs-esque mission setup, where we were tasked with leading an infiltration effort using only a set of security cameras. In this mission you don't fire a bullet yourself, instead directing a comrade through an enemy base, using cover combined with silent takedowns. As we've just mentioned this isn't a wholly new concept generally, but it felt refreshing in the midst of MW2's typically bombastic campaign levels.
Whatever the perspective though, those levels are an absolute visual treat on Xbox Series X. The campaign features both a 60FPS and an unlocked 120FPS option (if you have the display to support it), and both look fantastic to be honest. We stuck with 60 most of the time as the 4K visual glow-up seemed a no-brainer for the game's single-player mode. The variety of locales on show also served to highlight the game's impressive visuals; make no mistake this is one of the best-looking current-gen titles on the market. Performance is rock solid too, especially using the 60 frames per-second campaign option.
One thing we couldn't get out of our heads during the whole playthrough was just how polished and well-built MW2's campaign is. From the cutscenes and the in-game mocap, to the visuals and audio, this is probably the closest to a 'AAAA' video game you could imagine. The gulf in quality from last year's Vanguard to Modern Warfare 2 is stark as well; MW2 delivers on its core vision whereas Vanguard's campaign, frankly, was a bit of a mess. The series feels back on track this year, especially if all of the game's multiplayer modes match up to what's been served up in single-player.
If you're tired of everything Call of Duty offers then this year's title likely won't change your mind; it's still more of the same from a franchise that's been annualised for almost 20 years at this point. However, if you're after a proper, polished AAA title in a year that's struggled to deliver them, Modern Warfare 2 is that game, and then some. We can't say we recommend spending $70 on MW2 based on a six-hour single-player mode, but if the online portion matches up in quality, Infinity Ward will be delivering a slick & shiny shooter that'll be hard to resist in 2022.
*Our full Modern Warfare 2 review, including multiplayer & co-op, will be live early next week.
Have you been playing the MW2 campaign? Let us know your thoughts down below!