Developer: Beenox (Remaster) Infinity Ward (Original) | Publisher: Activision | Release Date: March 31, 2020 | Genre: FPS | Reviewed On PS4 Pro
Review Copy Purchased through PlayStation Store Downloads
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is where Call of Duty got codified as a Micheal Bay action simulator, but before that the games were more about portraying modern/historical conflicts. After the success of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward has become a top tier developer in 2007. The game subverted the design of FPS multiplayer with classes and leveling up compared to the slower power weapon ethos of Halo. The pressure was on them to making something bigger and more bombastic. Throughout the 2010s many copied the bombastic campaign but fail in terms of what made it great. The subtext in the original was amped up to be more of allegory to the war on terror with the mayhem and over the top machismo of a 1980’s action movie.
It also included a controversial level entitled ‘No Russian’ which sparked controversy with news outlets and reignited the old video game violence debate. Besides controversies in the game, there was internal turmoil with the developer’s founders alleging that their publisher, Activision, held their royalties up. This ended in a legal battle for a few years and got the studio heads and half the original studio leaving. The ex Infinity Ward devs wound up joining forces with EA to form Respawn Entertainment. The studio has made critically acclaimed games such as Titanfall 2 (Which I did help test), Battle-Royale Spin-Off Apex Legends, and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.
Now that the dust has settled, The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered has long been rumored to exist since 2017. It was then stealth dropped on March 31st and comes with only the campaign. So how does the game fair 11 years later? Let’s find out.
The first thing you will notice about the Remaster is the graphics. Much like 2016’s remaster of Call of Duty 4, all the graphical, audio assists, and interface has been up-rezed to a modern level. The game also does feature HDR which makes bright scenes such as the sun bouncing off Rio de Janeiro’s Favela to the intense EMP Blast from the vastness of space a realistic look. Character models also have enhanced clarity, and even new mo-capped animations. They’re also retroactive continuity nods such as Yuri from MW3 struggling to prevent the events of ‘No Russian’.
The second aspect you’ll notice is the enhanced audio track. The reloads, gunfire, and other soundscapes have been enhanced with more punchiness, bass, and intensity compared to the originals. Voice work is mostly the same but also has some added polish. One instance is Price yelling “Yeahh!” while fast-roping out of the exploding Gulag midway through the game. The only issue here is that the mixing does need some work with the sound invading the emotional score by Han Zimmer and Lorne Balfe. It’s a slight disappointment.
Gameplay, meanwhile, is the same as the original, but with a more consistent framerate. The levels take you from Afghanistan to a war-torn Washington DC. The campaign focuses mainly on combat and the various weapons you procure through the missions. You get various real-life firearms such as the stock M4 and the John Woo like Akimbo Ranger lever-action shotguns. The campaign also doubles down on variety with various set-pieces such as a snowmobile escape, pushing forward to attack a besieged White House, and sneaking around dark desert caves with Night Vision.
The lack of multiplayer and Spec-Ops modes may hurt its lasting appeal, but Beenox has added intel modifiers to the campaign. They act much like the Skulls in Halo which add various attributes to the campaign. These range from cosmetic ones such as a noir filter, to gameplay affecting ones, were every AI enemy drops a grenade. IW and Activision probably expect you to wait for the remakes of MW2 maps in the recently released MW reboot to satisfy that itch. It’s also a solid and more balanced experience than MW2 was.
In conclusion, you could go worse for 20 dollars. With a solid campaign, enhanced visuals, and level design that still is exciting for nostalgia and newcomers. The audio mixing and alterations may anger purists, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is a thrill ride that’s worth experiencing and replaying.