Once you get past the politically correct mumbo jumbo, the campaign in Modern Warfare 2 is fantastic. It seems they took a handful of the coolest concepts for combat scenarios they could think of, put some story filler in between, and called it a game. I tell you what Ė thereís nothing wrong with that. Alternating between the roles of a US Army Ranger and various commandos from the elite Task Force 141, you fight in various locations across the globe, such as Afghanistan, Russia, Brazil, and even the USA. Itís always interesting when America is a battleground in games because itís so rarely done and of course thereís more of a personal investment in succeeding when itís your home turf.
A ridiculous amount of different weapons appear in MW2. They seem to be randomly assigned to most enemies according to categories for each faction, resulting in the ability to use just about any one you like throughout the game. Some are more primitive, like the sawed-off shotgun and revolver, but more common are pieces from the cutting edge of assault rifles, machine pistols, and anti-tank devices. You donít get to ride in a gunship this time, but you do get to control air-to-ground missiles fired from a predator drone on more than one occasion.
Infinity Ward has claimed to remove the infinite spawning of enemies, but Iím not convinced. In some areas it sure seemed as though they just kept coming, stopping only when I risked life and limb against my better judgment to push forward. A few sequences were so frustratingly difficult that the only way I could win was by memorizing where the bad guys came from and shooting them the second they appeared. You should never, ever, be stuck in the same spot long enough for that to happen, but you donít have a lot of choice on higher difficulties when they shoot with near-pinpoint accuracy. Grenade spam is less prevalent, but still as nasty as ever when it occurs, especially with flashbangs in the mix.
23 arcade-style mini-levels, dubbed Special Ops, can be played either alone or with a friend online. These consist of various time trials and shoot-outs set in various locales from the campaign, with the goal being to earn up to 3 stars based on performance or difficulty. Similar to the Mile High Club unlocked at the end of CoD 4, these extra side missions add some much needed longevity to the gameís off-line experience. However, you may not ever play them again after youíve collected all the stars.
The control scheme hasnít changed much from previous games except thereís a key dedicated to tossing a special type of grenade like flashbangs or smoke. Mouse-look is pleasantly snappy, thanks to smoothing being off by default. The option is there if you would like to enable it. One other thing that changed, though, is that thereís no ability to lean!
You heard right; you canít lean in a Call of Duty game. There was no leaning in the console versions of World at War, but this time around, not even in the PC version can you peek around cover to fire without fully exposing yourself. It is beyond me how anyone could play the game and not want to lean, especially on higher difficulties when only a few hits from someone you already know is around the corner can be the end of you. Countless times during the campaign, I reflexively pressed Q or E, wanting so bad to use a tactic that has been largely commonplace in modern shooters. Frankly, it is inexcusable.