Hands down, the Modern Warfare
series thrives on multiplayer action, but the game absolutely deserves some credit on the single player front. No series has ever given a sense of frantic realism more so than the recent Call of Duty
titles, and MW2
doesn't disappoint. The amount of action that surrounds the player, even though the game is pretty linear, is incredibly intense. Depending on the mission, you may have to lay low for a while and pick off enemy soldiers from the shadows, or you may be running for your life with bullets leaving a trail behind you. The story itself once again follows multiple soldiers, so it is a bit hard to follow initially, but in the end the gameplay makes up for it. There is one scene in particular where the game will ask you if you want to play it because of the offensive content that lies within, and let me assure you that playing through the scene gives you a pretty sunken stomach. The only real drawbacks to the Story Mode are that it really isn't all that long and that having a co-op option would have been great... but other than that it was incredibly fun and realistic.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does offer up some co-op action in the Special Ops component of the game, and it is certainly fun as well. The Special Ops portion of the game is basically quick little missions that have a specific objective for you to complete in a given amount of time. There are both co-op and single player missions, so you'll be able to also play some of them on your own. The missions are basically set up to be unlockable as you progress.
Finally, let's chat a bit about Modern Warfare 2's online multiplayer component. If you haven't yet picked up a copy of the game, there is no better reason to do so than to play online. The first thing you'll realize is that the game now goes through Steam, an online matching system. The upside is that going through Steam does help with keeping your friends list organized and matchmaking in parties (although there sometimes do seem to be issues). The downside is that to play the game, you are required to have an Internet connection, even for the offline game modes. Fortunately, you'll always be aware when friends get online and you can chat and invite them to a game at any time. You'll also have to be playing in public matches in order to gain Experience Points (XP), which is a bit annoying for legit players that like to also play on a LAN, but at the same time does help eliminate some of the cheaters out there.
Jumping into a multiplayer game is quick and easy, and there are a ton of different weapons, perks, and attachments to unlock. For those not familiar with last year's game, Modern Warfare 2 offers very similar components to the multiplayer experience. By completing challenges (getting 25 head shots with a weapon is one example), you'll unlock more of these bonuses, which in turn give you a better advantage in combat because you can customize your weapons combinations to suit your style. An addition to this year's game is that you can choose your Killstreak Rewards. As you rack up multiple kills without dying, you'll be able to use special abilities, including the showing of enemies on radar and calling in helicopter support. There is a fairly expansive list of items to choose from this time around, ranging from 3 kills to 25 kills, at which time you'll be able to Nuke the entire game. Some cool additions are that you can now control the gunner of the chopper or send in harriers, or you can launch an attack with missiles at ant-like enemy soldiers.
The game modes included are mostly the same as in MW1, but I have to say that I was sorely disappointed that there isn't an option to create your own custom matches. As such, you won't be able to play a public Hardcore Sabotage match, for example. Modern Warfare 2 got rid of the dedicated server option, which is why custom game types are limited. The positive side of this is that matching is handled pretty well automatically, based on your selected game type, but I certainly hope Infinity Ward releases a patch for customizing gameplay.
I have to say that the way Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 handles gaining XP is pretty well from the outside looking in, but it also drives me absolutely crazy the way the game locks out certain game modes until you reach level 19... namely the Hardcore match types. Why? Because players who have a lot better weapon and perk selection are allowed to play any game type, and it's a hugely unfair advantage to those just starting. By being forced to play non-Hardcore modes, you'll have to start with crappy weapons that won't kill opponents very quickly, even with multiple shots or grenade explosions, while others with higher levels will likely have weapons that require less hits to kill. Once you finally unlock Hardcore, the playing field is at least more level and more realistic, which makes the overall experience more enjoyable. It doesn't take a super long time to unlock Hardcore modes, but in my opinion, this is handled ass-backwards. Still, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is one of the most fun multiplayer experiences out there in terms of first person shooters.