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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Part V Review and Reflection, Bringing Guns To A Tank Fight and A Cumulative Exam At The Countdown

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” –Ernest Benn

With Vargas and his Mexican Special Forces operatives back, Task Force 141 prepare to go on a rogue mission to take back the Fuerzas Especiales base: Price, Garrick and Vargas infiltrate the base to commandeer a helicopter and provide air support, while MacTavish, and Riley and Parra lead the effort to take Graves out. After successfully using the tunnel system to enter the base, Price and one of Vargas’ pilots manage to take a helicopter, allowing MacTavish’s team into the base. They fight their way over to the main building while Vargas and Garrick clear out the hangars before securing Garza. MacTavish and Parra are surprised to learn Graves isn’t waiting for them: with the tide of battle seemingly against him, Graves flees into the training area, only to surprise the pair by seizing control of a tank. Despite his best efforts to kill MacTavish and Parra, MacTavish utilises C4 and an RPG to destroy Graves’ tank, killing him in the process, and with Garza secured, she reveals the location of the last missile: it’s in Chicago, and Zyani is present to launch the missile in person. Task Force 141 head over to Chicago and launches an assault on the building Al Qatala have taken over. Although they are too late to stop the launch, MacTavish manages to locate the control system, and while evading Al Qatala fighters, manages to set the missile to self destruct. After fabricating makeshift weapons and using them to dispatch several heavily-armoured Al Qatala fighters, MacTavish finds himself face-to-face with Zyani, who declares that the West will fall. Zyani attempts to kill MacTavish, but Riley kills Zyani with a precise shot from his sniper rifle from a building over. With Zyani dead, General Shepherd goes into hiding, and Laswell clarifies that it was actually Russian ultranationalists who had hit Shepherd’s transaction. She passes a photograph of their next target to Price, who recognises him as Vladimir Makarov. Elsewhere, a Russian terror cell prepares to hijack an airliner on Makarov’s orders, informing his men not to speak Russian during the attack. With this, I’m now finished the Modern Warfare II campaign, and in the process, I’ve unlocked the Union Guard M4 for use in the multiplayer. It will be exciting to explore an aspect of Call of Duty I’ve not previously tried, but before then, it is still worthwhile to see what about Modern Warfare II‘s campaign, beyond the Union Guard M4, that makes it worthwhile.

The overall message from Modern Warfare II is a visceral reminder of how governments cannot be counted upon to act in its citizen’s interests when the people in positions of power abuse their authority for their own benefit. Shepherd had believed his sale of high-tech ballistic missile to rebel forces hostile to America’s enemies would be in his country’s interests, but when the missiles were lost, Shepherd determined that his career was worth more than the lives of those that could be lost as a result of his miscalculations. Shepherd’s choice is actually typical of a politician’s. Politians in liberal democracies pride themselves on a system that is supposedly representative of the will of the people and contributing to their nations in ways that autocratic nations supposedly do not. However, those who run for office will resort to underhanded means of clinging onto power once they get in, whether it be coercing the media to report on them favourably, concealing their missteps and outright lying to citizens. In a democracy, elected officials are accountable to the people who put them in office, but this is often not the case. In scenarios such as these, it comes down to the common people to do the right thing. If Shepherd refuses to be upfront about things and admit the missiles were a misstep, then it falls on Task Force 141 to stop these weapons from being turned against civilians. In this way, Modern Warfare II suggests that political systems notwithstanding, individuals still have the agency to make decisions and act in a way that benefits their nation and fellow countrymen. In everyday life, this is as simple as being a law-abiding citizen who works hard to ensure the well-being of people around them: while it can feel demoralising to know that the flawed systems (even in a liberal democracy), are not easily improved, people still have the power to do better for themselves and make the most of things. This is an encouraging thought; Call of Duty has previously spoken about how a small group of individuals can make a difference, and these messages haven’t changed over the years. Along the way, for their efforts, players are rewarded for going through Modern Warfare II‘s campaign and familiarising themselves with elements that will prove helpful in the multiplayer components.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • For Garrick’s segment, players are armed with a suppressed Lachmann submachine gun (MP5), and initially, the object is to sneak through the base’s maintenance tunnels. Graves and his men have filled them with trip-mines, but use of smoke grenades will allow their beams to be spotted, and the remotes are located nearby, making them relatively easy to disarm. I am reminded of a similar segment in Bad Company 2, but the difference here is that, in the tunnels’ narrow confines, setting the trip-mines off will result in an instant death.

  • Between disarming trip-mines and dealing with the Shadow Company patrols in the tunnels, Garrick, Price and Vargas will exchange conversation. In the multiplayer, players are focused on trick shots and KDR, and campaigns are usually left behind in the dust, but Modern Warfare II‘s decision to give players early access to the campaign and give campaign-specific rewards for use in the multiplayer meant that players who pre-ordered ultimately would benefit from going through the story and seeing where things ended up going.

  • Altogether, I spent about ten hours in the campaign: I’m playing on normal difficulty and spent time exploring, but players going through things at the easiest difficulty without concern for stealth of exploration can finish in as little as six hours. My experiences in the campaign were very positive, and in fact, the only thing that proved bothersome were periodic crashes that would happen whenever I died at inopportune moments. With my previous desktop, crashes were a consequence of putting too much stress on my GPU or RAM, but with a more modern setup, I am confident that hardware isn’t an issue now.

  • While crashes were frustrating, they didn’t prevent me from finishing the game, and here, I’m armed with the TAQ-56, as well as a plate carrier: the mission has shifted to MacTavish’s perspective, and it’s a straight-up firefight to the base’s headquarters, where Graves is located. While stealth elements are fun, in a first person shooter, it feels best when one is allowed to go loud and simply fire on anything that isn’t friendly and moves. Shadow Company’s operators are more dangerous than the Al Qatala fighters and Los Almas enforces, but with a full loadout, they’re easily dispatched.

  • To mix things up, I ended up sneaking into a tower and pulled a MCPR-300 bolt-action rifle, where I used its .338 magnum rounds to devastate armoured Shadow Company operators at range. This weapon is the earliest bolt-action rifle players have access to in the multiplayer, but despite being a starter gun, players have reported that, with the right attachments, the MCPR-300 is a fantastic weapon for a variety of situations, from the close-quarters frenzy of more traditional modes, to Warzone II. I have yet to try any of Modern Warfare II‘s weapons in a multiplayer environment, but in the campaign, everything feels smooth and responsive.

  • The TAC-56 I’ve got here has a 60-round magazine: the larger magazines in Modern Warfare are balanced out by having longer reloading times, and I’ve found that of late, Call of Duty‘s weapon attachment system is superbly detailed, allowing a gun to be tuned to favour certain roles. Skilled players spend a bit of time configuring their weapons to match their play-style, and the gunsmith system in Modern Warfare II is perfectly suited for this. In general, I prefer weapons with better aiming down sight accuracy and quick aiming down sight times, but the exception are submachine guns and personal defense weapons: since games portray them as being excellent when hipfired, I will spec these weapons out for close-quarters environments, where aiming down sights isn’t as important.

  • Here, I reach the base headquarters, where Graves is supposed to be hiding out. After clearing away the last of the Shadow Company operators, I reach the doors, and the team prepares to breach. The perspective then shifts back over to R, who’s gone ahead with Vargas to secure Garza. While MacTavish has been using weapons fitted for going loud, Garrick and Vargas are on a stealthier assignment. The seamless combination of stealth and forcefulness in Modern Warfare II‘s penultimate missions shows how both approaches complement one another.

  • One nice touch seen here was how Garrick will leave his primary weapon in his other hand while he aims a sidearm using his dominant hand, reflecting on how in Call of Duty, it’s always faster to switch over to a sidearm than it is to reload. While sneaking through the hangar, I couldn’t help but marvel at the play of light here: even without real-time ray-tracing, the visuals in Modern Warfare II look incredible. I wonder if Infinity Ward may add this at a later date; as memory serves, Modern Warfare also launched without real-time ray-tracing, but when it was added, it made some parts of the game look a little better by fixing visual artefacts that resulted from baking in the lighting effects.

  • Strictly speaking, Modern Warfare II doesn’t need ray-tracing, as the game already looks photorealistic in many places, and since real-time ray-tracing is computationally expensive, it would only be a feature that one would enable when looking to utilise their hardware’s ray-tracing cores. Beyond this, for multiplayer, where every frame counts, leaving ray-tracing off would be the better bet. On this note, we’re now over two-thirds of the way through November (in fact, we’re only a month away from Christmas), and I’ve not heard a peep regarding Portal RTX, which was originally slated to release this month.

  • This segment actually gave me a bit of trouble: while Garrick is fully kitted out, the Lachmann Sub is better suited for short engagements, as opposed to prolonged firefights with foes from multiple directions. Vargas will suggest stealth as the better option, and initially, I thought that having firearms would allow me to pick off the odd Shadow Company operator who crossed my path. However, even firing the suppressed X13 will alert them to one’s position, and starting a firefight here is ill-advised, since I’d be trading 9 mm fire with foes armed with firearms 5.56 mm NATO rounds.

  • In the end, I managed to sneak past most of Shadow Company and made it over to the hangar where Garza was being kept. Vargas and Garrick’s segment of the mission draws to a close, and it seems that despite occupying the base, Shadow Company didn’t get to Garza. A small group of soldiers will be guarding the inside of the hangar, and here, I decided to swap off the Lachmann Sub for something with more stopping power: stealth is no longer an issue, so it’s time to pick up any one of the weapons the slain Shadow Company operators drop.

  • With Garza secure, the mission returns to MacTavish’s perspective. After clearing out the base headquarters of Graves’ “crack” soldiers (a sniper rifle, while unwieldy, can one-shot the armoured operators), MacTavish and company move deeper into the building. Graves is nowhere to be seen, having beat a hasty exit the moment he realised the tide was turning against him. However, the fight isn’t over just yet.

  • Here, I run through what would’ve been Graves’ command post en route to the training yard, where Graves was last seen heading. Modern Warfare II betrays nothing about the nature of the final confrontation with Graves; throughout this entire operation, Task Force 141 and Vargas’ team do not have access to Shadow Company’s radios, so Graves’ thoughts and orders can’t be heard. In some games, players get access to what the enemies are thinking, and while this can be helpful in foreshadowing, it also gives players a modicum of insight as to what they might eventually encounter.

  • This in turn takes away from the surprise of a moment when one encounters things for the first time. In the case of Modern Warfare II, it turns out that MacTavish and Parra won’t be fighting Graves on even terms. Graves managed to steal a tank and is using it to blast players. After the initial shock of the moment wears off, players will immediately begin wondering what tools they can leverage to defeat Graves. Explosives are an obvious choice, and for the player’s benefit, Parra will inform MacTavish that there will be crates containing C4 scattered around the map.

  • While Graves slings insults at MacTavish and Parra, I focused on picking up C4, thinning out the Shadow Company forces filling the air with hot lead, and hid in the structures around the training area until I could get close enough to Graves’ tank so that I could deploy the C4. There’s also an RPG-7 on premises, and finding this gives players a shot at damaging Graves from a distance. Repeating this process will allow MacTavish to defeat and kill Graves, bringing the mission to a close. The level brought back memories of a mission from Battlefield 4, where I similarly had to defeat a tank using thrown explosives.

  • The final mission in Modern Warfare II is an absolute visual treat, opening up with a helicopter flight into downtown Chicago. Here, Zyani has taken refuge in a Los Almas-held a skyscraper and is using it as his base of operations. The entry into the mission was reminiscent of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “Charlie Don’t Surf” mission, and Chicago by night is vividly rendered. The last time I played a game set in a major American city besides New York, it would’ve been 2015’s Battlefield: Hardline, whose last mission was in Miami.

  • Even though the visuals in Hardline are a little flatter, they still look stunning. However, in Modern Warfare II, Chicago looks photorealistic, and I found myself excited to disembark from the helicopter and start shooting right away. For this finale, MacTavish is outfitted with a suppressed FTac Recon with a holographic sight, and a suppressed VEL 46. The fact both weapons are suppressed speaks to Task Force 141’s commitment to keeping a lid on things: even though suppressors don’t completely dampen the report of gunfire, it can make enough of a difference (especially if one is using subsonic ammunition) to reduce the distinctive crack of a firearm.

  • I lingered on the rooftop to admire the skyline after landing, and here, the Willis Tower is visible. I know it best as the Sears Tower, and at 442 metres in height, it was the tallest building in the world from its completion in 1973, until the Petronas Tower in Malaysia eclipsed it in 1998. The tower had originally belonged to Sears, but after they sold the tower in 1994, the tower retained its original name until 2009. From downtown Chicago, the urban buildup of Chicago can be seen stretching to the horizon, creating an especially impressive cityscape.

  • MacTavish is able to rappel down the building both upside down, and right-side up. The aim is to clear the Al Qatala forces from the building, and while going down the skyscraper’s façade, MacTavish and Price have the element of surprise. I found the FTac Recon effective here, and the blue-dot sight made it easy to acquire a target. Because hitting Al Qatala requires precision and force, the VEL 46 is not suited for this role: an automatic weapon may cause harm to the hostages that Al Qatala have taken. Once a few of the floors are cleared, it’s time for Price and MacTavish to get to work.

  • Once inside the tower, Price and MacTavish begin searching for Zyani, fighting their way through server rooms and hordes of Al Qatala forces. With their equipment, server rooms are always fun to fight through: as gunfire erupts and strikes the machinery, it creates some interesting visual effects. On my playthrough, the VEL 46 became my go-to weapon for dealing with most foes inside the server rooms: a quick burst of fire to any unarmoured fighter’s head is enough to sort them out. One way for dealing with the armoured fighters at close quarters is to dump about ten rounds into their chest plates, and then go in for a takedown kill.

  • In this way, I used the VEL 46 to eliminate weaker foes and take anything that surprised me, swapping back over to the FTac Recon if there were larger numbers of armoured foes. Because this mission is about going loud, nothing is technically stopping one from switching over to the weapons that the Al Qatala forces drop. For my first playthrough, I decided to stick to the starting loadout: there are ammunition caches that let one to top off, so one won’t run out of ammunition. Here, I remark that we’re now a month from Christmas, and as the year draws to a close, it is not lost on me that save five vacation days, I’ve actually yet to use my vacation time.

  • To remedy this, I’ve decided to take the last two weeks of the year off, and then with the time left over, take every Friday off right up to the end of December. Even by doing this, I had a day and a half left over, so I ended up allocating those to the last two Thursdays prior to the bigger break. I thus had today off; I spent it exploring the downtown core and giving the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera a whirl. I woke up at my usual time and took the train downtown; by the time I arrived, the sun was rising, but I still managed to capture some nice photos of Steven Avenue by Blue Hour, as well as our city’s landmark tower aglow with ambient lighting.

  • I subsequently headed over to a lookout point and waited for the sun to rise. Up here, I had a bit of time time to experiment with the camera settings, and found that the 2x optical zoom produced photos that looked a great deal like those I’d seen from other photographers. In this way, I was able to photograph the city centre as the sun was rising without using more sophisticated methods or tools. The remainder of my morning was spent at the central library, and I spent about an hour here browsing through all of the books. As noon drew nearer, I headed off and walked through Steven Avenue again, passing by the Telus Convention Centre (home of Otafest) and my old office building en route to the restaurant I’d planned to have lunch at.

  • On the topic of Otafest, volunteer applications opened today, and I submitted mine already. While there’s no guarantee that I’ll be selected to help volunteer, when I was invited to help out three years earlier, I had a great time, so it’d be fantastic to be able to go again. Back in Modern Warfare II, MacTavish and Price learn that Zyani’s nowhere to be found after reaching his makeshift command room, and the pair have no choice but to rappel further down the building in search of their quarry. This act takes them into a fancy restaurant/lounge, and from the design, I’d suggest that it’s probably a place that serves high-end Asian fusion cuisine.

  • Back home, a newly opened-restaurant, Major Tom, offers patrons a similar experience. Besides a stunning view of the city, Major Tom’s menu is very exclusive. Unsurprisingly, reservations are strongly recommended, and the price range is a little more spendy for me. The restaurant I went to for lunch today, Rodney’s Oyster House, is actually similarly priced because they specialise in fresh seafood, but on Fridays, they have a special on Fish and Chips. When I moved buildings with my previous position, my commute saw me walk by this restaurant every day that I went to the office, and I eventually promised myself that I’d eat here at least once.

  • After lunch concluded, I went to the local bookstore and picked up a Christmas gift for my best friend (he’d gifted me the HGUC Sinanju Stein Narrative Version a few weeks earlier), before heading back home to unwind (by trying to make more progress in Battlefield 2042 so I can unlock the Rorsch Mk-4, which is easily the most interesting part of the third season). Days like today are enjoyable, and I admit that every so often, it’s nice to have a break so I can relax. Back in Modern Warfare II, I watch as the remaining ballistic missile launches.

  • With 956 kilometres between Chicago and Washington D.C., I estimate that players would have roughly six and a half minutes before the missile impacts: the missiles in Modern Warfare II are described as ballistic, but they behave more similarly to hypersonic missiles. Players are therefore afforded some time before they hit. Here, I clear out the last of Zyani’s guards and give chase to Zyani. In the ensuing chaos, MacTavish manages to seize the missile controls, but also loses his backpack and firearms in the process.

  • Without any weapons, players must evade the Al Qatala forces so MacTavish can enter the override codes to destroy the missile before it can reach its target, Washington D.C., and even after this is done, players must use all of their cunning and resourcefulness so MacTavish can fashion makeshift weapons and traps, needed to deal with the remaining Al Qatala fighters. This time, things take place under pressure, changing the dynamics up: Alone had given players a chance to find a secure spot needed to craft, but here, a combination of map knowledge and smart decision-making will be needed to ensure one can finish their materials without being caught.

  • After taking out the second armoured Al Qatala fighter, Zyani will appear. He overpowers MacTavish and warns him that America’s time in the world is over, but whatever Zyani has planned is not known: from the next building over, Riley makes a precision shot with his MCPR-300, nailing Zyani in the head and killing him instantly. With this, Modern Warfare II draws to a close. I had a great deal of fun with this campaign, even more so than I did with Modern Warfare, and now that I’ve got the Union Guard M4 unlocked, it’s time to go into Invasion and experience a side of Call of Duty I previously hadn’t. In the meantime, I’ve got two more posts planned out for this month: Next Summit‘s ninth episode comes out on Tuesday, and since Itsuka Ano Umi de was delayed, I’ve now got some time to write about Top Gun: Maverick.

Modern Warfare II‘s campaign is a departure from its predecessor, and in practise, handles like a hybrid between 2019’s Modern Warfare, and 2009’s Modern Warfare 2: while the story is more grounded than Shepherd’s war of revenge and the Russian invasion of Modern Warfare 2, there’s a decreased emphasis on building-clearing and resistance elements that Modern Warfare had focused on. The end result is a game that’s a little less tactical, but offers considerably more gameplay variety, than that of its predecessor; every single mission is enjoyable and memorable in its own right. Moreover, missions also introduce mechanics that reward players for going through the campaign. The crafting system was cleverly weaved into the final mission, pushing players to use their knowledge while under pressure, and in this way, the game sets players up so they can utilise Modern Warfare II‘s inventory and crafting system when going through Warzone or the new DMZ extraction mode. Beyond just offering players with helpful rewards, like the Union Guard M4, the campaign provides an environment that prepares players for Modern Warfare II‘s online experience. The game is extremely well-designed in this regard, and the prize for finishing is that new players will gain access to a fairly effective starting weapon, which gives them a fighting chance against more dedicated players who’ve had more time to level up and unlock new weapons and attachments. With Modern Warfare II‘s campaign in the books, I found a fantastic and highly memorable experience that inspires me to give the multiplayer a go. I am already looking forwards to playing through missions like Dark Water and Countdown again, but for the present, my first inclination is to play Invasion and get some of my first few available loadout weapons better equipped so that I stand a chance in other modes like Ground War and DMZ. Modern Warfare II offers players with a great deal of content, and while I probably won’t bother with more traditional modes, Spec Ops and Invasion are looking fantastic.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Part IV Review and Reflection, An Expected Betrayal and “Disempowerment Fantasies” Done Right

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” –Arthur Ashe

Upon returning to base, MacTavish, Garrick and Vargas are surprised to find Graves and Shadow Company taking over Vargas’ base of operations. Vargas is captured, but MacTavish and Riley manage to escape into a nearby town. Here, MacTavish and Riley are separated from one another. MacTavish watches Shadow Company slaughter civilians in their search for any Los Almas cartel. He manages to evade them, finding materials along the way that he fashions into makeshift tools. After acquiring a knife and gun, MacTavish cuts around the patrolling Shadow forces, only dispatching those he has to, and manages to link up with Riley at the church. The pair manage to escape and regroup with Parra, Laswell, Price, and Garrick, before launching an operation against Shadow Company’s prison complex, where Vargas is held. After clearing the prison of patrols and planting explosives on Shadow Company vehicles, Garrick and Soap manage to locate Vargas. They free him along with the other Mexican Special Forces operators and escape from the prison. Price contacts Laswell, learning that a few months earlier, while Shepherd had ordered Shadow Company to deliver American-made ballistic missiles to Urzikstan and support the rebels, Russian PMCs had hit the convoy transporting the missiles and made off with them. In the aftermath, Shepherd had the incident covered up and explained that with Task Force 141 too close to the truth, their assignment had ended. Incensed, Price promises to go after Shepherd once they eliminate Graves and find the remaining missile. In Modern Warfare II‘s third quarter, Shadow Company and General Shepherd’s true intentions are revealed to players. Longtime Modern Warfare fans will have seen this coming, since 2009’s Modern Warfare 2 similarly had their incarnations of General Shepherd and Shadow Company betraying players, as well. However, here in Modern Warfare II, the betrayal is far less shocking than it’d been originally; Modern Warfare II‘s execution is done in a way that reduces controversy while at the same time, giving players a similar experience to what Modern Warfare 2 had previously provided and setting the stage for players to fight a much more trained, better-equipped foe.

Immediately after players watch Graves order Shadow Company to hunt down MacTavish and Riley, Modern Warfare II places them in MacTavish’s shoes. Alone and without any support, MacTavish must link up with Riley and escape the area. However, since MacTavish had taken some damage in the process, and in his haste to get to safety, he is injured and without his usual equipment. Nowhere else in Modern Warfare II do players feel vulnerable; previously, a group of enemies simply meant throwing a M82 Flash Bang grenade out and mopping them up with whatever one had available to them, but in his weakened state, MacTavish can’t even walk steadily, much less fight. This is what some people call a “disempowerment fantasies”, which are characterised by scenarios where one’s “desires are complicated, or where there’s something to complicate the player’s objective”. It is argued that people “can have powerful experiences about learning to accept dissatisfaction”, and this is what makes the disempowerment fantasy something that more games should explore. However, in its base form, this makes for uninteresting games that promote the “lying flat” mindset, of giving up because one’s situation cannot be practically improved. Games falling into this category discourage self-improvement and inspiration. However, Modern Warfare II, a Triple-A title, shows precisely how games can show vulnerability and difficult situations in a mature, insightful manner. At the beginning of the mission, MacTavish is deprived of his entire arsenal and is injured, forcing players to be mindful of their surroundings. However, as MacTavish explores the level and begins crafting items to aid his survival, he betters his circumstances. Making a door pry allows MacTavish to open locked doors and crack open Shadow Company supply cases. Eventually, MacTavish finds a knife, giving him a fighting chance, and after taking down a Shadow Company operative, confiscates his pistol. Similarly, the door pries give MacTavish access to a Stim Shot, which suppresses pain and allows him to move with precision. Now armed and in reasonable condition, players are more confident in making their way to Riley. Although a direct firefight is still ill-advised, Modern Warfare II puts power back in the player’s hands as a reward for having played with ingenuity and a mindfulness for the environment. This is how disempowerment is handled: the game strips power from a player and gives them the agency to reacquire it, in turn showing how people can be empowered to better their circumstances. Modern Warfare II, despite being a first person shooter, manages to convey the dynamic between vulnerability and agency more effectively than something like Reigns: Her Majesty or Change: A Homeless Survival Experience – although games journalists may disagree, the reality is that good gameplay and solid game mechanics can tell stories more effectively than narratives deliberately crafted to take power away from players in an attempt to guilt or lecture.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The notion of losing access to one’s entire arsenal is not new, and in games like Modern Warfare II, it forces players to get creative in order to complete their objective. For instance, under normal circumstances, it’d be easy to smoke the Shadow Company operators here with a flashbang grenade and a withering hail of 7.62 mm rounds from an LMG, but at present, MacTavish can’t even aim straight, so it’s much easier to simply avoid direct confrontation and instead, lure them off for a silent takedown. This approach is meant to remind players to be mindful of their environments in a game where map knowledge is an essential to performing well.

  • As MacTavish pushes further into the town, the opportunity to better his situation will present itself. The idea of crafting in a first person shooter isn’t revolutionary, but in the context of Modern Warfare II, it adds a new step for the franchise, showing how even in a series known for its wild firefights, the campaigns can still present players with more creative gameplay mechanics in order to emphasise a certain point. After making door pries, MacTavish is able to access more of the town, and similarly, being able to make smoke bombs and trip mines allows for one to deal with the armed Shadow company operators. Here, I find a Lockwood 300 double-barrel shotgun, which offers excellent stopping power at the expense of stealth.

  • There are two safes throughout this mission, and the first safe (code: 10-10-80) contains a suppressed .50 GS, along with a throwing knife. Although one is limited to 7 rounds, the .50 GS’s suppressor makes it handy for picking off lone patrols. The turning point in this level occurs after MacTavish finds a stim shot, which brings him back to full health. Reloading, aiming and movement becomes significantly after this point, and while one’s still limited to a small arsenal (making it better to avoid firefights), it does feel as though one finally has a fighting chance.

  • Thanks to the extra firepower conferred by the Lockwood 300, I was able to confiscate a Bryson 800 from a downed Shadow Company operator, and this allowed me to continue to make my way to the church. The Bryson 800 is presumably modelled after the Mossberg 500, being a pump-action shotgun with an eight-round capacity. At close quarters, its stopping power is unmatched, but a lack of range means that in most scenarios, it’s not too effective. By taking all of the other options away, a Bryson 800 was a sight for sore eyes.

  • Here, I sneak through a mechanic’s garage en route to the sewer entrance. A second safe here (37-60-80) gives players a crossbow, but with limited ammunition, I ditched it immediately. I’ve affixed a sight to my shotgun to help with target acquisition, and while having a sight makes it easier to aim a sidearm, it’s actually not necessary for the shotgun, which can be reliably hip-fired. It was at this point in Modern Warfare II that my campaign kept crashing, and in the end, I deduced that a bad game save must’ve been the culprit. I restarted the mission, and the crashes went away. I am curious to know what causes are: online guides suggest everything from clearing the cache and verifying game files to reinstalling the game, but some of the methods would be quite tedious to utilise.

  • Moving stealthily through the rainy night and silently dispatching Shadow Company operatives actually opened Modern Warfare II up to a more meditative experience. This is a facet of stealth games I’ve always enjoyed: while patiently waiting for foes to line up and reach better positions, my mind usually wanders, and this creates a moment of calm that seems quite out of place in a Call of Duty game. While I sneak around here in the dark, I’ll comment on the well-designed crafting system: quiet moments allowed me to put together a variety of tools to make it easier to get past some segments.

  • The door pry is probably the most useful of the tools, allowing MacTavish to get through locked doors and force open Shadow Company supply crates. Throughout the town, other supplies can be found: MacTavish can fashion makeshift smoke bombs, trip mines and Molotov cocktails, utilising them to get through especially tricky areas. The presence of a crafting system at all in Modern Warfare II‘s campaign foreshadowed the fact that crafting and inventory management could be a later part of the game, and now that Warzone and DMZ‘s beta are available, it turns out the campaign’s crafting system was a clever way of warming players up to the fact that there’s more to Modern Warfare II than running-and-gunning.

  • For me, I found the Molotov cocktails to be the most useful: they’re relatively quiet and can burn groups of foes to death, making them an excellent resource for clearing out  crowds without resorting to a direct firefight. Assault rifles are noticeably absent from much of this level – in most levels, players will start off with some sort of automatic, so taking away these weapons was to really drive home the point that until he can rendezvous with Riley, ingenuity and situational awareness will be MacTavish’s best friend.

  • One aspect I really enjoyed about this quieter level was the fact that, despite the gravity of the situation, MacTavish and Riley still retain their sense of humour, using it to lighten up what is otherwise a very demoralising ordeal: Shadow Company’s betrayal and their subsequent massacre in town was probably meant to evoke a sense of hatred in players, but without the means of dealing with them directly, one only has their wits about them. The exchanges between Riley and MacTavish are light-hearted and do much to breathe humanity into the two characters, setting them apart from the soulless Shadow Company operators.

  • In this way, when players do get the means of fighting Shadow Company on even terms, it wouldn’t feel wrong to light them up. After slipping by a contingent of Shadow Company operators, I would end up reaching a canal leading into the sewers underneath town. The water effects in Modern Warfare II never ceases to amaze, and here, as I round a bend, I overhear a pair of soldiers talking. The fact that Riley and MacTavish are making their men disappear strikes fear into their hearts, and for the briefest of moments, I felt a bit of pity for the operators who found themselves wandering into a horror movie.

  • After swimming underwater and taking down an armoured Shadow Company operator, I managed to get my hands on an M4, the first assault rifle I’ve had all mission. Despite only having one full magazine and five rounds in reserve, it felt great to have a versatile automatic weapon again. Whereas I was able to affix a sight to the shotguns and pistols earlier, there are no supply crates with spare sights nearby; despite being limited to only the iron sights, by now, I’ve become quite comfortable with using iron sights in games, so an M4 was a game-changer.

  • Upon reaching the plaza, MacTavish will finally have a chance to take the fight to Shadow Company. Here, armoured operators accompany regular operators, and because of the extreme scarcity of ammunition, it’s unwise to engage the armoured foes even with headshots. Instead, the time has come to put the Molotov cocktails to use: the armoured Shadow Company operatives are only more resilient against bullets, so using Molotov cocktails allows one to quickly dispatch these enemies without consuming precious ammunition.

  • Once MacTavish reaches the church, this mission draws to a close. Although seemingly far removed from the usual gameplay one might expect from a Call of Duty game, this level was a remarkable experience for mixing up the experience and immersing players into MacTavish’s situation in a new way. In doing so, Modern Warfare II demonstrates that it is able to show players both sides of the coin: being disempowered and utilising one’s ingenuity and skill to get out of such a situation is a very encouraging message to convey.

  • Once MacTavish and Riley meet up with Price and Garrick, the time has come to mount an assault on the black-site prison Shadow Company is using to incarcerate Vargas. MacTavish starts the mission armed with a suppressed EBR-14 and a suppressed X12 pistol. The EBR-14 is a superb weapon, being equipped with a thermal sight for making out enemies in the dark of night, and in practise, it is able to one-shot even the armoured Shadow Company forces if one lines up a headshot. On the other hand, the X12 isn’t particularly useful, and once things really get moving, it’s better to switch to something with a bit more punch.

  • After scaling the prison wall, the next stage of this mission is to use the CCTV cameras and guide Riley through hordes of Shadow Company soldiers with the aim of placing explosives on their vehicles in order to create a distraction later down the line. Generally speaking, players won’t have to worry about Riley, since he lives up to his moniker “Ghost”, and is able to sneak through most situations undetected. Of course, carelessness will get Riley killed, causing the mission to end, but this segment of the mission felt like a mini-game puzzle, requiring some creative thinking and an eye for detail to complete.

  • The CCTV segments of Modern Warfare II are reminiscent of a similar scene in Modern Warfare, where players must guide an embassy staff member to safety. However, Modern Warfare II‘s presentation is a direct improvement over its predecessor, adding a system that allows MacTavish to give Riley commands. This lets players to clear out lone patrols easily and lure groups of operators away from one another for either elimination, or creating an opening one can sneak through. I would imagine that Modern Warfare II allows players some degree of freedom in deciding how they wish to approach things here.

  • Once the explosives are placed, Riley will link up with the strike force and join MacTavish on the actual attack on the prison itself. By this point in time, I’d decided to dump the X12 for a more suitable weapon: initially, I picked up the Lachmann Sub (the MP5), which had a suppressor. After using it to dispatch several Shadow Company patrols, I discarded the Lachmann for the more powerful M4, which came with a hybrid sight and an M203 underbarrel grenade launcher: there were also TAQ-56 (SCAR-L) rifles lying around, but the M203 was enticing, as it gave me the potential for a bit more firepower.

  • Since it’s a firefight from here on out, a suppressor is no longer relevant, standing in stark contrast with the previous mission, where MacTavish had lamented the lack of a suppressor and quipped, “my kingdom for a suppressor”. This line is derived from Richard III’s famous “My kingdom for a horse”, which spoke to his desperation for a horse and an irrational preparedness to give up his kingdom. Literary guides indicate that today, this line simply means that one is willing to exchange anything, even something of great value, for some small thing to satisfy an immediate need.

  • Shakespeare had meant the line to be utilised when indicating how priorities shift: as circumstances change in Modern Warfare II, having a suppressor is no longer the best idea, and during the mission to rescue Vargas, I found myself switching over to other weapons dropped from defeated Shadow Company operatives because they offered the capabilities that best suited the moment. Here, I take one last look at the room housing the cells Vargas was imprisoned in prior to Task Force 141 freeing them. With Vargas back, the time has come to liberate other members of the Mexican special forces, as well.

  • After an intense firefight, I ran out of ammunition for the M4 and looted a TAQ-56 off one of the fallen Shadow Company units before making my way over to the prison’s mess hall. MacTavish comments on how it’s time to make a mess, and my curiosity got the better of me. I did some reading and learnt that the mess hall is named after the Old French mes, meaning “portion of food”. It eventually made its way into English in the thirteenth century, where it came to refer to any cooked meal. I’d therefore imagine that the contemporary meaning of “mess”, in referring to disarray, came from the fact that mess halls were often noisy and lively places.

  • MacTavish ends up helping Task Force 141 and the Mexican special forces in messing up the attacking Shadow Company operatives. By hiding behind cover, I picked off foes with a combination of fire from the TAQ-56 and the EBR-14; the latter was especially useful in landing one-hit kills against the armoured operatives, while the M203 on the TAQ-56 I ran with was great for stopping entire groups of enemies. More so than Modern WarfareModern Warfare II places an emphasis on larger-scale firefights, and this is one area where the campaign of Modern Warfare II especially excelled.

  • While Modern Warfare was fun, I missed the wild firefights that Call of Duty had become known for, so seeing them return in Modern Warfare II meant I found the campaign here more enjoyable than its predecessor. In fact, even though I’ve still got a few missions left before I complete Modern Warfare II, I’m already thinking about replaying some missions in the future (something that Modern Warfare‘s campaign didn’t inspire me to do). After exiting the mess hall, I’m back out into the dark of night. It’s time to extract before Shadow Company can round up or execute friendlies.

  • The explosives Riley had placed on various Shadow Company vehicles earlier come in handy now: unaware that they’ve been had, Shadow Company rides out into the night in a bid to stop the escapees, only for MacTavish to break out a detonator and turn these vehicles into smoldering hunks of metal. I’ve switched back over to the M4 for the breakout’s last segments to see how it handles compared to the TAQ-56; in the short time I’ve had to use these weapons in a side-by-side fashion, the M4 feels a little more consistent.

  • While not shown in this post, I encountered Shadow Company units carrying riot shields in this level. Out of vain curiosity, I picked one up and tried it out; it feels a little tougher than the iteration seen in Modern Warfare 2, where the glass would begin cracking, Modern Warfare II‘s riot shields don’t seem to take any visible damage when hit. Like earlier games, they can be used to batter enemies to death, and there’s an achievement for getting three kills with the riot shield. My priority now is not getting achievements in Modern Warfare II, but the campaign is enjoyable enough for a return later down the line.

  • Once Task Force 141 and Vargas’ men make it to the wall, MacTavish will be asked to provide covering fire. Earlier, I had found several long-range rifles up here, but because of the mission parameters, I left them alone. With stealth no longer a concern now, I swapped over to a weapon I’ve not fired since the open beta days. Beyond the Signal 50, there’s also an REV G-80 here. While I imagine this is useful for anti-vehicular roles, having already fired the REV G-80 previously, I figured it’d be fun to give the Signal 50 a go.

  • The Signal 50 and its .50 calibre rounds allows it to deal some real damage, acting as a fun way of wrapping up the mission to rescue Vargas and his men. Once everyone’s exfiltrated and returned to Vargas’ safehouse, Price and Laswell explain that the sudden turn of events had occurred because Task Force 141 had gotten too close to the truth: the American ballistic missiles had originally been part of an unauthorised transaction, but when Russian PMCs unexpectedly hit Shadow Company and took the missiles, General Shepherd buried all evidence of this ever happening.

  • Although it acts as a more substantial explanation for Shadow Company’s betrayal relative to how Modern Warfare 2 had presented things, Modern Warfare II hadn’t given players the full impression that Task Force 141 was getting close to the truth. On these grounds, I would guess that Garza might’ve known about things, which is why her capture became inconvenient for Graves. Small plot holes like these can usually be resolved with a bit of lateral thinking, and for the time being, players are given a chance to see the chaos for themselves.

  • For this mission, players take on the role of a Shadow Company operator armed with an M16. Despite the player’s best efforts, the convoy carrying the missiles will be overrun. Looking back at these events, and Shepherd’s approach towards addressing the fallout, I am reminded of how real-world governments tend to cover up mistakes. All governments are guilty of this to some extent, and while it may be justified as keeping the citizens from panicking (or the media from overblowing things and creating a scare), politicians will accuse others of covering up their mistakes when they themselves do the same thing, resulting in a tu quoque fallacy.

  • A quick look around finds that one can avoid falling into this trap by acknowledging their mistake (a concept that seems foreign to most people in online debates) and then provide a clear-cut explanation of what is being done now to address a given issue. In the heat of the moment (especially online), it can be easy to forget this. In the context of Modern Warfare II, the Americans were presented as well-intentioned, but when things go south, they resort to less-than-legal means of concealing the truth. In this way, Modern Warfare II suggests that liberal democracies may occasionally do evil and then sweep it under the rug, whereas autocratic nations are more forward about the acts they commit.

  • Atrocities or coverups are never justified, and in response to these questions, I’d reply that the liberal democracy approach is no better than the autocratic approach, before appending that I’d rather see nations focusing on improving things for their people, versus diverting so much funding towards building up their arms and destablising other nations. With this, I enter Modern Warfare II‘s final quarter: with Task Force 141 now going off the books to take out Shadow Company and stopping the remaining missile, I am looking forwards to seeing how things conclude.

Despite lacking the same impact as Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare II‘s campaign is still immensely captivating. In its third quarter, Modern Warfare II shows the flipside to private military companies; their ability to operate outside of the constraints governing a nation’s armed forces had previously meant they were able to move the needle quickly and hustle to get things done. However, every silver lining has a cloud, and when the mission called for it, Graves and Shadow Company are all too happy to betray Task Force 141. Whereas Task Force 141 has players fighting for a cause, Shadow Company simply fights for a paycheque, and therefore, have no allegiance to any morals or ideals. More so than Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare II speaks to the dangers of PMCs, and illustrates precisely why things like the Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893 exist. In scenarios like these, where it’s difficult to differentiate between good and evil, Modern Warfare II suggests that trusting oneself, and then one’s comrades, is a good starting point. Messages like these might feel obvious, but amidst the chaos in the world resulting from politics, foreign affairs and the tendency for subsets of social media users to count themselves as experts in these areas, it can become quite difficult to separate fact from fiction and determine who is trustworthy. Much as how MacTavish starts by trusting himself first, following Graves’ betrayal, people may find the overwhelming flow of information, both truths and untruths, easier to manage if they were to take a step back, assess their priorities and decide for themselves if people on the internet hold any sway over them. In this way, it is possible to regroup and regain one’s footing amidst an ongoing tempest. While Modern Warfare II might be a first person shooter with a major multiplayer piece, and where the aim is to simply shoot stuff with awesome guns, the campaign is able to convey a surprising amount of depth: although players will doubtlessly have blazed through things so they could unlock the Union Guard M4 for use in the multiplayer, the campaign does tell a story that’s quite thought-provoking in places, worthy of a revisit. In my case, however, I’ve still got a pair of missions before I cross the finish line, and I’m looking forwards to wrapping up my experience here.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Part III Review and Reflection, Locating The First Ballistic Missile on Dark Waters

“Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.” –Federico Fellini

Following Kate Laswell’s capture, Captain Price and Sergeant Garrick head over to Urzikstan, where they mount a ferocious assault on the Al Qatala convoy carrying her deep into enemy territory. With support from Farah and her rebels, as well as Nikolai, Garrick manages to reach the front of the convoy and even manages to stop an APC defending Laswell’s vehicle. At the same time, MacTavish and Vargas infiltrate a Las Almas meeting to learn the identity of their enigmatic leader, El Sin Nombre. MacTavish ends up gaining the trust of Valeria Garza, and meets up with Vargas, where they plan to move on El Sin Nombre. After MacTavish kills Diego and fights through the Las Almas enforcers, MacTavish and Vargas apprehend Garza with support from Graves and Shadow Company. In the subsequent interrogation, they learn that Garza was formerly Vargas’ teammate. In exchange for her freedom, Garza reveals the location of one of Al Qatala’s missiles; it’s on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Garrick, MacTavish and Vargas joins Graves on the raid. After they clear the oil rig, Graves and Garrick discover that the controls have been removed from the launch container. They immediately make their way over to a container ship, clear out its defenders and, per General Shepherd’s orders, manage to redirect the missile such that it targets the oil rig. Vargas and his team had managed to evacuate just in time; Shepherd thanks 141 and Graves for a job well done, and the strike force prepares to head back to base. With this, Modern Warfare II kicks things into high gear: Dark Water is the single most engaging mission in the campaign so far, fully capturing the aesthetic and tenour that the franchise had become known for through its earlier games. An amalgamation of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s Crew Expendable (assaulting a cargo ship), Modern Warfare 2‘s The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday (attacking an oil rig), and Modern Warfare 3‘s Hunter Killer (turning an enemy’s missile on themselves) missions, Modern Warfare II seamlessly blends together the atmosphere of these exceptional missions to create an experience that shows what’s possible with today’s technology.

Modern Warfare II‘s Shadow Company is a fantastic example of a fictional private military companies (PMCs). These organisations provide combat and security services for a cost, and in reality, are employed to act as protection for facilities and locations, as well as training a government’s armed forces; international law stipulates that use of security contractors from a PMC in an active warzone is unlawful, and today, PMCs typically provide close protection for high-value individuals, as well as assisting the military with intelligence gathering. However, because PMCs employ ex-military, their operators are often highly-trained and familiar with how a nation’s armed forces operate. Fictional works are especially fond of removing restrictions on PMCs, and in this way, Modern Warfare II‘s Shadow Company suggests that, when unbound by the same regulations and laws that a given nation’s military must adhere to, it can become possible to affect change and carry out something much more quickly. Task Force 141 is, in this way, able to seize El Sin Nombre more quickly and force an answer out of Garza regarding the whereabouts of one of the missing American ballistic missiles. When one is allied with a PMC, the work gets done, and the results are indisputable. However, the efficiency does raise interesting points for discussion, as well; fictional PMCs behave more similarly to mercenaries, which are verboten under American law. The Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893 was originally written to forbid the use of private police organisations, but in 1977, this was interpreted as extended to any mercenary or quasi-military force for hire. To this end, any security contractor working for a PMC may only use deadly force as a last-measure in self-defense, and otherwise, if they are American citizens, will lose any protections afforded to them should they actively participate in hostilities. Shadow Company appears to not be bound to the Anti-Pinkerton Act, and as a result, are able to get the ball rolling significantly quicker. Once Vargas and MacTavish capture Garza and get the missile’s location from her, they can immediately set off and destroy it before said missile can result in any mass casualties. Being able to act swiftly is important, and in a world where things are constantly moving faster, the advantages of being able to make snap decisions become apparent.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Since the last mission saw Laswell captured by Al Qatala forces, Price decides to go off the books and pushes forward with an operation to get her back before Al Qatala can secure her. General Shepherd doesn’t bother stopping Price, and to this end, Garrick heads over to Urzikstan with Price. Here, they are joined by familiar faces: Farah and Nikolai both make a return. The mission’s first part is relatively straightforward: Garrick is armed with the TAQ-56 and will fire from the helicopter Nikolai is piloting. Once Al Qatala forces get serious and return fire with RPGs, Garrick is thrown from the helicopter and is forced to fire while upside-down, making for some amusing moments.

  • Nikolai will end up stablising the helicopter, and Garrick cuts himself loose. He commandeers an Al Qatala pickup truck and subsequently drives himself to the front of the convoy. When Al Qatala forces notice this, they begin deploying mines. During the driving segments, Garrick is stuck in third-person view while driving, but will automatically switch over to first-person view when leaning out of the vehicle. Timing is important here: one can only fire the Kastov 762 (basically the AK-12) while leaning out the window, but doing so means being unable to steer. Navigating this bit of the mission entails switching back and forth between the two roles.

  • Once enough of the convoy is thinned out, Price appears and hands Garrick an REV G-80 (MGL). Unlike Modern Warfare, where players only receive the MGL at the game’s end, there’s actually a chance to use it here. The MGL’s 40 mm grenades will travel in an arc, but at closer ranges, they can be directly fired at enemies. Typically, two grenades will destroy a vehicle, although if one’s aim is true, they can take a vehicle out of action with as few as one shot. Although powerful, Garrick will only have a total of eighteen rounds for the REV G-80 (six in the chamber and twelve in reserve), making it imperative to aim carefully.

  • Besides the REV G-80, Garrick will also have access to a SAKIN MG38 LMG. With a 100-round belt-fed system, the MG38 is compact and fast-firing, making it great for keeping up sustained fire. In games, I find that LMGs are most effective in situations where one is dealing with wave after wave of enemies; the high capacity in an LMG is offset by the fact that reloading is lengthier, so if one is caught flat-footed and can’t reload in time, using an LMG can be a death sentence. I found the MG38 to work well enough in the Violence and Timing mission, although it is the case that, if an LMG proves too cumbersome, one can switch back over to the Kastov 762.

  • The trickiest part of the mission was to disable an APC that Al Qatala have fielded. In a cinematic stunt that would be ill-advised, Garrick drives a pickup truck until he’s level with it, hops out and then opens the hatch before dropping explosives in. Once the APC is out of the fight, the convoy comes to a close, and Task Force 141 secure Laswell, who brutally kills her captor. With the crew reunited, Task Force 141 exit the country, and Modern Warfare II switches over to MacTavish and Vargas’ perspective. They’ve managed to infiltrate the Las Almas and are at a swanky-looking mansion to meet El Sin Nombre.

  • Vargas explains that, in order to gain their trust, MacTavish will need to be truthful in his answers. Curiously enough, I found that exposing Shadow Company didn’t feel like a betrayal at all, and after answering all of Garza’s questions, MacTavish meets up with Vargas for the next step of the plan. It turns out El Sin Nombre is actually present this evening, and while the cartel leader is supposedly faceless, the chance to capture them makes this the best opportunity to strike. To this end, I grabbed some bottles, created a minor distraction to lure a guard away, and then made my way upstairs.

  • I ended up getting into Diego’s room by means of a direct path, but this left a tail of suspicious security detail in my wake. Luckily, after cracking Diego’s safe, I managed to snag a suppressed double-barrel shotgun. This would be helpful in stealth, but since I’d already blown my cover, I ended up switching back to my sidearm and blasting everything that moved. Eventually, I would find and shoot down Diego to steal his keycard. I’ve grown accustomed to achieving my aims in a non-violent manner, so it felt strange to be able to blast Diego and loot the keycard from him without failing the mission.

  • Diego has a special gold-plated .50 GS (Desert Eagle), and I found myself wishing I could use it – while stealth missions are always fun because they demand creative thinking, the whole point of a first person shooter is shooting, so it’s always a bit of a shame when I pick up a particularly cool-looking firearm and must refrain from using it because of the stealth element. Modern Warfare II, however, doesn’t make players suffer through this, and even here at El Sin Nombre’s opulent mansion, there’s a chance to make use of the firearms available.

  • Finding a plate carrier ended up being quite helpful, allowing me to take a few rounds from foes without dying, and here, I decided to make use of the MX9. This is the AUG SMG, a variant of the AUG chambered for the 9 mm round. While the firearms here only have iron sights, by this point in time, I’ve found that I’ve no longer got any objections to using them – even without optics, I am now reasonably confident in landing my shots, even from a distance. Armed with Diego’s .50 GS and the MX9, I accompanied Vargas to El Sin Nombre’s meeting, learning that Garza was, in fact, El Sin Nombre.

  • Once Garza is captured, players earn from Vargas that the two were one teammates. However, during one operation to strike the cartels, Garza decided to kill the cartel leader and assumed the role for herself. While she’s quite defiant, to secure Las Alma’s future, it turns out she has no particular allegiance for Al Qatala; stating that terrorists fight for the past, she gives Task Force 141 and Shadow Company the location of one of the ballistic missiles to gain their trust and act as a bargaining chip to secure her own freedom. This in turn sends players on what I feel to be Modern Warfare II‘s most immersive and enjoyable mission yet.

  • Dark Water was the mission featured in the campaign gameplay reveal trailer, which was uploaded back in June. What’s impressive is that the trailer featured in-game footage, and what’s more, the actual game itself looks even more polished than it had in the trailer. The end result is that Dark Water becomes a showcase of what the IW Engine can do: this level is said to be one of the most demanding missions in Modern Warfare II on GPUs, and if one’s machine can run Dark Water with reasonable frame-rates, the rest of the game should be a walk in the park for their hardware.

  • The stormy weather creates a very tense atmosphere as MacTavish push up the oil rig with Task Force 141 and Shadow Company. This mission sees MacTavish start off with the Fennec 45, the KRISS Vector. This submachine gun has a blisteringly high rate of fire, making it a strong choice for close quarters scenarios, and here in Dark Water, it is suppressed. While the firing rate and magazine capacity limits this weapon’s utility at long range in most games, Modern Warfare II‘s Fennec 45 is actually quite useful even at range.

  • The heavy rain and wind, coupled with the urgency of reaching the ballistic missile, creates an unparalleled aesthetic throughout the mission that exemplifies the sort of atmosphere Modern Warfare games excel at conveying, and I’ve long felt that the tensions in missions like these is actually reminiscent of the feelings surrounding an anime film release. In a bit of a coincidence, Makoto Shinkai’s Suzume no Tojimari premières in Japanese theatres today and, in fact, screenings would’ve begun mere minutes ago. Anime films have always been a bit of a point of contention for me because, while they are visually impressive, they also are notoriously difficult to watch.

  • The average wait time between the première date and home release averages six to eleven months, and in the case of a Shinkai film, trends have shown that overseas viewers, like myself, will likely be waiting until October 2023 before we can watch this film at earliest. The wait can be a bit cumbersome, and while it’s suggested that leaving a movie running longer is supposed to yield a better return on investment for studios, in practise, a film makes roughly 80 percent of its box office revenue by week five, and 90 percent of its total box office revenue by week ten. After three months, everyone who’s wanted to see the film in the theatres will have already seen it.

  • As such, it makes little sense to keep holding theatrical screenings for a half year after the première date; after four months at the latest, it makes sense to put a film out onto a streaming service, making the film available to international viewers and helping with revenue. I imagine that I’ll get a few pointed remarks saying that anime movies don’t follow the same trends as other films, and I’ll counter that with the remark that sticking to an outdated business model is one of the reasons why anime production is in its current situation; nowadays, it makes sense to leverage technology and infrastructure to reach more customers, but publishers continue to operate under the idea that anime is purely for a domestic audience, leaving overseas viewers in the dust.

  • I imagine that things aren’t likely to change for anime in the foreseeable future, and while waiting eleven months for Suzume no Tojimari isn’t a hardship by any stretch, one of my own reasons for supporting a much shorter wait between theatrical screenings and home release stems from being able to watch a film while there is still excitement for it. Having said this, the lengthier wait won’t impact my own enjoyment of Suzume no Tojimari when it does come out; over the years, I’ve become rather skilled at avoiding spoilers, and this allows me to enjoy a work in full once it does become available.

  • Back in Modern Warfare II, I’ve switched over to the FTac Recon, a semi-automatic battle rifle chambered for the .458 round. This version is suppressed and comes with an ACOG sight, making it suitable for picking off foes at medium ranges. When MacTavish reaches the oil rig’s deck, the open areas makes the FTac Recon a viable choice: although its ten round magazine is a little limiting, here on the oil rig, foes don’t appear in such numbers, and one is afforded with plenty of time to reload in between engagements.

  • While the FTac Recon is counted as a battle rifle, it handles more similarly to a marksman rifle. On the oil rig’s deck, Al Qatala forces will hide behind the extensive cover and fire from windows. Manoeuvring into a range where the Fennec 45 is effective will expose MacTavish to a great deal of fire, so it is logical to switch over to the FTac Recon and pick off foes before pressing ahead. One detail I particularly liked was the accumulation of water on the weapon model. Rendering has come a very long way, and I remember being highly impressed with how Battlefield 1 had depicted water, mud and even blood on the weapon in response to actions like swimming or running through mud.

  • Modern Warfare II does not have real-time ray-tracing, but the game itself looks fantastic at every turn. More so than any mission, Dark Water really showcases what the IW Engine can do. Here, I’ve reached the far end of the rig and are about to prepare for a bit of close-quarters engagement in order to reach the ballistic missile, which has been armed and is now preparing for launch. The number of foes on the rig are not overwhelming, and a combination of good positioning and a steady hand will allow one to prevail.

  • The mission’s combination of manoeuvring into cover and firing at foes means that, despite the Fennec 45’s high rate of fire, one should still have plenty of ammunition left by the time they reach the ballistic missile. It is easy to panic and empty an entire magazine out at one foe, but since the focus in Dark Water isn’t on fending off wave after wave of enemies, firing short, controlled bursts will be enough to handle individual enemies. In this way, I cleared the oil rig’s upper deck and climbed up the stairs to reach the stolen missile.

  • Unsurprisingly, when MacTavish and Graves reaches the container, they find that all of the controls have been removed. Graves immediately deduces that the controls must be located on board the cargo ship nearby. The pair board a boat and dynamically push their way onto the cargo ship, beginning the mission’s second half. While Modern Warfare 2 had the longer oil rig segment, Modern Warfare II‘s approach with its missions appear be to showcase how dynamic individual levels are. Rather than placing all of the action on the oil rig, the mission is broken up to show how seamlessly the IW Engine can transition between two locations.

  • Upon hitting the cargo ship’s deck, MacTavish must fight across and reach the bridge on the other side. The choppy seas mean cargo containers on the deck will constantly shift, and being caught in one’s path will either result in being crushed or pushed overboard. There’s a bit of finesse and patience needed to navigate the deck, since Al Qatala forces will also be doing their best to prevent MacTavish from succeeding. While it’s tempting to simply rush across the deck and shoot anything that movies, shifting containers and poor visibility means there’s more merit to play it safe and do things slowly, methodically.

  • The intense rainfall here actually reminds me of the weather in Weathering With You, and I am reminded of a conversation I’d read in the months after the film’s release in Japan. AnimeSuki’s Toukairin had expressed disappointment that the film didn’t get nominated for any categories in the Academy Awards, feeling that Japan needed to make a more concerted effort in making their films Oscar-worthy. While Toukairin was likely just conveying his love for Japanese animation, I strongly disagree with the implications – members of the Academy Awards committee might not always be fully aware of nuances in Japanese cinema and culture, which is why anime movies get skated over.

  • If anime films were to become something that gets a nomination, it is likely the case that a work would need to compromise its artistic direction, in turn diminishing its impact. As it is, I don’t believe that the Oscars are a good metric for anime, which are enjoyable on their own merits. It suddenly hits me that I never did get to read Toukairin’s thoughts on Weathering With You; Toukairin was banned from AnimeSuki before the BDs were released. To this day, I have mixed feelings out this; on one hand, AnimeSuki has become a ways more peaceable since Toukairin’s ban, but on the other, Toukairin and I share common interests, and I therefore wonder if we might’ve shared good conversations under different circumstances.

  • It is exceedingly rare to encounter people with a similar set of interests to myself – we both enjoy things like The Dark Knight trilogy, Lord of the Rings, Gundam, Tom Clancy novels, Battlefield, and Call of Duty. I wonder if Toukairin’s had a chance to give Modern Warfare II a go; unlike 2019’s Modern WarfareModern Warfare II is chock-full of references to the original games, and this has made it incredibly entertaining to spot the callbacks. Here, I push closer to the entrance into the bridge, and as memory serves, the gameplay reveal trailer ends here with MacTavish placing charges on the door. At this point in time, I’ve still got a few magazines of ammunition left for the Fennec 45. When I was watching TheRadBrad’s playthrough, I was surprised to see him down to his last magazine by the time he hit the cargo ship.

  • Once inside the cargo ship, I found myself thinking back to Mighty Ships – I pass through the dining area and galley here. It’s nowhere nearly as modern or clean as the galley inside something like the Emma Maersk or North Star, but even then, I thought back to the remark that a good galley is the heart of a good ship, since sailors look forward to a delicious meal after a hard day’s work. With Al Qatala on the ship, I’d imagine that this cargo ship is more of a temporary home than a workplace; the ship doesn’t have the same vibes as the ships showcased in Mighty Ships do.

  • It’s close quarters for the duration of the mission, and fortunately for me, I still had plenty of .45 ACP left for the Fennec 45. After reaching the stairwell leading to the bridge and neutralising two targets, a grenade came bouncing down the stairs. I immediately returned it to the sender, before climbing up the stairs cautiously. Despite having played Call of Duty games for over a decade, I’ve never really understood the grenade indicators. These show the rough direction of where the grenade is, but in the games I’ve played, there’s no sense of proximity, which has led me to die more times than necessary.

  • On the other hand, having been around Call of Duty games for ten plus years means that I am able to make reasonable guesses of where foes are. Here, I arrive at the bridge, and feeling that there were some hostiles, I tossed in a 9-banger to stun them. This bought me enough time to neutralise the remaining Al Qatala gunmen. With the bridge secure, Graves arrives and locates the controls. After he patches in and puts the system in diagnostic mode, he finds that even though the launch is already set. Shepherd indicates it’s still possible to redirect the missile, but anyone left on the oil rig has one minute to evacuate.

  • MacTavish must help Graves with the process by pressing the right buttons to enable diagnostic mode, and then read back one of the codes to grant Graves access. When I was watching TheRadBrad play, he got the code right in one go, whereas with JackFrags’ playthough, it took JackFrags several tries. Moments like these are always fun to watch: JackFrags is an excellent FPS player, whereas both TheRadBrad and I have a background in computer science, and therefore, have dealt with consoles full of hexadecimal codes previously.

  • The build-up throughout the level is fantastic, and the pay-off is enormous, making this a highly memorable experience. There was something incredibly satisfying about turning the missile against the oil rig, and in the aftermath, both Task Force 141 and Graves are impressed with their handiwork. It’s hard to see Modern Warfare II topping this level, but I’ve learnt to never make such judgement until the whole game’s done. It goes without saying that I’m excited to see where Modern Warfare II is headed next. Having said this, I imagine that readers would rather see me write about anime than games; so readers have a very clear idea of what’s upcoming, I’ve got two more posts on Modern Warfare II campaign before I finish.

As the story to Modern Warfare II continues, it becomes clear that, more so than its predecessor, Modern Warfare II inherits the franchise’s bold, bombastic campaigns over the slower, methodical and realistic missions that were present in Modern Warfare. The end result is that Modern Warfare II‘s campaign ends up being much more memorable. Missions stand out with their distinct set-pieces, and there are moments that simply take the players’ breath away, acting as the game’s opportunity to show off what the IW Engine is capable of, as well as setting the scene for what’s at stake. The effort of clearing out an oil rig of hostiles, and then immediately riding over to a cargo ship to secure its bridge is rewarded with an immensely satisfying outcome; players are able to watch the ballistic missile launch, rise into the sky and then flip back over before slamming into the Al Qatala oil rig, decimating it in a fiery explosion worthy of the Jericho Missile seen in Iron Man. Moments like these make the campaign worth playing, and in this way, Modern Warfare II‘s campaign is a respectful callback to older games. Newer players will have no trouble warming up to Modern Warfare II through the story missions, while older players will appreciate the references to older titles that they grew up around. Modern Warfare‘s campaign was more realistic in this sense – plots of losing missiles are less probable than helping an insurgency resist another nation’s occupation, but at the same time, the result of a more grounded story is that things become less memorable. While realism is often lauded as an element that all intellectuals love, in reality, realism isn’t necessary for good storytelling. When a story is properly written, it will be engaging whether it adheres to natural laws and plays out in accordance with how things work, or if it is more fantastical in nature. Modern Warfare II shows that it is possible to still present a plausible story, while at the same time, possessing more creativity and allowing developers to create set-pieces that are definitively Modern Warfare II. Dark Water is a fantastic representation of how set-piece missions can define a game, and here in Modern Warfare II, this particular mission has quickly become a personal favourite.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Part II Review and Reflection, Two Stances on Failure Handling and A Nostalgic Return To Death From Above and All Ghillied Up

“You can embrace nostalgia and history and tradition at the same time – it has to progress or it can’t survive.” –Sturgill Simpson

While Task Force 141 push forwards towards Hassan’s compound, Shadow Company’s Commander Phillip Graves directs air support from an AC-130, providing close air support. They are able to clear Las Almas forces defending Hassan, allowing Task Force 141 to apprehend him. Hassan’s capture prompts an immediate response from the cartel, but the AC-130’s continued support allows Hassan to be secured. After a conversation with General Shepherd, Price is forced to let Hassan go in order to avoid political consequences, but the group manage to break into Hassan’s phone and learns that he had recently made a call to Spain. This leads Garrick and Price to a Las Almas-owned fish hatchery. After donning ghillie suits and cladestinely eliminating the patrols, Garrick sneaks into the facility in search of the missing missiles, while Price provides overwatch. Although search of the facility turns up nothing, Garrick discovers a map of a cave system underneath the nearby lighthouse. The pair make their way over to the lighthouse and, after picking off the guards, enter the tunnel system. They discover that the missiles were never in Spain, but instead, Las Almas had kept Russian-made guidance systems here. Before they can exfiltrate, Laswell is captured by Al Qatala forces; because of her involvement in things, Price determines that rescuing her now becomes their top priority. At this point in time, I’ve spent about four hours in Modern Warfare II‘s campaign, and having wrapped up Recon by Fire, this means that I’m about halfway through the story, and while I tend not to prefer comparisons, I will say that Call of Duty is at its best when the story is a little flashier; I am having more fun, and more engaged by the story here in Modern Warfare II than I had been with that of its predecessor’s.

Call of Duty games have traditionally, featured a wide range of mission variety and set piece moments, giving players a chance to see the story from several perspectives. Modern Warfare II continues on in this tradition, and by placing players behind the console of the AC-130’s gunner station, the game has openly become a love letter to fans of the original Modern Warfare trilogy. However, the rules in Modern Warfare II can seem inconsistent as a result of this mission variety. In the AC-130 missions, players can fail the mission instantly if they accidentally fire upon civilians or damage any buildings they do not have clearance to engage. This sends them back to their last checkpoint, forcing one to be more mindful of what they’re shooting at. Conversely, when sneaking around a Spanish island, there is some tolerance for making a mistake. If Garrick misses a shot, Price will cover for him and readily lands a follow-up shot. Similarly, when one is detected while infiltrating the fish hatchery, and the alarm goes off, the mission carries on. Price will merely comment that they’ve lost the element of surprise, but the game won’t send players back to the last checkpoint. At first glance, this can seem quite jarring and inconsistent. However, beneath the initial difference, lies a surprisingly clever storytelling mechanic: Modern Warfare II is suggesting that different roles have different tolerances for failure, and in doing so, reminds players that there are some situations where failure is not an option, while in others, one can still fall back upon a plan B if required. This aspect of Modern Warfare II comes about as a result of the game trying to modernise parts of the experience while retaining other elements from an older time. While it can come across as a little rough, the effect nonetheless works for the game’s messages and parallels a thought I had pertaining to determinism and free will from my earlier Madoka Magica discussion: while some things are likely preordained, one still has agency in other situations, and where agency is provided, it is to one’s benefit to utilise this opportunity to the fullest extent possible.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As memory serves, Modern Warfare 3 had an AC-130 mission, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare first introduced the concept into a Call of Duty game. Originally, players operated the guns to an AC-130H, which was armed with the M102 105 mm howitzer, but here in Modern Warfare II, Shadow Company uses the AC-130W Stinger II, which is equipped with wing-mounted pylons that allow it to carry the AGM-114 Hellfire. Switching out the M102 for Hellfire missiles means the AC-130W is afforded with precision strike capability.

  • However, early in Modern Warfare II‘s mission, the gunner is only cleared to use 25 mm rounds. The slower pacing it to the player’s advantage – when the mission started, I was having a bit of difficulty with the controls, since the key mappings constantly meant I was trying to increase magnification by pressing the button for changing the imaging type, and by old muscle memory, accidentally missed targets or otherwise fired at inopportune moments, resulting in rounds hitting civilians or even friendly forces. The shift in mission parameters makes the normal imaging important: thermal imaging doesn’t show which targets on the ground are armed.

  • The 25 mm gun also has a bit of a spin-up time and is limited to a thirty-round burst, so one must be mindful of where they’re aiming, and how long they can fire for before reloading. Once accustomed to the mechanics, Modern Warfare II‘s two close air support missions proved extremely fun: fifteen years of advancement means that one’s rounds do appreciable damage to ground targets. When I played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s Death From Above mission for the first time, I had found it to be an entertaining mission that also provided an interesting perspective on warfare.

  • At three-and-a-half kilometres above the ground, blowing enemies away on a television screen made war feel like a video game in that one became far removed from the carnage below. At these altitudes, one’s cameras can’t resolve what’s happening on the ground with the same clarity that would be seen by those who are on the ground, isolating one from the horror and desolation of conflict. Adding a feeling of unease to things, the other crew’s comments in response to the gunner’s actions is reminiscent of how one might complement a friend for getting a particularly good kill in a video game.

  • The different perspectives of war is something that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had done extremely well, and overall, the entire Modern Warfare series has been the most standout Call of Duty entries. After I finished the first of the missions, and Hassan is secured, the AC-130 would fly on over to continue escorting Task Force 141. Unlike the first mission, players are able to start firing on targets almost right away; after a cursory scan of the ground forces, it becomes clear that Las Almas and Al Qatala forces have overrun the area and are making it difficult to extract.

  • Having not used the LTM missiles in the first mission, where collateral damage was a very real mission-ending possibility, the heavy enemy presence in the second close air support mission means that these Hellfires become an indispensable asset. I did find myself favouring the 40 mm rounds, much as I had in the original Death From Above mission – players have up to ten rounds to work with, and the Bofors 40 mm cannon balances firing rate with damage, allowing one to place their shots with fair precision against soft targets like light vehicles and infantry.

  • To help with navigation, waypoints mark out critical landmarks, and in a clever callback to Death From Above, the crew on the AC-130 will tell players not to fire on the church, as there may be civilians inside. By the second mission, I was a shade more accustomed to the controls, but the splash damage that the weapons did were something that took a little getting used to. While trying to pick off RPGs targetting Task Force 141, I sent a few stray 25 mm rounds into the church’s walls, causing me to fail the mission instantly and prompting me to be a little more cautious on my next attempt.

  • Towards the end of the mission, hostile ground forces will begin firing anti-air missiles at the AC-130. Death From Above had ground forces completely vulnerable to the AC-130’s arsenal of weapons, giving players a sense of invincibility, but in reality, the slow-firing gunship is vulnerable to shoulder-fired anti-air missiles. This is, fortunately, easily countered – the AC-130 is equipped with flares that can throw missiles off. The large flare payload that AC-130s carry result in a very distinct pattern that is referred to as “angel wings”.

  • Once a friendly helicopter arrives to pick Task Force 141 and their prize up, the mission draws to a close, and here, in order to slow a convoy down, I fire on the truss bridge, destroying it completely and sending the armoured vehicles into the river below. Task Force 141 are later told to let Hassan go, with Shepherd citing political reasons being the justification for why things must happen in this way. As unfavourable as things are, Price’s team do manage to put a bug on Hassan’s phone before reluctantly setting him free, and while Hassan walks for the time being, the bug does give Task Force 141 something to go off of.

  • The resulting information pulled from Hassan’s phone sends players over to an island off the coast of Spain, and here, Modern Warfare II expertly brings Call of Duty‘s most iconic mission, All Ghillied Up, back to life in a modern setting. Although lacking Pripyat’s moody aesthetic and the grim threat of radiation, Modern Warfare II‘s iteration brings back the same tensions; right out of the gates, players must wait out an entire contingent of hostile forces, and if they’re stepped on, a firefight will break out, typically resulting in death.

  • Unlike All Ghillied Up, which started players with the M21, Modern Warfare II gives players a suppressed Victus XMR (AW-50). Firing .50 calibre BMG rounds, this weapon is absolutely devastating, and increasing the weapon’s efficacy, this particular Victus XMR comes with a thermal optic that also has a range finder. Altogether, the Victus XMR is ideally suited for long-range engagements: it is silent but hits hard, and the thermal optics make it far easier to spot foes in the foggy weather. Modern Warfare II further gives players an assist by equipping Price with an infrared laser, allowing one to immediately spot what Price is referring to.

  • The overcast, misty skies brings to mind the sort of weather that had been present in All Ghillied Up, as well as the weather that had dominated the earlier months of the summer a decade earlier, when I first began to study for the MCAT. This story is old hat to long-time readers; when one of my friends went on vacation and asked me to idle for Team Fortress 2 hats with his accounts, I only needed to idle for a few days of the week, and was otherwise free to try some of the games out. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had been so engaging I beat it within the space of a week.

  • Since then, I’ve found that of the Call of Duty games, 2007’s Modern Warfare remained the most enjoyable with its campaign, setting the bar very high. However, the host of other Call of Duty titles I’ve played since then have been fun in their own way. Modern Warfare 2‘s best missions are The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday and Gulag, while for Modern Warfare 3, Hunter Killer is easily the most memorable mission. The Cold War games have the Yamantau missions, and Infinite Warfare was actually quite enjoyable despite the negative reception.

  • After sneaking past all of the Las Almas and Al Qatala forces, it’s a straight shot to the cliff edge for an overwatch position. Unlike the post-apocalyptic remains of Pripyat, Modern Warfare II‘s mission is set in an area that feels more like a provincial park. There’s a little less tension, and admittedly, the banter between Laswell, Price and Garrick served to lighten the mood up considerably. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 had been all business, creating a much greater sense of urgency. There is a tradeoff here; a game that’s too serious will feel devoid of life, while games with humour in the wrong place will seem irreverent.

  • Modern Warfare II seems to be a little more relaxed than its predecessors, but considering the campaign is generally serious, some humour in the right spots remind players that, while Price and Garrick are elite special forces, they’re also human. These elements were absent in the earlier titles, which conveyed things a little differently. Upon reaching the overlook, it’s time to get to work. Previously, Modern Warfare had only required players to place shots at ranges of under 100 metres, so All Ghillied Up had been an easy mission. However, the overlook is up to half a kilometre away from the fish hatchery below.

  • Price will help Garrick out and call how much to compensate for gravity by: two-and-a-half notches roughly corresponds to three hundred metres, and anything further than 450 metres is four notches. Once players have a rough idea of how much compensation is needed, they’ll be able to place shots with reasonable confidence, although in the event one misses, Price will helpfully follow-up and comment on how grateful he is to be the better shot of the two. The only tough shots to place are those where one must hit two targets with one bullet. The .50 calibre BMG ammunition is helpful here, and Price will indicate that Garrick needs to manoeuvre into a better spot.

  • Once the patrols are thinned out, Garrick will move, alone, to the fish hatchery below. To assist with things, Garrick is equipped with a heartbeat sensor. In reality, a heat sensor would make more sense, but since its introduction in Modern Warfare 2, it’s become an iconic part of the series. Unlike the heartbeat sensors of earlier games, Modern Warfare II‘s incarnation has a limited charge and will slowly drain over time. However, here in the campaign, one’s usage of the heartbeat sensor is sporadic enough so that running out of power shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Price will give Garrick several options for clearing out the buildings of interest. The more direct route is to plant C4 on the door ways, then throw flashbangs and thin out the foes within, but since Garrick is also equipped with tear gas, Price suggests climbing to the roof tops, tossing a tear gas grenade in and capitalising on this to flush out the occupants. Pushing them outside gives players more options to engage them tactically, whereas entering the buildings could be risky, since foes could utilise cover and hide more effectively.

  • In classic video game fashion, the first building players search will be empty. Aside from typical traces of cartel activity (there’s a container full of narcotics and money), there’s no sign of the ballistic missile anywhere. For engaging targets at close quarters, Garrick carries the M4 with a suppressor and hybrid thermal sight. At closer ranges, the thermal sight can be disengaged, allowing one to use the holographic sight. The M4 is a mainstay in Modern Warfare: it’s a fair all-around weapon, and I remember how in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Task Force 141’s preferred service rifle is the M4A1 SOPMOD.

  • Once the first building is cleared, and it’s abundant that there’s no missile anywhere, Garrick pushes ahead to the next building. Armoured foes begin appearing, and these foes show up at the most inopportune times during a firefight, demanding that players adapt their strategy to overcome them. Since I was equipped with a .50-cal rifle here, I was able to back-pedal and instantly take an armoured soldier down, but only after engaging the unarmoured enemies first. Armoured enemies can, in theory, be downed by firing at them until the armour breaks, but aiming for the head and targetting their helmet is a more efficient route.

  • In a firefight where an armoured foe appears alongside unarmoured enemies, I prefer thinning things out first: armoured enemies are powerful and armed with heavier weapons, but three submachine guns firing at me from three different angles is still a greater threat than one light machine gun. In these cases, using the flashbang grenades or fragmentation grenades are most effective. These enemies mix firefights up enough to keep the campaign engaging, and it’s not lost on me that Recon by Fire is really just a combined mission that includes All Ghillied Up and One Shot, One Kill in a slightly less linear set-up.

  • The inclusion of more open campaign missions is a slight departure from tradition: most FPS campaigns are dominated by linear missions, and even games that provide some player choice (such as Metro: Exodus‘s open areas and Bad Company 2‘s Sangre del Toro mission) still end up corralling players back once their objectives are done. However, adding more options does create a more immersive experience, and in this way, Modern Warfare II adds to the campaign’s ability to sell the idea that sometimes, deviating from the “happy path” won’t result in immediate mission failure, giving resourceful players a chance to rectify mistakes.

  • Linear games have often been seen as being too strict: Call of Duty tends to punish players immediately for any missteps, but on the other hand, the franchises’ best-remembered missions have been tolerant of mistakes. In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s All Ghillied Up, Captain Macmillan will remark that Price “leads a charmed life” if players alert guards to their presence but manage to fend them off, and similarly, if players attempt to shoot down the Mi-24 with Stinger missiles, Macmillan will comment on how Price is “just showing off”.

  • As it turns out, there are no missiles here at the fish hatchery, but instead, Garrick finds a map depicting an underground tunnel system by the lighthouse, and as the operation wears on, they find Russian PMC forces present. The Modern Warfare franchise has portrayed Russian ultranationalists as an antagonist in earlier games, but Russian moderates also act as allies. The choice to use PMC forces is perhaps a reflection of the current geopolitical state; this move ends up being a thoughtful way of avoiding controversy, especially in a franchise that has a history of portraying contentious things.

  • One thing I’ve not mentioned until now about Modern Warfare II is the soundtrack, and it suddenly strikes me that the music here isn’t anywhere nearly as noticeable as it’d been in earlier Call of Duty games. I’ve found that Call of Duty games have excellent music; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s incidental music was iconic, and I still greatly enjoy pieces like “All Ghillied Up”, “Heat”, and even the “Main Menu” theme to this day. Besides the Modern Warfare series, Black Ops also had some fantastic pieces. In fact, Cold War‘s “This Ends Now” is one of my favourite pieces of Call of Duty, being a highly suspenseful piece that spoke to the gravity of Cold War‘s final assignment.

  • I haven’t found any information about Modern Warfare II‘s soundtrack, and in fact, a cursory search for the soundtrack only returns results from 2009’s Modern Warfare 2. The music in that game had also been superb, with “Coup de Grace” being the strongest piece in the album; it’s played when players kill General Shepherd during the game’s final moments. Back in Modern Warfare II, I managed to clear the houses around the lighthouse out despite setting off an alarm with my sub-par marksman skills, and ended up locating the tunnel leading underneath the lighthouse itself.

  • The final segment of this mission was reminiscent of similar levels in Modern Warfare, and this time around, since I’m rocking an RTX 3060 Ti, there’s no artefacts showing up in my weapon models. This was a very real issue when I was using the GTX 1060, making it difficult to capture screenshots in darker locations, or areas where there was a stark contrast between light and dark elements, but at present, this is no longer an issue. Without this issue, I found it much easier to get good screenshots, and here, I stop to admire the lighting inside the tunnels before pressing forwards with Price.

  • Upon reaching a small cave at the end of the tunnels, I engaged in a brief firefight with the remaining Al Qatala forces. Once the cave is cleared, Price will relay their findings back to Laswell, but before they can rendezvous with her and extract, Al Qatala will appear and abduct her. There isn’t anything one can really do to stop this, even if they break out the XMR and do their utmost to pick off the militants. With Laswell gone, the priority shifts towards recovering her before she’s lost in Al Qatala territory. The outcomes of this mission sets the stage for what comes next, and I’m now technically halfway through Modern Warfare II now in terms of missions.

  • Overall, it took me about 70 minutes to complete Recon by Fire, since I was exploring (and made a few mistakes that led to my demise), making this one of the longest Call of Duty missions I’ve ever played. I’m thoroughly enjoying the campaign, and from what I can tell, Modern Warfare II hasn’t even hit its stride yet. There’s still a ways to go yet before the missiles are recovered, but what is clear is that there remains a great deal of globe-trotting left to do. While sending players to so many places in Modern Warfare II might be seen as distracting, it also offers the game a chance to really show the IW Engine’s capabilities off, and for me, represents a chance to see how the RTX 3060 Ti is holding up to the latest and greatest titles.

The missions leading up to Modern Warfare II‘s halfway point will be a trip down memory lane for folks who’ve played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, being chock-full of callbacks to the original games. The use of close-air support in Close Air and Hardpoint creates the same aesthetic as did Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “Death From Above” mission, while crawling around fields to avoid patrols in a ghillie suit is a callback to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s “All Ghillied Up” mission. Previous Call of Duty games have included close-air support missions and missions involving a combination of stealth and marksmanship, but it had always felt that Modern Warfare had done it best. Here in Modern Warfare II, however, the missions do capture the spirit and tenour of the originals in terms of gameplay and aesthetics. In the close air missions, the controller’s dialogue has several references to the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, such as telling players not to fire on a church. Price reminds Garrick to move slowly and avoid making sudden movements when they find themselves along the path of some hostile Las Almas enforces whilst in Spain. The mission also gives Garrick access to a heartbeat sensor, a contraption that Modern Warfare 2 had become known for. In this way, Modern Warfare II is celebrating the aspects that had made the earlier instalments so enjoyable, while at the same time, integrating iconic experiences into a new story to remind players that, while Infinity Ward is aware of their fans’ past experiences and is working to ensure that their latest title is what they’d hoped for, the newer titles will also strive to innovate and do things in creative ways to keep the experience fresh for players without changing what has made things enjoyable in the past.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- Part I Review and Reflection, Globe-Trotting With Task Force 141

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” –Saint Augustine

Three years after the events of Modern Warfare, Captain Price and Task Force 141 have worked under the command of General Shepherd. Lieutenant Simon “Ghost” Riley participates in an airstrike in Al Mazrah against the Iranian general, Ghorbrani, using a new ballistic missile system. This act results in Major Hassan Zyani taking leadership of the Quds Forces, and Hassan immediately embarks on a campaign of revenge by allying with the Al-Qatala, a terrorist organisation. Shepherd deploys Riley, along with Captain John Price and Sergeant John “Soap” MacTavish to Al Mazrah, but when a helicopter is shot down, MacTavish must reach the crash site and defend it until friendly air support clears the area out. MacTavish and the 141 soon discover that Hassan’s managed to get his hands on the same ballistic missiles that were used to assassinate Ghorbrani. Incensed at this revelation, Shepherd demands that these missiles be destroyed, and CIA Station Chief Kate Laswell volunteers to investigate, promising that she’ll deliver Hassan to Shepherd. She heads for Amsterdam, and meets up with Price, where they manage to capture one of Hassan’s couriers. Upon learning that Hassan is now in Mexico and working with the Las Almas cartel, Mexican Special Forces Colonel Alejandro Vargas is sent to apprehend Hassan, but his operation is unsuccessful, and Hassan escapes. This prompts Task Force 141 to participate: despite fierce resistance from both the Las Almas and corrupt segments of the Mexican army in the cartel’s employ, they manage to keep on Hassan’s tail, and call in a friendly AC-130 to provide air support. This is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II‘s campaign about two hours in: a welcome return to form for the Call of Duty franchise that represents a solid start to one of this year’s most anticipated titles. While a continuation of 2019’s Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare II represents a significant return to the sort of story that the classic Modern Warfare games are known for. Here in Modern Warfare II, the campaign opens with cutting-edge American missile technology being appropriated by rogue actors, and the process of investigating, sends familiar faces across the world, and down a perilous slope as they seek to recover them.

Right out of the gates, Modern Warfare II has seen Task Force 141 visit the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Al Mazrah, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Mexico. When done well, globe trotting in a game brings players to a wide range of locations and allows the art teams to really exercise creativity, in turn producing an experience where every level potentially can be visually distinct. In Call of Duty, the Modern Warfare and Black Ops series took players to every corner of the globe, from the most remote reaches of Siberia and Antarctica, to Vietnam, London, Paris and New York City. Although the object of each mission is inevitably to fire awesome guns and complete an objective by going loud, the opportunity to visit a myriad of places in Call of Duty has made these games especially enjoyable. 2019’s Modern Warfare reigned this back to some extent, and most of the campaign is set in the desert nation of Urzikstan. The end result was that Modern Warfare‘s campaign felt more grounded, less bombastic and spectacular as earlier titles. While the gameplay was still remarkable, the lack of variety in the settings did make the game feel a shade more drab. Modern Warfare II addresses this completely, and this is evident even though I’ve just gotten started with the campaign. Locations are diverse, and vividly rendered. Whether it be the cool of an Amsterdam autumn, or the arid skies in Mexico, Modern Warfare II brings back yet another aspect of the Modern Warfare series that was, while understated, an integral part of the experience nonetheless. Settings diversity contributes to Modern Warfare‘s themes, that conflict can reach anywhere in the world, and by bringing players to an impressive array of locations, the game reminds them that the consequences of warfare are far-reaching, devastating no matter where one goes. This was made evident in 2009’s Modern Warfare 2, which saw a massive Russian invasion of America and placing players into the shoes of a Marine who would go on to fight through familiar suburban locations to repel invaders. Modern Warfare II is a return to form, and on top of being instructive, being able to fight my way through, and explore so many different locations, is one of the reasons why the campaigns in Modern Warfare are so enjoyable: every mision in Modern Warfare II looks to be memorable in its own right.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Modern Warfare II marks the first time I’ve played a Call of Duty at launch; previously, I’ve always stuck with buying the games on a massive discount. However, between all of the footage I’ve seen of Modern Warfare II, my experiences with the open beta, and Call of Duty‘s recent track record of delivering games that have been consistently good, I decided that this time around, I would see for myself the thrills surrounding a Call of Duty launch. I have experienced Battlefield 1and 2042 at launch. was solid, and was okay, but 2042 proved to be interesting because my old desktop had precluded me from playing the multiplayer extensively.

  • I still had fun with Battlefield 2042‘s private matches against AI bots, and in this way, the game still proved entertaining despite falling short: against AI bots on private matches, I could still unlock weapons and attachments to my heart’s content, so I wasn’t really bothered by Battlefield 2042‘s shortcomings. With this being said, the game does lack its predecessor’s sense of intensity despite having larger maps: Battlefield 2042 doesn’t give off the same vibe as the earlier titles did, and I found myself feeling a sense of emptiness in the Battlefield Portal maps.

  • Conversely, Battlefield 2042‘s All-Out Warfare maps have slowly gotten improvements, and together with the fact that I was still able to unlock all of the base game’s content against AI bots, I have no regrets about buying the game at launch. Here, I’m about two hours into Modern Warfare II‘s campaign at the time of writing, and the price of admissions to get a week’s head start on things was worth it – I know for a fact I’ve got availability now to play the campaign, so I decided to capitalise. In life, I’ve found that the relationship between money and time is thus: either one spends more money to save some time, or one spends more time to save money.

  • The situation determines which of these two is more appropriate, and responsible decision-making means weighing one’s options so that in the long run, one saves a balance of both time and money in accordance to their needs. In this case, I’m not sure if I’ll have time to game in the future, so I figured that it’d be okay to treat myself and enjoy Modern Warfare II now. Right out of the gates, the first full mission was a blast, entailing the pursuit of Hassan after a missile strike takes out Ghorbrani. Like Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfareModern Warfare II opens with a night mission and a helicopter crash.

  • The first goal is to fend off Al-Qatala militants while defending the crash site. When playing through Modern Warfare, I noticed that there were a lot of close-quarters missions involving IRNV goggles, and while these missions were fun in their own right, speaking to the importance of stealth and concealment in high-risk operations, the end result was that a lot of the missions in Modern Warfare ended up being extremely short, often being able to be completed within the space of ten minutes. For me, the optimal mission length is roughly fifteen to twenty minutes: long enough to feel like I accomplished something, but not so long that I’m left wondering where would be a good time to take a break.

  • Unsurprisingly, without IRNV,  visibility in night missions is virtually nil. I vividly remember how in Call of Duty 4, some night missions were set under a full moon, so visibility was good enough such that one didn’t need to worry about using IRNV. This is not the case in the more modern games, where nights are very dark. Having the night vision goggles, on the other hand, brings everything into sharp relief, and originally, this is what prompted Captain Price to say that with the goggles, things become too easy: Al-Qatala militants don’t have access to the same tech and this gives Task Force 141 the advantage by turning darkness into cover.

  • When I decided to pick up Modern Warfare II‘s pre-order last week, I was suddenly seized with a desire to enjoy some sushi. I ended up going for such a lunch today; my assignments have reached a point where things aren’t quite so hectic, so I was able to step out for lunch. I picked up the local sushi joint’s “I Love Salmon” combo and their tempura shrimp California rolls. The former features three pieces of salmon sashimi, four pieces of spicy salmon rolls and three pieces of salmon nigiri. I’ve developed a liking for raw salmon, which is a tasty treat high in Omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants and other nutrients. While perhaps less healthy, the tempura shrimp California rolls were also delicious, being a ordinary California roll with two twists; the crab is replaced with a full piece of tempura, and the top is dusted off with flavourful tempura flakes.

  • The combination of a sushi lunch and greenish hues accompanying IRNV in Modern Warfare brings to mind memories of Japan and Alien Isolation. Although these two topics are seemingly unrelated, I am reminded of Awkventurer’s latest gaming escapade, during which Alien Isolation was streamed. Alien Isolation brings back memories: I picked up the game back in 2016 and played through it while I’d been nearing the end of graduate school, although unlike Awkventurer, who had viewers encouraging her and offering tips, I went through the game completely alone, and found myself so intimidated by the reactor basement level that it took me a week’s hiatus before I found the courage to continue.

  • Alien Isolation was a fantastic game, being able to run with everything maxed out on even the humble GTX 660, and this is one of the advantages of being a variety streamer: Awkventurer is able to share both gaming experiences and travel in Japan, rather than remain constrained to one topic or area. Now that I think about it, I could be said to be running a blog in the same way. Although my approach means I’m still ineligible for AnimeNano (which has the rather stuck-up requirement that the only anime blogs they feature are those that deal exclusively with anime), writing about a range of topics means I’m able to explore more horizons.

  • As it stands, I don’t see a particular merit to being aggregated to AnimeNano: this blog is mainly an avenue for me to journal out my thoughts over time, and it’s a pleasant bonus that I’m able to converse with folks here. I’ve gone on enough tangents now and should return to Modern Warfare II, where I’ve finally finished clearing out all of the homesteads. As MacTavish, players start the mission armed with the EBR and VEL 46 (the MP7). I have noticed that the weapons in Modern Warfare II utilise a mixture of real and fictional names.

  • The reason for why this is stems from licensing issues; it costs to get the permissions for using certain weapon names, so it’s much easier to make a facsimile of a real-world weapon and then get creative with its naming. This is how GoldenEye 007 named its weapons, and while it’ll take some time to get used to all of the new weapons, I imagine that over time, I’ll manage. As ammunition began running low, I swapped over to what I think is the M4 carbine so I could clear the warehouse out. Like Modern Warfare, the first full mission ends with the protagonists discovering a surprise during their assignment. Here, it’s the fact that the same type of ballistic missiles used to kill Ghorbrani are present here, in Al-Qatala hands.

  • After Laswell and General Shepherd share a conversation, determining that it is of utmost importance to destroy the missiles and figure out how they got smuggled out, Task Force 141 head over to Amsterdam, whose ports make it a suitable spot for smuggling. General Shepherd returns in Modern Warfare II, but because the original Modern Warfare 2 had set the bar for what Shepherd’s role was, even after one cutscene following the first full mission, I couldn’t help but feel that later down the line, Shepherd would become an antagonist in some way.

  • However, because no nuclear device was detonated in the Middle East and taking out some thirty thousand soldiers, Modern Warfare II‘s Shepherd will need to have some other motivation for betraying the protagonists. Here in Amsterdam, I snuck around in the waters as Garrick, taking out Al-Qatala patrols before reaching a yacht. Garrick is equipped with throwing knives to start, and dispatching guards gives access to both a suppressed pistol and the MP5. Water in Modern Warfare II was a major part of the game’s marketting, adding new dimensionality to how Warzone 2 combat encounters would play out. In the campaign, players are given a taste of how one can utilise the water to their advantage against human opponents.

  • I did find it strange that, on the occasions my cover was blown, the mission didn’t fail instantly. After dispatching the guards who’d been alerted to my presence, things immediately fell silent again, leaving me to continue onwards. Once inside the boat, Garrick clears out the remaining hostiles and learns that Al-Qatala is working with, of all people, the Las Almas, a Mexican drug cartel. As it happens, I’m still making my way through Ghost Recon: Wildlands at present, where I’m one province away from clearing all of the level three provinces. I’ll write about my experiences up until now in a future post.

  • That players have fought the Al-Qatala militants and Las Almas in Modern Warfare II so far shows how different the world is now compared to where it’d been back in 2009; Skyfall had captured these sentiments quite succinctly in suggesting that in the days of old, things were easier because one’s enemies operated under a flag, but in the present, one’s enemies are decentralised and hidden in plain sight. Moreover, whereas antagonists of older games were quite plainly bad guys, antagonists today are more layered, and their treatment renders them more complex.

  • In order to learn of Hassan’s location, Laswell joins Price and Garrick in Amsterdam. This mission is extremely short and can be finished in five minutes, ending with the capture of a courier who knows where Hassan is hiding, but as the first bit of daytime, it really showcases the IW Engine’s capabilities. Having looked through Modern Warfare II‘s very extensive list of settings, it was not lost on me that ray-tracing isn’t an option. I was a bit surprised to learn Modern Warfare II doesn’t have this, especially considering how good everything looks.

  • In fact, Modern Warfare II‘s requirements aren’t terribly steep considering how polished everything looks: the recommended requirements, for 60 FPS at 1080p, is an i7-4770 and a GTX 1060, although folks with a GTX 960 and i5-2500K could still run the game at lower resolutions and settings. Having said this, the GTX 1060 isn’t going to be running everything at the highest settings, and it does take some experimenting to strike a balance between visual quality and good frame rates. Any GPU more powerful than the GTX 1070 will yield better performance even with the settings turned up, and while this is a good show of how well-optimised Modern Warfare II is, it is clear that the venerable Pascal series is becoming outdated, despite still offering some of the best performance-to-value on the market.

  • For me, I’ve got everything maxed out for 1080p, and on the RTX 3060 Ti, I’m getting around 120 FPS, with a 99% FPS of around 80 (i.e. 99 percent of all my frames are above 80 FPS). It is not lost on me that my monitors, which are nearing a decade old, have a refresh rate of 60 Hz, and that means effectively, I’m still only getting 60 FPS. To fully capitalise on the RTX 3060 Ti, I’d need to buy a new monitor. As nice as having a 27 inch 1440p monitor would be, my current monitors still run just fine, and since fancy monitors are a “nice to have”, there’s really no need to switch.

  • Back in Modern Warfare II, I take on the role of Rodolfo Parra, a Mexican Special Forces operator who’s been sent in with Alejandro Vargas to help find Hassan. Vargas’ mission takes him to the US-American border where Hassan is suspected; he’s supposedly hiding out in the American suburbs. The clutter here brings to mind the back alleyways of my old neighbourhood, which had been an established community located in the middle of town. Although there’s one central shopping area, the neighborhood wasn’t particularly walkable, but on the flipside, it was also located close to several excellent walks.

  • The mission to find Hassan draws blanks, and results in Parra being ambushed. Although Las Almas intends to shoot Parra in the head, Hassan appears and intervenes, ordering that Parra be allowed to burn to death instead. Fortunately, Vargas appears and manages to get Parra out. In the process, Vargas learns that Parra had learnt of Hassan’s plans, of a ship crossing the Atlantic to deliver something of note. This corroborates what Task Force 141 is working on, and the pursuit of Hassan continues.

  • Players resume the story from MacTavish’s perspective, and this mission, in the mountains of Mexico, MacTavish is armed with the M4 and a highly customised P90, the PDSW 528. There’s no stealth component to this level, and although players are armed with suppressed weapons, one can go loud. Stealth missions serve to break games up and encourage tactical play over run-and-gun tactics, but in an FPS, I’ve always found that firefights demanding one to keep their cool under pressure to be the most engaging. The original Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 had excelled in this area, as did Battlefield, but I did find that later on, Battlefield 1 and V‘s campaigns both seemed to favour stealth over direct confrontation.

  • I understand that this is supposed to accentuate the message that fighting isn’t the answer half the time, but in a game that’s marketted as a first person shooter, it makes sense that the first thing one can do is shoot bad guys. There are dedicated stealth-based games out there where sneaking around and quietly dispatching foes is how things are done, but Call of Duty and Battlefield are games where one can (and should) run with unsuppressed weapons. Modern Warfare II has, so far, given players a chance to engage in fierce firefights, and I am finding the game’s design ways more fun than that of Modern Warfare‘s.

  • The revelation that segments of the Mexican Army were in cahoots with Las Almas speaks to how, when there are corrupt elements in a system, it is easy for the bad guys to get ahead. Small details like these remind players of why dealing with narcotics and those who produce them is never a clear-cut issue, especially when drug cartels are sufficiently wealthy as to buy their way into a system and convince people they’re the good guys. This is an issue in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, a third-person tactical shooter that does an excellent job of giving players a sandbox environment where the aim is to bring down a drug cartel in Bolivia. Nuances like these are why narcotics continue to be a problem: if it were so simple, law enforcement agencies would’ve already rolled in and taken down the leaders.

  • As the corrupt segments of the Mexican Army showed up, I ditched the PDSW 528 in favour of the RAPP H. Modelled on the HK21, this belt-fed LMG fires 7.62 mm rounds and has a 750 RPM firing rate. It’s useful for taking out the soldiers that show up, but as Task Force 141 are overrun, they are forced to retreat into the forest. I ended up switching back over to the M4, which is equipped with the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher here. For a time, video games featured the M320 over the older M203, and while the M320 is generally seen as being superior, some soldiers report that the M320’s grip makes the system more cumbersome to use than the M203, and the side-loading mechanism is trickier.

  • Moving through the Mexican mountains, I am briefly reminded of Yama no Susume and my own descent at Prairie Mountain a few weeks earlier. While heading down a mountain is not easy, it would only become more tricky with additional equipment; MacTavish and the others must jump across gaps and make their way down a cliff in order to continue their pursuit of Hassan. The dangers of this mission are accentuated by attention paid to how MacTavish moves. In earlier games, MacTavish would simply be able to jump down, but in Modern Warfare II, small delays resulting from MacTavish stopping to stablise himself adds realism to things.

  • Although it wasn’t strictly necessary, since the M4 is a decent weapon for closer ranges, I ended up ditching the RAPP H for the VEL 46. Generally speaking, I find that in any given modern military shooter, the assault rifles are versatile enough to dominate medium ranges, can be made to work at longer ranges and will get one out of a jam in close quarters if needed. This results in a situation where the other weapons aren’t quite as useful, and for the most part, this leads players to stick to assault rifles as their go-to weapons. However, if a campaign mission offers different situations for players, the other weapons become more appealing. PDWs and submachine guns tend to excel in close quarters situations where handling and mobility is important.

  • Having now reached what I think is about a quarter of the way into Modern Warfare II, it suddenly hits me that I’ve never mentioned the mission briefings in this franchise. I’ve always loved watching them because they provide an excellent highlight of what every mission entails, and since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, watching the briefings have been an essential part of the Modern Warfare experience. Since 2019’s Modern Warfare, the games have included photorealistic cutscenes, and I found myself thoroughly impressed with how good everything looks.

  • When I watched Cold War‘s cutscenes, my older GPU didn’t render them fully, leaving artefacts on the screen. Since I’ve moved over to my current desktop and acquired a new GPU, I’ve not actually gone back and played Cold War. I am quite curious to do so, especially now that I’ll have a chance to replay the game again with all of the settings set to maximum, and with ray-tracing enabled. On the topic of ray-tracing, I’ve heard about how Portal is getting a ray-tracing overhaul as free content for all owners. The results look quite stunning, and now that I’ve got a ray-tracing capable GPU, I’m rather excited to see how things handle.

  • Upon reaching the bottom of the cliff, Task Force 141 make their way through a river to cut down the distance between themselves and Hassan. Here, I reach a truss bridge, and after some close air takes it down, perspective switches to that of an AC-130 gunner, courtesy of General Shepherd and Shadow Company. These names don’t bode well, especially considering what happened in Modern Warfare 2, but for now, it does mean that I’ll have a chance to do something not seen since Modern Warfare 3‘s gunship mission: operate the main guns of an AC-130 gunship.

Modern Warfare II utilises the latest and greatest version of the IW engine, allowing the game to simulate physical interactions with unprecedented realism. Moreover, a new tile-based streaming system enables the game to render highly detailed textures when one is nearby, while dynamically adjusting the level of detail to ensure performance and visual fidelity are balanced. Coupled with an updated rendering and lighting system, Modern Warfare II is able to produce photorealistic visuals without overwhelming GPUs. Activision has stated that to enjoy the game with reasonable framerates at 1080p, all one needs is a GTX 1060 and an i7-4770K, but the game itself is capable of running on a system with an i5-2500K and with a GTX 960. The visual depth in Modern Warfare II is exceptional, especially considering the hardware requirements, and by this point in time, it is clear that Infinity Ward and the IW Engine has become superbly capable. Modern Warfare II becomes a fantastic show of what the IW Engine can do, and together with a game whose elements have created anticipation, it is easy to see why there is so much excitement surrounding the latest addition to the Call of Duty franchise. Having now made my way through about a quarter of Modern Warfare II‘s campaign, I am finding myself gripped with the gameplay, narrative and immersion: the game uses the latest and greatest methods to ensure it handles smoothly, but at the same time, the story and storytelling methods both bring back memories of what had made the older titles so compelling. By combining old and new into Modern Warfare II, this game represents an excellent way of appealing to franchise veterans who’ve played the older titles, and at the same time, present to new players features they’ve become accustomed to in more modern titles. At the time of writing, the early access to the campaign is over now, and this means that the other modes in Modern Warfare II are available. I’ll be continuing on with my journey through the campaign at my own pace, but here, I will remark that I am glad to have had a week’s head start on things: November is looking to be a fairly busy month from a blogging perspective, and every advantage helps.