The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: First person shooter

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II- The Road to the Vault Edition, Killtacular and Killing Frenzy in Invasion

“Memo: regarding Activision roadmap. Lie, keep players waiting, sweat them out for maximum money.”

Although Call of Duty has accrued a somewhat undeserved reputation for being the game of choice for players who prefer to spout expletive-laden rants into the voice chat over the years or scoring the so-called “360 no-scope”, 2019’s Modern Warfare had turned things around by building a new title around the IW engine, and since then, the Call of Duty franchise has also drawn in more ordinary players. Following Modern Warfare II‘s open beta, curiosity led me to venture into a realm of the franchise I’ve previously expressed no interest in playing through: the high-paced gameplay in earlier Call of Duty games, coupled with a wildly inconsistent game engine, and a community whose reputation precedes it, meant that players like myself would not likely find things enjoyable. However, Modern Warfare II has turned things around: in offering Invasion and Ground War on top of more traditional offerings, the extraction-royale mode DMZ, and Warzone II, it does feel as though Activision has, through Modern Warfare II, provided players with a plethora of experiences such that everyone can enjoy the game in the manner of their own choosing. Die-hard Call of Duty players will gravitate towards close-quarters modes like TDM and Domination, while Warzone fans have begun their journey into Warzone II and DMZ. On the other hand, I’ve found a considerable amount of enjoyment in the Invasion mode; Invasion is basically a large-scale TDM mode where players and AI bots fight it out in an open environment. While the presence of AI bots and the propensity of the typical match to devolve into a sniper-versus-sniper engagement, Invasion remains one of Modern Warfare II‘s most effective ways of dropping into a map and capitalising on the chaotic environment to level up one’s weapons. While the long sightlines enemy snipers have, coupled with the poor spawn system makes deaths especially aggravating, there is also a surprising amount of fun to have in the Invasion mode; the larger maps mean that one can practise their counter-sniping skills, and focus on improving weapons that excel in the medium to long ranges.

The simplicity of the Invasion mode has made it an especially appealing mode for a beginner such as myself: the only object is to score kills. A mixture of AI bots and human players populate the map. Only kills scored against human foes contribute to one’s score streaks, but every kill helps level one’s weapons, and with the AI bots being quite limited, it is possible to wade through an entire group of bots and come out with a new attachment or option for one’s active weapon. This is especially helpful, since all new guns start with their attachment slots locked, and every weapon must be levelled up in order for these slots to become available. While most weapons are quite usable in their base state, the lack of sights can be quite a challenge, especially for medium range combat, so being able to swiftly level one’s weapons up and get their preferred sights onto a gun can quickly turn a difficult-to-use weapon into something that is more manageable. Modern Warfare II has one additional change that makes the game significantly easier for newer players: weapons of a certain category often share attachments, and unlocking an attachment for one weapon makes it available to use for another. Together, this means that, if players were to unlock a new weapon and reach the requisite level to equip sights, they can immediately pick from a pool of sights they’re most comfortable with, rather than being limited to a sight one may not prefer using. The sum of these two mechanics means that acclimatising to new weapons has been quite straightforward, and in this way, I’m slowly making progress with the weapons available to me. The new gunsmith system in Modern Warfare II, despite an outwardly complex design, has streamlined weapons progression and set the bar for how first person shooters should approach weapon progression and unlocks. Within the space of thirty five hours, I’ve reached level fifty-five and built up a varied arsenal of weapons, where some of which are suited for Invasion, and others are better suited for close-quarters of more traditional modes.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After completing the campaign, all players gain access to the “Union Guard” M4 blueprint. This M4 is tuned to be more accurate at the expense of reduced damage at range, but in practise, it proved to be the perfect weapon for starting out. Modern Warfare II provides new players with four different loadout options, but after players reach level four, they can begin creating and customising their own loadouts. The M4 is the best weapon to focus on in the beginning, since it’s a balanced weapon that has fair accuracy, damage and handling traits.

  • Because of long sight lines and open spaces, the best way to play Invasion is to equip the Overkill perk for the ability to carry a second primary weapon, and then bring a sniper rifle to the game. In the beginning, players will only have access to the MCPR-300. Despite being a somewhat unwieldy rifle with a slow aiming down sight speed, this rifle and its .300 ammunition makes it a fine choice for getting used to the sniping mechanics in Modern Warfare II. The base rifle is competitive enough to go up against snipers with better gear, but over time, the weapon can be customised to accentuate its strengths.

  • For the first little while, the MCPR-300 and M4 were my go-to weapons for invasion, and even with just the basic weapons, I was able to hold my own against more experienced players who were running loadouts that were better suited for their style. I’ve been referring to this as the “stock weapons paradigm” for about a decade: a game is fair to players if the starting weapons available are effective and balanced, and then any new weapons and attachments alter a weapon’s performance to fit a specific style. For instance, some players may prefer to give up ranged performance for close quarters effectiveness.

  • In my case, I would have likely benefitted from an assault rifle that was better suited for close quarters in the beginning, since I was already carrying a long-range weapon in the MCPR-300. With this in mind, the Union Guard is still effective enough to get me out of a bind, and this allowed me to start off strong. Over time, I got the M4 to the maximum level possible, and this unlocked weapon tuning, as well as several assignments for the mastery skins. At the time of writing, I’ve not bothered with doing any of the mastery challenges yet, since my focus is on unlocking all of the weapons.

  • The use of killstreaks/scorestreaks in Invasion is a double-edged sword. It is frustrating to be at the receiving end of one, since one can seemingly die without any apparent reason, but on the flipside, using a killstreak/scorestreak allows one to rack up points on short order. Here, I managed to take out two players using the SAE airstrike option. Early in the game, the killstreaks I had available to me were limited: by default, players start with the UAV, Cruise Missile and SAE airstrike, and while the other killstreaks are definitely exciting to use, the humble UAV has the most utility.

  • Early on, I only had access to the default loadouts, but farming the AI bots in Invasion gave me a considerable boost in levelling my weapons. While each kill against an AI bot only yields one point that count towards team score, it still gives full experience points that count towards weapon usage. Early in a match, the AI bots don’t have any armour, and some of them go down in a single shot from any weapon: if one can reach a helicopter as they’re fast-roping down, it is possible to clear them out entirely. Repeating the process several times will yield a considerable amount of experience points that help one to level their weapons.

  • Of course, the biggest challenge about Invasion is the fact that human players sometimes blend into the AI bot, and if one isn’t careful, one can be felled by a sneaky player concealed amongst the AI bots. Human players are difficult to distinguish from the AI bots at first glance: the AI bots might have simplistic pathfinding and decision-making behaviours, but players running basic operators can appear similar enough so that one can’t reasonably prioritise them over the AI. This aspect of Invasion was admittedly the most frustrating: the poor spawn positions mean that if one is killed at an inopportune moment, there’s going to be a considerable amount of sprinting needed to get back into things.

  • On the other hand, when things line up, one can also score consecutive kills against human foes. The larger maps in Invasion allow me to get a kill or two, retreat, and then find another position to engage from. In this way, I was able to go on a few killstreaks of my own. I’ve long avoided Call of Duty‘s multiplayer because of the game’s reputation for a player base that plays the game to an unhealthy extent, and any novice player, like myself, would find themselves instantly melted if they made even a single misstep.

  • In practise, while there are several mechanics in Call of Duty that I wasn’t accustomed to, playing with a more tactical, methodical mindset, and making use of all the tools available to me, was enough to help me keep up with things. Initially, I utilised the deployable cover to create makeshift sniper positions, and this helped me to get the MCPR-300 levelled up: Invasion is a mode fraught with snipers, and the very same conditions that make the mode a nightmare for close quarters players make it favourable for doing some counter-sniping.

  • Over time, as I became more comfortable with Modern Warfare II‘s mechanics, specifically the reload times and sprint-to-fire delay, I became more consistent in my gameplay, and found myself levelling up with regularity, to the point where I actually reached rank fifty-five and unlocked the last of the options in the game. It hit me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up the Vault Edition upgrade to further my experience a little, and over the course of the break, I wound up making the purchase. The Vault Edition adds a few more operators to Modern Warfare II, gives access to the Cinder weapon vault, and provides instant access to the Battle Pass, as well.

  • While I’m not terribly interested in cosmetics per se, the weapon blueprints that accompany the Battle Pass allow me to immediately equip weapons I’ve otherwise not unlocked yet, and allows me to get a feel for a weapon. Being able to use the Lachmann Sub before I’ve gotten the Lachmann platform levelled has given me a glimpse of what some weapons are like, and similarly, since some sidearm blueprints are provided, I’ve been able to use a fully-kitted sidearm to complete certain weapon challenges more easily.

  • Admittedly, running around in Invasion’s been remarkably enjoyable, and this game mode ended up changing my mind about Modern Warfare II during the open beta. Now that I’ve had some experience in Invasion, I decided to give the “Shipment” playlist a whirl. Unlike Invasion, which favours long range weapons, Modern Warfare II‘s close quarters map are ideally suited for submachine guns and shotguns. After unlocking the Fennec 45, I gave this weapon a go and found it a suitable choice. I also began levelling the Expedite 12 shotgun to unlock a thermal optic.

  • Having thermal optics in Invasion is helpful in some cases: the enemy helicopters will drop smoke before deploying their AI forces, and having thermal optics allows one to discern them through the smoke. Similarly, enemy operators will emit a thermal signature unless they’ve got the Cold Blooded perk equipped, and this makes the thermal optics a suitable choice for quickly spotting where foes are, especially if they’re concealed in the buildings of a map. However, I found that even with standard optics on a sniper rifle, I was able to perform well enough.

  • In this way, I went on a few streaks of my own throughout the course of the time I’d spent in Invasion – owing to how maps are designed, they’re a sniper’s dream, and the practise of picking off some foes and moving on allowed me to stay alive long enough for these streaks. Slowly improving over time in a game is a part of the fun. I’d taken a bit of a break from PvP since support Battlefield V ended, and since then, I’ve focused more on PvE experiences. Getting back into things, it looks like I still retain enough of my old skill to remain somewhat competitive against players with more time to spend on PvP.

  • While gaming as a hobby isn’t quite as productive as something like cooking, lifting weights or hiking at first glance, it does help one to unwind if they’re in the right mindset. Gaming competitively can be extremely stressful and taxing, and one can place undue strain on themselves if their aim is to maintain a high KDR or win-loss ratio. On the other hand, since my hiatus on PvP gaming, I’ve come to play with a much more relaxed mentality. Winning and losing is irrelevant, as is scoring more kills than dying. Instead, my only focus is exploring a map and levelling the weapons I have available to me.

  • Matches are short enough for me to play a few before turning my attention to other things, and in this way, Modern Warfare II has become a solid way of taking it easy. It’s certainly a great deal more entertaining than spending my time at AnimeSuki – as a part of my New Year’s resolutions, I have determined that my time at this particular forum has drawn to a close. While AnimeSuki has seen me converse with some insightful individuals over the years, most of the community members I’ve had the best conversations with have since become inactive. The AnimeSuki users that remain care more about politics than anime, and most of these discussions have been remarkably biased, uneducated and based on emotion rather than fact.

  • Watching the same people waffle on about pan-Asian politics day in, day out, grows tiresome fast, and the anime-related talk there hasn’t been any better. The last straw came with the thread on the Yuru Camp△ Movie, where one member believed that the fact that Rin and the others were still single was unrealistic, enough to be a “flaw” worth criticising. When I presented hard evidence indicating that relationship percentages in Japan were similar to what was seen in the Yuru Camp△ Movie, making said criticisms invalid, my counterarguments were dismissed as “pointless” and “silly”. Ignoring evidence because it doesn’t suit one’s worldview speaks very poorly to the state of things at AnimeSuki, and such attitudes shows that the people there care little about having a proper conversation.

  • Not all of my time at AnimeSuki was negative – during Girls und Panzer‘s run, I had some excellent discussions with Wild Goose, and during Brave Witches and High School Fleet‘s run, I befriended Flower, a moderator who would share many conversations with me off-site later down the line. Because these members have gone their separate ways, and because nowadays, I’m able to have more significantly more productive conversations with folks here, as well as with the Jon Spencer Community, I am able to continue enjoying enlightening discussions with people. Considering that the standards for conversation at AnimeSuki have dropped over the years (I’ve had disciplinary action taken against my account, because to relentlessflame, refuting the opinions of a popular member is equivalent to a personal attack), there isn’t value for me to stick around.

  • On the off chance that someone finds this post and calls for me to be banned, I’m not going to lose any sleep over this. I’ve never really spent too much time posting at AnimeSuki, and while the site had once been popular for hosting torrents, the only active component of AnimeSuki now are the forums, and the readership there is quite light: I’ve seen many questionable opinions there over the years, but knowing most of those opinions won’t be given any additional exposure or support (in today’s terms, “signal boosting”) means there’s no need for me to get caught up in things again. With the small bit of time I do gain back, I can spend it on unwinding, or otherwise levelling up my gear in Modern Warfare II.

  • The other mode in Modern Warfare II, besides Invasion, is Ground War, the Call of Duty equivalent of conquest. I’ve never given it a go for myself, but now that I’ve got a more varied arsenal available to me, I do have more confidence in knowing that I can hit the ground running with the tools that I’m familiar with. One of the thing people have suggested doing in Ground War is to hop into a vehicle and capture points. The resulting experience points then help one to level their weapons rapidly.

  • Although I don’t have any screenshots of the new weapons from the Battle Pass in this post, I have been giving some of them a go: the addition of new Blueprints earned from the Battle Pass has allowed me to equip weapons I otherwise don’t have unlocked, and in turn, begin levelling them up so I can unlock new attachments. The gunsmith in Modern Warfare II is a straight upgrade over the system in Modern Warfare, and one thing I really like is how the unlocks are shared. This made it significantly easier to begin using new weapons once they became available: when I picked up the Kastov 762, after the initial hurdle of unlocking the weapon sight category, I had immediate access to the sights from the M4.

  • During one match, I ended up scoring a quad kill while using the SAE killstreak that I looted off a care package that dropped mid-game. Multi-kills in Modern Warfare II will depend on the mode and map – in Invasion, it’s a little more difficult to take out players simply because they’re scattered about, but close-quarters maps will be chaotic, and a combination of skill and luck will be enough for one to consistently score multi-kills. For these feats, the best weapon attachments include magazine upgrades that improve ammunition capacity at the expense of reload time and handling.

  • On the other hand, long killstreaks are more difficult in close-quarters matches, whereas in modes like Invasion, it’s possible to pick foes off and then relocate. During one match, I managed a ten-streak, and according to my stats, my best streak is eleven, which I am confident that I would’ve achieved during Invasion. At a fifteen-streak, players gain access to the Juggernaut bonus, which gives access to a heavy suit of armour and a man-portable M134 Minigun. While this killstreak bonus is nice, the other streaks are a ways more practical.

  • As I began unlocking more weapons, I gained access to both the SP-R 208 and the SA-B 50. These are the marksman rifles, which offer better handling and a little less stopping power compared to the sniper rifles (they require two body shots per kill, whereas the sniper rifles only need one). In the beginning, I struggled to get the SP-R 208 to work since it comes with only the iron sights, but once I was able to put some optics on it, the weapon immediately became more usable, and it was actually with the SP-R 208 that I got my eleven-streak. In a high-paced game like Modern Warfare II, the marksman rifles are best suited for players with sure aim: they can still one-shot players with a headshot.

  • My interest in the SA-B 50 came purely from the fact that it offers an IRNV optic: from a performance standpoint, the SP-R 208 is unmatched, with excellent handling characteristics. Of course, there is one other advantage to levelling the SA-B 50: progressing this marksman rifle far enough will earn the SP-X 80. Similarly, I will be looking at getting the SP-R 208 levelled up, as well, since pushing this weapon to level sixteen will yield the LA-B 330, which strikes a balance between handling and damage. In the meantime, I’ve gotten a better measure of how the marksman rifles handle, and along the way, also became more comfortable with landing headshots out to a range of ninety metres with naught more than the iron sights.

  • The Steam Winter Sale ends tomorrow, and looking back at the Vault Edition purchase, it does look like it was worthwhile to do so. This is actually where the page quote comes from – it’s a variant of a line from The Raccoons. In the episode “Black Belt Bentley”, Cyril learns that another soda distributor, Delicious Drinks, plans to employ the same strategy as he did, by lowering his prices to rock bottom and forcing the sale of other companies to Sneer Enterprises. Once he had a stranglehold on the market, Cyril planned to raise prices. Because the pigs end up writing some software to help Cyril run things, one of his own subsidiaries, Delicious Drinks, ends up preventing a takeover.

  • This ends up giving Cyril some degree of trouble, and when he heads over to Delicious Drinks, he finds a memo on the president’s desk, promising to “sweat him out for maximum money“. The phrase “maximum money” sounds hilarious, and with all the cosmetics and DLC out there, it definitely feels as though video game publishers intend to sweat players out for maximum money. In some cases, it’s not necessary to spend any money, but if one is having a good time with a game, as I did for Modern Warfare II, a few extra dollars to further one’s experience couldn’t hurt.

  • In my case, the fact that the Steam Winter Sale was running simply made the decision easier – buying anything during a sale accelerates the acquisition of cards, and every sale, I make it a point of levelling the seasonal card at least once. Although this exercise is purely cosmetic, I do find it quite fun. Back here, in a later game of Invasion, I’ve switched over to the FTAC Recon, a battle rifle variant of the M4. With excellent all-around performance, this weapon handles quite well at medium ranges. During one match, I ended up going on a short killstreak and picked up a bonus cruise missile to supplement my other cruise missile.

  • At present, I’ve just reached level fifty five, and that means I’ve got all of the level-related unlocks available to me. Together with a fair spread of weapons, I’m well equipped to play a variety of modes now, and this means trying Ground War out. I’d been hoping that custom loadouts would be available in modes like DMZ or Spec Ops, but I’ve heard that those modes give players separate loadouts to utilise. Once my best friend gets up to speed with things, it would be nice to play Spec Ops and DMZ as a squad.

  • I’ll round this post off with a triple kill I scored using the SAE, and with my first gaming-related post of the year in the books, it’s time to look at what this month will entail. I have plans to write about Bocchi The Rock! in the near future, as well as plans to revisit 2013’s Vividred Operation a decade after its airing. The two seasonal anime I’m actively following are Bofuri‘s second season and Mō Ippon!. Both are airing later next week, and I’ll write about them once three episodes for both are out. I will be writing about Uzaki-chan Wants To Hang Out! ω; this series proved quite enjoyable, a cut above its predecessor, and that makes it worth looking at. Finally, I will aim to start Lycoris Recoil and get a talk on that for February, which looks like a quiet month for blogging.

The spread of human players and AI bots means that in most matches, it is less likely that one is feeling like they’re being singled out by an opponent, and the chaos in the typical Invasion match results in a slightly more easy-going experience: although aggressive skill-based match-making (SBMM) is present, even in a game where I’m completely unable to do anything, there is still a chance to get one of my weapons ranked up and become closer to unlocking an attachment of interest. The impersonal nature of Invasion makes it the perfect mode for simple fun, and although the larger maps favour longer-range weapons, it represents a fantastic avenue of levelling a weapon far enough where it can be useful in the other game modes, as well as becoming comfortable with using equipment, perks and scorestreaks in Modern Warfare II‘s other modes. While there can be frustrating moments in Invasion (SBMM is very unforgiving, and if I score more than a 1.5 KDR in a given match, I will be placed into lobbies with the sort of players who play for more than eight hours a day), the fact that Modern Warfare II has provided a mode which incentivises me to return and have a good time speaks volumes to how far Infinity Ward has come. As a result of my experiences, I’ve reached rank fifty-five and have all of the unlocks acquired. This is something I’ve never thought possible of a Call of Duty game, and now that I’ve got a good measure of how the game’s mechanics handle, it is not lost on me that, since my best friend ended up with a complementary copy of Modern Warfare II, it is possible for us to explore the DMZ mode or complete Spec Ops assignments together where time allows. Of course, to help with the process, and because Modern Warfare II has exceeded expectations despite technical issues and an aggressive SBMM system, I’ve elected to pick up the Vault Edition upgrade, which looks to help me with expanding out my arsenal and experience in Modern Warfare II.

Battlefield 2042: Escalation and A Second Chance, Reflections on a Remarkable Comeback A Year Later

“Having a second chance makes you want to work even harder.” –Tia Mowry

A year ago, Battlefield 2042 had been counted as a debacle and failure: the game was blemished by performance issues and bugs, a significant deviation from what had made earlier Battlefield titles successful, and the noticeable absence of essential features (such as a scoreboard, server browser and player statistics view). The community’s dissatisfaction with the game was tangible, and in the year that followed, DICE had been hard at work, adding back basic functions, addressing serious bugs and retouching the game to ensure it delivered an experience consistent with what their players desire. The end result is nothing short of remarkable and in fact, is a classic Battlefield story. When Battlefield 4 launched, the game was nigh-unplayable. Hit registration rarely worked, and players found themselves crashing out of matches. A year later, Battlefield 4 was unrecognisable thanks to the effort DICE invested into the game, and in time, Battlefield 4 would be celebrated as one of the best Battlefield titles ever made owing to its ambitious design and simultaneously delivering a good quantity of quality content. The same courtesy can be extended to Battlefield 2042, which has had a rough year marked by an incremental, but consistent improvement to the game overall. The game runs very well, and I have no trouble connecting to (and staying on) matches. The weapon and movement mechanics are excellent, while essentials like scoreboards and player statistics are now present. While the absence of a server browser is noticeable, the matchmaking works sufficiently well that I can get into servers I enjoy playing on without issue. Now that the core of Battlefield 2042 is stable and functional, the biggest ask, both from myself and others, is the inclusion of new content to ensure that the game consistently feels engaging. However, the content delivery in Battlefield 2042 is significantly reduced from that of its predecessors. Whereas updates previously would offer four maps and up to eight primary weapons for players to enjoy, Battlefield 2042‘s content comes out at a comparative trickle; each season has given players only two primary weapons, a new sidearm and one map. DICE prima facie continues to drop the ball with Battlefield 2042, but now that the game is in a much better place than it had been a year ago (in fact, the studio is suggesting that today’s Battlefield 2042 is the product that they wanted to launch with), it becomes easier to understand the reasoning behind Battlefield 2042‘s approach to post-launch content.

Whereas previous Battlefield titles pitted thirty-two players against one another in sixty-four player matches, Battlefield 2042 was originally intended to push the envelope and allow 128 players to fight simultaneously on a map. The larger scale in Battlefield 2042 means that maps must be designed to handle larger players, creating both open spaces for longer-range vehicular combat, as well as choke points and interior spaces for close-quarters chaos. Looking back at the maps the game had launched with, along with existing plans to rework maps into more engaging, fairer experiences, it becomes clear that every map in Battlefield 2042 was supposed to facilitate close, medium and long-range firefights by incorporating a mixture of open areas for vehicles, long sightlines for snipers, cluttered objectives for objective-oriented players and confined indoor spaces for frenzies favouring submachine guns and shotguns. However, the original maps had been rushed out, and this created scenarios where vehicles and snipers would dominate. The post-launch maps, on the other hand, have been carefully designed so that every play-style is viable. When Zero Hour’s Exposure was released, the combination of tunnels and open areas meant in a given match, one could switch from picking off targets at range to equipping a fast-firing automatic for helping one’s team to dislodge a persistent foe from the capture points embedded inside the mountain. The cavernous interior of Stranded’s container ship is well-suited for players with speedy reflexes, but outside, a good counter-sniper might be able to help break the chokehold the enemy team holds on the container ship by picking off any snipers camped out on the deck and create an opening for teammates to push into the ship’s interior. Here in the latest map, Spearhead, the large mega-factories dominating the map require players to steel themselves for frantic firefights, but the moment one steps outside, their mindset must immediately take into account the fact that one can be picked off at anytime by someone with a Rorsch MK-4 railgun. Applying these back to the original maps, it becomes clear that every map was intended to provide areas to fit different playstyles, and so, more care needed to be put into designing the maps so that different parts of the map benefit specific styles, in turn prompting players to mix things up and use different loadouts to be successful. Designing larger maps to accommodate various play-styles is an intensive effort and demands experimentation and finesse. Unlike earlier titles, where maps were designed for certain play-styles over another (for instance, Caspian Border is all about long-range combat, whereas Ziba Tower is purely for infantry-only fighting) and could be produced more quickly, more time must be spent on tuning Battlefield 2042‘s maps so they capture a large-scale battle where one can focus on specific tasks suited to their aims, whether it be clearing out buildings or providing long-range support for teammates.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The Spearhead map is the most noticeable addition to Battlefield 2042, being set in the Lapland region of Sweden. The greenery and mountains of the map stand in stark contrast with the high-tech factory, and in fact, the map has a similar aesthetic as Battlefield V‘s Iwo Jima map. One of the biggest advantages about Battlefield 2042 is that, since the story is quite loose, the game is able to take players all over the world. I would love to see a map set in a rural town in Japan.

  • Because these days, I can’t invest as much time into playing multiplayer games to the same extent that I did previously, my general strategy is to level up a given season until I have all of the weapons unlocked, and then switch my focus over to something else. However, while the last season was running, I did spend a bit of extra time running around trying to unlock the high-powered laser sights, which are unlocked by scoring hip-fire kills. The M5A3 was the first weapon I unlocked the new laser for, and it’s a blue beam that is much more visible in a bright environment.

  • The mix of indoor and outdoor combat in Spearhead means that the worth of having a +-system becomes apparent. I typically have it so that by default, a weapon is kitted out so that it is performant for its intended range and purpose, and then the additional attachments can specialise a weapon for different ranges or use-cases. While the system had felt extraneous early on, it is invaluable here in Battlefield 2042 because players can rapidly adapt to different circumstances without returning to the spawn screen.

  • The +-system and versatile map design complement one another; in fact, Battlefield 2042‘s design philosophy (irrespective of how successful the execution was) appears to take after some of Battlefield‘s best maps, which allow for a variety of play-styles to be successful. The best example of this is Battlefield 1‘s Nivelle Nights, which incorporated features that create a rock-paper-scissors balance between the different classes. In Nivelle Nights, players geared for close quarters were vulnerable to snipers, but snipers would themselves be weak against vehicles that could cross open areas with impunity. If vehicles were careless and roamed too close to the trenches, assault players could wreck them with dynamite or AT grenades.

  • In this way, every class would have a role to play. Battlefield 2042 had originally done away with the class system, and with every specialist able to swap between a wide range of weapons and equipment, the game felt more chaotic. However, DICE is planning on constraining the specialist to classes: equipment is to become class-specific, and each class will have bonus proficiencies with certain weapon types, which make them more attractive for a given class. While these changes reduce the versatility of any individual player and bring back the emphasis on team play, the +-system would still allow one to adapt to situations.

  • Having played Spearhead nearly exclusively since the third season started, I have noticed that adverse weather events have become significantly rarer, and in fact, I only encountered inclement weather once while playing on the map. While tornados and dust devils were marketted as a gimmick like Levolution and Behemoths, they end up being an irregular distraction with no meaningful contribution to gameplay. Conversely, the addition of changing weather and lighting conditions could potentially alter the way players move about the map. Things like heavy rainfall, sandstorms and blizzards would actually be a valuable addition, forcing players to change tactics.

  • Using lighting and visibility would prompt the inclusion of thermal or IRNV optics, which had been present in earlier Battlefield titles and allowed players to handle adverse conditions accordingly. These attachments were balanced by the fact that under bright conditions, they rendered the sights useless, so one had to choose their loadout accordingly. Since Battlefield 2042 lets players to switch some attachments freely, the concern is that one could mitigate limitations of thermal and IRNV optics by switching them out. However, the game could balance this by disabling those optics by means of EMP and hacking, and forcing players to use the +-system to swap out (or endure a non-functional optic) would become a tactical decision.

  • Of course, there is a great deal of content and possibility that could be added to Battlefield 2042 to deepen the gameplay and increase the skill ceiling. However, I’ve learnt that it’s probably better if expectations aren’t too high for Battlefield 2042 – Battlefield V had begun turning around in a big way a year after its launch, and following the Pacific Theatre update, it did feel as though Battlefield V could’ve turned into an engaging and successful title like its predecessors. Instead, support was dropped for the game six months later, and content like Normandy, Stalingrad and the Battle of Berlin never materialised.

  • Battlefield 2042 is making a comeback at present, and while DICE has committed to at least two more seasons of content, the future of the game remains uncertain, since poor initial impressions have led Battlefield 2042 to underperform in terms of sales. In such a scenario, DICE’s best move is, rather than attempting to pivot and work on a new Battlefield title, continue to provide support for Battlefield 2042 by providing new content and fixes for at least two more years. This would allow the game to regain the players’ confidence and give DICE the feedback they need on what makes a Battlefield game successful.

  • The new specialist, Zain, is a pleasant addition to the roster. His passive ability is immediate regeneration after every kill, and he gains access to the XM370A airburst grenade launcher. I’ve never been too successful with the XM25 in Battlefield 4, so here in Battlefield 2042, I’ve only used the XM370A only to complete one of the weekly assignments. However, the passive ability is immensely helpful and reminds me of one of the perks associated with the Hunter’s Fury gear-set in The Division 2: if one has at least three pieces equipped, every kill fully restores health and a fifth of one’s armour.

  • For me, this ability makes Zain the most capable of the assault-class specialists, and looking back, it does feel as though the specialists in Battlefield 2042 are an extension of the archetypes that were proposed for Battlefield V. I had actually been excited about this, since it allowed a class to be more focused on a specific role. For instance, a field surgeon would have an affinity for revives, while the combat medic would be armed with close-range weapons and stick with teammates to rapidly heal them. This would allow players to tune a class to best fit their playstyle.

  • Here, I help with the capture of the buildings at the capture point closest to the Russian deployment. For the most part, Spearhead is a symmetrical map, with the Russian’s closest capture point being inside a massive factory. The capture point closest to the American spawn, on the other hand, is out in the open. While on paper, this should create problems, in practise, the map is superbly balanced, and I’ve had no trouble performing as a member of either team. The cavernous interiors of the factories actually offer side passages, so rather than rushing in the entrances, one can rappel up to a small passage and sneak in to the main area without being seen.

  • I have found people camping here before, and while I was surprised, I’ve had no trouble dealing with them. I can imagine that inside the warehouse’s walls, one might be waiting for their health to regenerate before pressing the attack; camping in here would be remarkably dull, since on the occasions I make my way into these areas, it’s usually quite quiet. Owing to the intensity of some matches, I did find it helpful to pick the SFAR-M GL and its drum magazine, allowing me to mow through opponents in chokepoints.

  • The tops of the warehouses have sloped edges that make them difficult to keep one’s footing on, and the rooftops themselves have no other structures. Any snipers camping up here would be vulnerable to helicopters and jets. Altogether, this makes the rooftops a punishing place for a sniper who wishes to camp here for a whole match. However, if one’s aims are simply to score a few kills and then move on, being up here can confer an advantage. The key is knowing when to move on: after a few kills, other players will grow wise to one’s act, and a transport or attack helicopter can bring one’s killstreak to a quick close.

  • The Rorsch MK-4 railgun is easily my favourite addition to Battlefield 2042: this utility weapon is an evolution of Battlefield 4‘s Rorsch MK-1 and fires projectiles at hypersonic velocities. Like its predecessor, it still needs to charge, but instead of a single, large slug, the weapon now has a twenty-round magazine firing smaller armour-piercing rounds. Although less damaging than the MK-1, the MK-4 compensates by allowing players to easily change out the capacitors, which allows the weapon to sustain automatic fire at expense to the damage each individual round does.

  • In its base sniper configuration, the Rorsch MK-4 is a one-hit headshot kill, and coupled with the weapon’s ludicrous projectile velocity and relatively quick rate of fire, it is a superb makeshift sniper rifle, capable of picking off entire squads at range if one’s aim is sure. The weapon does have a charge time, so one must actively track their target, and while the default optics are less suitable for long-range engagements, one can unlock the 6x optics for the railgun, turning it into a weapon that can go toe-to-toe with the DRX-1.

  • At close ranges, the Rorsch MK-4 is surprisingly effective, and initially, since I was having trouble with timing my shots, I decided to switch over to the automatic mode and use it as a close range weapon. This actually proved quite fun: while the need to charge the weapon means it’s not the best choice if one’s dealing with foes who know they’re coming, if one can catch their opponents off guard, a single magazine can allow for one to rapidly defeat two or three opponents before needing a reload. Besides a semi-automatic capacitor and automatic capacitor, the weapon also comes with a burst capacitor.

  • Owing to its adaptability, the Rorsch MK-4 has rapidly become my favourite weapon in Battlefield 2042: while it’s not easy to use initially, once one becomes familiar with the weapon, it is a highly potent tool that gives one options at almost any range. One can trade with snipers and rapidly switch back over to automatic or burst fire to deal with threats at close range: the capacitor and magazines are independent attachments, so the quick-swap between different capacitors doesn’t require a reload, and this renders the weapon obscenely powerful.

  • During one match, I spawned into a Bolte and used it to score a roadkill as I was driving between capture points. Vehicles go almost immediately in Battlefield 2042, and in most matches, I don’t have an opportunity to operate a tank or helicopter. However, where the chance arises, I do occasionally hop in to an active vehicle as a secondary gunner. Kills scored as a gunner still count towards progression, so this is a good way to both provide support for a driver, and pad one’s KDR in a given match. While I tend not to worry about KDR, my own KDR is slowly increasing over time, and I admit that it is a pleasant feeling to know that I am improving gradually in Battlefield 2042.

  • The Rorsch MK-4 is so effective, one wonders if DICE will rebalance the weapon in a later update. The biggest benefits about the weapon in its current form is that it has a very short charge time and a large capacity. In conjunction with the absence of any projectile drop and a near-instantaneous projectile velocity, the weapon is extremely difficult to counter. One potential fix is to increase the charge time for the single fire mode: reducing the projectile velocity would go against the weapon’s function as a railgun. Beyond this, the weapon is reasonably well-balanced.

  • Adding a railgun fundamentally changes the way Battlefield 2042 handles; besides being an effective tool for medium to long ranges, the Rorsch MK-4 is moderately effective against vehicles. While only dealing chip damage, the weapon can be used to interrupt repair cycles and giving teammates with dedicated anti-vehicle weapons or friendly vehicles a better chance of taking one out. Here, I will go on a brief tangent: the observant reader may have noticed that #TheJCS has not been discussed for some time, since my last showcase back in September.

  • As it turns out, Jon’s Creator Showcase is being decommissioned – although it’s had a fantastic run and has allowed for various parts of the community to gain some well-deserved exposure, the combination of declining interest and the workload hosts take up has meant that the time had come to retire the initiative. I’ve certainly had fun hosting, since it’s given me a chance to see blogs of all sorts, as well as other creative pursuits amongst members of the community. However, I also can attest to how much effort these posts take to put together.

  • Back in Battlefield 2042, I use the XM370A to score a lucky triple kill on three foes clustered together. While some Battlefield veterans had expressed concern that the XM370A and its airburst rounds could be abused, so far, I’ve found that most players don’t run with the gadget with any frequency. In fact, I’ve been felled by the Rorsch MK-4 with a greater frequency: although the XM370A is great for flushing targets from behind cover out, it takes a bit of skill to quickly get the weapon set up so it can be effective.

  • While I had unlocked the Avancys LMG (modelled after the FN EVOLVYS) during the last season, I never had the chance to utilise it early on. This light machine gun is a fun weapon to wield, being easier to control than the PKP-BP, but slightly less accurate than the LCMG. At the onset, the Avancys was counted as being overpowered, handling more similarly to an assault rifle with a 100-round belt in place of a box magazine. By the time I got around to using it in a live match, the Avancys has been balanced by increasing its recoil slightly.

  • In practise, the Avancys is a reliable weapon that feels more consistent than the PKP-BP. Throughout most of my experiences, I’ve chosen to stick with the base Battlefield 2042 era weapons: to help bolster the amount of content in the game, DICE had begun to import weapons from Battlefield: Portal over, and while these weapons bump the primary weapon count up, these weapons are also less suited for the gameplay style with Battlefield 2042‘s larger maps. They are unlocked by completing assignments, but once active, all of their attachments are already available to players for use.

  • DICE’s efforts in the past year has meant that Battlefield 2042 has improved dramatically, to the point where it is a fun game to play. The main game is consistent now; between the new content and reworks to both maps and specialists, Battlefield 2042 is engaging. However, this has meant that Portal has been left behind. I had originally hoped that a few more maps would be added, along with a few more iconic weapons from Battlefield 3Bad Company 2 and 1942. Similarly, Hazard Zone had been ditched: although it was meant to handle similarly to Modern Warfare II‘S DMZ mode, support for it was dropped after the community expressed disinterest in things.

  • Dropping Hazard Zone and focusing on Battlefield 2042 appears to have paid off, and this game really feels like it’s found its footing now. Here, I use the Rorsch MK-4 to destroy a tank, scoring a double kill in the process. This railgun is capable of dealing some damage to vehicles, and thanks to a combination of a larger magazine size and relatively fast firing rate, a skilled player can utilise it to impede and trouble vehicles. Having utilised the Rorsch MK-4 to destroy several vehicles, I conclude that this weapon is significantly more effective than the NTW-50, both for general usage and against vehicles.

  • Although I only have access to a 4x optic right now, I’ve managed to land headshots and kills from fair distances. During one match, I spawned on the roof of the factory at point Charlie and capitalised on the moment to pick off targets from afar. I had the spot to myself for over five minutes, and managed to score enough points to complete one of the weekly assignments (twelve kills in a round) with relative ease. However, after a teammate decided to do the same and occupied the corner slot, we came under fire since their sniper rifle’s glint gave us away. I ducked away, they were sniped, and I decided to revive them before leaving the rooftops.

  • This past weekend, a double XP event has been going in conjunction with a free weekend for players. This coincides with another Friday off, giving me a bit of time to get in on the fun, and thanks to the accelerated progression rate, I was able to unlock both the throwing knives and the EMKV90-TOR, a new tank tank armed with a railgun. I’ve yet to try the new tank out in a live match, since armour always gets taken immediately, but on the other hand, the throwing knives have been remarkably entertaining. With the latest season, it is clear that DICE’s additions to Battlefield 2042 have made it a significantly more enjoyable game.

  • To wrap this post off, I’ll conclude with me scoring my first kill with the throwing knives. In the frenzy of combat, I have found that the throwing knives can be used to score headshots, and while YouTube videos suggest this weapon is meant to be used for kicks, they are surprisingly effective. I managed to score a triple kill with them before dying on one occasion, and having now had a fair experience of the new content, I can say that a year since its launch, Battlefield 2042 does (against prevailing sentiment on Reddit and Twitter) deserve a second chance. We’re now into December, and this month, aside from the scheduled posts for Yama no Susume: Next Summit‘s remaining quarter, I have a few special topics posts in mind.

Similarly, because the larger maps meant players would often go from a long-range scenario into a close-quarters scenario as the dynamic in a match changed, the weapons in Battlefield 2042 were designed to be more versatile from the start. The starting assault rifle, the M5A3, can be equipped with an M11 6x optic and high-powered rounds, turning it into a makeshift marksman rifle. If one suddenly finds themselves running into a building from an open field, that same M5A3 can now be reconfigured on the fly to become an impromptu personal defense weapon that hipfires almost as well as a submachine gun. This is most apparent with the Rorsch MK-4 railgun: a successor to the MK-1 from Battlefield 4, the Rorsch MK-4 initially comes with a capacitor for semi-automatic shots that are individually damaging. In a pinch, one can equip a capacity designed to fire the weapon automatically. The weapon and map design in Battlefield 2042 both speak to versatility, and in allowing players with more options at the individual level, the game has less content overall to ensure that different combinations work well without disrupting balance, since variability with the options players have to them also need to be considered. The Rorsch MK-4 railgun is an example of this: at present, it is capable of keeping one alive at close quarters, but at long ranges, the lack of projectile drop and a high muzzle velocity, coupled with a large magazine size and relatively fast fire rate, allows it to become a high-accuracy semi-automatic weapon that can destroy entire squads at range, whereas a bolt-action rifle’s long chambering time wouldn’t allow the same. This difference is what I imagine some players are citing as being a detriment to the game: while it is true we’re getting fewer maps, vehicles and weapons in terms of numbers, the content we are getting fulfils more roles than one. Because Battlefield 2042 is now in a stable state, and with improvements being made constantly, the reasoning behind the game’s design choices become clearer: Battlefield 2042 does represent a different way to play the game, and having now seen how far the game has come, as well as where it’s headed, I am of the mind that giving Battlefield 2042 a second chance is a fair ask.

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.