Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a 2009 first-person shooter game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the sixth installment in the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to ', continuing the storyline. It was released worldwide on November 10, 2009, for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. A separate version for the Nintendo DS, titled ', was also released on the same day. A version for macOS was developed by Aspyr and released in May 2014, and the Xbox 360 version was made backward compatible for the Xbox One in 2018.
The game's campaign follows the Task Force 141, a special forces unit fronted by Captain Soap MacTavish, as they hunt Vladimir Makarov, leader of the Russian Ultranationalist party, and the United States Army Rangers, who are defending the country from a Russian invasion. The game's main playable characters are Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson, of the 141, and Private James Ramirez, of the Army Rangers, with Captain MacTavish becoming playable later in the campaign. An expansive multiplayer mode is featured in the game, with several new features and modes that were not seen in its predecessor.
Development for the game began in 2008, when it was still known as Call of Duty 6. It uses the IW 4.0 engine, an improved version of Call of Duty 4s IW 3.0. Infinity Ward was inspired by real-life conflicts when developing the campaign mode. They initially tested the multiplayer mode by playing an in-house beta version of the game. Modern Warfare 2 was officially announced in February 2009. Teasing of the game began in March, with short trailers being released for the game and, eventually, a full reveal trailer. The multiplayer mode was revealed shortly after. Two downloadable content packs were released for it post-release, each containing five new multiplayer maps, with some being remastered maps from Call of Duty 4.
Modern Warfare 2 received universal acclaim, with praise for its campaign, multiplayer, and amount of content, although it received some criticism for its short length and a lack of innovation. Within 24 hours of release, the game sold approximately 4.7 million copies in North America and the United Kingdom. As of 2013, the game has sold 22.7 million copies. In addition to its release, a comic book series based on one of the game's characters was also produced, entitled '. Despite the game's success, it was subject to, with one surrounding a playable level that had the player carry out a terror attack on an airport. A sequel, ', was released in 2011 and finishes the original Modern Warfare storyline. A remaster of the game's campaign, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered, was released in March 2020 on the PlayStation 4 and on Microsoft Windows and Xbox One in April 2020.
GameplayThe gameplay of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 revolves around fast-paced gunfights against enemy combatants. The player controls a soldier who can perform several actions, including jump, sprint, crouch, lay prone, and aim down their gun's iron sights. When the player is shot by an enemy, blood will splatter their heads-up display, denoting that they have taken damage; if the player avoids gunfire by taking cover, their health will recover. The HUD also displays other information, such as a compass, a mini-map, and the player's current ammunition count. The game features traditional guns, including assault rifles, shotguns, handguns, and sniper rifles. The player will be given specific guns at the beginning of each level, but may switch them out with another gun they find. Some guns have attachments, such as suppressors, and heartbeat sensors. The player can use grenades and flashbangs when faced with a large group of enemies, as well as a knife for close quarters combat. In some levels, the player will be given special equipment, such as night vision goggles, or a laser designator.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has three different game modes: Campaign, Spec Ops, and Multiplayer. Campaign is a single-player mode where the player completes eighteen levels connected by an overarching plot. Each level features a series of objectives to fulfill, and the player will often switch characters between levels. If the player dies during a level, they will respawn at the most recent checkpoint. Levels can be played on one of four difficulties, and each level can be replayed after it has been completed. Spec Ops mode features twenty-three additional levels that can be played individually or cooperatively with a partner. These levels provide specific challenges, such as defusing three bombs within a short period of time. If one player is shot down while playing cooperatively, they will begin crawling, and can shoot enemies with a handgun. If they are not revived by the other player, then they will die and fail the level. There are five tiers of Spec Ops levels, with each tier harder than the previous. Only the first tier is available from the beginning, as later tiers can be unlocked with enough stars. The player earns stars by completing the levels on one of three difficulties, with the number of stars earned corresponding to the difficulty chosen.
Multiplayer mode allows players to compete against each other in team-based and deathmatch-based game types on various maps. Each game type has an objective that requires unique strategies to complete. If the player kills three or more players in a row without dying, they achieve a "killstreak", which gives the player a tactical advantage during a match. These include a Predator missile, a sentry gun, and a "tactical nuke". Alternatively, if the player dies several times without a kill, they will be rewarded with a "deathstreak" bonus, which evens the match for the player. A match ends when either a team or player has reached a predefined number of points, or the allotted time expires in which case the team or player with the most points wins. The player's performance in multiplayer is tracked with experience points, which can be earned by killing opposing players, completing objectives, or by completing a match. As the player gains experience, they advance in level, unlocking new weapons. The player will also unlock perks, which modify gameplay elements such as unlimited sprint and increased bullet damage.
Characters and settingDuring the single-player campaign, the player controls five different characters from a first-person perspective. The player primarily controls Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson, a British member of an international Special Forces unit named Task Force 141. In addition to Roach, the player will also assume control of Private First Class Joseph Allen and Private James Ramirez of the US Army 75th Ranger Regiment. The now Captain John "Soap" MacTavish serves as a senior member of Task Force 141, acting as Roach's superior officer and becomes the playable character in the final three missions of the game. Lastly, the player briefly assumes the role of an astronaut stationed on the International Space Station during the height of the war between the United States and Russia.
The game's non-playable characters feature prominently in the story: For Task Force 141, Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley, who conceals his face with a skull print balaclava serves as Soap's second in command. For the United States Army Rangers, Sergeant Foley, along with his subordinate, Corporal Dunn, is initially Joseph Allen's squad leader, and becomes James Ramirez's squad leader later in the story. Lieutenant General Shepherd is the commander of the United States Army Rangers and Task Force 141. Other supporting characters returning from Call of Duty 4 include Captain John Price, MacTavish's former commanding officer in the British Special Air Service who was imprisoned in Russia, and Russian informant turned mercenary pilot "Nikolai".
StoryDespite the efforts of the U.S. Marine Corps and British Special Air Service by preventing a nuclear war, the ultranationalists seize control of the Russian Federation, making Imran Zakhaev a martyr and straining diplomatic relations with the United States. Vladimir Makarov, Zakhaev's right-hand man and an ultranationalist extremist, begins a campaign of revenge against the West by committing acts of terrorism on European and International soil over the course of five years.
In 2016, Private First Class Joseph Allen participates in a military operation alongside United States Army Rangers stationed in Afghanistan, by assisting them in taking back a city from insurgents. Impressed by Allen's capabilities, General Shepherd recruits him into Task Force 141, an elite unit that recruits the best special forces operators from around the world. While Allen prepares for an upcoming assignment, Captain John "Soap" MacTavish and Sergeant Gary "Roach" Sanderson infiltrate a Russian airbase in the Tian Shan mountains to retrieve an Attack Characterization System module from a downed American satellite.
Allen is soon sent on an undercover mission for the CIA, joining Vladimir Makarov in a mass shooting at an airport in Moscow, Russia. Makarov, aware of Allen’s true identity, kills him as they escape and leaves his body behind to spark a war between Russia and the United States. Outraged by an apparent American-sponsored terrorist attack, Russia retaliates by launching a surprise invasion on the East Coast of the United States. With no evidence of Makarov's involvement in the airport massacre, Task Force 141 is sent to Rio de Janeiro to capture his arms dealer, Alejandro Rojas. They succeed and learn that Makarov's nemesis is being held in a Russian gulag. They assault the gulag and rescue the prisoner: Captain Price, Soap's previous commanding officer in the SAS.
Price takes command of Task Force 141 and insists on ending the United States' war with Russia despite Shepard’s orders to find Makarov. After raiding a Russian port, Price launches a ballistic missile towards Washington, D.C. and detonates it in the upper atmosphere. The resulting EMP blast disables all electronic devices across the Eastern Seaboard, giving the Americans a much-needed advantage. Soldiers fighting in D.C. narrowly avoid a bombing run of Russian-occupied strategic structures by the United States Air Force, lighting green flares atop the White House to show that the city remains in American hands.
Meanwhile, Task Force 141 narrows Makarov's hiding place to two locations; an aircraft boneyard in Afghanistan, and Makarov's safehouse on the Georgian–Russian border. Roach and Simon "Ghost" Riley successfully raid the safehouse, but are then betrayed and murdered by Shepherd and his own private military force. It soon becomes evident that Shepherd is the catalyst of the Russian–American war, intent on cementing his status as a national hero and prolonging military action as revenge for the men he lost to the nuclear device five years earlier, during the.
Price and Soap learn of Shepherd's betrayal and narrowly escape a battle between his and Makarov's forces at the boneyard. After learning of Shepherd's mountain base in Afghanistan from Makarov, Price and Soap raid the base to take revenge on Shepherd in a suicide mission. The duo pursue Shepherd as he escapes by boat, and Price manages to shoot down his helicopter extraction as he and Soap tumble over a waterfall. A dazed Soap stumbles towards the crash site and attempts to kill Shepherd, but is overpowered and stabbed in the chest. While Price arrives and engages Shepherd in a fist fight, Soap pulls the knife out of his chest and throws it at Shepherd, killing him. Nikolai arrives and helps Price evacuate Soap for.
DevelopmentModern Warfare 2 was originally announced as Call of Duty 6. The game was first announced under the title Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 by Activision on December 3, 2008. Activision subsequently retracted its announcement, stating that any information about an upcoming Call of Duty game was "speculative." Infinity Ward then asserted that it had not officially confirmed its latest project at that time. On February 11, 2009, Activision officially announced Modern Warfare 2 and set a tentative release date for "Holiday 2009." The game was tested in an internal beta by the development team. While both Call of Duty 4 and had been preceded by public multiplayer betas, no such beta was released for Modern Warfare 2 because it was determined that, according to Community Manager Robert Bowling, no public beta was needed unless the internal beta did not provide adequate feedback. While Treyarch was able to port Modern Warfare to the Wii and release it on the same day Modern Warfare 2 was released, Infinity Ward declined to make a Wii version of the sequel. According to Bowling, Infinity Ward determined that the Wii's technical limitations made it impossible to deliver the same cinematic experience that the sequel aspired to present.
Infinity Ward announced on October 2009 that the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 would not support the use of user-run dedicated servers or in-game console commands. This announcement was received poorly by some members of the PC community, eventually instigating a response from Infinity Ward in an attempt to put the community at ease. During brainstorming sessions, an idea came forth on what if the ending of Modern Warfare was a loss, leading to the sequel. In an interview with Jesse Stern, he talked to producers of Infinity Ward with ideas such as "outbreaks, viruses, chemical warfare, and even outlandish things such as aliens and the living dead." Stern mentioned having the game based on real-life conflicts before they halted further planning at first due to events in the 2008 South Ossetia war and in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Game engineThe game utilizes the in-house IW 4.0 game engine, which is claimed to be a generation beyond the capabilities of the engine used in Call of Duty 4. Although proprietary, the game is based on an unspecified id Tech engine, and can accommodate larger worlds, enhanced graphic detail, and more efficient rendering. Infinity Ward has addressed the issue of enemies that continually respawn at different points of a level. The developer demonstrated that the game engine uses a "dynamic AI", which has replaced the infinite respawn system and allows enemies to act more independently. These "smarter" enemies are designed to actively seek out and drive the player forward through a level, and can break away from set behaviors such as following a designated route in order to attack. The player cannot depend on enemies to be found in the same locations as a previous play-through because enemies will behave differently each time a level is played.
AudioOn August 20, 2009, Robert Bowling revealed through Twitter that Kevin McKidd, Craig Fairbrass, Barry Pepper, Keith David, and Glenn Morshower were confirmed voice actors for the game. It was later confirmed that McKidd would voice the protagonist, "Soap" MacTavish. Fairbrass, who voiced Gaz in Call of Duty 4, provided voice work for "Ghost". Billy Murray reprised his role as Captain Price from Call of Duty 4. Rapper 50 Cent provided voice work for the Special Ops and multiplayer modes, portraying "one of the squad voices." The main theme of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was provided by Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, while the rest of the score was composed by Lorne Balfe. The soundtrack was released on June 1, 2010. The iTunes page for the soundtrack incorrectly lists Zimmer as the soundtrack's only composer.
Marketing and releaseOn March 25, 2009, a teaser trailer for the game was revealed at the Game Developer Choice Awards ceremony in San Francisco. The teaser was posted on Infinity Ward's website, and released on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network a short time later. A second teaser was released on May 10, 2009 and showed gameplay features such as snowmobile driving and underwater actions. The teaser announced that the game would be "revealed" on TNT during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on May 24, 2009. The "reveal" was the first full-length trailer, which debuted extended sequences of actual in-game scenes and combat; the trailer was subsequently made available on the Modern Warfare 2 official website, which was kept updated for the occasion. A fourth trailer was released on July 27, 2009, and showed the first footage of the game's multiplayer mode. On October 4, 2009, a second full-length cinematic trailer was released and revealed that part of the game would take place in a war-torn Washington, D.C.
On July 21, 2009, Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling revealed through Twitter that a Modern Warfare 2 controller was in the works. Peripherals manufacturer Mad Catz was contracted by Activision to create a line of Modern Warfare 2 controllers and accessories for all platforms that the game would be available on. Activision stated, in its quarterly earnings report, that pre-orders for the game had broken a company record; more copies of Modern Warfare 2 had been pre-ordered than any other game that the company had published before. In September 2009, Monster Energy teamed up with Activision to bring special redeemable codes on the Monster Energy website, where people may submit codes included in Monster Energy packs to redeem items such as Xbox 360 Premium Themes and a Modern Warfare 2 Map Pack code.
TitleThe original teaser trailer confirmed that the game's title of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was officially shortened to just Modern Warfare 2. After photographs of the official retail boxes were posted by Robert Bowling, Activision confirmed that the standard-edition Modern Warfare 2 packaging would feature the Call of Duty brand logo in order to reflect the game's association with the Call of Duty franchise. It is speculated that the decision was influenced by findings that brand awareness for the game was significantly lower without the Call of Duty logo. However, the developers still prefer to simply call the game Modern Warfare 2 as they consider it a new IP. The menus in the game also refer to the title as simply Modern Warfare 2.
Retail versionsModern Warfare 2 was released in four different retail versions across the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms: Standard, Hardened, Veteran, and Prestige. The standard version consists of the game and an instructional manual, and is the only version available for the Microsoft Windows platform. The Hardened Edition consists of the game and manual, an art book, and a token that allows one to download Call of Duty Classic, a hi-definition version of the original Call of Duty game, from Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Store. The Prestige Edition contains all of the elements of the Hardened Edition, but also includes a set of fully functioning night vision goggles, imprinted with the Modern Warfare 2 logo, and a stand modeled after the head of the character "Soap" MacTavish. The goggles are powered by five AA batteries and can see up to 50 feet in absolute darkness.
On September 15, 2009, Activision and Microsoft jointly announced a special, limited Modern Warfare 2 version of the Xbox 360 with a 250GB hard disk. The unit is highlighted by special game product branding and includes two wireless controllers and a headset. This is the first Xbox 360 to come with a 250GB hard drive. On September 18, UK and rep of Ireland retailer GAME announced a Veteran Edition of Modern Warfare 2 would be exclusive to rep of Ireland and UK. It will come with a 12" tall statue of "Soap" MacTavish with interchangeable arms and weapons; has the same contents as the Hardened Edition. In September 2009, a Veteran Statue Bundle of Modern Warfare 2 was posted on the EB Games website and is available for all platforms.
Modern Warfare 2 was ported to the Nintendo DS with the title ' and a different storyline, released on November 10, 2009. It was also ported to macOS by Aspyr years after the game's original release. This version was released on May 20, 2014, alongside the macOS port for '. The Xbox 360 version of Modern Warfare 2 was made backward compatible with the Xbox One on August 28, 2018.
Downloadable contentActivision announced that two downloadable map packs would be released for Modern Warfare 2. At E3 2009, Microsoft stated that these map packs would first be made available for the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live before they would be released for other platforms. Robert Bowling stated that the community response to the game and the first ten downloadable map packs would be used in designing other potential map packs.
The first map pack, titled the "Stimulus Package," was released first for Xbox Live on March 30, 2010 and for PlayStation Network and PC on May 4, 2010 in North America. The pack contains five maps: reincarnations of the Crash and Overgrown maps from Call of Duty 4, and three new maps: Bailout, a multi-level apartment complex; Storm, an industrial park littered with heavy machinery; and Salvage, an abandoned car junkyard in the middle of the snow. Within 24 hours of its release, it was downloaded over one million times. Within the first week it had been downloaded 2.5 million times, breaking Xbox Live DLC records. In addition to integrating the maps into all existing game types, the Stimulus Package adds two new game modes, randomizing the built-in game types in either normal or hardcore mode.
Activision released the second downloadable map pack, titled the "Resurgence Package", exclusively for Xbox Live on June 3, 2010 in North America. This release was followed by the PlayStation Network and PC versions on July 6 in North America and on July 7 worldwide. The package includes five new multiplayer maps: reincarnations of the Strike and Vacant maps from Call of Duty 4, and three new maps: Carnival, a desolated amusement park; Trailer Park, a mobile home park; and Fuel, an oil refinery. Both of the map packs were made available for purchase on macOS on May 20, 2014, when the macOS port of the game was released.
ComicA six-part comic book mini-series related to the game has also been produced. Announced by Robert Bowling on August 17, 2009, is focused on the backstory of the character Ghost, who appears in the video game as a member of Task Force 141. The series is published by WildStorm. The first issue of the series debuted on November 11, 2009.
Short filmA fan-made prequel to Modern Warfare 2, entitled , premiered at. The video was produced by We Can Pretend, visual effects by The Junction, and was endorsed by Activision. The first film, Find Makarov, was a non-canon fan made film. Activision contacted We Can Pretend about the video and helped produce a second canon short film, Find Makarov: Operation Kingfish. The prequel tells the story of how Task Force 141 first tried to capture Vladimir Makarov, who was known then as Kingfish. It also tells how Soap got his facial scars, and how Price was captured and incarcerated in a gulag.
ReceptionCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 received "universal acclaim" for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, and "generally positive" reviews for the PC version, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Reviewers praised the in-depth story mode, mini missions, and multiplayer.
1UP.com stated "Mixing real-world locations with bombastic set-pieces MW2 continues the guided, thrill-ride experiences of its predecessor, and adds even more depth to its multiplayer offerings. It might not have fixed all the problems from the first game, but there's just so much quality content packed into this game that it will almost certainly be one of the most-played games in your library for a long time to come". Game Informer noted "Modern Warfare 2 is a masterpiece of careful iteration, with an unmatched presentation and a well of content that will take months to run dry". IGN commented "For those planning to check out everything Modern Warfare 2 has to offer – online competition, full co-op Spec Ops mode, as well as the campaign– you're looking at a no-brainer purchase". GameTrailers stated "The air of unpredictability and the care that was paid to each separate element puts it in lofty company. The multiplayer hasn't received an overhaul, but considering most shooters are still playing catch-up with Call of Duty 4, the tweaks and twists make it the best multiplayer shooting experience in the industry. Few games manage to meet such high expectations". Computer and Video Games called the game "Loud, epic and incredibly polished, this year's biggest must-have shooter".
Criticism of the game focused on the short length of the single player campaign. IGN's Mark Bozon remarks that the single-player of "Modern Warfare 2 is surprisingly short, and doesn't live up to the standard set by previous Call of Duty games." In addition, many reviewers have complained about the lack of innovation to the formula of the series.
Famitsu named Modern Warfare 2 as the number one game on the top 10 video games sold in 2009, beating games such as ', ', Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV. It also gave the game a score of 39/40, being one of the few Western games released in Japan to have the same score as Grand Theft Auto IV. In 2011, readers of Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition voted Simon "Ghost" Riley as the 40th-top video game character of all time.
Sales and revenueAccording to preliminary sales figures from Activision, Modern Warfare 2 sold approximately 4.7 million units in the United States and the UK combined in the first 24 hours of its release. The total revenue from first day sales in the U.S. and the UK was $310 million, making Modern Warfare 2 the biggest entertainment launch in history at the time, surpassing in revenue its predecessor, ', as well as items from other media types. After five days of sales, the game had earned revenue figures of $550 million worldwide. As of January 18, 2010, it has taken over $1 billion in sales. Activision also claims that Modern Warfare 2 had 8 million players online within the first five days, constituting the largest 'army' of players in the world. On March 8, 2010, Robert Bowling announced that the game had amassed 25 million unique players. In June 2010, Activision's CFO Thomas Tippl revealed that the game had sold 20 million copies. In August 2011, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg revealed that the game had sold 22 million copies. A month later in September 2011, Modern Warfare 3 producer Mark Rubin, said that the game's number was between 28 and 29 million. In November 2013, IGN put the game's sales at 22.7 million.
According to the NPD Group, Modern Warfare 2 sold approximately 4.2 million units for the Xbox 360 and 1.87 million units for the PlayStation 3 in the U.S. during the month of November 2009. In Japan, Modern Warfare 2 sold 64,000 copies for the PlayStation 3 and 42,000 copies for the Xbox 360 in its first week of sales. The game later sold 117,000 copies on the PlayStation 3 and 61,000 on the Xbox 360. Anita Frazier of the NPD Group reported in March 2010 that the game had sold slightly under 10 million copies in the U.S. alone. The game is no longer the second best-selling game of all time in both the UK and the U.S.
After it became backward compatible with the Xbox One, the NPD Group reported that Modern Warfare 2 was the eighth-best selling video game in the United States during August 2018. It had sold more copies in that month than the then-most recent entry in the series, ', which came out in November 2017. During the previous month, before becoming backward compatible, Modern Warfare 2 was at only number 321 on the best sellers list.
AwardsModern Warfare 2 received awards from various gaming sites and publications, it gained high praise from some video game magazines. At the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, Modern Warfare 2 received the Best Shooter and Best Multiplayer awards. Both GameSpy and GameTrailers gave the game the Best Overall Game of 2009 award and received from GameTrailers overall six awards. GameSpot and Metacritic, both gave it the Best Xbox 360 Game award, the Pakistani game reviewing site, PakGamers, has awarded Modern Warfare 2 with 'Best Xbox 360 Game of 2009'. and from GameTrailers received the game the Best Multiplayer award including the Best First-Person Shooter award.
ControversyVarious portions of the campaign have caused some, including the of a massacre carried out in a Russian airport, on the mission "No Russian", the fourth mission in the game. This mission can be skipped entirely before the player begins the single-player campaign. When starting a new campaign, the player has a warning of "disturbing content notice"; it states, "Some players may find one of the missions disturbing or offensive. Would you like to have the option to skip this mission?"; and the player has the option of choosing "Yes, ask me later" or "No, I will not be offended".
Anders Behring Breivik claimed in his manifesto that he used the game for training to prepare for the 2011 Norway attacks. Coop Norway, a chain of retail stores in Norway, removed the game from its shelves as a result of this attack.
A YouTube user claimed that two paintings in the multiplayer map Favela offended Muslims. Activision removed the controversial paintings and apologized for its offense to Muslims. The amended Favela map was added back into the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, however was permanently taken out of the PC version.
Technical problemsAfter the successful hack on the PlayStation 3 in January 2011, some Modern Warfare 2 players on the PlayStation 3 have had their stats hacked or completely deleted. Infinity Ward replied that their advice was to play in private games, waiting for Sony to fix the problems on the platform side, saying that they could not patch the security problem themselves.
Remastered versionCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered, a visually-updated version of the original, was released on March 31, 2020 on PlayStation 4. It released for play on Xbox One and Microsoft Windows on April 30, 2020. It only includes the campaign mode with no multiplayer and Spec Ops components; when purchased players unlock various cosmetic items in 2019's ' and 2020's '.
On Metacritic, the PlayStation 4 version of the remaster holds a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".