Republished on Monday 27th July 2020: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of August's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
It's been nearly 11 years since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 changed the game for online play on consoles. Capitalising on the popularity of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward managed to define what multiplayer meant to a generation of players. It's interesting then that over a decade later, Activision has decided to bring the modern classic back without that functionality. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered (we don’t want to type that out again) is exactly what it says on the tin.
The single player campaign is what takes centre stage with this release, completely stripped of its multiplayer offering and the co-operative focused Spec Ops mode. As such, you shouldn't expect to play with friends; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be the answer to that as it adds more and more maps to its growing roster.
So, what do we actually have here? The four to five-hour campaign plays host to a varied selection of missions telling Task Force 141's tale of the hunt for Vladimir Makarov and how the United States Army Rangers are defending the country from a Russian invasion. It's a somewhat interesting narrative to be fair, but its main purpose is to push the two perspectives from place to place at the most blistering pace possible. The campaign lacks a single second of downtime, making for an incredibly tense and enjoyable ride from start to finish.
Of course, it cannot compare to the series' latest single player offensive, devoid of sliding, weapon mounting, and the completely new soundscape which makes every gun feel life-like. However, that's not to say it isn't worth playing. Gunplay from 2009 still feels perfectly acceptable in the modern era, the impressive set pieces continue to hold up, and compelling level design ensures you'll always be exploring an interesting environment. The campaign is still thoroughly enjoyable to this day, doing enough to justify its price tag in the process.
Whether you're scaling the snowy cliffs of Kazakhstan in an assault on a Russian airbase, fighting for your life in the Brazilian favelas, or taking back the White House, the title's intensity will have you hooked. And then there's No Russian. It all comes back to that breakneck pace: the game simply doesn’t allow your attention to sway for a single second.
Since this is a remaster, you’re probably wondering how the experience looks and runs. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered retains the rock-solid 60 frames-per-second of the original while boosting its visuals to 4K on PlayStation 4 Pro. Simply put, it looks outstanding. Obviously, the remaster is put to shame by more modern titles, but it wouldn't have looked too out of place three or so years ago. While the environments and textures are just about passable, it's the facial features which impress graphics-wise.
Seriously, the likes of John "Soap" MacTavish and General Shepherd genuinely give the industry's best a very good run for their money. They look phenomenal in action, quickly becoming the remaster's focal point. If you were worried that this re-release would be lacking in the technical department, those fears can be very safely put to bed.
The biggest problem the title faces then is the same design choices which held it back 10 years ago. The older Call of Duty games were infamous for their use of checkpoints, whereby enemies would continuously flood the environment until you progressed far enough through the stage. We didn't expect this remaster to fix the flaw, but it's still just as frustrating having to throw caution to the wind and running into open fire in an attempt to push forward. It even makes for some tougher than expected missions on the standard difficulty. Thank heavens more modern Call of Duty experiences no longer suffer from this problem.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered is a welcome trip down memory lane. It may have ditched the revolutionary multiplayer offering and Spec Ops mode, but what has been brought into the modern era manages to stand on its own two feet. It still suffers from design choices of old, but this is an intense, enjoyable single player campaign that's more than worth your time.