Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Hands-On Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Infinity Ward 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Activision 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 10, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-18 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Prepare to Prestige
by Adam Brown

September 17, 2009 - Two holidays ago there was a deluge of excellent FPS titles being released. However, for the most part people seemed to fall into one of two categories, either siding with Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Admittedly, I spent way more time playing Halo 3 than COD 4, but both definitely had great multiplayer components. Now with round two coming around in the form of Halo 3 ODST vs. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2), multiplayer will once again play a large part in most gamers' decision as to which title they'll log hundreds of hours playing. Given what I had a chance to play at a recent MW2 event, I think that ODST might just have its hands full come November.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 screenshot

But before we were able to get our hands on the multiplayer of perhaps the most anticipated release of the year, we were treated to a brief presentation explaining some of the new things to expect from MW2. After the quick announcement of the limited edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 bundle, representatives for the game gleefully took the stage to give the first details of MW2's multiplayer. They started by going over the new customizable kill streaks that allow yet another aspect of the game to be tailored to suit each player's unique style. The default streaks have changed slightly with the UAV happening at three, a care package at four, and a predator missile at five.

The care package is definitely a welcomed addition that can help quite a bit when playing, especially with teams. After pulling out a flare, igniting it, and tossing it in an advantageous position, a helicopter will drop crates which will contain ammo for your weapons and sometimes even other kill streak rewards. Each kill streak reward is weighted based on its effectiveness, so the weaker streaks are more likely to appear in these crates, but it is possible to find one that could significantly change the tide of an online match. It is also possible to pillage another player's care package, so calling for the drop is certainly a decision not to be taken lightly.

The predator missile has a similar risk/reward attached to its use. When attempting to make use of this, your on-screen character will open up his handy laptop and begin pecking at keys. This leaves you vulnerable to attack but if successful, the risk is definitely worth it. After the laptop animation you'll be given a black and white aerial view of the map, with your enemies being surrounded by red squares so they're easier to find. Then it's just a matter of manually guiding the rocket towards the largest concentration of red squares you can find as it zooms towards the ground. During one match I launched a predator missile while a member of the opposing team was controlling a helicopter's machine guns (AC-130, 11 kill streak required for use). While I was unable to make contact with the helicopter due to a speedy last second maneuver and had to settle for nailing three opponents on the ground instead, there was a red square present, implying that it was a real possibility.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 screenshot

These were just some of the default kill streaks, but it was said that there were many more that we wouldn't be able to see yet. To make the game more approachable to new players, or those of lower skill, the game will also include death streaks. These activate if you get killed three times in a row and can provide a brief helping hand. The two I saw were painkiller (a timed health boost upon spawning), and copycat. Copycat was interesting as it allowed you to copy your killer's class, including load out, even if they have access to things you haven't unlocked yet. Other kill streaks and death streaks will be unlockable in the order the player chooses and can then be used to help create the class that best suits their play style.

Players are able to choose their own primary and secondary weaponry, complete with a host of new attachments, as well as equipment such as throwing knives, blast shields, tactical insertion (moveable spawn point destination), and MW2's version of the sticky grenade: semtex. Another nifty addition to class creation comes in the form of call signs. These consist of emblems and titles that can be unlocked based on your prowess in the multiplayer and are displayed whenever you kill an opponent, allowing them to have a rough idea of just how much time you spend playing the game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 screenshot

As far as perks go, we weren't given a finalized list but were assured that there would be plenty of returning favorites and newcomers alike. However, perks will no longer be a permanent, unchanging bonus. Instead, depending on how much you utilize a perk it will upgrade and evolve along with the player. For example, a perk from COD4 will perform as you remember, but after it essentially levels up it will provide you with an additional bonus.

Of course, all of this is just the cherry on top of what felt like a supercharged and much more polished COD4. The controls were extremely tight, and the variety provided by all of the customizable aspects of the game guaranteed that no matter what kind of player you might be, you'd feel right at home. Even in the beta build that we had a chance to play, the graphics were intimidating, with realistic explosions and particle effects constantly distracting us from our objectives. There also appear to be a huge number of character death animations as well, because I'm not sure I saw any two players go down the same way during my play sessions.

If you weren't already excited about MW2, there's never been a better time to start. Infinity Ward has clearly taken a ton of time and care improving upon an already successful multiplayer formula and it shows. Take it from someone who didn't necessarily immediately fall completely in love with COD4 when it was released two years ago: the worst part of my playtime with MW2's multiplayer was thinking about how I had to wait another two months for the game to be released.

By Adam Brown
CCC Staff Contributor

Game Features:

  • Includes a completely customizable multiplayer experience.
  • New perks, kill streak rewards, and weapons as well as some returning favorites.
  • Perks now evolve with use, making them even more effective.
  • Make your presence known with fully customizable call signs.

  • Screenshots / Images
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